Beloved Leonbergers of Beverly & Arden Wright
LCA Registered Kennel
About the Leonberger
Leonbergers are an old German breed originally created to look like the crest of Leonberg, Germany which was a stylized lion. They are thought to be descended from the Newfoundland, the St. Bernard and the Pyrenean Mastiff or possibly Mountain Dog. They have been used as flock guardians and companions in their country of origin and were introduced in the US in the late 70’s. The Leonberger Club of America was established in the US in the mid 80’s to protect and enhance the qualities of the breed in this country.
Our reasons for choosing a Leonberger were varied. We love large, coated dogs, but many of the larger breeds are very laid back. Leos are an agile, intelligent, working breed. They shed a lot but we don’t mind shedding and we own 3 acres, of which over 2 acres are fenced for our dogs so proper exercise isn’t a problem. The breed loves water, although these requirements can be met through other means. We know the importance of early training and socializing a flock guarding breed such as the Leo.
Leos have the same health problems as every other breed, including mixed breeds. According to Dr. Padgett, a noted pathologist from Michigan State University, all dogs have 4-5 genetic flaws at the least. There is no perfect dog but the LCA requires their member kennels to follow a code of ethics and abide by the breeding regulations set forth by the club which include breeding only dogs and bitches who have been evaluated and given a breeding Category and Rating by the club after the age of two. To get that Category and Rating, the dogs have to go through a lengthy written evaluation by a trained LCA examiner which is then reviewed by a three-member panel. This includes not only structure and temperament but also health testing. All Leos are “unbreedable” until that point. LCA member kennels are the only kennels required to conform to these breeding standards.
As of now LCA breeding stock is required to have three generations free of hip dysplasia, to have clear hips and elbows themselves, clear CERF tests and a base line thyroid OFA thyroid test before breeding. Your job, as a potential puppy buyer, is to understand that breeders cannot prevent everything: we can simply work with information we get from our buyers. If our buyers don’t do testing on their dogs at the required time we cannot be expected to be able to provide you with healthy dogs. We need the information on entire litters, not just our offspring who are being bred.
Most Leos excel in water activities and are good with children, if introduced properly, but, may not be appropriate for small children unless their owners have large dog/small child experience due to their size and strength. They are good watchdogs and discriminating barkers if they are not bored or left alone too long. Leo puppies are also time consuming and may get lost in the shuffle of a busy household. They need time for both training and socialization. They can be extremely destructive if bored or left to their own devices until they are mature.
As flock guardians, Leos think of the whole neighborhood as their yard and a fence is a necessity if you plan to keep them safe. Invisible fences may be a poor choice if you plan on leaving your dog alone within it. Your Leo may be stolen from it, other dogs can come onto your property and many Leos have a high pain threshold. It will not contain an intact male if there is a bitch in season within three miles and an intact female will not be safe for six weeks out of the year if that is your enclosure. Leos do not do well without their humans nor make great totally outside dogs. They love the outside but prefer to be where you are.
Although they may look like teddy bears, they are not. They need work on your part in order to develop into controlled, confident adults. By the time your pup is eight or nine months old, it will be over 100 pounds and if you don’t have control by then, you will be in trouble. This is a slow maturing (mentally and physically) breed and they are not considered mature until they are three to four years old. They get their size quickly but filling out that framework takes some time.
You don’t need a farm to own a Leo, but they aren’t a good choice for small, homes or tiny, suburban backyards because they need a lot of exercise to develop properly. They grow very quickly physically and genetics, proper diet and proper exercise is critical to becoming a structurally sound adult. They need to be able to stretch out and run straight ahead, not just in circles, or they will never develop the reach and drive they are meant to have. If you have a smaller yard, a medium sized breed (retriever or shepherd) might be better for you and the dog.
Leos are capable of competitive obedience work but they aren’t selectively bred for those traits the way Golden Retrievers are and the Leo who excels in obedience trials is the exception rather than the rule. They can do OK in agility, but they aren’t Border Collies or Shelties and during the first two years you have to be careful in jumping them. The breed tends towards cruciate ligament problems and it is both a painful and expensive injury. We have seen many Leos injured while working in agility. They will learn well with motivation and poorly with force. They can be stubborn when confused, get bored easily and think more like a Rottweiler than a Golden. Most survey a situation, make a decision based on facts and don’t just jump into something and then wonder if it was the right guess. Some days you think they aren’t learning at all and all of a sudden they have it. Don’t underestimate them, they are very bright.
Their coats require a thorough brushing once a week and some Leos have more undercoat and a finer texture than others. They seldom need baths, but do shed profusely twice a year. They love playing in mud and being wet and leave large footprints both on your floor and on your heart. As is the case with most very large breeds the average life span for Leonbergers over 7 1/2 yrs. The major killer, from what our health surveys show is the same as in most other breeds I think, cancer.
