The Lowchen dog breed has a distinctive look because of the way they are traditionally groomed to look like a lion. That gave these dogs their name, which stands for “Little Lion Dog.” These friendly, playful dogs make great companion dogs and family pets, especially for quieter households that will do well with a lively and active dog in their midst.
The Lowchen dog breed dates back to the medieval times as they are depicted in many paintings and in several types of artwork from the 15th and 16th centuries. They are thought to be German in origin, but several other countries including Russia and France claim ownership. These dogs are similar in appearance to Bichon types of dogs such as Bichon Frise and Havanese to which they may be related.
These dogs are thought to have evolved from some Tibetan dog breed that was introduced into Europe by travelers from the east. These dogs were crossbred with local dogs of spitz and terrier types. The resultant breed had found favor with the wealthy people of the time, who used them as companion dogs. They were very popular among the elite crowd in the 19th century and early 20th century, but had gone down in numbers by the 1960s.
Attempts were made to revive the breed by importing them to England for intensive breeding programs. This paid out, and the dogs increased in numbers. They were also introduced to the United States around this time. The American Kennel Club admitted the dog in the miscellaneous category in 1996, and later recognized it in 1999. This helped increase their popularity to some extent, but even today, Lowchen continues to be one of the less common breeds.
The Lowchen dog breed is small in size, with most dogs measuring between 11 inches and 14 inches in height and 10 to 18 pounds in weight. They have a long coat of wavy hair that is denser than that of Bichon type dogs, but not as rough to touch as the hair of terriers. These dogs come in nearly all common canine colors, but they are distinguished mainly by their lion-cut. It is achieved by shaving off the hair in the hind part of the body, including the limbs and tail. A tuft of hair is left at the tip of the tail and also at the lower portion of the limbs as bracelets. The origin of this type of grooming is not known, but it makes the dog look a bit like a male lion.
The Lowchen dogs have a lean body and a head in proportion to it. The ears are pendulous and covered by a profusion of hair, as is the tail that curves over the back.
The Lowchen dog breed is high-spirited and full of fun. They are friendly to not only the members of their own households, including other pets, but also to other people and dogs they are introduced to. However, they can act as a watchdog by indicating any unusual situation or presence of strangers with barking.
Being highly intelligent, these dogs are easy to train. They are very entertaining, always striving to please their owners. They are highly people-oriented and feel distressed if left alone for extended periods. These dogs are especially good with children. They are suitable for older people too, as they generally keep calm and quiet, and refrain from barking unnecessarily.
Grooming and exercise
Grooming of this dog takes some time and effort if the traditional lion cut is to be maintained. Professional trimming may be required once every two months to keep the unique pattern. A thorough brushing should be done at least once in two days to keep the coat in good condition. These dogs do not shed, and are considered hypoallergenic.
Lowchen dogs have low to moderate exercise needs which can be met by short walks on the leash and some games and activities with the family. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise.
These dogs like to spend some time freely running around in a safe yard, but should be kept indoors otherwise. They have some tolerance to cold, but needs extra protection for the exposed parts when taking the dog out during winter.
Common health issues of Lowchen dog breed
The Lowchen dog breed generally keeps very good health and is free of any breed related or other common canine disorders. Patellar luxation is the only problem that is occasionally found in the breed. They have an average life expectancy of 16 years.