So what is living with a Leonberger like? Like other breeds, they have
specific needs in order to live a happy, healthy life.
- They are very family oriented and are not good totally outside dogs.
Leos should never be tied, put on a cable or kept in a small run area outdoors.
That causes frustration and may lead to behavior problems including aggressive
behavior towards people and animals that tease them. A Leo wants to be with its family, not isolated.
- They grow very quickly in body and slowly in mind. When you get your puppy at 8 weeks it will weigh
around 20 lbs. + A few months later that cute fuzzy pup will be a teenager hitting 100 lbs. You need
to adjust the dog's food intake sometimes weekly as it grows and needs to eat more. You'll need
rubber backed throw rugs in areas that are tiled or have wood floors to prevent injuries for the first
year. Your pup can easily slide and do major damage to soft tissue, ligaments, or cartilage on surfaces
with little traction.
- They need outdoor room to run and play. If you live in an apartment or have a small yard consider
adopting a senior citizen. Half an acre fenced yard (an acre preferable) is a minimum size ((that
doesn't include your house) to prevent destruction of your yard due to big feet and boredom - yes
they dig - and having to replace the siding on your house they have destroyed.
- They do not boundary train any more than a Great Pyrenees does. A Leo can easily get over a 4' fence;
5'-6’ is more appropriate. Board on board fencing is a good choice as it is a visual barrier from the
neighbors and other dogs and prevents barking. We will not place a puppy in an unfenced home and
rarely in anything less than an acre because we feel it frustrates this "farm dog, flock guarding " breed.
We would consider making an exception for an older Leo in that situation.
- Leos are an active breed. An under-exercised or bored Leonberger will become destructive and can do
an unbelievable amount of damage to your property and home. Dog parks are not a good idea as they
are usually un-moderated and also “Petri dishes of disease”, as our vet describes them. When the
puppies are growing, their soft cartilage and loose joints can be easily hurt running with larger and
older dogs. They can also be bullied or become bullies due to other dog's behaviors.
- They train easily IF you start when you get your puppy, but are sensitive and also get bored with
repetition. Forget old, harsh techniques! Find a clicker training class and stick with it for a couple of
years. In the end you get the dog you have earned by teaching it. Young puppies are not stubborn -
they just don't know what you want. You are the teacher, they the student. Your job is to
communicate well and to understand what he is trying to tell you.
- They are quite tolerant of children IF you introduce them to well behaved, properly taught children. Be
aware they may not be the best choice for kids under school age. Due to the puppy’s sheer exuberance
and strength combined with it's lack of common sense in conjunction with its size there can easily be
accidents. No matter how sweet, no dog should ever be left unsupervised with children. An older,
more settled dog may be a better bet for little ones and also for senior citizens.
- Puppies need as much constant attention as a baby does for the first few months they are
with you. Although they get tall quickly, Leos are physically and mentally a slow maturing breed
(about 2 1/2 -3 years) and need responsible guidance, limits and boundaries.
- Leos are not a good "learner-dog" for a first time dog owner. A Golden Retriever is a better choice.
- They are natural watchdogs if they have been properly socialized off of your property and are well
exercised. Never TRY to train a Leo to be a watchdog, it is inherent. Some Leos have more prey drive
than others and will be better hunters. Remember ALL dogs act like dogs.
adult dogs or same sex dogs coming into their home turf. Their roots are flock guardians and those
- They usually prefer to stick with their own pack and mature Leos may not get along with strange
roots tell them that strange dogs could be dangerous. They are not programmed to invite them in to
visit! Adult dogs are like adult humans. They play with their friends and don't play with strangers.
Here is a link to Leonberger University. Look around the site and consider purchasing "The Owner's
Guide" which is a terrific instruction manual for your Leo and an introduction to many fun activities you
can do with it. It has been written entirely by our LCA members who have volunteered their expertise
in a variety of areas.