The Leonberger Dog - A Detailed Description of the Breed

  • 22/11/2010

The Leonberger is first and foremost a family dog. As such, the Leonberger temperament is one of his most important and distinguishing characteristics. Well socialized and trained, the Leonberger is self assured, insensitive to noise, submissive to family members, friendly toward children, well composed with passersby, and self-disciplined when obliging his family or property with protection. Robust, loyal, intelligent, playful, and kindly, he can thus be taken anywhere without difficulty and adjust easily to a variety of circumstances.

The Leonberger appears majestic in a generous double coat. He is a large, muscular, and elegant dog with balanced body type, medium temperament, and dramatic presence. The Leonberger's head is held proudly and adorned with a striking black mask which helps to project the breed's distinct expression of intelligence, pride, and kindliness. Remaining true to his early roots as a capable family and working dog, the agile Leonberger is sound and coordinated, exhibiting strength in bearing and elegance in movement. The Leonberger possesses either a strongly masculine or elegantly feminine form, making gender immediately discernable. When properly trained and socialized, the Leonberger is vigilant, loyal, and confident in all situations. Robust, obedient, intelligent, playful, and kindly, the adaptable leonberger is an appropriate family companion for modern living conditions.

The Leonberger is a very large dog. For a mature specimen, the height at the withers is ideally the median of the breed's range- 28 to 31.5 inches for dogs and 25.5 to 29.5 inches for bitches. The weight of his trim, well-muscled body is in direct proportion to his size. Elegantly assuming a rectangular build, the Leonberger is a well balanced dog in form and function; the proportion of his height to his length is at about nine to ten. Necessary for efficient movement and providing for a harmonious silhouette, his front and rear angulation are moderate and balanced. Capable of demanding work, the Leonberger is a dog of ample substance. His frame is effortlessly supported with well-muscled, medium to heavy bone in direct proportion to his size. A roomy chest is sufficiently broad and deep for the purpose of work. Seen in profile, the chest curves inward from the pro-sternum, tangently joins the elbow to his underline at fifty percent of the withers' height, and then continues slightly upward toward the stifle.

Correct head and expression, in harmony with overall size and coat, are hallmarks of the Leonberger and are always appropriately masculine or feminine. The head is well balanced in proportion to the size of the dog and is deeper than broad with the length of muzzle and the length of skull approximately equal. The head is painted with a striking black mask that extends above the eyes; the Leonberger's good-natured expression is elegant, intelligent and confident. Likewise, the nose and lips are black and effortlessly blend with his mask. With close fitting eyelids, the eyes are elegantly set into the skull upon a slight oblique; the eyes are medium sized, almond shaped, and colored a rich dark brown. Integral to the head's silhouette, the ears are fleshy, moderately sized, and pendant shaped, with sufficient substance to hang close to the skull and drop the tip of the ears level with the inside corners of the mouth. Vigilantly set slightly forward, when alerted, the Leonberger's ears rise from halfway between the eye and the top of his skull to level with the top of his skull. True to his refined nature, the upper lip fits tightly and seamlessly around the lips of a strong lower jaw, effortlessly preventing drooling under most circumstances. Though level bites and slight anomalies not affecting the robustness of the lower jaw are common, the ideal Leonberger capably possesses a strong scissor bite with full dentition.

Holding the head proudly aloft, the Leonberger's neck is well muscled and flows elegantly from the backskull into well laid back shoulders, blending smoothly into withers on the topline and flowing cleanly through the underline. The backline remains strong and level through the rump. Coupled with a pronounced pro-sternum and conducive to strenuous work, a well sprung, oval-shaped rib cage supports a moderately broad and roomy chest, achieving a depth sufficient to meet properly placed elbows. Back and loin are broad and strongly coupled with a slight tuck-up. The croup smoothly slopes into his tail which is set just below the level of the back. The tail is comprised of tailbones sufficient to reach the hock of a properly angulated rear assembly; the tail is well furnished and blends harmoniously with rear feathering. Denoting their confidence when in repose, the Leonberger's tail hangs straight down. Though showy males may adopt a sickle tail in the ring and leonbergers' tails commonly manifest excitement or rise toward the level of the back in movement, the ideal tail carriage is always relaxed.

The Leonberger has a generous, water resistant, double coat on his body that is complimented by the shorter, fine hair on his muzzle and limbs, making the coat both well suited for work and a defining attribute of the breed. The long, profuse, outer coat is durable, relatively straight, lies flat, and fits close, strengthening his silhouette. Mature, masculine Leonbergers exhibit a pronounced mane which proudly parades the entirety of his neck and chest, helping to define a lion-like outline. The Leonberger is harmoniously festooned with distinct, ample feathering on the back of his forelegs and breeches. Similarly, his tail is very well furnished from the tip to the base where it blends harmoniously with the breech's furnishings. Climate permitting, his undercoat is soft and dense. Apart from a neatening of the feet, the Leonberger is presented untrimmed. Accompanying his striking black mask, a variety of coat colors are acceptable, including all combinations of lion-yellow, red, red-brown, and sand. His coat may be highlighted with black tippings which add depth without ever dominating the overall color.

With an efficient, balanced, ground-covering gate, the Leonberger is effortless, powerful, free, and elastic in movement. A well-built Leonberger is always balanced and controlled at the trot, maintaining a level topline. Viewed from the front or from behind, forelegs and hind legs travel straight. Increasing reach and drive, his legs tend to converge toward the centerline of the body as his speed increases. Asleep on the couch, working on his legs, or trotting in the show ring, the Leonberger is an impressive, elegant, and dramatic dog!

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