History and origin: Presumably this breed originated in Germany in the early 1800’s and was developed by Herr Heinrich Essig. He wanted to create a breed that was similar to the Leonberg town crest and coat of arms which bears the image of a lion. Probably developed by crosses with St Bernards, Newfoundlands and Pyrenean Mountain dogs.(Great Pyrenees) However, other accounts have the breed possibly known as far back as the 1500’s, when the breed was used as an all purpose farm dog. The breed nearly became extinct during both great wars because it was utilized to pull ammunition carts. Eight dogs survived WW2 and today’s Leos can be traced to those few dogs. Recognized by the AKC in 2010.
General Appearance: A very large breed, strong and powerful, heavy bone, broad back, longer than tall, very thick coat, long bushy tail. Drop ears that frame the head. This breed has a kindly expression and majestic appearance. Size: Males 28 ½ – 31 ½ inches 110-170 pounds Females 25 ½ -29 ½ 90-140 pounds weight is proportionate to height.
Coat and Colour: This breed is double coated with a somewhat courser top coat that lies straight or may be slightly wavy, and thick abundant under coat. Coat is water and weather resistant and medium to long in length. Colours are red, golden red, sandy or tawny coloured and always a black mask on head. Outer coat may be black tipped. Mature males will carry a thick mane around neck and chest. Feathering on backs of legs and rear area. This breed will require regular brushing. They shed continuously and will ‘blow’ coat once or twice a year.
Feeding: a quality kibble, raw diet or homemade diet that consists of protein, carbs and vegetables will suffice. Always follow breeder’s instructions.
Training and Obedience: Good in performance sports. Socialize puppies early. Can compete in obedience, agility, dock diving and weight pulling. Excellent in carting, therapy and water rescue. Perfect breed for farm and country living.
Activity: Need a daily long walk or running in a secure fenced area. Good breed for joggers and hikers. Love to swim. Not suited for apartment living. Needs space.
Temperament: Sweet and calm nature. Not excitable. Good with children and other animals. Patient, loving and loyal to family members. Truly a gentle giant.