Categories
Leonbergers

Support the Leonberger Health Foundation International

Purebred large dog breeds tend to have shorter life spans compared to most other dogs and they have more health issues. However, Leonbergers are  fortunate compared to other large breeds, especially those bred in North America, primarily for three reasons:

  • The Leonberger breed standard does not call for traits that can be detrimental to health.
  • The precise and restrictive breeding regulations of the Leonberger Club of America (LCA) and other Leonberger clubs.
  • The work of the Leonberger Health Foundation International or LHFI, have resulted in Leonbergers being relatively free of inherited illnesses compared to other large dog breeds in America.

Today I received my first payment for the sale of my book from Amazon (for the month of July) and I donated all proceeds to the Leonberger Health Foundation International like I said I would. Regardless of whether you get my book or not you can donate to LHFI. It is one of my favorite charities. LHFI “facilitate the solicitation and distribution of donations given to support health related breed-specific research.” The LHFI also administers a program that collects DNA samples from Leonbergers to share with universities and research institutions.

Among the organization’s achievements are the eradication of Addison’s disease among Leonbergers, the raising of nearly half a million dollars for research into conditions that affect canine health, including osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, glaucoma, cardiac diseases, thyroid diseases, and neurological disorders. Another notable achievement is the fact that since 2011, no Leonbergers with two copies of the LPN1 gene mutation, which causes Leonberger polyneuropathy, have been recorded in LHFI’s biobank (featuring 9,000 Leonbergers). Its research also supports healthful longevity and aging as well as population diversity.

One happy event for our family was when Bronco received his Grey Muzzle Award, which is an award given for longevity by LHFI. LHFI bestows the award on any Leonberger who has reached the age of twelve. To find out more about the Grey Muzzle Award click here. To see the 2019–2020 awardees video featuring Bronco click here.

Photo of Bronco receiving his grey muzzle award. Claudia is holding the award.
Bronco receiving his grey muzzle award.
Photo of the Grey Muzzle Award certificate from the Leonberger Health Foundation International.
Grey Muzzle Award certificate from the Leonberger Health Foundation International.
Photo of the Grey Muzzle Award from the Leonberger Health Foundation International.
The Grey Muzzle Award from the Leonberger Health Foundation International.

I can add that when Bronco passed away, we sent his DNA to the University of Minnesota to be used in research. This was facilitated by the LHFI.

Finally, I would like to promote my book about Bronco and Leonbergers. It has a lot of color photos, amusing Leonberger stories, and Leonberger information that has been verified and is also based on personal information.

Photo of the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
Photo of the back cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.se location for the book.
This is the back cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.se location for the book.
Image showing the endorsements for the book. Click on the image to go to the Barnes and Noble location for the book.
These are the endorsements for the book. Click on the image to go to the Barnes and Noble location for the book.

Below is a list of where you can find the book. Click on the links to go to the respective store. However, if your favorite bookstore is not listed below you can search for it using the ISBN or ASIN numbers.

ISBN number for printed edition: 978-0998084954

ASIN number for the e-book edition: B0B5NN32SR

Categories
Leonbergers

What Is A Dog Breed Standard

A dog breed standard is a description of the characteristics of an ideal example of a dog breed. The description may include physical characteristics, genetic criteria, behavioral characteristics, or criteria of athletic or productive performance. Breed standards are devised by breed associations, and are written to reflect the use or purpose of the dog breed. The Federation Cynologique Internationale regulates breed standards for dogs internationally. However, the American Kennel Club, does not belong to the international body and uses its own breed standard format. In practice the breed standards are very similar.

For the AKC, the breed standard, and any revision thereof, originates with an AKC parent club. For Leonbergers the parent club is the Leonberger Club of America. It was very lucky that it became that way. To read about the history of the history of the Leonberger breed standard, Leonberger Club of America and the great dog wars, click here.

Below is a visual depiction of the physical aspects of the Leonberger breed standard. To find out more click on the image.

Image showing the physical criteria of the Leonberger breed standard. Click on the photo to read more about the Leonberger breed standard.
Physical physical criteria of the Leonberger breed standard. Click on the photo to read more about the Leonberger breed standard.

Finally, I would like to promote my book about Bronco and Leonbergers.

This is the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
This is the back cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.se location for the book.
This is the back cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.se location for the book.
These are the endorsements for the book. Click on the image to got to the Barnes and Noble location for the book.
These are the endorsements for the book. Click on the image to got to the Barnes and Noble location for the book.

Below is a list of where you can find the book. Click on the links to go to the respective store. However, if your favorite bookstore is not listed below you can search for it using the ISBN or ASIN numbers.

ISBN number for printed edition: 978-0998084954

ASIN number for the e-book edition: B0B5NN32SR

Categories
Leonbergers

The Life Span of Different Dog Breeds

As I mentioned before, our Leonberger Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, or as we called him, Bronco, was an unusually long lived Leonberger. Leonbergers live on average 8-9 years, but our Bronco almost made it 13 (by two weeks).

