Country of Origin: Germany
Popular Names: Little Lion Dog, Petit Chien Lion
Height: (At the withers) Males 30 – 35.6 cm, Females 28 – 33 cm
Weight: Males 5.4 – 8.1 kg, Females 4.5 – 6.8 kg
Best suited as: Companion dog
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Löwchen is pronounced Low (rhymes with how)-chen like the English, or Loov-ken like the German.
These small dogs have a broad skull, short and wide muzzle, and pendant ears. The head is always held high, which helps contribute to the overall look. They are slightly longer than they are tall, which results in a rectangular body shape.
They have a long, wavy coat that is normally cut into a lion cut. This means that the fur on the haunches, front legs, back legs, and half of the tail closest to the body is shaved. Bracelets of longer hair are left on the feet. The rest of the coat is left natural, which gives them the look of a lion. The remaining hair is not clipped. The fur is a combination of fine and thick hairs, which results in a non-frizzy coat. They come mostly in white or black, but are acceptable in any colour. They may have spots or speckles of different colours. Most have white toenails.
The true history of the Löwchen is unknown. Artwork showing dogs similar to these appear from the 1400s, and Goya painted a piece containing one in the late 1700s. One commonly held belief states that they are related to the Mediterranean Bichon-type dogs, while another theory says that the dog comes from what is now the poodle.
In either case, these dogs have been the pampered lion dogs of aristocrats and royalty since early medieval times, and they’ve been groomed as little lions since then. Lions were considered symbols of power and strength, and supposedly transferred that image onto their owners. Another reason for the lion cut was to provide their owners with the radiating heat provided by bare skin. The ladies would use these little dogs like hot water bottles on cold nights.
By 1960, the Löwchen was one of the world’s rarest dog breeds, as noted in the Guiness Book of World Records. Luckily, the breed was brought back from the brink of extinction through the work of a few breed fanciers; namely, Madame Bennert of Belgium, and Dr Hans Rickert, a German vet who took over after Bennert died.
According to the Fédération Cynologique Internationale registration, these dogs are still called Petite Chien Lion.
Above all, these dogs are affectionate, loving, and friendly. They are fairly laid-back, and enjoy playing with other dogs if well-socialized. They may show aggression when trying to assert dominance over another dog. They can be cautious, clever, and catch on very quickly while being trained. They love curling up in bed with their owners.
They are very alert and make good watch dogs, although they are never aggressive towards people, so don’t expect them to guard your home. They are loyal and brave, but are more concerned with getting attention from strangers than protecting you from danger. The require gentle but firm training centered around positive reinforcement. They will withdraw if treated harshly. They love being outside and do well with advanced obedience training, trick training, and agility. They love to please their masters and this is reflected in their trainability. Males tend to be more willful than their female counterparts.
They are prone to separation anxiety, but sufficient exercise helps with these tendencies, as do suitable indoor activities while owners are away. However, the best way to prevent separation anxiety in one of these dogs is to not leave it alone very much. Undesirable behaviours in a bored, lonely dog may include barking and digging.
They can develop a fondness for barking, particularly at people walking by or coming to the door. Early and consistent stop barking commands will help reduce or eliminate this if barking is an issue, such as for people in apartment buildings or other close living quarters.
Care and Grooming
These little dogs are either done in a lion cut or in a puppy cut. For most people who don’t want to spend time every day combing out the longer hair of the lion cut, the puppy cut is most convenient. This keeps the dog’s fur trimmed short all over the body. The lion cut requires a bit more ongoing maintenance since its longer length tends to tangle quite quickly. In either case, the dog needs brushing every other day to remove dead hair.
A dog in a puppy cut will still require grooming every month or two to keep the hair tidy.
Other care these dogs require include weekly ear cleaning and tooth brushing, plus monthly nail clipping as needed.
Löwchens may be small, but they still need exercise. They need to have daily walks and a few runs in the park a couple of times a week. They make good jogging companions. An ill-exercised dog can develop undesirable behaviours.
Aside from a few lines with interbreeding problems, the Löwchen is a very healthy breed. The only health concerns that seem to affect these dogs are cataracts and patellar luxation, which may result in lameness if not repaired. Otherwise, these dogs will live 12 to 14 years in good health.
Suitability As A Pet
They love nothing better than to hang out and play with their family members, so these little dogs make perfect companion animals for retirees, people who work from home, or homes where at least one person is at home at all times. This will avoid separation anxiety behaviours.
They do need small amounts of daily exercise, whether it may be a walk or a play session in the park. Lightly active people would enjoy having this dog as a pet. They are easily adaptable and easy to train, so make a great dog for a novice dog owner.
They get along well with children of all ages, but can be irritated by overly-rambunctious toddlers. As long as children treat them gently, they will get along fine. They do well with other household dogs and cats.
Lowchen – Little Lion Dog Organisations in Australia
Lowchen Club of New South Wales
Lowchen – Little Lion Dog Organisations in the UK
Lowchen Club UK
Lowchen – Little Lion Dog Organisations in the US
American Kennel Club – Löwchen
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