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Leonberger Dog: How Did Breed Get Its Name?

By    |   Wednesday, 21 Jan 2015 08:43 PM

Leonberger dogs, one of the gentle giants of the dog world, have just recently gained popularity in the United States, despite being a much-loved European dog for more than a century.

The Leonberger was named for its birthplace in Leonberg, Germany, where the breed was originated through the work of Heinrich Essig, a businessman who worked in animal trading, according to the Leonberger Club of America.

As Essig promoted the new breed around 1846, it became popular as models for artists and began to spread around the world, LCA said, finding its way into royal castles and celebrity homes.

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In fact, according to the American Kennel Club, Essig donated Leonbergers to royalty, and used his work on the Leonberg Town Council to promote the town and his dogs. “At one time, Garibaldi, the Prince of Wales, King Umberto of Italy, and the czar of Russia all owned Leonbergers. Empress Elisabeth of Austria owned seven of them,” the AKC site said.

It isn’t completely clear how Essig created the breed, but LCA said that when pressed, he explained he crossed a black-and-white female Landseer with a long-haired Saint Bernard. Four generations later, after other breeding that included a yellow-and-white Saint Bernard and a white Pyrenean mountain dog, Essig continued trying to create an all-white dog.

But after Essig’s death, his nephew bred the dogs to the colors traditional today — tawny with black masks, LCA said.

The Leonberger dog breed almost died out during World War I when written records were destroyed, AKC said. But two men, Karl Stadelmann and Otto Josenhans, searched Germany to find around 25 dogs, with only five suitable for breeding, LCA said.

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“By 1927, there were 342 registered Leonbergers. Breeding continued during and after WWII, with 22 puppies registered in 1945 and 27 in 1947,” AKC said. The first European breed book came out in 1968, so judges worked from the same standards in assessing the breed.

Today, Leonberger dogs are popular in Europe and are growing in popularity in the U.S., LCA said.

“The Leonberger is an excellent family dog that confidently fulfills all the demands of modern-day life. He is an all-purpose, utilitarian dog who will perform whatever job is required of him,” LCA wrote of the breed. “He must never be shy or aggressive. He is known for his love of children, always friendly, and dependable.”

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Leonberger dogs, one of the gentle giants of the dog world, have just recently gained popularity in the United States, despite being a much-loved European dog for more than a century. The Leonberger was named for its birthplace in Leonberg, Germany.
leonberger, dog, how, breed, got, name
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2015-43-21
Wednesday, 21 Jan 2015 08:43 PM
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