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Leonberger vs Bernese Mountain Dog: Key Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Genevieve Dugal

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

Leonberger vs Bernese Mountain Dog

Leonberger vs Bernese Mountain Dog: Key Differences (With Pictures)

If you adore giant dog breeds that are as gorgeous as they are sweet and affectionate, it is only natural that the Leonberger and the Bernese Mountain Dog have caught your attention! But aside from their striking looks and rebellious manes, what sets these two massive breeds apart?

Let’s find out!

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Visual Differences

Leonberger vs Bernese Mountain Dog - Visual Differences
Image By: Left – Leonberger (Ricantimages, Shutterstock) | Right – Bernese Mountain Dog (Andy Lyell, Unsplash)

At a Glance

  • Average height (adult): 28–32 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 110–170 pounds
  • Lifespan: 8–10 years
  • Exercise: 1 hour a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent but can be stubborn at times
Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Average height (adult): 23–28 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 80–115 pounds
  • Lifespan: 6–9 years
  • Exercise: 30 minutes a day
  • Grooming needs: High
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes
  • Trainability: Intelligent, eager to please


Leonberger Overview

Leonberger puppy with a dog toy
Image Credit: BoraAlma, Pixabay

The Leonberger is a huge, imposing dog that has a calm and balanced temperament. While endowed with great confidence, they may show aggression toward intruders if they feel that their human family is threatened. Due to their dissuasive appearance and strong protective instinct, they make excellent watchdogs. They are also pleasant companions at home, especially for children, with whom they show extraordinary gentleness.


The Leonberger is a superb animal that has several qualities sought after by many dog owners: affectionate, calm, patient, playful, empathetic, and gentle toward toddlers.

This big dog is also adept at enduring loneliness. Indeed, despite their deep attachment to their favorite humans, Leonbergers are unlikely to suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for a few hours.

They can also entertain themselves while their owners are at work, provided that they are given plenty of attention at other times. Otherwise, they are likely to suffer from boredom and engage in destructive behavior.

Leonberger with foilage backdrop
Image Credit: shesheta, Pixabay


The Leonberger’s need for exercise is quite moderate for a dog of this size, but that doesn’t mean just a brisk walk around the block! They need at least an hour of play or exercise, such as jogging or hiking, to be satisfied. The rest of the time, though, they are content to rest quietly on their favorite cushion or stand guard in the yard.

The key here is to have a fenced-in backyard that’s big enough for this big dog to roam around at will. You shouldn’t consider this breed if you live in a small apartment in the city, as your Leo will be miserable, especially if you must leave them alone all day.


Intelligent, docile, but sometimes stubborn, the Leonberger is not a particularly difficult dog to train. However, that doesn’t mean you can neglect their training and early socialization with other pets and humans. A canine companion of such size and power can pose significant problems if they decide to always have their way. You must be firm, constant, and patient in their education, as an adult Leonberger is somewhat impossible to control by force.

Overall, though, this dog is generally obedient and eager to please when properly trained.

Leonberger running in the grass
Image Credit: joses, Pixabay

Health & Care

The Leonberger is considered a robust and hardy dog. However, like many giant breeds, they can suffer from certain health conditions, including:

  • Bone cancer (osteosarcoma)
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Bloat
  • Heart problems
  • Cataracts

Sadly, the life expectancy of these majestic dogs is rather short, only between 7 and 10 years.

Suitable for:

If you live in the country (or in the city with a large fenced yard), you are regularly active, and the size of these big beasts does not scare you, the Leonberger dog could be a perfect match. You must have enough time to devote to their training and socialization, in addition to having immense reserves of love to offer them. These tender-hearted giants deserve nothing less than a loving forever home.

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Bernese Mountain Dog Overview

Bernese mountain dog_otsphoto_Shutterstock
Image Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

The Bernese Mountain Dog is docile, cheerful, kind, and affectionate. Being with their family is what they treasure more than anything else. Therefore, they need a caring owner who has plenty of time for them because they can’t stand loneliness. Leaving your Bernese alone in a crate all day will lead to a depressed, sad, and destructive pup.

In short, the ideal life for a Bernese Mountain Dog is having a family to adore, children to play with, a fenced yard to roam around in, and long daily walks with their beloved humans.


Calm, attentive, vigilant, and laidback, the Bernese Mountain Dog makes an outstanding canine companion. Despite their notorious teddy bear appearance, they can make excellent watchdogs when properly trained. As a result, they tend to bark often, especially to inform the household of the arrival of visitors.


The Bernese Mountain Dog is not the most energetic breed around, but they do need at least 30 minutes of walking a day to stay healthy and avoid gaining weight. Also, they’ll be ecstatic if you dedicate a full playtime period to them, followed by a cuddling session on the couch!


Due to their intelligence and strong desire to please their owners, the Bernese Mountain Dog is a highly trainable pup. But since they can also be sensitive, their training must be based on positive reinforcement and never on punishment. Furthermore, this massive dog has great strength, and walking them on a leash can quickly become tedious if they have not been properly educated to not pull from an early age.

Bernese mountain dog with it's handler on dog contest
Image Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek, Shutterstock

Health & Care

Bernese Mountain Dogs can be predisposed to serious health issues:

  • Cancer
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Gastric torsion
  • Mast cell tumors

Also, any potential owner must consider the short average lifespan of these beautiful dogs, which is between 6 and 9 years.

Suitable for:

The Bernese Mountain Dog is a wonderful family dog when properly socialized from an early age. They are easy-going and highly trainable, so they can be a good choice even for novice dog owners. That said, you need to have plenty of time and love to devote to them and ideally, a large, fenced-in area in your backyard.


Which Breed Is Right for You?

Both Leonbergers and Bernese Mountain Dogs make invaluable canine companions. They are intelligent, loyal, affectionate, gentle, and laidback dogs. Their many qualities make them exceptional additions to any family, as long as their people have the time, energy, attention, and love to devote to them.

That said, Leonbergers tend to be less dependent on their owners than Bernese Mountain Dogs, so if that quality appeals to you, a Leonberger might be a better choice. But the patient and tolerant nature of Bernese makes them particularly appealing to families with young children.

Regardless, remember that these giant breeds do not have as long a lifespan as other, smaller breeds, hence the importance of cherishing every precious moment with either of these wonderful doggies.

Featured Image Credit: Top – Leonberger (Jagodka, Shutterstock) | Bottom – Bernese Mountain Dog (André Dehne, Unsplash)

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