Book Reviews

Very Helpful Guide to Leonbergers, but DO NOT Neuter or Spay a Leonberger at Six Months Doing So Will Harm The Dog

On this blog I’ve previously reviewed six good Leonberger books:

I’ve also reviewed four Leonberger books that I don’t recommend:

With this post I am adding another Leonberger book that I recommend. It is a very good guide for new Leonberger owners with one caveat. It implies that you should neuter/spay your Leonberger at six months old, which would severely harm your dog if you did. The in general recommended six months does not apply to Leonbergers. Vannessa Richie did her research except regarding this. She has written many dog books, interviewed many Leonberger breeders, and she is a skilled author. However, it is obvious that she has never owned a Leonberger. Therefore, I am giving this otherwise great book four stars instead of five.

Photo of the front cover of the book the Complete Guide To Leonbergers by Vanessa Richie. Click on the image to go to the Amazon page for the book.
Front cover of the book the Complete Guide To Leonbergers by Vanessa Richie. Click on the image to go to the Amazon page for the book.

The book is The Complete Guide to Leonbergers: Selecting, Training, Feeding, Exercising, Socializing, and Loving Your New Leonberger Puppy Paperback – May 12, 2022 by Vanessa Richie. It is 195 pages, and the current price on Amazon for the paperback is $19.95, the hardback is $26.95, and the Kindle is $9.95. ISBN-13 978-1954288485, weight ‎12.5 ounces and the dimensions ‎are 6 x 0.44 x 9 inches.

This is my review for the book

Complete and Very Helpful Guide to Leonbergers, but DON’T Neuter/Spay a Leonberger at Six Months

As the title promises this book is indeed a complete guide to Leonbergers. It is focused on training and care. First the book examines whether a Leonberger is the right dog for you as well as the history of the breed. The rest of the book includes topics on how to find and prepare your home for a Leonberger, puppy training, socialization, exercise, grooming, nutrition, health, etc. The book has a lot of detail and a lot of useful information. The author clearly did her research. She interviewed ten breeders after all.

The content of the book is almost 100% correct as far as I can tell, and the information is very useful to Leonberger owners. I question the second page of the chapter on history where she claims that Essig bred his Leonbergers from two dogs, a white and black Newfoundland and a long-haired St. Bernard. Essig claimed a third dog was also involved, a Pyrenean Mountain Wolfhound or possibly a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (Great Pyrenees). However, Essig’s claims have been disputed, and this is not important.

The book design is very professionally done with various sorts of sidebars, highlighted headers, professional looking tables, dividers, little corner boxes with graphics for “helpful tips”, “fun facts”, “historical facts”, “Health Alerts”, pros-cons sidebars with graphics, and 62 black and white Leonberger photos. The author is not only a good writer, but she also knows a thing or two about book design.

I’ve read more than a dozen Leonberger books and this is among the best Leonberger books I’ve read. I wish this book had existed when we got our Leonberger. I should say that we did not do everything right, but we got a lot right, and he lived exceptionally long for a Leonberger, 13 years. If we have had this book, maybe he would have lived even longer. I should add that we donated his DNA to Leonberger health research (upon request).

The reason I am not giving this book five stars is because of a problematic blooper in the middle of page 30. It says “….the dog is spayed or neutered once it reaches maturity (typically six months)”. Leonbergers aren’t fully matured until the age of two and should not be neutered/spayed until then. If you spay/neuter a Leonberger much earlier (six months) you will harm the dog. Yes, they are different from most dogs. I should say that we did not wait two years, it was not practical, but we waited about one and half year, which is much better than six months. If the author removes the faulty parenthesis, I will change my rating to five stars and update this paragraph and the title of the review. Assuming the book is print on demand you can update so that future prints here on Amazon will be correct.

So, in conclusion, this is a great Leonberger book with a lot of useful information, and I highly recommend it to Leonberger owners and prospective owners, but the blooper on page 30 prevents me from giving a perfect rating at the moment.

Photo of the back cover of the book the Complete Guide To Leonbergers by Vanessa Richie
Back cover of the book the Complete Guide To Leonbergers by Vanessa Richie.

For more information on neutering and spaying a Leonberger click here










Finally, if you would like to learn about more about my book and find out where to buy it, click here or here. You can also click the image below to buy it from

This image shows the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger. The cover is beige and brown and it has the face of an old Leonberger in the middle. Click on the image to go to the Amazon location for the book.
This is the front cover of my book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the location for the book.

By thomasstigwikman

My name is Thomas Wikman. I am a software/robotics engineer with a background in physics, but I am currently retired. I took early retirement. I am a dog lover, and especially a Leonberger lover, a home brewer, craft beer enthusiast, an amateur astronomer, I’m learning French, and I am an avid reader. I live in Dallas, Texas, but I am originally from Sweden. I am married to Claudia, and we have three children Jacob, David and Rachel. My blog feature the crazy adventures of our Leonberger e Bronco von der Löwenhöhle as well as information on Leonbergers

23 replies on “Very Helpful Guide to Leonbergers, but DO NOT Neuter or Spay a Leonberger at Six Months Doing So Will Harm The Dog”

Thank you Kymber. With Leonbergers it is recommended that you wait two years before neutering and spaying. It is more and less true for other giant breeds too (St. Bernards etc.). Two years may be a long time to wait for practical reasons, but six months is way too early, and you upset the hormones they need for bone growth and the chest plate forming properly. This little piece of information is potentially dangerous because many veterinarians don’t know this. However, breeders will in general tell everyone they sell a puppy to. Ours (Julie Schaffert) did.

