Our Story . . .
Even though Leonbergers have been here in New Zealand for over 25 years they are still fairly rare. The very first Leonberger, arrived in New Zealand on January 1991. He was named ‘Cadillac’ and was owned by Clare Thomas of Lejongardens Kennels. One year later a mate for Cadillac arrived named ‘Kimpa’ – Leonberget’z Guns ‘N Roses.
These two Leos produced two litters. The first litter produced only one male puppy and the second resulted in six puppies. In June 1995 Clare imported an 18 month old bitch, named ‘ Ronja’ – Geps Big Bears She’s Leaving Home . These three dogs formed the foundations of the New Zealand Leonberger population.
Photo: Left Cadillac- Right Kimpa
Over the years breeders have imported both semen and dogs to contribute to the genetic pool and with care about health testing and mating decisions we can go forward with confidence that the future of Leonbergers in New Zealand is sound.
The club was formed in July 2002 by Leo lovers from throughout New Zealand and gained NZKC recognition in 2004. The purpose of the club is to supply helpful information and on-going support to owners, would be owners and admirers of the wonderful and trusty companion, the Leonberger.
The geographical spread of our members proves challenging when it comes to social occassions but the club works hard at organising a variety of events and activities each year. An effort is made to hold them in different places around the country for the enjoyment of club members and their dogs. These events include ribbon parades, open shows, carting days, water trials, fun days, picnics and walks. We also publish a quarterly newsletter filled to overflowing with news for our members and are constantly sharing updates on current Leonberger research and any information that pertains to the well-being of this breed.
Membership is encouraged, both locally and internationally, and a ‘free for first year’ policy was introduced with great success and we currently boast a 100+ membership. We accept the fact that in this day and age the popularity of ‘clubs’ in general is waning but the future of Leos in NZ is in good hands and we have a passion and drive to keep this small club flourishing.