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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Lowchen
Average Cost to keep/care for a Lowchen
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Lowchen is a charming little dog and one that boasts having a silky coat that's often trimmed to look very much like that of a lion, hence they are often referred to as Little Lion Dogs. They are one of the largest toy breeds being robust and sturdy, but they also boast having adorable natures to match their charming looks. As such, the Lowchen makes for a wonderful companion and family pet which is why these little dogs have found their way into the hearts and homes of people throughout the world although their numbers remain quite low.
The actual origins of the Lowchen are a bit of a mystery, although it is thought these charming little dogs probably have European roots with some people thinking they could be connected to the Bichon Frise. With this said, Ancient art suggests that civilisations situated both in Europe and the Mediterranean regions of the world kept companion dogs with lion trims for centuries. The breed is listed as being native to France, but very similar looking dogs have also been found both in Germany and Spain with records of them going back as far as the 1500's. A lot of people think the breed originated in the Far East, but this is a misconception.
When it comes to the breed’s “lion clip”, how this first came about remains unclear, although there are those people who believe that being clipped meant dogs were much cleaner when used as “hot water bottles” during a certain period of history. At the beginning of the twentieth century, breed enthusiasts successfully bred little “Lion Dogs”, but breed numbers fell dangerously low during the First World War and remained very low right up to 1939 but then once again like many other breeds in occupied countries, the Lowchen nearly vanished altogether.
It was thanks to a lady called Madame Bennert, a real enthusiast that Lowchens were saved from extinction. She spent her life making sure that Lowchen as a breed was revived and found two females one of which had a blue coat and the other was biscuit coloured. She also found male which she called Ulan, a dog with a blue coat and used the three as a foundation to saving the breed. Madame Bennert used the name of her street for her dog’s kennel name and interestingly all Lowchens in the UK can trace their ancestry back to Madame Bennert’s dogs.
The first Lowchen to be imported to the UK was in the 1960’s by a lady called Eillidh Stenning who while visiting Germany fell in love with some dogs she described as being “grand little dogs”. She bought two Lowchen back to the UK in 1968 making sure they were not related which took time because there was such a small gene pool.
Over the ensuing years these charming little dogs became more popular and in 1971, they were recognised as a unique breed by The Kennel Club gaining championship status a few years later. However, even today, the Lowchen is among the rarer dogs in the world and anyone wishing to share their home with one of these charming little dogs would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list.
Height at the withers: Males 30 - 35.6 cm, Females 28 - 33 cm
Average weight: Males 5.4 - 8.1 kg, Females 4.5 - 6.8 kg
The Lowchen is an attractive little dog that boasts being one of the largest of the toy breeds. Their coats are often trimmed in a Lion Cut which is why they are called Little Lion Dogs. However, unclipped they have long and quite scruffy looking coats that adds a lot of character and appeal to their overall natural appearance. They are well balanced, strongly built dogs that always have an alert, friendly look about them which makes them so endearing.
They have short and quite broad heads with the area between their ears being flat. They have clearly defined stops and short, yet strong muzzles. They carry their heads high and proudly. Their eyes are dark in colour and round with dogs having an intelligent, alert look in them. Ears hang down and are moderately long with lots of nice fringing on them. The Lowchen has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are proudly arched and moderately long.
Their forequarters are compact and sturdy with dogs having well laid-back shoulders and nice straight front legs that show a good amount of round bone. their bodies are strong, short, yet well-proportioned with dogs having a nice, level topline and well sprung ribs. Loins are strong, and bellies nicely tucked up adding to their athletic appearance. Their back legs are well muscled and strong with dogs having small, compact, round feet. Tails are moderately long and are often clipped leaving just a tuft of hair at the tip which resembles a plume. Dogs carry their tails gaily when they are alert or moving.
When it comes to their coat, the Lowchen has quite a long, wavy single coat that's soft and silky to the touch. Accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
It is worth noting that the accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration can differ from those set out in the breed standard which are as follows:
When a Lowchen moves, they do so freely with a parallel gait both in front and behind.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
The Lowchen is not only an attractive little dog, but they also boast having kind and affectionate natures. Paired to this, they are intelligent dogs that love to please which makes them great candidates for all sorts of canine sports which includes activities like agility and obedience. They are playful dogs by nature and love nothing more than the one-to-one attention they get during their training sessions and when they are competing.
They are a great choice for first time owners thanks to the fact they are so easy to train. They love to please and being so intelligent, they are quick to pick new things up. However, the downside is they are just as quick to pick up a few bad behaviours and habits too. In short, their training must be consistent and always fair so that dogs understand what is expected of them.
Lowchens are "big" dogs in a small dog's body which is why it's so important for them to be well socialised from a young age. The reason being they will stand their ground which can often see them getting into a bit of trouble if they take on any larger dogs. Their socialisation must include introducing puppies to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated.