Photo of our old Leonberger Bronco going on 13. He loved walking into his old age but needed breaks.
Our Old Leonberger Bronco going on 13. He loved walking into his old age but needed breaks.
Snapshot of website where you can lookup the life spans of hundreds of dog breeds.
You can look up the average life span of hundreds of dog breeds by clicking on the image. As you see, smaller dogs live longer, the giant breeds have the shortest life spans.

Scientific veterinary research has shown that large dogs have a much shorter life span than small dogs. This is not controversial, yet so many people are surprised by it. For example, one day after Bronco had just visited the veterinarian and I was walking him around the shopping center, a woman came up to me and asked about him. I told her he was twelve—old for a Leonberger. She said, “Twelve isn’t very old; my Chihuahua lived to be sixteen.” I explained to her that big dogs, especially really big dogs such as Leonbergers and Saint Bernards, don’t live as long as small dogs do, so for a Leonberger, Bronco was indeed really old. The look on her face told me she didn’t believe me; excuses, excuses, excuses. So this fact is far from intuitive to people, especially considering that big animals tend to live longer than small animals in the wild.

The cliché that one human year corresponds to seven dog years is a myth. For example, the average life span of a Great Dane is eight to ten years. For a Chihuahua, it is twelve to twenty years. Dachshunds and Pomeranians live between twelve and sixteen years, and pugs live between twelve and fifteen years. The average life span of a Leonberger, by contrast, is eight to nine years (some sources say seven years*). You can look up your dog’s particulars online: the product-review website Goody Pet features a life-expectancy calculator for hundreds of dog breeds.

Knowing the expected life span of your dog has value. When a dog reaches three-quarters of it, for example, he is considered a senior and needs to be treated differently.‡ You should get dog food that’s especially made for senior dogs and visit the veterinarian more often—ideally, twice a year.

To take Bronco’s temperature, we used a thermometer that we could insert into his ear canal. However, you can also do it the old-fashioned way: coat a thermometer with petroleum jelly or baby oil and gently insert it about one inch into your dog’s anus. Wait sixty seconds, then remove the thermometer. It should be noted, however, that the old-fashioned approach may lead to protests.

It’s also important to keep careful track of your Leonberger’s weight. Obesity in dogs is a growing problem: according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, in 2018, 56 percent of American dogs were obese. Obesity, by definition, is a condition in which a person—or an animal—weighs at least 30 percent more than his ideal weight. In the photo below, in which Bronco is sitting on Claudia’s lap, he weighed 167 pounds—thirty-two pounds above his ideal weight of 135 pounds. Soon after that photograph was taken, we put him on a diet. Obesity can cause a lot of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, early-onset arthritis, and joint pain. It can also put a strain on the body’s vital organs.

Photo of our Leonberger Bronco sitting in Claudia's lap. Bronco was a loving dog but 167 pounds in your lap might be a tad much.
Bronco was a loving dog but 167 pounds in your lap might be a tad much.

Finally, I would like to promote my book about Bronco and Leonbergers.

This is a photo of the front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
This is the front cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.com location for the book.
Photo of the back cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle". Click on the image to go to the Amazon.se location for the book.
This is the back cover of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.se location for the book.
This image feature the endorsements for the book. Click on the image to got to the Barnes and Noble location for the book.
These are the endorsements for the book. Click on the image to got to the Barnes and Noble location for the book.

Below is a list of where you can find the book. Click on the links to go to the respective store. However, if your favorite bookstore is not listed below you can search for it using the ISBN or ASIN numbers.

ISBN number for printed edition: 978-0998084954 ASIN number for the e-book edition: B0B5NN32SR

Categories
Leonbergers

Getting a Leonberger the Interview

I think it is awful when people return dogs. Barring some very special circumstances, such as severe illness or death, this is not something that should happen. If it does happen a reputable breeder will take the dog back. A Leonberger, well any dog, should never be turned into a shelter. The Leonberger Club of America and the Leonberger community in general are very concerned about the wellbeing of all Leonbergers. Therefore, you often have to go through an interview before you can purchase or adopt a Leonberger. Are you fit to be a Leonberger owner? Would you pass the interview? Below is the interview we went through including our answers.

Kennel von der Löwenhöhle Questionnaire and our Answers

Why do you want a Leonberger?

We have a dog book, and while looking at dogs we came across the Leonberger, a gorgeous dog from Germany. We also had the opportunity to meet some Leonbergers, a mother and her puppies, which were wonderful. We have read that Leonbergers are great with children and good guard dogs, which is something we’d like. We have two dogs, but we have not raised them as puppies. We have never had a puppy and would like to have one.

