Every breed has a written document that describes exactly what an ideal specimen looks like, from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, as well as how it should move and behave. Dog-show judges base their decisions on how well each dog meets the breed’s standard.

Leonberger Standard      Illustrated Standard

Conformation shows were started as a way to evaluate breeding stock. Dogs are not being compared to each other; they’re being measured by how closely they conform to the standard. The closer a dog’s appearance is to the breed’s standard, the better that dog’s ability will be to produce healthy, purpose-bred puppies that meet the standard.  Judging The Leonberger by A. Hejja    by A Greendyk   by M. Townsend

More information on Judges’ Education

Read more about getting started in conformation shows.

Learn about the conformation of a Leonberger through the MALCV videos.


Junior Handling

The AKC offers handlers 9 to 18 years of age the opportunity to compete with others their own age. Juniors competing in conformation events are judged on how they present their dogs. The future of the breed  rests in the hands of our youngest fanciers, and through this program we hope to foster the following concepts:

  • The responsibility, commitment and respect that is inherent in working with and caring for Leonbergers.
  • A unique knowledge base about the history, care and training of the breed.
  • Appropriate, respectful and humane methods of handling and communicating with dogs.
  • An understanding of the terms and concepts used in a variety of performance events.
  • The importance of  good sportsmanship at all times, and presenting ones self and dog as good ambassadors of the breed.
  • The personal satisfaction and pride that comes with hard work achieving goals.

Owner Handling

Did you know that more than 80% of show dogs are handled by their owners?
There are many reasons why some people elect to use a professional handler to show their Leonberger. Sometimes the owner is physically disabled in some way that prevents properly presenting their own dog, sometimes the owner does not handle the stress or becomes extremely nervous in the ring, which can cause the dog to become stressed or anxious. Sometimes the owner has limited funds, and needs the dog finished in as few ring times as possible, or cannot take the time off needed to get to shows. Sometimes a dog gets silly or goofy with their owner in the ring but is calmer and more organized with a handler. And of course, some owners want their dog to be the top-ranked dog in the breed or group, and a professional handler who is well known can go a long way toward making that happen. There are many reasons to hire a professional.

However, there are just as many reasons to take your OWN dog into the ring, and it can be tremendously rewarding to do so. Unless you are experienced, there can be quite a learning curve when it comes to handling your own dog in the ring. What class should you put your dog in? Which shows to enter? How much grooming should you do? What should you wear? How do you compete against those polished professionals?
Owner Handler Tips          Isaacson Interview           Coe Interview             Becoming a Better Owner Handler