The Löwchen is a breed of dog that once had the dubious distinction, like the Portuguese Water Dog and the Havanese, of being the “rarest dog in the world”. Even today, the breed generally has fewer than a few hundred new registrations each year worldwide.
The Löwchen is, depending who you ask, a terrier or bichon type dog, with a long, slightly harsh coat that should be presented in a lion cut. This means that the haunches, back legs, front legs (except bracelets around the ankles), and the entire tail but the tip are shaved, and the rest of the coat is either left natural or is slightly trimmed to give the appearance of a lion-like form. A small dog, they are considered by some registries as toys, and have been long-time companions of royal courts.
The head of the Löwchen is one of the most important features, with its 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 like a bichon nor harsh like many terriers. They can come in all colours that allow for dark eyes and nose, except, in the case of FCI, brown.
Although the Löwchen may be related to the Bichon Frise, the Löwchen’s history remains obscure. The little lion dog is seen in many art pieces featuring dogs as far back as the 1500s, but it is unclear whether these were all dogs like the Löwchen, or simply small dogs of the Bichon type that were trimmed in a lion cut.
It is an old breed type, found in many countries as far back as the 1500s. The modern sources of the breed were Belgian, French and German enthusiasts in the late 19th century.
The Löwchen is a friendly, happy dog. Dogs of this breed are both active and playful, and very intelligent. The Löwchen makes an ideal pet for families with children and an excellent house pet.