What do you like about the Leonberger and what do you know about its characteristics? Do you prefer male or female? Why?

They are very beautiful and love to swim. We have a huge pool, and my children love to spend their summers swimming. Leonbergers also make wonderful pets and are good guard dogs, and best of all they don’t drool. We don’t prefer a male or a female dog.

Are you aware this is at least a ten-year commitment?

Yes. We have two other dogs, and of course we are aware that they live up to ten years—hopefully more.

Do you have any other pets? Have you had any experience raising a giant-breed puppy?

We have a Lab and a German shepherd. We have two dwarf hamsters, Moldova and Montenegro. My son also keeps a baby ball python in a cage in his room (UGGH). As I said before, we have never owned a puppy, but we met some Leonberger puppies from a breeder who resides in Houston.

Where will your dog be kept—indoors or outdoors? Backyard or kennel?

Our dog would be kept mostly indoors. (We live in Texas, and it would get too hot outside.) At night we take all our dogs for walks and for occasional swims during the year. When the dog is still a puppy, we would keep it in a puppy playpen and take it out every half hour to go to the bathroom (until obedience training). We do have a fenced backyard the puppy can play in, and we have a dog run with a dog door so the dogs can come and go as they please.

Is your yard fenced?

Yes. Our yard has a seven-foot-high solid wood fence all the way around

How many hours will you be out of the house? Where will your Leonberger be while you are gone?

I am a stay-at-home mom, and we would almost always have someone in the house, such as our housekeeper, children, and family. If we are gone for a long periods of time, we have a dog sitter who comes to our house to take care of our dogs.

Do you have children? If so, what are their ages?

We have three kids, ages thirteen, ten, and eight. Two boys and one girl (in that order).

Describe a typical day at your house now. How do you think it will change once the puppy arrives?

On a typical day, the kids go to school, and I like to take a long walk. I go through some paperwork, I prepare dinner, then everyone comes home. On weekends, my younger kids have sports, but my oldest kid stays home (he plays during the week).

I would be with the dog most of the day and would do my shopping while the housekeeper is there. I do not plan on leaving the puppy for any long period of time. I’m sure that having the puppy will be like having another child. We have been told that the puppy will be quite rambunctious for the first three years of its life.

Have you observed any obedience classes in your area? It is very important that Leonberger puppies start obedience classes by sixteen weeks of age. Would you attend such classes?

We have not observed any obedience classes yet. However, we are interested in the International K9 training facility in Dallas and would absolutely attend these classes.

Von der Löwenhöhle puppies start their crate training at our kennel. Will you continue this training? If not, why not?

Yes, we would continue crate training at our home. We will follow your advice and that of our veterinarians in regard to further training.

What plans do you have for your Leonberger—e.g., showing, breeding, obedience, family companion, therapy? If you plan to show or breed, what experience, if any, have you had?

Our major purpose for wanting a Leonberger is to have a family companion.

Please add any other information you feel will help us pick out a puppy for you.

We would like a dog that will fit in well with our family.

The front cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle"
The front cover of the book (click on the image to go to the Amazon page for the book).
This is the back cover of the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle"
This is the back cover of the book. Click on the image to go to the Amazon.se location for the book.
Endorsements for the book "The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle"
These are the endorsements for the book. Click on the image to got to the Barnes and Noble location for the book.

Below is an updated list of where you can find the book. If your favorite bookstore is not listed below you can search for it using the ISBN or ASIN numbers.

ISBN number for printed edition: 978-0998084954

ASIN number for the e-book edition: B0B5NN32SR

My email is : thomaswikman@msn.com

Below are a few of the places where you can buy it. Click on a link to buy it from your favorite store.

Print version

E-book version

Categories
Leonbergers

Leonberger Health Foundation International

All purebred dogs are more or less inbred, which comes with inherent health risks. That is especially true for large breeds. However, Leonbergers, especially those bred in North America, are fortunate compared to other large breeds. The Leonberger breed standard does not call for traits that can be detrimental to health. The precise and restrictive breeding regulations of the Leonberger Club of America (LCA) and other Leonberger clubs, and the work of the Leonberger Health Foundation International or LHFI, have resulted in Leonbergers being relatively free of inherited illnesses compared to other large dog breeds in America. For more information see Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, “Guide to Congenital and Heritable Disorders in Dogs,” rev. 2011

The Leonberger Health Foundation International (LHFI) was founded in 2000 by Waltraut Zieher and other members of the LCA’s health, education, and research committee to “facilitate the solicitation and distribution of donations given to support health related breed-specific research.” The LHFI also administers a program that collects DNA samples from Leonbergers to share with universities and research institutions.

