Löwchen: This "Little Lion" Has a Fearless Spirit and a Gentle Soul

Brave but sweet, the Löwchen is a small dog with a coat that's often cut to resemble that of a lion. With this cut, the hindquarters and front legs are closely clipped, and left long and dense elsewhere. When not clipped, the entire coat is long and dense, with a mostly soft texture.

Although called the "Little Lion," the Löwchen is anything but fierce – yet it can certainly be fearless in some situations. While lively, affectionate, intelligent and sociable, it can be robust and tough despite its delicate appearance. Without the proper discipline, this breed can also be strong-willed and arrogant.


No one quite knows how the Löwchen (which means "little lion" in German) came to be, but there are several theories about its origins. One is that the breed began in northern Europe, which includes France, Belgium, and Germany. It may be one of the original breeds used to develop the Toy Poodle, or it may be part of the original breed.

Another is that it is actually related to the Bichon breeds, and got its start in the Mediterranean. A third theory is that it actually has its origins in Russia, while a fourth has the breed originating in Tibet.

No one really knows, but what is known is that the breed has always been largely a companion breed. Some speculate that it may also have been used to hunt vermin, like the Terrier, or that it was used to sound the alarm. It's too small to be actually a protective guard dog, but it certainly does well as a sentry to possible dangers.

Another fact that's known about the Löwchen is that it is not a breed relegated to a particular class. It has been part of family life for people from every walk of life, from nobles and aristocrats to common folk.

The breed is also quite old, dating back to about the 15th century, and it's remained largely unchanged. It appears in paintings and art works throughout the world, and these show that the Löwchen of today looks almost identical to the Löwchen of years past.

As with many breeds, the Löwchen became less popular in the latter 19th century, when only a few representatives of the breed remained. A breeder named Madeline Bennert decided to save the Löwchen from extinction, and she was successful, even though World War I and World War II again threatened demise.

After the wars, Bennert resumed efforts to save the breed, and spent years after they were over searching for any remaining Löwchen lines that had survived. One Dr. Hans Rickert, who purchased dogs originally from Bennert, used his dogs to establish the foundation for the breed as it exists today, along with a few others that had also been saved from extinction by their owners.

The Löwchen is still rare today. However, it is no longer threatened with extinction. It first made its appearance in the United States in 1971, and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1999. Today it is a member of the AKC’s non-sporting group.


The Löwchen is also called the "Little Lion" because its coat is often groomed to look like a lion. The Löwchen has a short, broad skull, a relatively broad, short muzzle, round, dark eyes, and feathered, moderately-long ears. The body is short but well-proportioned, and the coat is long and wavy, not curly. Coat colors include black, lemon and white, or speckled.

If the Löwchen is clipped to look like a lion, the tail, the hindquarters, and part of the front legs are clipped very close to the body. If it's not clipped in that "lion cut," the fur is long, dense, and relatively soft.

In adulthood, the Löwchen weighs 9 to 18 pounds and stands 10 to 13 inches at the shoulder.


Cheerful, lively, and affectionate, the Löwchen is very intelligent and sociable. Gentle and sensitive by nature, this dog learns very quickly and will be very easy to train. It is also very playful and well-behaved with children and other pets, including other dogs.

Robust and tough despite its small size, don't let the Löwchen's fragile appearance fool you. This is definitely a dog that can stand up to plenty of vigorous play, and it needs plenty of exercise to be healthy and happy.

One difficulty that can occur with this breed is something called "Small Dog Syndrome." This isn't really the dog's fault, nor is it particular to the breed in question. Rather, this "syndrome" occurs when owners treat their small, dainty-looking dogs like babies or small children instead of the dogs they are. Treated this way, these dogs can become spoiled rotten brats that want to rule the roost – and if allowed to, they definitely will! They can even be somewhat dangerous because although small, they can bite in an effort to establish their dominance.

This doesn't have to happen. In no way is Small Dog Syndrome a foregone conclusion with any small pet. Instead, make sure you treat your happy, lively, gentle, sensitive pet like a dog. Set firm, gentle boundaries, be consistent, be loving, and spend plenty of time as your dog’s companion. Löwchens love their people, and if you want your pet to be truly happy and healthy, you have to return the favor in kind.

With proper boundaries and gentle, firm, consistent discipline, this dog will truly be a joy to have around. You might find it interesting that this little dog will often take "top dog" position in the household even among larger pets, including other dogs. That's perfectly fine as long as harmony reigns in the household.


The Löwchen is generally healthy but can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation (knee problems), von Willebrand disease (similar to hemophilia in humans), hypothyroidism and progressive retinal atrophy. Cataracts may occur in old age. Your breeder should be able to show you health clearances for your puppy's parents from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for hip and elbow dysplasia, von Willebrand's disease, and hypothyroidism, and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation to show that the eyes are normal.

Life expectancy for this breed is long and generally healthy, 12 to 14 years.


The dense coat can either be clipped in the aforementioned "lion cut," or in the standard "puppy cut." This breed sheds very little and can be good for those who suffer from allergies. Brush regularly to remove any dead hair. Brush teeth 2 to 3 times a week, or every day if your pet will allow it, as this practice promotes overall, long-term health. Trim nails once to twice a month if they aren't worn down naturally. Clean the ears regularly as well and check for any signs of infection.



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Löwchen. vRetrieved November 3, 2015.

Löwchen (The Little Lion Dog) (Petit chien lion).

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Lowchen Dogs.

Retrieved November 3, 2015.

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