The Lowchen has a uniquely trimmed body, and looks somewhat like a small lion. Used in France for many years as a watchdog, today it is gaining international popularity. This extremely loving dog is protective toward its family.

A small breed from southern Europe, its history probably dates back several centuries. In a Goya painting of a duchess of Arabia, a Lowchen appears in the tapestry behind her. Today this dog is found everywhere in Europe and is attracting many American admirers as well.


The name of the little dog translates from the German as 'Little Lion" and, in the past, it has also been called the Petit Chien Lion. One author insisted on calling this breed the Leoninus (or "lion-like"). The correct pronunciation of the word Lowchen is "lerv-chun".

This small, shaggy dog is usually seen wearing its own version of the poodle-cut — shaved legs and a shaved rear end, except for the feet and tail-tip. Two reasons have been given for this "lion-cut", as it is called. The first is that, back in the Middle Ages, when ights were often chilly, the exposed skin of these little dogs was comfortingly hot to the touch. Keeping them in their beds, ladies were able to use them as ‘hot-water bottles’. The second explanation is that the dogs were half-shaved to give them the look of a male lion with a thick mane of hair. The lion was a symbol of strength and power, and the little dogs were supposed to have acquired that power symbolically by virtue of their leonine appearance.

It is fairly obvious that the Lowchen is a member of the Bichon family. However, as with several European lapdog breeds, there is a dispute over its true country of origin. The fact that its name is German implies a German origin. But it was also known, as early as the 16th century, not only in Germany but also in Russia, Holland, Italy, Spain and France. The current feeling is that, despite its name, it was primarily developed in France, and it is usually listed as a French dog, although, to be truthful, we do not have a definitive answer.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s this breed had fallen so dramatically from favour that for several years its name appeared in The Guinness Book of Records.

Since that time there has been a revival of interest, and several serious breeders have taken it up and have initiated carefully planned breeding programmes. Even so, it remains essentially a rare dog. More recently still, it has been made famous by the popular American television series Hart to Hart. It remains to be seen whether this will have influenced its future popularity.


There is a tremendous variation in the Lowchen’s size. Under the British Standard, it should stand 10-13 inches/25,5-33 cm, yet the Federation Cynologique Internationale’s Standard allows 8-14 inches/20-36 cm. The head is quite wide-skulled, the eyes round, dark and intelligent. The ears are pendant and long. The body is square with moderate angulation and a level topline. The feet are small and round. The coat is long with a slight wave (never curly) and is silky in texture. A major attraction of the breed is that it can be any color or combination of colors.


Cheerful, loving, and absolutely obedient to its master, this brave dog makes a good watchdog despite its small size.

In personality, the Lowchen is a rather strong-willed dog that refuses to acknowledge its small size. It has been described as outgoing, lively, robust, even-tempered, affectionate, intelligent, energetic and sensible.


Remarkably, particularly considering the breed’s ancestry, the Lowchen remains mainly free of major hereditary problems and its natural longevity is testament to its freedom from major disease. Patella luxation and other deformities in the hindquarters are seen occasionally, and it is vital that puppy-buyers deal only with breeders who breed from sound stock.

Special Care and Training

If given long walks, this breed will be happy even in a small space. The Lowchen is highly trainable and responds well to basic obedience routines. They also enjoy playing household games with their owners. It is easy to maintain, but whether the coat is clipped or kept full, thorough grooming is necessary to avoid mats and tangles. Also, the area around the eyes and inner ears should always be checked for cleanliness.

Puppies and Training

The three to six puppies per litter are relatively strong and easy to raise.

Gallery of Lowchen