Here’s the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the Lowchen, the Little Lion Dog.
Where did Lowchen originate? What is Lowchen history? There are many theories on how the breed originated, and most of the theories share the theme that Lowchen were developed in the same family as Maltese, Bichon, and Poodles during the pre-Renassiance period. These theories were pieced together histories going back to the 1500’s with writings that were found, paintings, and stories that were passed down through the generations. It wasn’t until the mid-1850’s when formal dog shows began that there was documentation of breeds and pedigrees. Dr. Walthier and Madame Bennert were one of the early figures in Lowchen history who brought the breed back from near extinction. This is when we start to see the more codified documentation of pedigrees in the breed.
Are Lowchen dogs rare? Yes! The breed almost went extinct after World War 2, and the numbers in the United States dropped to a low of 59 dogs born in 2017. Today, with the efforts of Savethelowchen.org, we are up to 143 born in the United States in 2022.
How many Lowchen are there in the world? Given there re about 600 born each year worldwide multiplied by a typical lifespan of 15 years, there are likely around 9,000-10,000 currently in the world. The number of these who are in breeding programs is likely just a fraction of the ones alive. In the United States, about 20% of the lowchen born and registered enter the gene pool per AKC registration data.
What other modern breeds are Lowchen similar to in size and temperament? The Lowchen are often a good fit for owners who are looking for dogs like the Havanese, Bichon, Miniature Poodle, and Coton de Tulear.
How does the Lowchen compare to mixed breeds like miniature golden doodles, cavapoos, cavachons, and cockapoo? Mixed breeds may vary widely in health, coat type, temperament, and size which makes it difficult to compare. However, owners who are looking for small, non-shedding, confident, and joyful dogs will find the Lowchen an excellent fit.
Are Lowchen hypoallergenic? The term hypoallergenic has often been used to mean non-shedding or low dander. No dog is truly hypoallergenic. The Lowchen is considered non-shedding and low dander, and they are excellent for those with allergies to dogs. The Lowchen does not shed like a typical double coated breed. The hair will come out with some brushing, but it will not shed like a Bernese Mountain Dog or Malamute.
How much do Lowchen cost? Not as much as the Interwebs says they do. You can read more in detail about the alleged most expensive dog breed here. In the US, typical prices for Lowchen are around $2,000-$4,000. Prices may vary based on additional training, vaccines, transportation, and additional veterinary/registration expenses.
Why is the Lowchen butt shaved? The original show cut looks like a Little Lion. The theory for the cut is that the naked parts were meant to keep the nobility warm in bed, and the hairy parts would collect lice from the humans. Today, the cut is a part of the breed presentation for conformation. Does the hair naturally grow that way? No. It has to be clipped/shaved off.
Do I have to keep them in that type of haircut? How often do you have to groom them? You can keep your companion in any style of haircut you like. Most dogs with very short cuts will need grooming every 6-8 weeks with ears and nails done in between. Longer styles might need professional grooming every 4-5 weeks with brushing at home.
How big do Lowchen usually get? How much do they weigh? The lowchen standard calls for a dog that is 11-13 inches tall with 1 inch of variance above or below. That means that you’ll usually see dogs in the show ring that are 10-14 inches tall. This usually puts the typical fit weight of dogs between 10-15 lbs. Most of our show males are between 14-15 lbs as adults. They are small enough to travel by plane in cabin as adults.
What kind of health problems do Lowchen have? The robust breed often sees many years of healthy lives until the golden years. Senior Lowchen may have issues related to normal aging. It is uncommon for young Lowchen to exhibit health issues. The most common issues outside of injury or accident is patella luxation. Most instances of patella luxation are asymptomatic and requires no intervention. More serious cases of patella luxation may require crate rest, physical therapy, or surgery. With proper treatment, the dogs typically live happy and full lives. There are a few instances of Progressive Renal Atrophy (PRA), and there is currently little understanding of it at a genetic level. There have not been any genetic markers identified that are tied to PRA in Lowchen, nor have the form(s) of PRA in Lowchen been solidified.
How long do Lowchen generally live? 15-16 years is very typical ages. Some have lived to twenty years old.
What colors do they come in? Lowchen can be any color, and their colors can change over time if they have the fade gene.
Are Lowchens smart? They are considered a highly intelligent breed. They tend to be highly attuned to their owners, quick to pick up new skills, and adept at solving problems you might not think are problems. They can be smarter than most people.
Do Lowchen bark? Lowchen will typically bark in play, for food, or during other excitement. A small number can be considered nusiance barkers (nonstop barking or barking for no reason). However, it is often the pitch of the bark and not the frequency that can be bothersome.
What is it like to live with a Lowchen? You can read out in-depth article here to understand what it is like to live with a Lion.
How long is the wait for a Lowchen companion? Typically less than 6 months for a companion puppy. Even shorter if luck happens to be on your side. Show prospect lowchen, females, and specific colors may require a longer wait.
What size bag should I get for them to travel on the plane in cabin? If you are traveling often, I prefer a large or xlarge Sturdibag. Sometime the airline agents will say the xlarge is too big, but I haven’t had an issue yet.
What size crate do I need for an adult? Crates that are about 24 inches in length work really well for adults. This translates into 200 size East Coast Crates or Impact Crates. A mid-size Ruffland or small Ruffland would work for many Lowchen. Size 200 or 250 Varikennels work well.