The Löwchen is a compact small dog, very slightly longer than it is tall, with strong, sturdy—but never coarse—build. The gait is effortless with good reach and drive, and the dog carries head and tail proudly. The coat is dense and long, moderately soft with a slight to moderate wave. The Löwchen traditionally is clipped in a lion trim. The Löwchen has a relatively short, broad topskull and muzzle, and the dog’s expression is alert, bright, and lively.
Löwchen (pronounced Lerv-chun) means “Little Lion Dog,” and in France the breed is known as Le Petit Chien Lion. The Löwchen shares common roots with other members of the Bichon family, which includes the Bichon Frise and Havanese, among others. Germany, Russia, and France have all laid claim to the breed. The exact time and place of origin is obscure, but dogs resembling the Löwchen, sporting the distinctive lion trim, can be found in sixteenth-century German art. In the traditional lion trim, the coat is clipped short from the last rib to and including the hindquarters down to the hock joint. The front legs are clipped from elbow to just above the pastern. The feet are clipped, and about half the tail is clipped, leaving a plume at the tip. Any long hair is to be left unshaped. In the 1960s, the breed’s numbers had dwindled to perilous numbers. Through the efforts of two breeders, several related dogs from Germany were brought to Britain. Because of their small numbers, these dogs were interbred extensively and formed the basis of the breed in Britain as well as America. The Löwchen entered the AKC Miscellaneous class in 1996 and was admitted as a member of the Non-Sporting Group in 1999.