Leonberger Characteristics

The Leonberger, true to its original purpose of an estate guardian, family and farm dog with strong abilities as a suitable draft dog and water rescue dog, is a very large and sturdy dog.

The Leonberger is recognized by its large size, males being very powerful, strong and carrying a lion-like mane on the neck and chest. Males stand at least 72 cm and at most 80 cm at the withers with a preferred height of 76 cm (30 in) and weigh in proportion to size with an average weight between 60 to 75 kg (132 to 165 lbs). Females are considerably smaller with a height range of 65 to 75 cm with a preferred height of 70 cm (27.5 in). Females weigh in proportion typically between 45 to 55 kg (100 to 120 lbs).  The desired proportion of height at withers to length of body is 9 to 10, giving a slightly longer than high appearance.

The depth of chest is ideally 50% of the height at the withers to where the briskets reach the elbows. Overall balance and proportion are equally important with height.  Bone is always medium to heavy and is in proportion with the size of the body and frame.  An essential element of the breed is the head and expression.


The head of a Leonberger is large, but not heavy or too stocky and overdone and in its entirety is deeper than it is broad and somewhat rectangular in shape.The head should not have the look of a St Bernard or a Newfoundland Dog.  The stop is moderate and not overdone.

The muzzle is even, rectangular in shape with soft edges, never coming to a point. The depth between the skull and muzzle is approximately 1:1.  The eyes should show kindness, be almond shaped and average in size, not too big or too small.  Round eyes take away from the kind expression noted on the Leonberger dog and are considered a fault.  The skin on the head is tight fitting with no wrinkles and the Leonberger is a dry mouthed breed with tight lips. The face is covered with a black mask that extends from the nose up to and over the eyes. A lesser mask is acceptable and should not be penalized but a complete lack of mask is a disqualification in the FCI standard, but not in the CKC standard.


The coat on the Leonberger is typically of medium long length, with some carrying a longer coat and some carrying a more plush like coat. In all cases the breed has a thick double coat on the body and short fine fur on the muzzle and the fronts of the legs.  Considerable feathering is apparent on the backside of the forelegs and the breeches with a thick full tail.  The Leonberger can have a wide range of coat colors from reddish and red-brown to pale yellow or cream colored and all yellowish to red colors in between.  Many have some black tips on the outer coat.


The gait of the Leonberger is ground-covering, even and balanced. The gait is that of a slow trot that shows powerful, easy and free movement.  Good reach and strong drive are essential and the dog’s topline should remain level in movement.  The head of the Leonberger should be held proudly in movement.  The rear and front assemblies should be in balance.  The rear is powerful, muscular and well boned.  The stifle angle bend is clearly defined but not over angulated.  The chest is broad, roomy and deep with only a slight tucked up underline, an important characteristic of the breed.  The tail when standing is relaxed, but in movement the tail should be carried level with the back with a curve up at the end permitted.

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