The Leonberger is a handsome, large dog that hails from Germany. They have a lion-like mane which adds to their overall striking and powerful appearance. Although impressive to look at, they are known to be a real "Gentle Giant" and have even been given this as a nickname. Although, these dogs make good family pets and love being part of a family, Leonbergers are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be trained by people who are familiar with this type of large and impressive dogs.
Leonbergers first appeared on the scene in 1840 and as such they are a relatively new breed. They were created by Heinrich Essig who was the mayor of the town of Leonberg, hence the breed's name. The monks of the Hospice of St. Bernard had a part in developing these proud and noble looking dogs having sent the mayor some of their St Bernards to breed from. As a thank you to the monks, he helped the monks in their own breeding programme by sending them some of the dogs he had bred.
It was only at the end of World War I that records were finally kept on the breed and at that time there were just 5 Leonbergers left alive. Fortunately, through careful and selective breeding, their numbers started to rise only to once again be affected by the onset of World War II when only 8 dogs survived. After 25 years of very careful breeding, their numbers increased although Leonbergers are still considered as being among one of the rarest breeds around. With this said, the breed is gaining popularity with more people both here in the UK and elsewhere in the world getting to know about them and the fact they are such reliable, kind and loyal dogs in a home environment.