LHFI’s global biobank contains DNA samples from more than nine thousand Leonbergers. Among the organization’s notable achievements are the eradication of Addison’s disease among Leonbergers and the raising of nearly half a million dollars for research into conditions that affect canine health, including osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, glaucoma, cardiac diseases, thyroid diseases, and neurological disorders. Its research also supports healthful longevity and aging as well as population diversity. Another success is the fact that since 2011, no Leonbergers with two copies of the LPN1 gene mutation (which causes Leonberger polyneuropathy) have been recorded in LHFI’s biobank.

One happy event for our family was when Bronco received his Grey Muzzle Award, which is an award given for longevity by LHFI. LHFI bestows the award on any Leonberger who has reached the age of twelve. These Leonbergers are the canine equivalents of centenarians, humans who are at least one hundred years old. The Grey Muzzle Award is also given to breeders, because they are partially responsible for the dogs’ longevity. The Grey Muzzle Award was certainly a happy event in Wikman family. If you have a twelve-year-old Leonberger, simply fill out a form on the LHFI website or send an email to lhfgreymuzzle@gmail.com.

The foundation will ask for some information, including the registered name and call name of the dog; the breeder’s name, kennel name, address, and email; the dam’s registered name; the sire’s registered name; the owner’s name, address, and email; the birth date of the dog; and whether the dog is alive or dead. If the latter, they will want to know the cause of death. In addition, they would like you to write a one-paragraph tribute to the dog and send two (preferably high-resolution) photos—one head shot and one favorite photo. To find out more about the Grey Muzzle Award click here. To see the 2019–2020 awardees video featuring Bronco click here.

Photo of Bronco's Grey Muzzle Award certificate from the Leonberger Health Foundation International
Grey Muzzle Award certificate from the Leonberger Health Foundation International
Picture of the The Grey Muzzle Award given by the Leonberger Health Foundation International
The Grey Muzzle Award from the Leonberger Health Foundation International

I can add that when Bronco passed away, we sent his DNA to the University of Minnesota to be used in research. This was facilitated by the LHFI.

Picture of the front cover of the book The Life and Times of Bronco von der Löwenhöle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger.  All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Leonberger Health Foundation International.
LHFI is one of my favorite charities and all proceeds from this book will be donated to the Leonberger Health Foundation International.
Categories
Leonbergers

The Five Most Commented Posts

This is the front cover of the book The Life and Times of the Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger. The feature crazy and amusing stories about our late Leonberger as well as information about Leonbergers. The book will be available on Amazon and many other bookstores on July 3rd 2022. July 3rd 2022 would have been Bronco’s 15th birthday.
This is the front cover of the book The Life and Times of the Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger. The feature crazy and amusing stories about our late Leonberger as well as information about Leonbergers. The book will be available on Amazon and many other bookstores on July 3rd 2022. July 3rd 2022 would have been Bronco’s 15th birthday.

This post features a list of the five most commented blog posts out of the 26 posts I’ve made. Click on the photo to see the blog post. Check and see if you missed one or maybe more of them, and feel free to add more comments. I love comments.

Post-4: 21 comments so far – Bronco’s Hamster Search and Rescue

This is a drawing of our Leonberger with hamsters. Bronco was good at searching and finding run away Hamsters. His puffy cheeks are due to hamsters in his mouth and on the right a hamster is receiving CPR (it was successful). Click to read the story.
Our Leonberger Bronco was good at searching and finding run away Hamsters. His puffy cheeks are due to hamsters in his mouth and on the right a hamster is receiving CPR (it was successful). Click to read the story. Drawing by Naomi Rosenblatt.

Post-5: 21 comments so far – The Grey Muzzle Award

Photo of our Leonberger Bronco's Grey Muzzle Award from the Leonberger Health Foundation International.
Our Leoberger Bronco received the Grey Muzzle Award from the Leonberger Health Foundation International when he turned 12. Leonbergers, like all giant breeds, don’t live very long, on average eight years. The Leonberger Health Foundation International is trying to extend the life span of Leonbergers and in the extension all giant breeds.

Post-12: 14 comments so far – A Shocking Walk

A photo of a young, gangly, not yet filled out Leonberger Bronco. However, despite his youth he was still entirely unafraid of thunder and lightning, it was not very frightening to him.
A young, gangly, not yet filled out Leonberger Bronco. However, despite his youth he was still entirely unafraid of thunder and lightning, it was not very frightening to him.

Post-6: 11 comments so far – The time Bronco accidentally pushed Baby into a storm drain

This is a drawing of me rescuing our German Shepherd Baby from a storm drain while holding onto an agitated Bronco our young Leonberger.
Me rescuing our German Shepherd Baby from a storm drain while holding onto an agitated Bronco our young Leonberger. To read about this crazy adventure click on the image. Drawing by Naomi Rosenblatt.

