Breed Group: Non-Sporting
A whirlwind of activity inside without being hyperactive, the Löwchen (LAOO-chen) is a dog that loves his family and to play. He enjoys romping outside but requires little exercise which allows him to fit into the apartment lifestyle quite easily. But don’t leave him alone frequently or for long periods of time, this loving dog really does need the attention and companionship of his family. With their sweet-natured, cheerful demeanor, they do best with older, considerate children, and they enjoy the company of dogs and other pets. A superior watchdog, he likes a vantage point that allows him to watch for visitors, sounding the alarm when they arrive. Once announced, strangers are readily accepted as this friendly little dog is simply not a guardian. But watch their barking; some overuse their voice. The lion-cut coat, reminiscent of the poodle, may give make him look fragile, but he is much more robust than he appears.
The Löwchen is a small dog, 12-14 inches tall, and 9-18 pounds in weight. They are easily recognizable by their distinctive lion cut from whence his nickname “little lion dog” is derived. His coat is clipped to 1/8 inch from the last rib to the hindquarters leaving a plume on the end of the tail, cuffs of hair on all four feet, and a mane on the chest and shoulders making him appear like a miniature lion. Keeping him in the lion cut requires clipping about every six weeks. All coat colors are acceptable with the most common being white, black, lemon or speckled. Their coat color changes periodically throughout their lifetime. The coat needs combing or brushing every other day. When maintained in this manner, there is extremely little shedding, and he is among the breeds called hypoallergenic. They start to suffer as the temperature varies significantly in either direction from normal room temperature.
As some lines are timid, Löwchens should be thoroughly socialized to promote a confident, outgoing, sweet-natured disposition. They are eager to learn and make an outstanding agility and obedience dog. He wants to be with his people, and he may develop bad habits of barking or digging if denied the companionship he needs. He is very impressionable, has a great memory, and strongly dislikes pressure, or strong corrections. Learning must be fun, varied, and positive. Löwchens are a very good choice for a first-time dog owner or seniors.
The Löwchen is relatively free from genetic disease, which is reflected in their life expectancy of 13 to 15 years. Cataracts, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Patellar Luxation are the most common issues.
The Löwchen is ranked 139th in AKC registrations with about 150 puppies registered annually.
The Löwchen is an old breed appearing in the 1400’s in wood carvings, paintings, and tapestries with its lion cut. The origin of the breed is obscure, but it is accepted it descended from Tibetan dogs in the pre-medieval period and is believed to have originated in the area occupied by Germany and Holland today. Löwchen enjoyed great popularity for centuries as a companion to royalty and commoners alike. Legend has it that Florentine princesses groomed them to look like lions. The dogs would then sleep with the princesses with the trimmed area under the covers to serve as living hot water bottles, while the furry part attracted fleas away from the princess. Another legend tells that when a knight died in battle, a lion would be carved at the foot of his tomb signifying valor. If the knight died of peaceful causes, a Löwchen would be carved on the tomb. They were nearly destroyed in every major European conflict and again dwindled to a perilously low level in the 1960’s. In 1968, Löwchen were first imported to Great Britain from Germany. They entered the AKC Miscellaneous class in 1996, but are known to have been in the United States since before the Civil War. The breed was accepted into the AKC Non-Sporting Group in January of 1999.
The National (US) Breed Club is the The Löwchen Club of America.