Buying or Adopting a Leonberger
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
Is a DOG really the right pet for you?
I've been helping people choose and find dogs for over 35 years now, and I have to say that for many people, dogs are not ideal pets.
Should you get a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog?
Don't set your sights on any purebred dog until you read these three eye-opening articles:
Is a Leonberger the right breed for you?
Are YOU right for a Leonberger?
Can you provide what this breed needs?
- Someone home most of the day
- Fenced yard (6-8 feet high, not an electronic/underground fence)
- No very small dogs in the household
- No dogs of the same sex in the household
- No cats in the household
- Restricted exercise when young – until maturity (at least 18 months old), exercise restricted to multiple short (20 minute) walks, fetch games, and playing with other dogs – no forced running (beside a jogger or bicyclist), no long-distance treks, minimal jumping
- Ample exercise after maturity – enough ongoing exercise that your Leonberger stays slim and is tired enough to sleep contentedly and not get into mischief
- "Mental exercise" – interesting activities that keep the mind stimulated, such as a challenging dog sport (rally obedience, tracking, carting, sledding, weight pulling); challenging dog toys; a homemade obstacle course; tricks and games such as Hide 'n Seek; instructions in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words
- Brushing – moderate
- An indoor lifestyle, except for exercise and bathroom breaks
- A meat-heavy diet, either homemade or commercial – meat is expensive, so people with less money should opt for a small dog
- An owner with enough money to treat the health problems Leonbergers are prone to (pet health insurance can really help here!)
- An owner who is okay with moderate/heavy shedding
- Commitment to provide thorough socialization – introducing your Leonberger to lots of people and other animals, diligently correcting any signs of misbehavior or aggression
- Commitment to establish the right Leader-Follower relationship with your Leonberger, teaching him to listen to you and do what you say
Should you get a male or female Leonberger?
Male Dogs vs. Female Dogs
Which one makes a better pet?
Should you get a young puppy, an older puppy, or an adult dog?
Puppies vs. Adult Dogs
What age should your new Leonberger be?
Where can you buy or adopt a Leonberger?
Leonbergers are middle-of-the-road in popularity in the United States. Out of 189 breeds in the American Kennel Club, where 1 is most popular and 189 is least popular, Leonbergers rank 95th.
Unfortunately, too many people choose this breed without knowing what they're getting into. If you acquire a Leonberger based on the cuddly puppy or handsome adult, you could end up regretting it, because these dogs can be challenging to live with.
Adopting From Dog Rescue Organizations
You might find a Leonberger available from a Dog Rescue group. Owners may give up their Leonberger when it becomes apparent that the dog is too much for them to handle. The dog might simply be too big, strong, and rambunctious. There might be dominance issues, or aggression toward other animals. You would need to provide these dogs with the exercise, training, and socialization that they are lacking.
Adopting From Public Animal Shelters and Humane Societies
Leonbergers are rarely found here, although shelter personnel might not recognize the breed if it did come in. But Leonberger Rescue groups keep their eyes peeled on shelters and humane societies across the country. On the off chance that a Leonberger turns up at a shelter, the rescue group typically moves in quickly to take the dog.
Buying From a Dog Breeder
You can buy a Leonberger from a show breeder, who breeds Leonbergers to match a detailed standard of appearance for the dog show ring. You can also buy a Leonberger from people who "just breed pets" or "just had one litter." But should you? Be sure to read the article to learn more about these people.
Here's one difference between a responsible breeder and an irresponsible breeder – BOTH PARENTS of a Leonberger puppy should have:
- a certificate from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) – dated within the past year – certifying the dog to be free of eye diseases
- a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) or PennHip certifying the dog to have normal hips
- a certificate from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) certifying the dog to have normal elbows
Also, at least ONE PARENT of a Leonberger puppy should have:
- a DNA test proving they are Normal/Clear of a neuromuscular disease called Leonberger Polyneuropathy (LPN).
If a seller can't show you those certificates, the puppies are higher risk for health problems. You might choose to accept that risk. But then you need to be willing (and able) to pay a couple thousand bucks for future surgeries and lifelong meds if your Leonberger ends up blind and crippled.
Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store
I've not seen a Leonberger in a pet shop, but it's always possible. I have plenty to say about buying a puppy from a pet shop!
How To Choose a Good Leonberger Puppy
How to test the temperament and personality of Leonberger puppies and pick the best puppy in a litter.
AKC Registered Puppies: Are AKC Papers Important?
Should you consider buying only AKC registered Leonberger puppies? Do AKC papers and pedigrees really matter?
To help you train and care for your dog
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.