The Leonberger hails from the German town of Leonberg. Produced originally by crossing the Newfoundland with the St. Bernard, he is naturally a powerful dog, though not as massive as either of the breeds from which he came.
The breed was created in 1840 by the then mayor of Leonberg, Heinrich Essig, to honour his town. He was helped by monks from the Hospice of St. Bernard, who sent him dogs. In return, Essig helped the monastery, whose St. Bernards had suffered in both numbers and quality, by sending the monks some of his crosses.
After the end of the First World War, records stated that only five Leonbergers remained alive. Careful breeding began to restore the breed, but it again suffered during the Second World War, after which only eight could be found. It took twenty-five more years to see the breed firmly re-established, but it has now become well known in the UK.
A good guarding breed, the Leonberger is of generally equable temper. His well-feathered, pendant ears, black mask and medium-textured coat give him an attractive appearance. He moves in a deliberate, firm fashion, and never appears to be in a hurry.
The Working Breed Group
Over the centuries these dogs were selectively bred to become guards and search and rescue dogs. Arguably, the working group consists of some of the most heroic canines in the world, aiding humans in many walks of life, including the Boxer, Great Dane and St. Bernard. This group consists of the real specialists in their field who excel in their line of work.