Löwchen, Petit Chien Lion

Lowchen, brief  |  Lowchen, Introduction  |  Lowchen Dog Breed Quick Facts  |  Appearance
Size and Weight  |  Coat and Color  |  Grooming Needs  |  History  |  Health  |  Personality
Activity Requirements  |  Trainability  |  Behavioral Traits

Lowchen, brief

The lowchen is a cheerful, lively, affectionate dog. Sociable and intelligent, it is eager to learn. These dogs are fearless, but gentle and sensitive. Lowchen usually learn quickly and present little difficulty in their training. Playful, they are good with children and usually will do okay with other dogs as well as non-canine pets. A small intelligent dog, a lively and alert expression. Overall robust with good bone, short and well proportioned body, head carried high. The movement is proud and determined, accentuated by the floating mane from the lion clip. the unclipped areas should be completely natural and on no account should they be shaped. The lion clip is obligatory for showing.


Lowchen, Introduction

The Lowchen, also known as the Little Lion Dog, the Leoninus (meaning "lion-like") and the Petit Chien Lion, has been bred for centuries for the sole purpose of giving love and getting love in return. The correct pronunciation of the word Lowchen is "lerv-chun." The breed is perhaps the ideal pet: hypoallergenic, virtually non-shedding, easily trained and full of fun. According to the American Kennel Club:
"Show them a squirrel and they'll bark, but then won't know what to do with it."
"Show them a stranger, they'll bark, and then be the person's friend."
"Show them a child, not too young, and they will allow themselves to be picked up and carried gently.
"If they find an adult who will walk and feed them, and brush them a few times a week, they'll become that person's best friend, never leaving their side."
The Lowchen plays well with all others if properly socialized and thrives in large homes or tiny apartments, in both urban and rural settings. This is not a breed to be left in a kennel or in the yard; he needs a bed in the house, close to his family. Lowchens are big dogs in little packages. The ideal Lowchen stands 12 to 14 inches at the withers. Dogs or bitches above or below this range are faulted to the extent of the variance under the American breed standard. Lowchens typically weigh between 8 and 18 pounds. Their natural coat is long, somewhat dense and moderately soft, with a slightly wavy appearance. No scissoring or shaping is permitted for the untrimmed show coat. However, when shown in the lion trim, the coat is clipped to about 1/8" on the hindquarters, tail base and top of all legs, leaving a full natural face and mane on the neck and front, cuffs on all lower legs and a plume on the tail's end. None of the unclipped areas are to be smoothed, shaped or shortened with anything other than a brush or comb. When in the lion show cut, the Lowchen closely resembles a miniature Portuguese Water Dog. All colors and color combinations are acceptable in this breed, with none being preferred over another. Unclipped coat areas should be brushed regularly to keep tangles from forming. Pet owners often keep their Lowchen in an overall short “puppy cut" to reduce grooming needs. 

Lowchen Dog Breed Quick Facts

Affection Level
Apartment Friendly
Barking Tendencies
Cat Friendly
Child Friendly
Dog Friendly
Exercise Need
Grooming Needs
Health Issues


The Lowchen has a long mane and tasseled tail that help give him his leonine look. In fact, the Lowchen's haircut is what's known as a "Lion's Trim." The most important feature of the Lowchen is the head, which is carried high at all times. The muzzle is short and wide, the skull broad. The eyes are wide set, round, and dark in color; and the ears are pendant and well fringed. The teeth of the Lowchen should meet in a scissors bite. They are slightly longer than they are tall, with a level topline. The tail is high-set and carried in a cup-handle position. The Lowchen's coat is dense, slightly wavy, and comes in all colors of the canine rainbow.


Size and Weight

Adult Lowchens sand from 12-13 inches at the withers. Breed standards vary slightly, but generally the height of the dog can vary 1 inch above or below this ideal. The overall proportions of the dog are more important that the height and weight of the dog. Lowchens should be a bit off-square, and they should be a touch longer than they are tall, with a ratio of 11 to 10.

Coat and Color

The Lowchen wears a dense, long, slightly wavy coat that sheds very little and is soft to the touch. They have an combination of both thick and fine hair that creates a unique texture. There is no color preference per breed standards, and Lowchens come in all colors of the canine rainbow.

Grooming Needs

The cut given to a Lowchen – and the cut that is required for the show ring - is called a "Lion Trim." The hair is shortened to 1/8th of an inch in length from the last rib to the rump, as well as on the legs, with cuffs of hair just above the feet. The tail is also trimmed, but a plume is left at the tip of the tail. Lowchens shed very little, and all that is needed to maintain the coat between clipping is regular brushing, which prevents tangles. Check the Lowchen's ears on a regular basis for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection. Clean the ears with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser; never use a cotton swab in a dog's ear canal. Teeth should be brushed on a weekly basis to prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health and keep bad breath at bay. Trim nails monthly if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally outdoors.



