Löwchen (Little Lion Dog): Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Lowchen (Little Lion Dog)

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The name Löwchen (pronounced lerv-chun) means 'little lion' in German, and that is why this ancient and rare breed is also often called the Little Lion Dog.

They are known for being courageous, fun-loving and affectionate little dogs that adapt well to a variety of households.

Breed Overview

Group: Non-Sporting

Height: 12 to 14 inches

Weight: 10 to 18 pounds

Coat: Long, thick, soft, slightly wavy coat that is often cut into a distinctive Lion Clip

Coat Color: Come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Löwchen

Affection Level  High
Friendliness  High
Kid-Friendly  Medium
Pet-Friendly  Medium
Exercise Needs  Medium
Playfulness  High
Energy Level  Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence  High
Tendency to Bark  High
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Löwchen

Despite their name being a German one, the exact origins of the Löwchen are still something that is much debated amongst breed enthusiasts and historians.

Some argue that the breed is related to the Poodle and originated from Northern Europe, around the French, Belgian and German parts of the continent.

Others believe they are more closely related to the Bichon Frise and that they were first developed in the Mediterranean regions. There are even suggestions that they may have come from Russia or Tibet.

Dogs resembling the breed, with the distinctive lion clip haircut, have been depicted in paintings as far back as the 16th century. There is no debating that the Löwchen, wherever they first came from, is a breed with a long history.

Given their representation in a variety of artwork, it is clear that they were a popular choice amongst selected gentry and regal figures. It has even been argued that the famous clip came about because their warm skin acted as a hot water bottle when Ladies kept them in their beds!

The first formal Löwchen breeder is recorded as an individual named Dr Walthier in the early 19th century Germany.

At the end of the 19th century, a breed enthusiast Madame Benert was credited with ensuring the survival of this rare breed. They were introduced in the United States in the 1970s and received recognition by the AKC in 1999.

Löwchens are still considered to be one of the rarest breeds today, although numbers are steadily increasing.

Löwchen Care

The Löwchen, despite being so rare, is a very adaptable little dog that can make a fantastic addition to most families.

The breed is known for being very affectionate, and they enjoy being showered with love and affection. This does mean, however, that they are best suited to living in a home where they will have company most of the day to prevent separation anxiety from surfacing.

They are known for getting along well with respectful children and other animals and can be very playful and fun-loving.

They are a clever little breed and respond extremely well to positive reinforcement training methods. They learn commands and tricks very quickly. They are a happy breed that is eager to please. They were even used as circus performers because of those attributes in days gone by.

The Löwchen is known for being a fearless little dog and can sometimes take on the role of watchdog. They are known for alert barking. To prevent their barking from becoming excessive, you may need to put in extra training around this aspect of their personality.

Despite being a small breed that loves being showered with affection, they are not simply a lapdog. They are an active, curious and energetic breed, and they will need a decent amount of daily exercise and plenty of enrichment around the home to keep them stimulated. They are known for enjoying and excelling in agility.

The Löwchen has a long, single coat and, while they do not shed much, they will need regular grooming to prevent mats and tangles developing.

Their coat grows quickly too, and they will need regular clipping to stop it becoming unruly. They are usually given a simple puppy trim, or they can be given the traditional show style Lion Clip that the breed is synonymous with. This style of clip varies depending on the country you are in, but it generally involves the hair around their rear end being shaved off completely.

A Löwchen Puppy
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Common Health Problems

The Löwchen is generally considered to be a robust and healthy little breed. As with most breeds though, they are known for being associated with a few inheritable health conditions. A good breeder will perform health checks on prospective parents to minimize the risk of these conditions developing in puppies.

Some of the conditions they can be prone to include:

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a degenerative eye condition that can eventually lead to complete blindness. It is not curable. Most dogs, however, can learn to adjust to their sight loss and still enjoy a high quality of life with the right support from their owners.
  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a relatively common condition, especially for small breeds. It involves the abnormal position of one or both hip joints, and it can range from mild to severe in terms of discomfort and mobility limitations. In severe cases, surgery can be required.
  • Luxating Patella: This is another joint issue, this time to do with the knee slipping out of place. Again, like with hip dysplasia, it can range in its severity and is another one that can require surgery if the problem is serious.

Diet and Nutrition

As with all dogs, the Löwchen should be a fed a high-quality, balanced and appropriately portion-controlled diet.

It can be easy to spoil your dog with too many unhealthy treats and table scraps or just by simple overfeeding. Obesity is one of the biggest health problems in dogs across the United States, and it can lead to a host of other more serious problems.

Pros
  • Affectionate and fun-loving

  • Confident and adaptable

  • Doesn't shed much

Cons
  • Can be vocal

  • Not suited to a house where they will be left too long on their own

  • Regular grooming required to prevent matting

Where to Adopt or Buy a Löwchen

Because the Löwchen is a rare breed, it could mean you will have to go on a waiting list or travel further to secure a puppy.

If you have decided this is the breed for you, it can be easy to get carried away in your excitement and rush into something. Make sure that you do your research and are prepared to be patient to wait for a pup from a reputable breeder.

Unscrupulous back yard breeders and puppy mills often target rare breed enthusiasts. By buying a puppy from this sort of source, you are inadvertently helping an industry rife with cruel practices thrive. Your puppy may not have been appropriately socialized, could have health problems and may be released from their mother too early.

A good place to start your research would be to contact The Löwchen Club of America.

Given their rarity, there will not be too many Löwchen in rescue. Don't let that put you off considering adoption, though. The Löwchen Club of America has a rescue program, and there are lots of other deserving small breed dogs in shelters across the country looking for their forever homes.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

There are lots of fantastic small breeds out there worth considering. If you would like to know more about some similar breeds that are not as rare, why not check out:

Taking the time to do your research on which potential dog breeds would slot into your family and lifestyle the best is well worth the time and effort.