Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Sensible advice for raising your Leonberger puppy so he lives a long healthy life and seldom needs to visit the vet. Learn about the most common health problems and issues in Leonbergers, the best dog food diet for feeding Leonberger puppies and adult dogs, the truth about vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and natural health care.


11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, my best-selling dog health book

Leonberger dog breed

Leonberger Health Problems and Raising a Leonberger Puppy to be Healthy

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013

Quiz – How Long Will Your Dog Live?
How To Raise a Healthy Dog
Feeding the Best Dog Food
Feeding the 2nd Best Dog Food
Vaccinations: Needed or Not?
Are You Sure Your Vet Is Good?

The most common health problems in Leonbergers:

The Leonberger Club conducted a health survey that included over 800 dogs. They report that the average lifespan is only 6.5 years for male Leonbergers, 7.5 years for females – depressingly short for a companion dog.

Of the Leonbergers who were deceased (In the club survey), cancer killed 37% of them. Bone cancer (osteosarcoma) is especially problematic in the breed.

The two most common orthopedic diseases are hip dysplasia and panosteitis. Elbow dysplasia and osteochondritis also occur in Leos. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of over 1000 Leonbergers and found 14% dysplastic. That's high, and the true rate is higher because most of the obviously bad X-rays were not sent in for official evaluation.

A number of serious health issues have become concerns in Leonbergers:

  • An endocrine system disease called Addison's disease
  • Heart disease (especially cardiomyopathy)
  • Perianal fistula
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Polyneuropathy

According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 15% of Leonbergers have hypothyroidism.

Cataracts affect nearly 3% of the breed, according to the club survey. Eyelid abnormalities (entropion and ectropion) also occur regularly in Leos.

Allergies cause itchy skin and can lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma). Ear infections are common due to all the hair in the ear canals.

Blood-clotting disease (von Willebrand's) occurs in Leonbergers. Chronic diarrhea can be caused by food intolerances or colitis.

As with all deep-chested breeds, Leonbergers are at higher-than-normal risk for the emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat.


Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR Leonberger?

Yes, often you can.

  1. Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Leonbergers today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find a Leonberger puppy who is genetically healthy.
  2. Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Leonberger puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.

Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Leonberger puppy or adult dog:

Dog lifespan quiz How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.


Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Leonberger lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Leonberger
The best diet for feeding your Leonberger is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Leonberger. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Leonberger
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your Leonberger. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Leonberger puppy really need? Does your adult Leonberger need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed. Find out what many vets aren't telling you.


Information on choosing the best vet for your Leonberger. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Information on spaying your Leonberger. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female Leonberger.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.