The exact origin of the Lowchen is a subject of debate. Some suggest a Mediterranean ancestry, closely related to the Bichon-type breeds including the Maltese, the Bolognese and the Bichon Frise. Other sources trace the Lowchen back to Belgium, Holland, France and Germany, where its name translates as "little lion" (although it is not related to the "lion dogs" from Asia); this theory places the Lowchen as an ancestor of the modern day poodle. Dogs resembling the Lowchen are seen in historical artwork dating to the mid-1400s, with their close-clipped hindquarters and full, natural mane. Goya included a Lowchen in his painting of the beautiful Duchess of Alba in the late 1700s. Regardless of its precise ancestry, the Lowchen undoubtedly was an enormously popular and pampered pet of royalty and aristocrats as far back as pre-Renaissance Europe, where ladies of the court groomed it in the likeness of a lion. Two reasons are suggested for this lion-cut. The first is that the dogs were intentionally clipped to resemble lions, which were symbols of strength and power. The second is that the warm exposed skin of these little dogs was comforting to their lady owners, who essentially used them as canine "hot-water bottles" to take the chill off of cold nights. The Lowchen also was an excellent varmint-catcher and fierce little guardian of hearth and home. The breed almost disappeared due to the World Wars. By the middle of the 20th century, it was considered to be among the world's rarest dog breeds. In 1960, the Guinness World Records book named the Lowchen "the rarest breed in the world"; the 1973 edition of The Guinness Book of Records stated: "The rarest breed of dog is the Lowchen, of which only 65–70 were reported in March, 1973." Fortunately, the breed was brought back from obscurity thanks largely to the efforts of Madame M. Bennert of Brussels, Belgium. Starting in 1945, she searched for and gathered all surviving Little Lion Dogs that she could find and began a careful breeding program to save them from extinction. After her death, her work was continued by Dr. Hans Rickert, a German veterinarian. The selective and well-managed breeding programs of Mrs. Bennert and Dr. Rickert started a slow but steady revival of interest in the breed. The Lowchens that ultimately arrived in Great Britain and North America came directly from Dr. Rickert's Von Den Drei kennel. Under the Federation Cynologique Internationale registration, the breed is still called the Petite Chien Lion. It is shown in the Toy Group in England and elsewhere throughout Europe. Although still a rare breed, the Lowchen is no longer in danger of extinction and is recognized by all major kennel clubs worldwide. The Lowchen excels in conformation, agililty and obedience competition, in part because of its intelligence, trainability and alert nature. They also are wonderful therapy dogs and family pets.


The Lowchen is an unusually healthy breed, with an average life expectancy of 12 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include cataracts and patellar luxation.


The name "Lowchen" means "Little Lion Dog" in German, but this breed is anything but fierce. The AKC standard states, "the Lowchen’s outgoing and positive attitude make the breed a pleasure to be around." These little guys love people of all ages and are always sweet and even-tempered. They are cuddle bugs who love nothing more than to curl up with someone they love, and usually expect to be invited to sleep in bed. They are not, however, lazy. Lowchens love being outdoors and despite their small size, enjoy a bit of rompous play time. Like many toy breeds, Lowchens are alert watchdogs and are quick to alert you to an incoming visitor. They are highly trainable and adaptable, making them an excellent choice for first time dog owners. 


Activity Requirements

Lowchens are little dogs, but they enjoy the outdoors. Their size makes them fine for apartment life, but they should be walked daily and allowed to run and play at the park once or twice a week to satisfy their desire to run and play. You can't tell by looking at them, but Lowchens actually make excellent jogging companions and can keep up like a champ. They are also quite intelligent and need mental activity as well as physical activity. Providing them with interesting things to do is important to their mental well-being. An excellent outlet for this is competitive obedience and agility coursing, where they always excel.



Lowchens are highly trainable. They are smart, desire to please the people they love, and catch on to tricks rather quickly. Training should always be conducted with positive reinforcement and lots of treats. Lowchens are sensitive dogs, and treating them harshly will cause them to withdraw. When basic obedience has been mastered, Lowchens should graduate to advanced obedience, tricks, or agility training. They love the activity and it fosters the bond between dog and owner.

Behavioral Traits

Separation Anxiety is common in Lowchens, but it is highly preventable. Lowchens love to be with people and hate to be left alone for long periods of time. Properly exercising your Lowchen can keep anxiety levels low, and most people don't realize how much exercise this breed is capable of. But lots of exercise means nothing if a Lowchen is left alone all day, every day. They are best suited for homes with a stay at home parent, or better yet, in the home of active retirees. Barking is also a common issue with Lowchens. They are alert watchdogs and are quick to let you and everyone within earshot know that someone is approaching their home. Many Lowchen owners report that their dog's favorite spot in the house is perched on the back of a sofa where they can see out the window. Getting your Lowchen to obey a stop barking command can save your eardrums.


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