Choosing a Lowchen

Although known as the little lion dog or Petit Chien Lion, this breed is more bark than bite. With his sociable style and gregarious persona, the Lowchen makes an ideal pet. His long, supple fur is often cut like a lion, thus his nickname.

History and Origin

The Lowchen is believed to have originated in Mediterranean Europe. Though thought to have a foundation in France, by the 15th century these dogs commonly served as pets to Florentine nobility. Needing a way to keep warm, ladies of the court would shear the Lowchens hair to look like a lion, and use them as electric blankets. The haircut became fashionable, and the moniker, little lion dog, stuck. By the end of the 15th century, the Lowchen was found all over Europe. They appear in many old paintings, most notably Goya's Portrait of Duchess of Alba, in 1795.

Before World War II, the lion dog became nearly extinct. After the war, some effort was made to try to give them some recognition, but these efforts were futile. In 1969, the Guinness Book of World Records named the Lowchen the Worlds Rarest Breed of Dog. Although they no longer hold this title, these dogs are still very uncommon. One noteworthy Lowchen was Freeway, the dog on the TV show Hart to Hart. Freeway was an untrimmed Lowchen.


The Lowchen's coat is usually clipped to resemble a lion. The back end is sheared to the skin, leaving a tuft of hair on the end of the tail. The ears are left long and fringed. The coat texture is soft and silky and when not trimmed, the fur is long and wavy. Lowchens come in all color combinations, and the fur changes color numerous times over the dogs' life span.

Lowchens have short, strong bodies. They are sturdy and well muscled with dark clear eyes.


Lowchens weigh between 9 and 18 pounds, and stand 10-13 inches at the shoulder.


Little lion dogs are clever, spunky and happy. They are very affectionate, warming up to just about everybody. They are sociable and mischievous; they love to play games. The Lowchen becomes very attached to his family and enjoys spending time grooming and protecting. As with many breeds of dog, when left intact, males can be assertive. At the end of the day, the Lowchen makes a perfect buddy.

Home and Family Relations

Lowchens are terrific with children. They are highly demonstrative and playful. They get along well with other animals, taking particular pleasure in other dogs.

These dogs are adaptable to just about any living arrangement. They are excellent for apartment dwellers. They take pleasure in long walks, but also delight in running around a fenced backyard.


High intellect makes the Lowchen an easily trainable dog. They find particular pleasure in pleasing their master. Their well-built bodies make them apt for agility, and their compliant personalities make them fit for obedience. On the whole, the Lowchen is an exceptionally well-rounded dog.

Special Concerns

Daily grooming is vital to keep the Lowchen tangle free. When clipped, these dogs require sunscreen, as their skin can easily burn.

Health Concerns

The Lowchen is considered one of many rare dog breeds. Due to this, little is known about genetic problems or known health concerns. The Lowchen seems to be a healthy, hardy breed.

The Lowchens' life expectancy is between 10 and 15 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.