Post-16: 10 comments so far – Bronco the Very Big Dog Bites My Behind

A photo of our very big Leonberger dog sitting in Claudia's lap. They are sitting in a red sofa.
Our Leonberger Bronco was very big indeed and he had powerful jaws. The only person he ever bit was, and was in my derriere. To read about this misadventure click on the photo.
Categories
Leonbergers

The Five Most Liked Blog Posts

This is my 25th blog post and I decided to make it a collection of my five most liked posts. Most of you cannot like posts. You need a wordpress.com account for that. That’s just the way wordpress.com does it to incentivize people to get an account. I don’t like that, so I am not going to ask anyone to get an account. However, everyone can comment, and I like both likes and comments. So what do you think about these five posts?

Post-12: A Shocking Walk

A young Bronco (Leonberger) at the dog park. A bit gangly but still big and brave.
A young Bronco at the dog park. Our Labrador in the background. Bronco is a gangly adolescent and hasn’t filled out yet. Later he would start looking the way you expect a Leonberger to look like. He was still very big and very brave at the time. He was probably 120 pounds in this photo. Click on the image to see the “A shocking walk” story.

Post-13: Bronco the Great Swimmer

Bronco our Leonberger is swimming in White Rock Lake outside Dallas.
Bronco swimming in White Rock Lake outside Dallas. Click on the image to see the corresponding story.

Post-16: Bronco the Very Big Dog Bites My Behind

Our big Leonberger Bronco (167lbs) sitting in Claudia's lap.
Bronco our Leonberger was a big dog with extremely powerful jaws. Once he bit my behind. Find out why. Click on the photo to read the story.

Post-17: When Bronco Swallowed our Neighbor’s Head and Teaching Dogs How to Greet People Properly

Our big and fluffy Leonberger Bronco is standing in front of the Hallway. Bronco loved greeting people. However, the head in the lion mouth circus trick is not how you greet people, something Bronco needed to learn.
Bronco our Leonberger standing in front of the Hallway. Bronco loved greeting people. However, the head in the lion mouth circus trick is not how you greet people, something Bronco needed to learn. Read this story and how to teach Leonbergers not to jump up on people by clicking on the photo.

Post-21: The second proof version of the printed book was very close to final version. The final print version is finally done. Now we are doing fixes to the eBook version.

The front and back cover of the second proof of the book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”, stories and tips from thirteen years with a Leonberger. Click on the photo to read about this proof and the book release.
Categories
Leonbergers

A Brief History of the Leonberger Club of America

Leonbergers have a long history in North America and the United States—despite the fact that until 1985, there were only seventeen Leonbergers known to be living in the United States.

See: Lusby, Leonberger, page 15.

Photo of the book Leonberger, Special Rare-Breed Edition, A Comprehensive Owners Guide, by Madeline Lusby
Leonberger, Special Rare-Breed Edition, A Comprehensive Owners Guide, Madeline Lusby

In the 1870s, Leonbergers were brought to Newfoundland to invigorate the stock of Newfoundland dogs. Around the same time, two Leonbergers named Caesar and Sultan were purchased from Essig’s kennel and transported across the ocean to join the Wellesley-Sterling theater company in the United States as the stars of their productions. Then in 1879, Caesar and Sultan visited President Ulysses S. Grant, who called them the largest and most magnificent dogs he had ever seen and presented them with gold medals. During the years between World War I and World War II, a New Jersey family, the Wolfs, opened their home as a temporary refuge for Jews fleeing Germany: they also imported Leonbergers. Unfortunately, this introduction of the breed into the United States did not last, and it would be another fifty years before the Leonberger appeared in America again.

See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 60.

See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 64

See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 101.

Photo of front cover of Leonberger, A comprehensive guide to the lion king of breeds, by Caroline Bliss-Isberg
Leonberger, A comprehensive guide to the lion king of breeds, Caroline Bliss-Isberg

During the late 1970s and the 1980s, a few families—Waltraut and Klaus Zieher, Brian Peters, Manfred and Sylvia Kaufmann, Keri Campbell and Melanie Brown, and Mary and Reiner Decher brought Leonbergers to the United States. The Dechers had started a breeding program and were looking for a mate for their first dam, Viona. By chance their neighbor discovered through a newsletter that there was another Leonberger in the United States, and that led to the families’ finding and connecting with one another. I should add that the Dechers were careful to conform to the German breeding regulations and performed hip X-rays that they then submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Viona became the first OFA-certified Leonberger in America.

See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 152.

On Saturday, November 2, 1985, eight of these Leonberger enthusiasts met at a hotel in Denver, Colorado, to found the Leonberger Club of America (LCA). This group of founders, which has since been dubbed the Denver Eight, appointed a registrar, formulated a breeding acceptability checklist, and instituted various policies, including the requirement that OFA certification is mandatory for breeding. LCA membership grew: it held social gatherings, began publishing LeoLetter, and imported an increasing number of dogs. Now the LCA has thousands of members across the country, and Leonbergers receive high ratings on health tests relative to other large breeds. For example, in 2000, the OFA reported that only 14.6 percent of Leonbergers tested positive for hip dysplasia, compared to 47 percent of Saint Bernards.

