Let’s Talk Breed Education!
LÖWCHEN: SMALL IN STATURE, BIG IN HEART by LISA C. BROWN & an interview with DONNA MOORE JONES
T he Löwchen as a breed has a long and somewhat con- troversial history. We know from works of art depict- ing images of small dogs in a very dis- tinctive lion trim that the breed dates back to the 16th century. The breed is depicted throughout the centuries in paintings and tapestries from around the world. These works of art show a small, bright and lively dog with large dark eyes and pleasing expression. The Löwchen originated as a com- panion breed in pre-Renaissance Europe where ladies of the court groomed it in the likeness of a little lion. This “Little Lion” has been the resident of all manner of households throughout the ages, from castles to the most ordi- nary cottages. Aside from their primary function as a companion they were most likely great varmint hunters and fierce little guards of beloved hearth and home. Folk tales surround the Löwchen, bringing a charming side to their his- tory. It is said that the Löwchen was a favorite of castle ladies as a sort of liv- ing hot water bottle. The trimmed area would go under the covers for warmth and the furry part would attract the fleas out of the beds and away from the people. Another legend associated with the breed was that if a knight died in battle a lion was carved at the foot of his tomb; if he died at home in bed, a Löwchen was carved on his tomb. Unfortunately, there are often not a large number of Löwchen showing to be able to really study the breed. I sat down with Donna Moore Jones, who has been showing and breeding Löwchen for 17 years, to chat about the breed characteristics. She is also the Judge’s Education Chair for the
Löwchen Club of America providing education and mentoring on the breed. After showing Bichons for a great while she wanted another breed to show. She wanted a breed that had similar quali- ties as the Bichon—low to non-shed- ding, similar size, great temperament— the perfect description of the Löwchen. What is your overall description of the breed and what are your “must haves”? The Löwchen was bred as a compan- ion dog and should be viewed as such and should be companionable. They should be bright, vivacious, outgoing and above all, friendly. The Löwchen is compact with a balanced body; a rela- tively short, broad top skull and muz- zle; well plumed tail gracefully carried over the back in a teacup fashion; and a proud, lively gait that accentuates the lion cut with a long flowing mane. A key word to use when observing the Löw- chen would be moderate. This is not a breed given to extremes in any way. My “must haves” are pretty, sound and well- rounded in temperament.
“Three year old girl at a fountain”, from the Brabant school, c. 17th century.
What is your ideal properly proportioned dog?
Ideally, mature dogs and bitches are between 12 to 13 inches at the withers. Absolute height at the withers should not take precedence over correct pro- portion and substance. The body is just off-square when properly balanced in an 11 to 10 ration. The Löwchen should never be low stationed. I use a chart to depict the size and proportion of a prop- erly balanced Löwchen (see Figure 1.) What is the hallmark of the breed? Do you think it has become a “head breed”?
Fig. 1: Size, Proportion, Substance Chart
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Classic Movement &Type ASHFORD KENNELS Carney & ROSELAND FARM LÖWCHEN
NOW WELL ON HIS WAY TO HIS GRAND CHAMPION He’s Got Movement and Breed Type!
CH ROSELAND SCARBOROUGH FAIR V ASHFORD CO-OWNED BY KRIS FLETCHER & GINI DENNINGER BRED BY JANET GIARRATANO, KRIS FLETCHER & GINI DENNINGER ASHFORD KENNEL & ROSELAND FARM LÖWCHEN ANNOUNCE “CARNEYS” AKC CHAMPIONSHIP
ASHFORD KENNEL GINI DENNINGER 585-760-3880 • ROCHESTER, NY
ROSELAND FARMS LÖWCHEN KRIS FLETCHER 585-872-1463 • WEBSTER, NY
250 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER 2021
The Löwchen head tends to define the breed and be a hallmark charac- teristic much like the distinctive and easily recognized lion trim. In order to achieve the bright, alert expression the eye must be of correct shape and color; never protruding or buggy. The Löwchen head should be well boned with correct proportions. The back- skull is broad and relatively flat from ear to ear. The top of the skull should be relatively flat, never having a domed appearance (although puppies may be slightly rounded). The stop should be moderate with a relatively broad muzzle and a strong under jaw. These features combine to create the beautiful, soft, soulful look of the classic Löwchen. I believe they are a “head breed” as they should be sweet and pleasing to the eye. You stated the Löwchen is a moderate breed. Does this mean we should not expect to see good movement? Strong rears are another defining fac- tor of the breed. They should be well muscled and rounded. Correct angula- tion will allow for correct and efficient movement. Movement at a trot is effort- less with good reach in front and full extension in the rear. From the front the forelegs move in almost parallel lines and reach well out in front in a long stride and the rear legs come well under the body and extend behind to maximize propulsion. The body remains nearly square in outline and the topline is held firm and level, with the tail being carried curved over the back and the head held above the level of the back. They should have good, solid movement, but they are not a
Sporting dog and do not need to move like a Sporting dog.
