(aka: Little Lion Dog, Petit Chien Lion)
The Löwchen is bichon related breed, with a long, silky coat that is presented in a lion cut. This means that the haunches, back legs, front legs (except bracelets around the ankles), and the 1/3 of the tail closest to the body are shaved, and the rest of the coat is left natural to give the appearance of a lion-like form. A small dog, they are considered by some registries as toy dog, and have been long-time companions of royal courts.
The head of the Löwchen is one of the most important features, with its relatively short, wide muzzle, broad skull, lively round eyes, and pendulant ears. The head, when in proportion to the body, is neither too big nor too small, but helps to emphasize the friendly, regal, and leonine personality of the Löwchen.
The coat should not be thin and fluffy like a Bichon Frise, but wavy with a mix of thicker hairs amongst the fine ones. This allows for a flowing coat that is not frizzy or fly-away, and a Löwchen coat should neither be soft, nor harsh like many terriers. They can come in all colors, including brown, that allow for dark eyes and nose.
Löwchens are active, affectionate, and gentle. They are unafraid of a challenge to authority, however, and will fight other dogs of the same sex for their dominance. They are a fun breed, however, and are intelligent and somewhat lively, although not overly exuberant in any way. They are outgoing, alert and adaptable. These little dogs are robust and tough, and can be arrogant and strong willed. Despite this, the Löwchen will hardly leave an available lap empty.
To prevent tangles from forming, the coat should be combed and brushed regularly. The Löwchen is usually clipped in the hindquarters, the section of the tail closest to the body, and front leg areas are close-clipped, regardless of whether they are shown or not, giving them the name "Little Lion Dog," although some owners prefer to give it a puppy clip. This breed sheds little to no hair. Dead hair should be brushed out. This breed is good for allergy sufferers.
Löwchens were first depicted in art dating back to the early medieval period, when they likely emerged as a separate breed. There is some debate as to whether they originated in Germany or Italy, but it seems they were common in European courts by the 15th century.
Once the favored companion of European nobility, it is believed they gained their traditional styling in the Florentine court where a fascination with "The Orient" caused them to have them shorn up to look like little Chinese lions.
Their docile manner and loyalty to human owners is legendary. Over the centuries, Löwchen have developed a reputation as a good dog for the wealthy to keep as a constant companion.
More recently, the breed was popular with well-off European men and women of the 18th and 19th centuries, with particular popularity among the emerging middle class of Central Europe. However, in the 20th century, the popularity of the animal declined as modern ideas were adopted in all aspects of human life. During World War Two the breed was nearly exterminated, with only a few individual dogs remaining. Lowchens were even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Rarest Breed of Dog in the 1960s.
Through concerted efforts of breeders and Lowchen fanciers worldwide, they are again popular, mainly in urban areas, and because people who are normally allergic to animal dander can be around them without much problem.
The key with the Löwchen is to keep it under your constant gaze while a puppy. When you see a behaviour you don't like, you must let him or her know immediately that you don't like it. Because the bond that develops is so close, this can be as little as a stern look or whatever word you choose to mean you're not happy.
The Löwchen's high intelligence and willingness to please make them easily trained. They excel in agility and obedience. Early socialization is important for this breed. Dogs who aren't well socialized can become distrustful and angry - even snapping at people who try to touch it that he or she doesn't already know well.
They respond best to gentle, fair, fun, and consistent guidance. Proper training will discourage their tendency to bark excessively and curtail their tendency to dig.
The Löwchen tends to be a rather healthy dog, but due to such a tiny population in the mid-20th century, the population remains somewhat severely inbred. There are a few lines with specific congenital problems.
A condition that occurs when the kneecap keeps popping out of place also known as patellar luxation. Surgery is usually required to fix this. This will often occur when the dog is still young and appears as lameness and pain in one rear leg.