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Quite the mystery!
The modern Leonberger is a watch, family, and companion dog of great intelligence, an affable nature, and playful energy. Traditionally, Heinrich Essig, a town councilor in Leonberg, Germany is credited with the creation of the breed. Aiming to produce an elegant dog in the spirit of a lion, the heralding animal on the crest of Leonberg, he claimed to have created the Leonberger breed by combining the original stock that made the St. Bernard with white Landseer Newfoundlands and then injecting some Pyrenean Mountain Dogs. The first dogs to officially be Leonbergers and listed in a breed directory originated in 1846.
A terrific salesman, Heinrich Essig promoted Leonbergers over much of the known world and placed Leonberger puppies everywhere from the castles of nobility to the homes of farmers, where they were praised for their amazing beauty, keen watch ability, and amicability.
Unfortunately, after nearly a century of popularity, the Leonberger population was drastically reduced in World War I and the breed was nearly decimated in World War II. Fortunately for us, a breeding cooperative was able to gather a very small number of Leonberger dogs and, with some genetic ingenuity, put forth the groundwork to reestablish the breed we have today.
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