The Puppy Buyers' Guide
It is fair to say that for many owners, the Leonberger is the only breed for them. However, it is not a breed to get involved with causally. They are large, fast-growing, robust, water-loving dogs with thick coats, thick skins and often, pretty thick skulls. They can grow from an irresistible bundle of joy at 8 weeks into a rambunctious 11 stone tearaway by 12 months. Before setting your heart on a Leo, just try to imagine how you would deal with something that has the mind of a toddler, is the size of a small donkey, and has the emotions of a randy teenager all rolled into one, then think again before deciding that this is the breed for you. Puppy buyers should certainly be as prepared as they can before taking the plunge.
Do your research!
Having thought about it thoroughly, if you still have your heart set on bringing a new Leo into your life, you should begin by doing some research. It is probably best to NOT start by viewing puppies. They are irresistibly adorable little bear-cubs and you will find it hard to walk away. What you really need to see first is what they are like as teenage hooligans, as (hopefully) well mannered adults and what they are like when they become elderly. In short you need to understand the whole life cycle and what to expect. Do your research, read books on the breed, and most importantly go out and see as many as you can. Many Leonberger owners and breeders are only too happy to open their doors to interested newcomers keen to learn more about the breed. You can start by contacting the Leonberger Club of Great Britain here http://www.leonbergerclubofgb.com They will be glad to put you in contact with owners to visit.
By doing this, you will come to know more of what to expect from life with a Leo. You’ll start to see what differing types and lines are like, and who is breeding what. Most importantly, you’ll begin to get to know some of the breeders and what sorts of dogs they are producing, be it in terms of size, coat colours or- most importantly of all- temperament. By this time, you will probably have found out who has plans to breed in the months ahead. Be prepared to wait, many breeders have lists of potential buyers long before their dogs are even mated, and some will not produce a litter at all until they have such a list in place. If you really really want a great Leonberger, then you are probably going to have to wait for him.
Look For Good Breeding Standards
Another thing you should consider doing is reading the code of ethics for the Leonberger Club of Great Britain so that you may become familiar with just what is expected from breeders in terms of required background health checks on breeding pairs and so forth. These are a minimum set of rules established by the Club to help ensure that only sound healthy Leonbergers come into the world. It is the responsibility of the puppy buyer to inquire about the complete health and temperament status of the breeding dogs, including test results and familial health history. Arm yourself with the necessary knowledge to ask well-informed questions so that you will know what is behind your new puppy. There are some helpful tips on questions to ask in the Choosing Your Breeder section, which you can find in the links at the top of this page.
Be prepared for your new puppy’s arrival
Before you take the plunge and get that new bundle of joy, there are a number of things you need to think about to prepare for your new life with Leonbergers. Please take a few moments to read through the Checklist For Your New Puppy, which can be found in the links at the top of this page.
Once you have set your heart on getting a Leonberger, have done your research, visited many Leos and their owners and thoroughly prepared yourself for what will be required in the days, months and years ahead, you will be ready to find your pup. This probably means hunting around to find a breeder whose dogs you have met and admired. If you are lucky, they have some puppies and one may be available, but it is more likely that you will be waiting for them to plan a litter and hoping to get on their list. This is not a bad thing, because it allows you to get to know the breeder and they you. Good breeders will often be quite picky about what sort of home their pupies are going into, so do not be offended if they quiz you about your suitability and preparations. Most will also retain a life-long interest in the puppy. The good ones will be available at the end of a telephone night or day for help and advice.
What to expect from the breeder:
Many breeders will want to be kept informed about the health and well being of your new pup throughout its life. There are two reasons for this; First and foremost it is because they care. They have an emotional attachment as well as an ethical responsibility to your dog even after it has left them to become yours. They want to know it is well, happy, confident and so on. They also want to know if it is in trouble and will usually have already asked you to agree to contact them, and possibly even to bring it back to them, at any time in its life if it ever needs to be re-homed. The second reason they stay in touch is that the health of your dog informs them about the health of their breeding lines, and any responsible breeder will view this information as vital to the ongoing success of their own breeding programme.
Most reputable breeders will provide a “puppy pack” with your new arrival. These vary from breeder to breeder, but may include any or all of the following:
- Registration document
- Full accurate Pedigree (min. 3 generations)
- A puppy purchase contract
- Health Sheet
- Diet Sheet
- Photos of Sire and Dam
- Microchip or tattoo registration details
- 4 weeks free insurance cover from time of purchase
- Training and socialisation tips
- Information of the LCGB and how to join
Remember, you are making a decision that will bring a new companion into your family for many years so it is certainly worthwhile to take the time to do your research, be prepared to wait a little longer and pay a little more for a healthy well bred and well socialised puppy.
If on the other hand you are having second thoughts about whether a new Leo puppy is really right for you, then why not consider an older dog, a rescue or one who has been returned to a breeder for re-homing. The Leonberger Club of Great Britain has an active welfare branch who match more mature dogs and bitches who may be in need of a new home, often through no fault of their own, with the right forever family. If this is something that might be more suitable to your needs, please contact the welfare committee of the Leonberger Club of Great Britain at
or by telephone 07730888736 You can also find them on Facebook at
LCGB LEONBERGER WELFARE
Good luck with your search!