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

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

Some Fun Leonberger Facts

Coat of arms for the city 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
  • The Leonberger takes it name after the town of Leonberg in Germany
  • 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
  • The coat of arms of the town of Leonberg, Germany, was allegedly the inspiration for the first breeder of the Leonberger, Heinrich Essig (maybe you can say that the Leonberger looks the way it does because Germans were bad at drawing lions back then)
  • The breed was first registered in 1846
  • According to Essig, the Leonberger is a cross between a Saint Bernard, a Newfoundland, and what is thought to be Great Pyrenees or a Pyrenean Mastiff (not known which). In reality the mixing and matching went back and forth between these three breeds throughout history and it may be more complicated.
  • In the 1870s, Leonbergers were brought to Newfoundland to invigorate the stock of Newfoundland dogs
  • In 1879 President Ulysses S. Grant gave two Leonbergers gold medals
  • The first Leonberger breed standard was created in 1895
  • Leonbergers were used in the World War I to pull ammunition carts and cannons, which was one of the reasons the breed was decimated during World War I
  • Leonbergers have webbed paws
  • Leonbergers are double coated
  • Until 1985, there were only seventeen Leonbergers known to be living in the United States
  • The Leonberger Club of America was founded in 1985
  • The Leonberger was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010 as its 167th breed.*
  • The Leonberger is unique in the AKC for being the only dog in the Working Group originally bred to be a companion.†
  • According to an estimate prepared by BioMed Central, there were around 30,000 Leonbergers in the world in 2020 (registered only).‡
  • There are around 3,300 Leonbergers in North America—2,300 in the United States and 1,000 in Canada.§
  • The five countries with the most Leonbergers, in order, are France, with nearly 8,000; Germany, with more than 4,000; and Great Britain, the United States, and Sweden, with approximately 2,300 each.¶
  • The country with the highest number of Leonbergers per capita is Finland, with nearly 2,000 Leonbergers among a population of 5.5 million people.

AKC Communications, “AKC Welcomes the Cane Corso, Icelandic Sheepdog and Leonberger,” June 30, 2010, https://www.akc.org/press-releases/akc-welcomes-the-cane-corso-icelandic-sheepdog-and-leonberger/


†  AKC staff, “Meet 31 Purposely-Bred Dogs,” August 1, 2020,


‡  Anna Letko et al., “Genomic Diversity and Population Structure of the
Leonberger Dog Breed,” Genetics Selection Evolution 52, no. 61 (October
2020),

https://gsejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12711-020-00581-3


§  Sharon Springel, “Understanding Mean Kinship,” LeoLetter, October 2018,
60.
¶  “Springel, “Understanding Mean Kinship.”
**  “Springel, “Understanding Mean Kinship.”

Leonbergers on-screen


Did you know that three Leonberger dogs played the main character, Buck, in The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon (1997)?


*   See Stuart Fitzgerald, “Leonberger,” DogZone.com, at

https://www.dogzone.com/breeds/leonberger/

And that a Leonberger named Hagrid appeared on Britain’s Got More Talent in 2017? Hagrid was attempting to set a new Guinness world record for catching the maximum number of sausages in his mouth in the shortest period of time.

You can watch Hagrid’s attempt below

The Leonberger Hagrid and his world record in sausage catching