Little Lion Dog

Other names: Lowchen

Little Lion Dog

The Little Lion Dog, commonly known as the Lowchen, is a bubbly, loving, smart, alert and intelligent small dog breed. This breed is a fantastic companion pet who thrives on human company and is extremely protective of its family (perhaps a little too much sometimes!). 

While the Little Lion Dog may look small, it’s actually a tough, resilient and adaptable dog who’ll be just as happy accompanying you on a walk as curling up in your lap for a cuddle. Getting along well with children and other pets, they make a perfect family dog or companion.

Key facts about the Little Lion Dog

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful

Size :

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Origins and history

The Lowchen is believed to have originated around 400 years ago in France, Germany or Spain - truthfully, no one knows for sure! Due to their similar looks, many believe the Little Lion Dog is closely related to the Bichon breed. For a long time, it was popular with wealthy people across Europes, often used as a foot warmer for ladies (yes, really!). However, their popularity quickly decreased after WWII - now, the Lowchen is a fairly rare breed.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs


Section 1 : Bichons and related breeds

Physical characteristics of the Little Lion Dog

  • Little Lion Dog
    Little Lion Dog

    Adult size

    Female : Between 10 and 13 in

    Male : Between 10 and 13 in


    Female : Between 11 and 15 lb

    Male : Between 11 and 15 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    Small yet sturdy, the Little Lion Dog is one of the bigger toys breeds. Despite their petite size, the body is surprisingly strong, with straight, well-muscled legs and relaxed shoulders.

    The head is small but broad with a defined stop, a strong muzzle and a long neck. Ears are dropped and beautifully feathered, while eyes are big, dark, alert and friendly looking.

    Good to know

    The Little Lion Dog is relatively uncommon, to the point that in 1960, the race was defined as "the rarest dog in the world". Since then, its popularity has increased slightly, but it still deserves a wider distribution.


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      Your Little Lion Dog will be your biggest fan! This breed thrives on human company and is known to be affectionate, loyal and warm towards family and friends alike.

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      The Lowchen is like a forever puppy - chirpy, animated and playful throughout their life.

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      This breed is generally gentle and calm with everybody, but they do have an element of the ‘small dog, big attitude’ in them which can rear its ugly head occasionally.

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      This is a smart, intelligent breed which learns rules and tricks with ease. They’ve got a good little brain on them, and like to perceive meaning in commands they receive.

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      The Little Lion Dog isn’t known for its prey drive and it shouldn’t be a problem. However, as with most dogs, certain pups may still be prone to chasing smaller animals - early and consistent socialization can combat this.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      While the Lowchen is super friendly and lovely towards familiar faces, it can take them some time for them to get to this point with new people. They’re likely to be a little wary of strangers at first, but proper socialization can help this problem.

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      Exclusively a pet dog, the Lowchen is therefore quite dependent on his master.

      Behaviour of the Little Lion Dog

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        Tolerates solitude

        This pup loves human company and is prone to separation anxiety. They can get used to short periods of alone time, but if you work out of the house all day or need to leave your dog for long periods of time, the Little Lion Dog is probably not the right breed for you.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        This smart breed is able to pick up training with ease - you should have no problems whatsoever! As previously mentioned, early socialization is particularly important for the Lowchen, as they tend to be rather timid around new people.

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        Unfortunately, this dog does like to bark. They’ll alert you to any passers-by or visitors, which could get rather annoying if you live on a busy street.

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        Tendency to run away

        The Little Lion Dog has a low prey drive and is very obedient - therefore, they’re unlikely to run away and can generally be trusted off the lead. However, they do love water and may be tempted to jump in, so be wary around lakes, rivers, canals and the like!

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        Sometimes, the Lowchen can be prone to digging and this can be a hard habit to combat. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem if his needs have been met.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        The Little Lion Dog isn’t particularly greedy, but will, like any dog, will appreciate treats as a reward for good behaviour.

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        Guard dog

        Despite its small size, the Little Lion Dog is a marvellous watchdog who will bark at any unfamiliar face or passerby.

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        First dog

        The Lowchen would make a pretty wonderful first dog due to its warm, friendly and obedient disposition.

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          Little Lion Dog in a flat

          This breed is small and has relatively low exercise needs, making them perfect for apartment living. That being said, they should be let out several times a day for physical and mental wellbeing.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          The Little Lion Dog doesn’t need too much exercise - a daily walk for around half an hour will do. Don’t use their low activity needs as an excuse not to walk them - every dog needs some exercise.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          This small dog is incredibly easy to transport. He can easily fit in the car, a bike basket, or in a transport bag if needed.


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            Little Lion Dog and cats

            As long as the Lowchen has been well socialized, they should have no problem whatsoever with cats.

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            Little Lion Dog and dogs

            This breed can normally co-exist quite happily with other household dogs - yep, they really are the dream pet!

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            Little Lion Dog and children

            Could the Lowchen be the perfect dog for families with kids? They’re super gentle around children, their small size means they’re unlikely to accidentally knock kids over, and they love playing. Ideal!

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            Little Lion Dog and the elderly

            The Lowchen would make a fantastic companion for an elderly person - they have low exercise needs, are easy to train and love constant company.



            This breed isn’t widely available in the UK, but you can expect to pay around £750 for KC Registered dogs.

            Looking after a dog of this size typically costs between £50 to £90 a month, including food, medical/insurance, and incidental expenses.


            The Lowchen is pretty low-maintenance in terms of grooming. You’ll need to give them a good brush over twice a week. Bathe them only when necessary - too many baths will dry out the skin. You may also want to head to a professional groomer to get the Lowchen’s wonderful hair trimmed. 

            As with all dogs, nails should be trimmed and ears should be checked and cleaned as often as necessary, and teeth should be cleaned multiple times a week.


            Good news for those with allergies - the Lowchen barely sheds!

            Nutrition of the Little Lion Dog

            The Lowchen should preferably eat once a day in the evening. It’s important to opt for a small breed food which will suit their small mouth.

            Health of the Little Lion Dog

            Life expectancy

            This breed normally lives for around 13 years.

            Strong / robust

            Despite their small size, the Little Lion Dog is surprisingly strong, robust and fearless.

            Withstand heat

            This dog adapts well to different climates and can withstand the heat.

            Withstand cold

            Despite the lack of undercoat, the Lowchen is pretty resistant to bad weather. That being said, he mustn’t live outside.

            Tendency to put on weight

            It’s important to control portion sizes and avoid going overboard with treats.

            Common illnesses

            • Eye problems such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy
            • Hip dysplasia
            • Patellar luxation
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