Perhaps the first dog to result from a marketing campaign, the Leonberger was created in the mid-19th century to resemble the lion on the town crest of Leonberg, Germany. Developed from Saint Bernards, Great Pyrenees, and Landseer (black-and-white) Newfoundlands, Leonbergers were used as draft and farm dogs.
Today’s Leonberger is a multi-purpose dog, willing to pull a cart, make hospital visits, play with the neighborhood children, or give agility a go.
Fetching doesn’t come naturally to the Leo, but he’s willing to learn, and he will hike, swim, and let you know if newcomers arrive. His deep bark and size will certainly deter any unwanted visitors.
Training a Leonberger is best done early. Without obedience classes as a puppy, his love of tugging and strength might pull his owner off her feet later. A well-exercised Leo will be a better student, and he will need an owner whose confidence matches his own. The Leonberger enjoys exercise more than many giant breeds, and is also on the swifter side of the giant breed chart. The Leonberger’s webbed feet make him an excellent swimmer.
The Leonberger has received the nickname “gentle lion.” With proper training, a Leo can be a great companion for children. His size, of course, requires diligent supervision around small children. A socialized Leo is typically OK with other dogs, although some--as with many breeds-- might need extra supervision around dogs of their own gender (perhaps there’s some lion-like competition in play).