- From the Leonberger Club of America
The early history of the Leonberger is clouded and tumultuous, revolving around Heinrich Essig (1809-1889). Essig was a successful businessman specializing in animal trading. He was also a politician, an alderman and a prominent citizen of Leonberg, a town on the outskirts of Stuttgart in southern Germany.
Essig and his family surrounded themselves with a variety of rare and exotic animals. In dogs, they preferred large and imposing breeds. He bought and sold dogs for a span of fifty years, trading sometimes 200 to 300 dogs a year at the height of his career.
The time was ripe for a person like Heinrich Essig to flourish. Dog shows, dog books, and dog breeds began appearing everywhere. Large dogs, especially white or light colored ones, were all the rage. Our best records indicate that in 1846 Essig declared the “creation” of the Leonberger as a legitimate breed of dog. Essig was free to travel and promote his dogs; his niece, Marie, who was known as the “soul” of the kennel actually bred, trained and maintained the animals.