Leonberger (Pet Love: Special Rare Breed Edition)


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Leonbergers are very big, strong, handsome dogs with tawny coats, though their majestic appearance is sometimes spoiled by drool. They have thick manes, bushy tails, and feet designed for swimming. Leonbergers are generally calm, even-tempered and affectionate. They have been used as watch dogs, sled dogs and tracker dogs, though they should have exercise carefully regulated and should not overexert themselves while they are growing.

These are big dogs, they can be bigger than St Bernards, and can easily knock over small children and other dogs, so they need obedience training from when they are pups. Recall, and learning to walk on the lead without pulling are especially important.

Their calm nature shouldn't be taken for granted - unsocialized Leonbergers may be fine with you, but they are not much fun to take out on walks, and can be very frightening for anyone they bark at! They aren't especially barky, but they have deep barks, and are natural watchdogs, so should be trained to be friendly with people. They will still be extremely effective guard dogs, however much socialization you give them, since they look imposing and serious.

Well-trained Leonbergers can still be a little aloof with people they don't know, but are generally tolerant with children of the family. They will tend just to walk away if children tease them, but you shouldn't rely on this, and supervision is important for the sake of the dog as well as the children. This breed also needs careful, ongoing socialization with other dogs. They are so big that they often trigger barking in passing dogs, and have to be able to handle this without reacting. They can also push over frailer dogs if they get too bouncy.

Leonbergers do need daily walks to keep fit, so it's important to give them obedience training from when they are pups, so that they don't pull on the lead, and they come back as soon as you call, if you think they are about to annoy people or other dogs. Well-trained Leonbergers are generally reliable, but untrained Leos can be quite frightening to people and dogs they rush up to. They should be kept on the lead on walks if you can't trust them to behave well. They love swimming.

Leonbergers need regular brushing, to help keep down the level of dog hair in your home, and they do shed a lot when they moult, especially during the spring moult. Common health problems include hip dysplasia and eye trouble, as well as the usual giant breed problems of bloat and abnormal bone growth if food and exercise are not regulated properly when they are pups. It's worth checking for hypothyroidism if a Leonberger develops behavioural problems. They also don't tolerate heat well, so shouldn't be walked in the heat of the day in summer.v

This book is an introductory guide to the breed, which covers behaviour and training, as well as general care. It's suitable for novices, though is not likely to provide much new information for experienced owners.