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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

A Brief History of the Leonberger Club of America

Front cover of “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”, ISBN 978-0-9980849-5-4 and ISBN 978-0-9980849-6-1. 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 is an excerpt from an upcoming book about Leonbergers and especially our Leonberger Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle and his many crazy adventures. The name of the book is “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle”, ISBN 978-0-9980849-5-4 and ISBN 978-0-9980849-6-1. 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.

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.