All hair is shaved off the feet up to the dewclaws on both the front and back feet. Unlike the Poodle there is no puff. The bracelets are left untrimmed and hang down over the shaven toes. Is there a preferred coat color for the breed? The Löwchen comes in all colors and none are to be considered over the other. It is interesting to note that some color combinations and patterns of the Löwchen tend to change color over the life of the dog. What you see one day may be totally different 6 months later. (See Figure 2.) The dam and puppy dem- onstrates the dramatic changes that can occur with coat color. This dam was just as dark as her puppy is now. We see some different tail sets in the ring. What is the correct tail set? The tail is set high and carried in a well-arched cup-handle fashion with the plume touching the back when the dog is moving. A dropped tail while standing is not to be penalized. A tail not up when moving should be penalized.
How important is the side gait as compared to a good down and back? They are equally important. Since in the past fronts have been an issue in the breed, it is important to pay attention to fronts. Describe the Löwchen coat. The Löwchen must be shown in the traditional lion clip. The unclipped areas of the coat are long, rather dense and moderately soft in texture. The Löwchen has a single coat. This unique coat consists of hairs of vary- ing diameters with a more noticeable collection of denser hair around the neck and withers. The coat may fall to either side but must never be artificially parted. It has a slightly to moderately wavy appearance. No scissoring or shaping of the unclipped coat is permitted. This is the only disqualifier in the breed. How is the puppy coat different from the mature dog? Puppies typically have a softer, cottony coat. Remember the coat will appear trimmed or more shaped than a mature dog. They have not had the time for the coat to break off. This starts to happened with the puppy coat drop at about 9 months. There sometimes is a misunder- standing with the trimming of feet. Can you clarify how the feet should be trimmed properly in the “poodle feet”?
Is temperament important in this breed?
Temperament is crucial—sweet, ani- mated, fun, never timid or shy. They are happy little clowns. They tend to make you laugh when you least expect it. My happy little clowns are collectors of things. Mine prefer shoes and socks which often leads me to walking about the house looking for two shoes that actually match. On more than one occa- sion I have found a Löwchen blissfully
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sleeping in the laundry basket amongst dirty clothes. They bond with and are attached to us and are great with other dogs, large and small. I attended the “Löwchen-palooza”, a casual summer pool party put on by my friends. There were about 15 or 16 Löwchen (and one Puli), even several intact males, every- one got along, even the human guests. Since you have been breeding and showing Löwchen for many years, do you think the breed is getting better? I definitely find the breed has improved greatly in the past 15 years. Coat care is better; fronts are getting better; temperament is excellent. Over- all I am pleased with the direction the breed is going. The Löwchen is rather a secret as a performance dog. The Löwchen is in almost all performance events from agility, Obedience, Rally, Dock Diving to Barn Hunt, Lure Coursing and Fly Ball. This breed will give you their ALL! Being compact and sturdy makes them excellent athletes at all levels. The Löw- chen have earned various Obedience, Rally and Barn Hunt titles and the breed has several MACH agility dogs. These Flying Lions are fast and really air it out. If you are a drill sargent in your training methods, a Löwchen may not be for you. They are quick, clever and eager to please. They get it! So if you like to drill, drill, drill, you will need to be inventive and imaginative in order to make it fun. Löwchen are all about having fun! The Löwchen is rather soft-hearted so stern training or voice are not appre- ciated. Currently I have three Löwchen