See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 154.

See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 176.

Another important historical event was the founding of the Leonberger Health Foundation International (LHFI), in 2000 (it was just called the Leonberger Health Foundation back then). According to its website, the organization was founded by Waltraut Zieher and other memers of the LCA’s health, education, and research committee to “facilitate the solicitation and distribution of donations given to support health related breed-specific research.” The LHFI also administers a program that collects DNA samples from Leonbergers to share with universities and research institutions, and of course it administers the Grey Muzzle Award.

LHFI’s global biobank contains DNA samples from more than nine thousand Leonbergers. Among the organization’s notable achievements are the eradication of Addison’s disease among Leonbergers and the raising of nearly half a million dollars for research into conditions that affect canine health, including osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, glaucoma, cardiac diseases, thyroid diseases, and neurological disorders. Its research also supports healthful longevity and aging as well as population diversity. Another success is the fact that since 2011, no Leonbergers with two copies of the LPN1 gene mutation (which causes Leonberger polyneuropathy) have been recorded in LHFI’s biobank. LHFI is one of my favorite charities.

The end of the twentieth century marked not only the end of the Cold War but also the beginning of what I call the Dog Wars of America. In 1985, the American Kennel Club (AKC) registry comprised one-third of the world’s known dog breeds. But the AKC had recognized only a few new breeds since 1887—a period of ninety-eight years. So the organization decided to change that policy, but this did not always go smoothly. The members of rare-breed clubs often did not want to be part of the AKC. For example, the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) was very reluctant to join, so a relatively small splinter group, the United States Australian Shepherd Association, was formed and designated the official member club of the AKC, which was not welcome news to the ASCA. The border collie is another example. Charles Krauthammer, the late political columnist, called the AKC the politburo of American dog breeding.

See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 159.

Similarly, in 2003, a new Leonberger club was formed—the Leonberger Club of the United States—with the goal of becoming the Leonberger member club of the AKC. This essentially forced the LCA’s hand, so they applied for membership in the AKC, a process that took years to complete. But ultimately the AKC approved the LCA as members in 2010: Leonbergers would officially become part of the Working Group. Fortunately, 90 percent of LCA breeders agreed to continue following LCA regulations regardless of whether the club would remain independent or become part of the AKC. Also fortunately, AKC membership afforded more opportunities for Leonbergers to participate in dog shows, which is important to many owners.

See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 187

For information on the history of the Leonberger starting in 1830’s see this link

Categories
Leonbergers

My Leonberger Post Number 20 Lists Them All

This is post number 20 for my Leonberger/Bronco blog. I decided to make it a list of posts. Not all posts were equally popular and maybe you missed the posts you would have liked the most. You can click on the link or the picture to see a post, then click back or “Home” (at the top) go back. If you read a post I certainly would love to get a “like” or maybe a comment.

Post-1: What is a Leonberger?

This image of a Leonberger summarizes the FCI Leonberger breed standard.
Summary of the FCI Leonberger breed standard (Photograph of Leonberger © Shutterstock/Eric Isselee)

Post-2: Our Leonberger Bronco

Photos of our Leonberger Bronco. Left: Bronco at 3 months old. Right Bronco at almost 13 years old.
Left: Bronco at 3 months old. Right Bronco at almost 13 years old.

Post-3: The Time Bronco Saved the Neighborhood

Two illustrations: Left: Trespasser at night spying on us through our bedroom window. Right: Bronco chasing off the trespasser (illustrations by Naomi Rosenblatt)
Left: Trespasser at night spying on us through our bedroom window. Right: Bronco chasing off trespasser (illustrations by Naomi Rosenblatt)

Post-4: Bronco’s Hamster Search and Rescue

Two illustrations. Left: Leonberger with puffy cheeks full of hamsters. Right: Hamster CPR (illustrations by Naomi Rosenblatt)
Left: Puffy cheeks full of hamsters. Right: Hamster CPR (illustrations by Naomi
Rosenblatt)

Post-5: The Grey Muzzle Award

Leonberger's live on average 8-9 years. However, the Leonberger Health Foundation International is working hard to extend the lifespan of Leonbergers. They give an award to all Leonbergers who have survived passed their 12th birthday. The award is called the Grey Muzzle Award. Bronco's award reads: The Grey Muzzle Award, for Leonberger longevity is presented with gratitude  by the Leonberger Health Foundation International to Bronco for offering hope and potential for longer lives for Leonbergers throughout the world.
Leonberger’s live on average 8-9 years. However, the Leonberger Health Foundation International is working hard to extend the lifespan of Leonbergers. They give an award to all Leonbergers who have survived passed their 12th birthday. The award is called the Grey Muzzle Award.

