Also known as the “Little Lion Dog” from the German translation or “Le Petit Chien Lion” in French. The Lowchen (Lerv-chun) breed is a small but intelligent companion for all family types. From singles to couples with children to seniors, Lowchens are friendly, loyal, and happy to please. Better still, despite their long fur and grooming needs, Lowchens are known for barely shedding at all.
12 – 14 inches
9 – 18 pounds
13 – 15 years
Black, black and silver, black and tan, blue, blue brindle, chocolate, cream, fawn, gold, red, red brindle, red sable, silver, white, black brindle, silver brindle, gold brindle, gold sable
Active families, families with children, apartments, those looking for a low-shedding dog, obedience and agility competitions, first-time dog owners
Loyal & loving, intelligent, easy to train, friendly, gets along with other pets
Although they’re easily recognized by their lion-like hairdo, these dogs don’t naturally look like lions. The traditional cut of their coats originated centuries ago when Lowchens were a favorite companion for aristocrats. Since then, and despite their fierce loyalty, they’ve declined in popularity, especially during WW1 and WW2. They were saved from extinction by a careful breeding program but are still one of the rarest dog breeds.
If you’ve never heard of Lowchen dogs, you’re missing a treat. Check out the guide below to learn more about these underappreciated gems of the dog world.
These dogs are so affectionate they make the perfect pet for families. They’re easy to train, don’t need much exercise, and are long-lived. Although their coats take a lot of care to keep them in the iconic lion cut and avoid tangles, you’ll come home to a dedicated friend.
Early socialization and regular training are essential for your Lowchen puppy to grow into a friendly and obedient dog. These pups are easy to handle, making them a great option for first-time dog owners. With enough mental and physical stimulation, your puppy should be happy and entertained. Keep reading the Lowchen’s full care guide to know what type of care they need to grow into healthy dogs!
Temperament & Intelligence of the Lowchen
With their fierce bravery, you’d expect the Lowchen to make great guard dogs. Despite their tendency to bark an alert whenever something strange occurs, like a stranger lurking outside the door, their friendliness extends to newcomers too. Even the unwanted ones.
They manage well with and without a yard, so apartment dwellers don’t need to worry about the lack of space available. If they’re with you, they’ll be more than happy playing on the living room rug or going for a walk.
On the downside, the Lowchen fondness of being the center of attention means they often suffer from separation anxiety. If you’re away from home all the time, you may find your favorite pair of shoes torn to pieces or complaints from your neighbors about barking.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
Friendly and loving, Lowchens are a great choice for families of all sizes. Their intelligence and easy-going nature make them a perfect companion for both new and experienced dog owners. They’re also a breed that doesn’t require much exercise so if you only have time for short walks every day and a few boisterous play sessions, they’ll be more than happy.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
Along with their friendliness toward children, Lowchens are known to be friends of the world. They’ll settle in with your existing cats and dogs as if they were always there. For interactions with pets and people outside the family though, it’s always best to properly socialize your dog.
Their lion-like appearance comes with determined confidence. Like most small dogs, the Lowchen think they’re bigger than they are. While they’re affectionate to a fault and great with children and other pets, without proper socialization, they’ll argue with the bigger dog breeds.
Things to Know When Owning a Lowchen:
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
As a toy dog breed, make sure you purchase food designed for small dogs. High-quality food is best, albeit more expensive, but you can also make your own at home provided you follow recommended recipes.
½ to 1 cup of food daily, preferably split into two meals, is suggested. This amount may vary depending on how active your dog is and its age.
High-fat, medium-moisture, high-fiber, and antioxidant-rich foods will also help prevent some of the joint and eye issues the Lowchen might suffer from.
Energy-wise Lowchens are playful but not hyperactive. If they’re with the people they love most, they’ll settle into an apartment as easily as a house with a yard. Regular activity is a great way to appeal to Lowchen’s intelligence. Daily walks and play sessions will keep them entertained.
The Lowchen are known for their intelligence and being a people-dog, they love to please their family members. They pick up commands with ease and excel at both agility and obedience courses, provided you put the time in to teach them.
Proper training and socialization with other dogs as a puppy will also help eliminate some of the negative traits of the breed too. With a healthy challenge, your Lowchen won’t be bored enough to chew on furniture, bark constantly or dig holes in your yard.
Although the lion haircut is the traditional way of presenting the Lowchen, many owners prefer leaving their coats alone. While it’s certainly eye-catching, the lion-like appearance can be time-consuming and expensive to maintain, especially with monthly trips to the groomers. If the lion-cut doesn’t appeal to you, a simple puppy-cut is more than ample.
To keep your Lowchen’s coat in excellent condition, make sure to invest in a good brush. With such long fur and a playful dog, it’s easy to find matted tangles. Regular grooming sessions, at least once a day, will keep your Lowchen’s coat in tip-top shape.
Don’t forget their teeth, ears, and nails too. Keeping your Lowchen’s nails trimmed, ears clean, and teeth brushed, will ensure your Little Lion continues to roar.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Despite their rarity, Lowchens are small but hardy and one of the healthiest dog breeds available. They are still susceptible to some diseases though and you should always check with your breeder for health issues. A reputable breeder will provide health-testing certificates and they’ll run hip, knee, and eye tests on their stock.
Male vs Female
The debate between male and female dogs is a long-winded and often inconclusive one. For the Lowchen, like most animals, females are smaller and lighter than males. Where males tend to be between 12-14 inches in height and 12-18 pounds, females range from 11-13 inches and 10-15 pounds.
Beyond the obvious size differences though, there’s not much difference between the genders. Males may be considered more aggressive and females more standoffish overall, but dogs are individuals. Spaying and neutering your Lowchen will help calm them down too.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Lowchen
1. The Lowchen almost became extinct.
After seeing a rapid decline in popularity during both World Wars, there were less than 70 Lowchen dogs in the world by the 1970s. Thanks to the joint efforts of Madeleine Bennert and Dr. Hans Rickert, a careful breeding program introduced the Lowchen to Britain and the USA. Although still rare, Lowchen dogs are thriving today.
2. The traditional lion haircut was originally a status symbol.
Considering their history with the aristocracy, it’s no surprise Lowchen dogs are traditionally styled after lions. The hindquarters, back and front legs along with most of the tail are clipped, leaving a “mane” around the forequarters and head.
Due to the courage and power seen in lions, nobles and royals relied on the Lowchen to show their status among their people.
3. A Lowchen co-starred in a television series.
Hart to Hart was a popular TV series in the 1980s about two amateur detectives. An unclipped Lowchen called Charlie starred as the main duo’s trusty companion, Freeway.
Whether you’ve owned dogs all your life or you’re looking for your first best friend, a lot can be said for the Lowchen. Not only are they a great conversation starter, especially with a snazzy lion hairdo, but their affectionate natures make them the perfect housemate.
Don’t let their easy-to-please tendencies, or their adorableness, fool you into neglecting their training, however. Not only will keeping your Lowchen’s mind active make sure your shoes stay intact, but your neighbors will thank you for a quiet evening in when your puppy isn’t barking.
Remember to give your Lowchen as much attention as they show you as well. They’re a breed susceptible to separation anxiety and don’t do well alone. Try to break up long days at the office with a trip back home for lunch, just to say hi.
If you do choose to delve into Lowchen ownership, don’t let the price put you off. While they’re small, they’ll take up a massive space in your heart.
Featured Image Credit: Svetlana Valoueva, Shutterstock