Their training also must begin as early as possible with puppies being taught the "basics" right from the moment they arrive in their new home. Once they have had all their jabs, their education can start in earnest and a good way of starting this is to enrol a dog into puppy classes when they are anything from 10 to 12 weeks old. It’s a great way to socialise puppies and to train them in a safe and controlled environment.
A Lowchen is the perfect choice for first time dog owners because they are so amenable and people-oriented, loving nothing more than to please and to entertain their families. They are particularly good with young children and older people too although playtime can get a bit boisterous at times, but this makes a Lowchen all the more endearing.
Lowchens are very social by nature and even though they have working and hunting dogs in their lineage, they do not have a very high prey drive. However, this is not to say that a dog would not give chase to a smaller animal when the mood takes them, and this includes squirrels and the cat from next door.
Lowchens remain very puppy-like throughout their lives which is why they are such a pleasure to have around. They are confident, outgoing dogs by nature and love nothing more than to play the clown whenever they can and being so clever, a Lowchen quickly learns how to please an owner and how to get their own way when they want something.
Lowchens are highly adaptable dogs and providing they are given enough daily physical exercise combined with as much mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in, they just as happy living in an apartment in town as they would be living in a house in the country.
A Lowchen forms a strong tie with their family and dogs are never very happy when they find themselves left on their own for longer periods of time. They are better suited to people who either work from home or in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out, so they are never alone for any length of time which could see a dog suffering from separation anxiety. This can lead to them being destructive around the home which is a dog's way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained.
Some Lowchens like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them. Others will only bark when there are strangers about or when something they don't like is going on in their surroundings as a way of alerting an owner.
Most Lowchen like swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Lowchen off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
They make great watchdogs but would rarely show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards people that come to a home, preferring to just bark so they can let an owner know there are strangers around. With this said, it's important to gently curb any excessive barking when dogs are still young, or it could turn into a real problem later.
Lowchens are clever little dogs and they love to please which means they are highly trainable with many of them excelling at all sorts of canine sports which includes activities like obedience and agility. However, they can be a little stubborn at times which is why they need to be handled with firm, yet gentle hand always showing a dog a lot of patience and understanding. They are quite sensitive by nature and as such Lowchens do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods. They do answer well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these clever little dogs.
It's best to keep training sessions short and to make them as interesting and as diverse as possible which helps keep these clever little dogs more focussed on what is being asked of them. If their training is too repetitive, a Lowchen would quickly get bored and lose interest.
Like all puppies, Lowchen puppies are incredibly cute which means it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in their new homes. However, as soon as a puppy is nicely settled in, owners must start out as they mean to go on to prevent problems from setting in. Laying down rules and boundaries helps a puppy understand what an owner expects of them and it also establish who the alpha dog is in the household reducing the risk of a dog developing “small dog syndrome”. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
The Lowchen thrives in a home environment and they form very strong bonds with their families and the children in a household. They are real fun-loving clowns and enjoy a bit of rough and tumble with the kids. However, any interaction between younger children and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could end up with a toddler being knocked over, albeit by accident.
Because they boast such kind natures, the Lowchen generally gets on well with other dogs they meet, more especially when they have been well socialised from a young enough age. If they grow up with other animals and pets in a home, they usually get on with them and this includes the family cat. However, a Lowchen might chase off any other cats they meet.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Lowchen is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Lowchen is known to be a healthy, robust little dog and one that does not suffer from a few hereditary health issues that affect other breeds. However, one condition that seem to affect the breed the most includes the following:
It is worth noting that the average COI for the Lowchen with The UK Kennel Club currently stands at 18.6%.
Lowchen puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different, and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
As with other breeds, some Lowchen gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Some Lowchens are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Lowchen breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Lowchen.
Currently, there are no KC Assured Breeder requirements in place for the Lowchen.
As with any other breed, Lowchens need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Lowchen puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or, so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Lowchen puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Lowchen puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Lowchen need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Lowchen in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older Lowchen need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Lowchen don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
The Lowchen is high maintenance on the grooming front especially when clipped out in a Lion Cut which is best left up to a professional groomer. With this said, having their coats clipped once a month makes it a lot easier to keep things tidy and looking good. However, if a dog's coat is left long, it needs to be brushed on a daily basis to prevent any knots or tangles from forming. Another alternative is to have a simple “puppy cut” which again makes keeping a Lowchen's coat in good condition that much simpler in between visits to a grooming parlour.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Lowchen is a not a high energy dog, but they do love to be out and about as much as possible for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need to be given anything from 40 to 60 minutes exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Lowchen would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they may be feeling.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible, so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these lively dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Lowchen puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise, so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Lowchen puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 11 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Lowchen must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult dog can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Lowchen, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy.
The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Lowchen in northern England would be £23.01 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £53.21 a month (quote as of March 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Lowchen and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £900 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Lowchen would be between £50 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred Kennel Club registered pedigree Lowchen puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Lowchens are finding a big fanbase both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Lowchens there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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