Bevard’s contract is a legally binding document and requires that you continue what we have started. You will be required to have appropriate fencing for a giant breed dog, and to spend time socializing the pup on and off of your property on a weekly basis for the first year and a half to assure a sound adult temperament. (that is the fun part!) It also requires that you start attending behavior/obedience group classes at a school that uses motivational techniques within a month of taking your puppy home. Your registration papers will be sent to you when I receive a diploma from your novice level obedience class. Hopefully you’ll decide to go farther than novice because it is good for your dog’s mind, but at least that insures that your Leo will have learned the basics of “come”, “sit” “down” “stay “ and not dragging you down the street!. While a socialization class is an excellent early addition, it’s only the first baby step in your dog’s education. Your puppy will grow very quickly and you need to have him under control before he outweighs you! Look for a trainer who does motivational training rather than force training as Leos do not do well with force. We also ask that you do OFA x-rays of his hips and elbows at 24 mos. as well as a CERF eye exam at that age so we know how our breeding program is coming along. That gives us health information we need to produce healthy Leonbergers. We do not give a guarantee for hips to repeat buyers who have not met that contractual agreement. It’s not fair to us.
Our contracts also have guarantees on hips and a first right of refusal buy back clause should you ever have to re=home your Leo. Many of our Bevard puppy people have become truly our family, and are constantly updated what our puppies are doing to date.
What we are looking for in owners? Commitment to the Leonberger as an individual and as a breed. A respect for what the LCA has tried to do over the past 25 years and that is to maintain physically and mentally healthy dogs. Buy one because you understand the history of the breed and want to be part of it, not because you want a trophy dog. We will ask you to become a member of the LCA at least for the first year, and that can be done at the time you pick up your beloved puppy. It is a good source of information on your breed and a great way to meet other owners with Leos.
A large fenced yard is also a necessity as this is a roaming breed. A tiny city lot is not enough even with 2 walks a day. They need to stretch out and run in a straight line rather than in circles if their bodies are to mature and their muscles learn to work as they are meant to.
We are looking for a good track record. How have you handled behavior and health problems that came up with the other dogs you have owned? Have you ever returned a dog to a breeder (or taken one to the shelter etc.) and what were the circumstances leading you to that end? Are you able to financially handle an emergency situation? A friend just spent $1700 on an emergency surgery when her 2 year old Leo managed to eat a 48” piece of rug . The purchase price of any dog is about 1/10 of 1% of what that dog will cost you over its life!
Also, looking for owners who will hold off neutering a male until the growth plates close at around 18 months. Adolescence hits all dogs and neutering at 6 months really does not help much. It is a stage that the males usually go through worse than the females but is a behavioral issue that needs to be dealt with even if the dog is neutered. If you are choosing to share your life with a giant breed I think it is important that you let them finish growing before you neuter them. A female’s growth plates, on the other hand, close at her first heat usually between 6-14 mos.
We are looking for owners who understand that they are acquiring a 24 hour a day job for about the first 6 months. If you haven’t raised a puppy in 5 years, trust me, you have forgotten what trouble they are! They will get you up in the middle of the night to go out at first, bite you and the kids with those sharp little puppy teeth because that is what they have always done with their littermates, have accidents in the house if you aren’t paying attention, chew on your dining room table if you aren’t in the room watching them, dig up your plants etc. They are puppies. Owners who have not lived with a large breed before tend to romanticize the image of a sedate, well trained companion who lives peacefully in their home and never causes trouble. That was Lassie and she never existed! This breed takes 3-4 years to fully develop and yet they are 100 lbs. by the time they are 9 months. That means they are still acting like the puppies they are, so just be sure you understand what you are getting into. Don’t fall into the trap of “puppy fever”. They will only be “little” for about 90 days after you get them.
How do you get on our Waiting List?
Please, fill out our online questionnaire on the Bevard Leonbergers’ web site. Please, do not be intimidated by our questions. They are to help us find the correct puppy for you. There are no right and wrong answers, just differences in the type of pup who will do best with you.
Once we have received your submitted questionnaire via our web site, we will then send you a puppy packet with health info, puppy contract, etc. for your review, if at that time you wish to adopt a puppy, please, sign contract and return to Bevard Leonbergers, along with your deposit, and will be placed on our puppy list, this is not a first come, first serve list, only a list of serious puppy families. Should we not be able to arrange at this time a puppy for you with this breeding, you would automatically be put on list for the next available litter. Gestation is 63 days, more or less with dogs, and our puppies are ready to go to their new homes when they are 8 weeks old. If you are not driving to pick up your pup, you can take her/him home in a “Sherpa bag” (available at pet supply stores and online rental through, Leo Bowtique and a variety of other stores) in the cabin of a number of airlines. We will not ship pups.
If you would like, we’ll be glad to supply references from our previous buyers or our veterinarians upon request. Thank you for your interest in Bevard Kennels!