kitchen to see my 12-inch bitch stand- ing on the counter as if she was waiting for the toast to pop up. Before I could go over to the counter to scold her she very handily walked on the narrow part of the counter by the sink and returned to the empty plate quite proud of herself. It, after all, was quite a feat. She jumped up onto a 28-inch-high bar stool, helped herself to some eggs and then up on the counter for more scrounging. Always interested in exposing my dogs to new things, I have taken my Löwchen everywhere. I decided that Lure Coursing seemed fun. Several oth- er Löwchen I knew enjoyed this fun all out run for the “rabbit”. Rascal, my wise old hunter of squirrel and chipmunk, looked at the “rabbit” and looked back me as if to say, “That ain’t no rabbit and not worth my time to chase. I’ll chase you instead”. Next up was Bindy. Unex- pectedly (because she is a bit of a couch potato) she shot from my grasp chasing the lure. Yes! 50 yards; 100 yards; pride swelling inside me. Then she came to such a sudden and abrupt stop that she almost flipped head over tail. I raced out to the field to assess her injury. As I got closer I could see that grin. That grin! That grin on her face that told me she had stopped to enjoy a snack of sumptu- ous deer poop. The holy grail of snacks. Yuck! Lure coursing lesson over! The “Little Lion” is a great show dog; a great athlete; a great compan- ion. Let one or two into your home and heart and you will be delighted with their cleverness, zest for life and shear fondness of you. These quintessential features, combined with an outgoing and positive attitude, result in a dog of great style.
and each take a stern voice in different manner. My male will melt into a pud- dle and take several training sessions to reassemble himself. My youngest bitch droops like a flower in the hot sun but once showered with praise and lilting voice she is revived and ready to get back to work almost immediately. My other bitch is a little more complex. She stops working and gives me a look like a peeved teenager. If she could place her tiny white paws on her hips she would. Since Löwchen don’t hold grudges she too is quick to return to work once work is fun again. (It doesn’t hurt to offer a peace offering—chicken, liver or just food.) LIVING WITH LÖWCHENS Donna and I both agree that living with a Löwchen is a delight. This mod- erate, or as I like to call them “smedi- um” dog, is small in stature and big in heart. Not fragile, can take a tumble and keep on going. They don’t know they are small. They strut in the conforma- tion ring, race around an agility course, jump into the pool or lay on your lap looking adoringly into your eyes. Because of these traits, the Löwchen also makes a great therapy dog and all- around family dog. Now you would think being a “sme- dium” dog you wouldn’t need to worry about any counter-surfing in your home. However, one of my Löwchen surprised me greatly one day. I often sit in the kitchen at the island eating breakfast. I left the kitchen to answer a phone call. When I returned, my plate of bacon and eggs was clean. I was pretty sure there was food on that plate when I left the kitchen. Then I looked across the
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THE LÖWCHEN by GINI DENNINGER
B reeding and judging some of the rarer breeds confidently sometimes seems impossible. How can judges and people new to a breed determine the finer points that distinguish one breed from another? In the case of the Löwchen, those unedu- cated in the breed liken it to a Benji dog with a fancy haircut cut, claiming the cut makes the breed. Th ey’re unaware Löwchen are more than a haircut. Th ose having studied the breed are privy to the traits that make this breed. Being such a rare breed, few are aware of the fascinating story of the Löwchen, extending to early Renaissance days. Th rough hundreds of years Löwchen developed traits that now make up its breed type. Keeping these traits intact are crucial to preserving the breed. Remarkably, today’s Löwchen still resemble their ancestors of over 500 years ago. Th ose that love the breed want to keep it that way! Once breeders and judges understand what these traits are and their importance, they are on their way to mas- tering and preserving the breed. What to look for? Foremost, the Löw- chen should be a moderate dog with no exaggerations of any kind. Th is is an important point to note since this breed could easily become a caricature of itself through exaggeration of traits, but for the diligence of breeders and judges. Löwchen are not a head breed, since to be one, the head would have to stand out over all other features. Th eir pleasing head with large round eyes and pretty face should blend into their overall look, which is that of a small lion. Th eir neck is moderate, not too long to be an exaggeration and not so short that the head appears stuck directly onto the body. Height ideally is 12-13 inches at the withers. Löwchen are compact, well muscled, sturdy, yet elegant. Th ey sport a teacup handle tail, that wags with enthusi- asm. Th eir coat lends itself to easy groom- ing, if of correct texture and comes in any color imaginable. For the show ring, they are clipped to resemble a lion. Lastly, they must have a happy outgoing temperament. Understanding the head is key. Heads have markedly improved from the early days of the breed in the US. Th is can be