Post-6: The time Bronco accidentally pushed Baby into a storm drain

Our German Shepherd Baby in a storm drain. I am trying to pull her out while our Leonberger Bronco is pulling on the leash.
Me handling a difficult situation. Illustration by Naomi Rosenblatt.

Post-7: The Worldwide Independent Leonberger Database

Screenshot from the Worldwide Independent Leonberger Database, showing all the information on Bronco. More than 160,000 Leonbergers are listed in this database. That is most Leonbergers who've ever lived.
This screen shot shows the information about Bronco that appears in the WILD database above his full pedigree.

Post-8: The Day Bronco Stumped the Geek Squad

Illustration depicting a geek squad guy impressed by what the powerful bite by our Leonberger Bronco could do to a laptop.
Luckily the warranty covered both acts of God and acts of Dog (illustration Naomi Rosenblatt)

Post-9: Some Fun Leonberger Facts

The coat of arms of the town of Leonberg, Germany.
The coat of arms of the town of Leonberg, Germany, was allegedly the inspiration for the first breeder of the Leonberger, Heinrich Essig

Post-10: History of the Leonberger

Photo of Bronco at three months old. You can trace his ancestry back 120 years. A lot of interesting Leonberger history happened in that time.
Bronco at three months old. You can trace his ancestry back 120 years. A lot of interesting Leonberger history happened in that time.

Post-11: The Day Bronco Sniffed Out an Oncoming Insulin Shock

Photo of our Labrador Baylor on the left and our Leonberger Bronco in a sun ray on the right. Bronco may have saved Baylor's life by sniffing out an incoming insulin shock.
Bronco’s nose predicted an oncoming insulin shock

Post-12: A Shocking Walk

A photo of our Leonberger Bronco when he was young. Bronco was slim and a bit gangly when he was young. He would fill out later. He was full of energy, confident and not afraid of anything.
Bronco was slim and a bit gangly when he was young. He would fill out later. He was full of energy, confident and not afraid of anything.

Post-13: Bronco the Great Swimmer

Photo of our Leonberger Bronco swimming in White Rock Lake. Leonbergers are excellent swimmers and are sometimes used in water rescue.
Leonbergers are excellent swimmers and are sometimes used in water rescue.

Post-14: The Eye Drop War

Our Leonberger Bronco standing in front of a pet gate. Leonbergers are big and tall and can reach almost anywhere a human can. so pet gates are a good idea.
Gates we had around the house to prevent Bronco from roaming where he shouldn’t

Post-15: The Day an EF3 Tornado Ravaged Our Neighborhood. It was a tough day for us and Bronco

Photo of our Leonberger Bronco in front of our fence that was damaged by a tornado. He had also just had a toe amputation. He has a  plastic bag around his bandage.
Bronco, who was not at his best in this picture, rests next to our tornado damaged fence. We put a plastic bag around his bandage when he went outside.

Post-16: Bronco the Very Big Dog Bites My Behind

Our Leonberger Bronco was a very big dog with powerful jaws. Here he is sitting in Claudia’s lap/
Bronco was a very big dog. Here he is sitting in Claudia’s lap.

Post-17: When Bronco Swallowed our Neighbor’s Head and Teaching Dogs How to Greet People Properly

Our Leonberger Bronco standing in the hallway
Bronco in front of the hallway

Post-18: How to Publish a Dog Book on Amazon (and elsewhere)

This photo is a page example from The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger. It will be released July 3rd 2022.
Page example from The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle, Stories and Tips from Thirteen Years with a Leonberger.

Post-19: Are Leonbergers like bears, lions or wolves? Ask the Boy Who Cried Wolf!

Photo of a Grey Wolf (Canis Lupus) to the left and our Leonberger to the right. The humoristic text says "Canis Lupus, the Grey Wolf, is a fearsome and courageous hunter in nature. Canis Lupus familiaris, the dog, a close relative of the grey wolf, is sometimes also brave. This specimen bravely protects the life of smaller dogs and hamsters."
Leonbergers are big dogs and little boys may think they are wolves, but Leonbergers are very friendly.

Post 20, well that’s this one. Please like this post or any other post if you do or leave a comment.

Categories
Leonbergers

History of the Leonberger

Bronco at three months old. You can trace his ancestry back 120 years. A lot of interesting Leonberger history happened in that time.

This post is a sample from my new Leonberger History page. The Leonberger History page is somewhat long (almost 3,000 words), too long for a post, but it is interesting.  This post only covers up to the end of the 1800’s and I’ve also removed all the references. To see the full history click here:

The Leonberger breed was originally created by Heinrich Essig (1808–87) in the German town of Leonberg, in what was then the kingdom of Württemberg. According to legend, Essig bred the dog to resemble the lion in the town’s coat of arms. Indeed, as you can see in the image on page 132, the lion in the coat of arms doesn’t look like a real lion, so you could say that the Leonberger looks the way it does because Germans were bad at drawing lions back then. All joking aside, though, Leonbergers do bear some resemblance to lions and maybe even bears. In any case, they are beautiful dogs.

