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