Liked by 1 person

Yes I believe it is true for some other giant breeds. I don’t believe it is true for most dogs but I think I read you may want to wait until 9 months for some common large (but not giant) breeds. The hormones are important for their bone growth.

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Thanks for the info. In the bad old days, it was thought that you should wait to spay females until they’ve had one heat. Sometimes people let their dogs have a little first, but people have gotten away from that thinking.

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I think I probably should make a post on this issue. I never mentioned it in my book because it is an contentious issue and I don’t like one star reviews. I participated in an online discussion among Leonberger enthusiasts and people can get riled up over this. The people who insisted you need to wait two years or not neuter at all considered the people doing it earlier to be animal abusers and those who think you should do it earlier, typically a year, or 18 months think waiting too long is irresponsible. It is best to say nothing about it in a book. However, a blog post is different.

My breeder Julie Schaffert, arguably the most prominent Leonberger breeder in North America, says to wait at least two years. I also found other breeders stating to wait two years (on-line). But I also found recommendations on-line stating 18 months to 24 months and one recommendation from the Leonberger Club of America stating to wait at least one year. I found a research article stating to wait at least 14 months for giant breeds. I also found a veterinary organization stating that Leonbergers like all breeds should be neutered between 4 to 6 months. However, it is my impression that veterinarians most of the time don’t understand giant breeds. It is the breeders who knows this best. Well I think this is worth an investigation.

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I think that is an excellent idea. I look forward to seeing such a post.

I know it’s not the same thing, but they say with cats, the males can be neutered as soon as the testicles descend, which is (give or take) about two months. Most cats reach sexual maturity starting about six months.

On the one hand, it seems like a dirty trick, but on the other, the animals live longer, are healthier, and there are fewer unwanted animals.

But if early neutering/spaying harms the animal, of course hold off a little while.

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Thank you Denise. I am pretty confident that you need to wait with neutering and spaying a Leonberger, it’s what people in the Leonberger community are saying, but collecting some on-line sources and different opinions I think will shine more light on the issue.

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Yes six months seems to be the standard for most dogs but it doesn’t work for Leonbergers and I believe some other giant breeds. However, breeders will tell you this when they sell you the puppy and in the follow up discussions.

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I’m not an expert in the publishing business, but it is my understanding that unless one is talking about e-books exclusively, going back to fixing a “blooper” in an already-published work is, ipso facto, an updated edition. It’s certainly easier to fix a mistake in a book published digitally. For a physical book? That would require taking the existing edition out of print, making the correction, then reissuing the book as an updated edition

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As I said, it’s easier to make edits in eBooks (and to some extent, self-published books created on Amazon itself), since the digital version is already editable from your end, and physical books are printed “on demand” using the same files as the eBook.

In the case of a book published the traditional way, things are more complicated because Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Oxford University Press, the Naval Institute Press, et. al. must have pre-printed books in bulk quantities.

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I should say I certainly don’t question your information Alex. You usually know what you are talking about. However, I have a vague memory that someone told me that Amazon would allow you to make a minor single correction to a printed book. All future Amazon prints would be corrected but naturally nothing already printed can be corrected and nothing printed elsewhere can be corrected. It is just a vague memory but I just would like to investigate. Let’s see what they say.


Yes it turns out that your last comment is correct. You can correct a non-traditionally published book on Amazon but it won’t be considered elsewhere. This is the answer I got : Any change to the interior (or cover) file, no matter how small, necessitates uploading a new file. Since this job is print-on-demand rather than one that’s traditionally published, a newer version of the book is not considered a different edition.

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Personally, I think in the interest of preventing pet overpopulation, people have gone overboard. Here in Europe, many vets won’t spay or neuter before the animal is a year old because of health risks. I know a lot of people think every dog should be fixed as soon as possible, but they need those hormones to grow properly. I wish certain hormone sparing procedures like vasectomies and ovary sparing spays were more popular and available.

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Well, as you and I have discussed, people tend to be very rigid and sometimes downright uncivilized in their views about this topic.

Over here, a lot of dogs are left intact, but they are trained and contained by their owners. Dog licenses cost a fair amount of money, so its very unusual to see dogs running amok.

I believe in Norway, it’s actually illegal to get dogs “fixed” unless there is a medical reason. I know it was when I last researched this subject, but I can’t swear that the law hasn’t changed.

I do prefer my dogs fixed, but I think it should be done when the animal is more mature. Especially in the larger breeds.

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Jenny I agree with you. I think you were ahead of me on this issue. The UC Davis research article I am referencing in the new post (after this one) clearly states that there are a lot of health concerns associated with neutering and spaying too early. They researched 35 breeds and wasn’t just the giant breeds. The dogs really need their hormones. However, the giant breeds mature much later, especially Leonbergers and are severely impacted by early neutering/spaying. This is something that has been well known in the Leonberger community for decades. That’s why when this book stated that Leonbergers should be fixed at six months old I reacted. That’s a big blooper in an otherwise great book.

That blooper plus her many other dog books make it obvious to me that she has never owned a Leonberger. You don’t have to own a Leonberger to write a good book about them as long as you do your research, but you can miss something obvious if you don’t.

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