credited to the 2010 standard revision as well as increased co-operation between breeders internationally during the last fifteen years. One of the most important American standard changes was elimina- tion of two head types. Th e previous stan- dard allowed for a muzzle equal in length to back skull as well as a muzzle to be shorter than back skull. Now the standard calls for a muzzle to be 2/3 the length of the back skull. Crowned with a large nose, the muz- zle also has width thanks to large teeth. Th e ideal Löwchen head is proportionate to the
body with substance and bone. Th e stop is described as moderately defined. Löwchen skulls are broad, relatively flat and appear squarish if the hair is flattened down. Long narrow or broad and shallow back skulls can ruin the appearance of the dog, but are easily hidden by coat so it’s important that Löwchen be closely inspected by hand. A mandatory trait is round eyes, pref- erably large and dark. Th e historic rule of thumb in this breed is if confronted with two equal dogs, one with dark almond eyes, the other with round light eyes,
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the correct choice is the round lighter eye. Th is is contrary to what most judges and breeders are trained to chose in other breeds, but emphasizes that in the Löw- chen, the round eye is considered one of the most important breed characteristics. It’s far harder to preserve the correct round eye than to keep eye color. Lighter col- ored Löwchen have lighter eyes and pig- ment, commensurate with their coloring. Pigmentation on the nose and around the eye should be dark and complete. Löw- chen normally don’t have halos like Bichon Frise, but if one does, that’s acceptable. Level top-lines are a must and should end at the point where the tail rises o ff the back. Th is high tail set supports the teacup handle tail, which is another mandatory trait. It should curve over the back with coat hanging on one side or the other when gaiting but can be dropped in a relaxed manner when standing still. Tails held tight to the back or curling tightly, while not desirable, are a better choice than flag tails. Loose or flagging tails are extremely incorrect. If one had to chose between a flag tail or tight tail, tight is preferred. Th is is because the pariah dog tendency of tails is to loosen through generations rather than tighten. Th e teacup handle tail can eventually be lost if multiple generations have ever increasingly loose tails. Addi- tionally ruining this look, is a tail set too low, a ff ecting rear movement by creating a wide gait that doesn’t converge easily as the dog increases speed. Teacup handle tails are a classic breed trait. Th e Löwchen has substance no matter which sex, so when picking one up, one might gasp with surprise at the weight of the dog. Th ey usually look lighter than they actually are. Th is is a compact, nicely muscled breed with the well sprung ribs of an athlete, moderate brisket, slight tuck-up and short strong loin. Compact is the key word here. Löwchen can move easily with little e ff ort. Years ago it was noted for exceptional movement by many top judges of the day. Th eir front move- ment should not prance, hackney, swing or cross. Sadly the breed has developed movement issues. Correct movement can be brought back, if judges and breed- ers would put more emphasis on it than they currently do. Flashy dogs often win over correctly moving dogs who might be less exciting to look at. Th is is an area the breed needs help with. Löwchen are better groomed than ever before and present a lovely elegant appearance in the show ring. Th e lion
cut is mandatory and described in the breed standard quite nicely. Th e only disqualification is for shaping or scissor- ing the coat. Th is was put into the stan- dard before AKC recognition in hopes of preventing excessive grooming and shaping. It’s proving now that a better choice would have been to have made this a fault instead. Many judges will not disqualify since they feel that they can- not prove a coat is shaped or trimmed. Th ey are unwilling to acknowledge their concerns to the exhibitor since questions could arise why the dog was not disquali- fied and why the judge didn’t follow the standard. So the end result is that trim- ming and shaping is increasingly ignored, but of course disparaged ringside by exhibitors who claim not to trim. Many today would not recognize that Löwchen should have ears that blend seamlessly into the mane, instead of having nicely shaped and rounded fringe. Löwchen should not have an even coat that appears shaped, unless they are a puppy with first growth coat. Adult coats don’t grow that way naturally. Instead