When people would stop me and ask me questions about the kind of dog Bronco was, I would say he was a Leonberger—a cross between a Saint Bernard, a Newfoundland, and a Great Pyrenees—and that the breed was created by the mayor of the German town of Leonberg. But, as the economist Tyler Cowen said, “Be suspicious of simple stories.” As it turns out, the story I kept telling was a simplification and not entirely true. History is more complicated, and that’s another reason I’m writing this: I was unintentionally spreading misinformation about Leonbergers, and want to try to correct some of it.

Simple and interesting stories are easy to remember, easy to believe, and easy to propagate. But first, Heinrich Essig was never the mayor of Leonberg. He was a prominent citizen of the town, and he was a successful businessman, farmer, innkeeper, horse and dog trader, large-dog enthusiast, dog breeder, and town councilman, but he was never the mayor.

Essig claimed to have created the Leonberger in the 1830s by crossing a female Landseer Newfoundland with a male long-haired Saint Bernard from the Great Saint Bernard Hospice, a monastery in Switzerland. He continued crossing the Landseer Newfoundland and the Saint Bernard over four generations, then he crossed his Newfoundland–Saint Bernard mix with a Pyrenean wolfhound not, as is often asserted, with a Great Pyrenees (called a Pyrenean mountain dog in Europe). He then crossed that dog with the Saint Bernard again. In 1846, he was finally ready to announce and register his “lion of a dog.” A few years later, Leonbergers were officially introduced to the public at the Munich Oktoberfest.

However, the story is more complicated than that. There’s no specific breed named Pyrenean wolfhound today, so Essig could have used a Great Pyrenees or a Pyrenean mastiff . In addition, later in the nineteenth century, Leonbergers were used to breed the long-haired Saint Bernard dog, and this likely saved the Saint Bernard dog from extinction. At one point, too, Leonbergers were deliberately mixed with Newfoundland dogs to strengthen the Newfoundland breed. In other words, breeding happened in both directions, and the characteristics of the large breeds were in constant fl ux. Th e dogs—including Leonbergers and Saint Bernards—didn’t look like they do today, either. Essig’s Leonbergers were multicolored, mostly white, and lacked the black mask that is so important to the breed now. What has not changed is the essence of what Essig was aiming for: a large but moderately proportioned dog that is friendly and loving and a great companion.

Ultimately, the origins of the Leonberger, as well as the Saint Bernard and the other large breeds from this region, are complex and shrouded in mystery. In addition, some of Essig’s claims have been disputed. Breed standards wouldn’t be codified until the end of the nineteenth century. It should also be noted that it was Essig’s niece Marie who to a large extent bred and cared for the dogs.

Essig was selling his Leonberger dogs as luxury items to the wealthy. He was also a marketing genius and was able to get the attention of European nobility and royalty. The czar of Russia, Emperor Napoleon II, Otto von Bismarck, the king of Belgium, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Emperor Maximilian I, the Prince of Wales, King Umberto of Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and the mikado of Japan were among those who owned Leonbergers. Not everyone was happy about this. Some people viewed the Leonberger as a fashionable knockoff of the Saint Bernard that could hinder that breed’s development.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the discipline of cynology, or the scientific study of dogs, emerged. Cynologists pushed for breed classification and systematic breeding practices, and breed standards were created. But Essig and others viewed dog breeding as an art rather than a science, and this led to a conflict with the cynologists. Heinrich Schumacher, for example, was a breeder who strove to create a clearly identifiable Saint Bernard type. He was upheld by the cynologists as a paragon, in contrast to Heinrich Essig—to the detriment of the Leonberger.

After Essig’s death, in 1887, other people more willing to please the cynologists continued breeding Leonbergers. By that time, the dogs looked for the most part like Leonbergers do today. Then, in 1895, Albert Kull created the Leonberger’s first breed standard. It would go through several revisions in 1901, 1926, 1938, 1951, 1955, and 1972 until finally, in 1996, the FCI-approved version was established. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale, or FCI, serves as a kind of worldwide kennel club for all breeds. It was created on May 22, 1911, with the goal of promoting and protecting cynology and purebred dogs. The Kennel Club in the UK and the American Kennel Club also have their own breed standards. However, most of them are similar to Albert Kull’s 1895 version. The first Leonberger club was formed 1891 in Berlin: two more were created in 1895, then two more were formed in 1901. The most prominent was the Internationaler Klub für Leonberger Hunde, of which Albert Kull was the first president.

See the federation’s website at http://www.fci.be/en/