there should be vastly di ff ering lengths of hair in a sam- ple grasped in hand. Th e ends are uneven, somewhat wispy in the last inch of coat, even in the best maintained Löwchen. Texture is equally important. A correct coat has shine and some wave to it. It’s nev- er limp, straight, harsh, broken or frizzy. A beautiful coat flows when moving. Th is coat is interesting in that it is equally com- posed of very fine hairs and thick hairs. Too many fine hairs and the coat becomes di ffi cult to maintain—even cottony to the touch, whereas too many thick hairs—the coat becomes hard and might droop limp- ly. Th e thick hairs provide strength to the coat, the thin ones, lift and volume. When examining a Löwchen coat, lift a strand o ff the withers, spread it across a finger or two to see if it has the ideal ratio of 50/50. One of the most important traits is the amazing temperament of the breed. Th ey are extremely intelligent, happy yet bold dogs. Th ink of them as “bomb-proof ”! Anything less is undesirable since this breed was created to be a companion dog. Th is is its purpose, it’s that simple. Mastering this breed confidently means knowing its hallmark traits. One trait is not more important than another. Th e head with its prescribed proportions, pig- mentations and must-have round eye is first. Tea cup handle tails correctly set are second. Elegant, compact bodies with sub- stance, capable of good movement make a
highly desired third trait. Th e fourth trait is a moderately wavy coat with the unique ratio of “50/50” fine to thick hairs creat- ing the proper texture. Th is coat must be clipped to resemble a lion and not shaped or trimmed in any way. Th e fifth desirable trait is that Löwchen should be “bomb- proof ”! Above all else, moderation is key. Exaggeration of any kind should be fault- ed. Understanding these traits preserves the Löwchen as it was hundreds of years ago—the eternal Renaissance dog. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Gini Denninger
has been active in Löwchen since 1981. Th e challenge of bringing the breed into the AKC was too tempting to run from. She is an AKC Breeder of Merit and has bred many top- winning champions.
Her Ashford pre fi x is found behind the foun- dation dogs of most every active Löwchen kennel in the US. She has written a highly acclaimed book on the breed, Th e Löwchen, Th e Breed Forgotten By History , and is at work on an update to be out in time for the 4th Löwchen World Congress being held in the UK in 2018, which she is instrumental in planning. Gini is a member of the Genesee Valley Kennel Club and serves as its AKC delegate. Besides Löwchen, she has through her lifetime, owned dogs from every group. Her beloved breed is the Afghan Hound, which she has had since the age of 16. She has also had Pekingese o ff and on since 18 years, including owner/handling one to BOS at a Pekingese National Specialty under Edd Biv- ens. Gini keeps saying she will get her judges license eventually but “ does not know what is holding her up”! In addition to her interest in dogs, she loved and owned an American Saddle Bred, “Captain” who lived to 32 years. Gini is active in and writes about local politics and real estate. As the Broker/Owner of a real estate brokerage, she has the opportunity to indulge in another interest, architecture. At the tail-end of rehabbing a large Queen Anne Victorian, she is currently working on her next book, Plantation Parade Revisited , which chronicles historic Louisiana planta- tions and their owners. Lastly, her other major passion is travel. Gini say’s “Have Ticket, Will Travel!” Planned international trips this year are Germany, India, Puerto Rico & Costa Rica!
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UNDERSTANDING & JUDGING THE LÖWCHEN By Greg Strong
T he first thing to real- ize about the Löwchen during the evaluation process is that it is a “sil- houette” breed. What’s meant by that is that the standard clearly defines and puts empha- sis on body and height proportions, and head and tail carriage. In proper balance, the Löwchen should be slightly o ff square as the standard calls for an 11 to 10 body length (from the prosternum to the point of buttocks) to height (at the withers) pro- portion. In doing the math on a 12" dog at the withers that would allow for just 1.2" longer in body (not back) than one is tall. Th e head is to be carried high in both stat- ure and movement and the tail is to take the shape of the handle on a tea cup. A tail too tight (gay) over the back or too loose o ff the back is not only incor- rect, but throws the “essence of the breed” o ff ever so slightly, giving a more generic look to the dog. I have always said that you should be able to paint any dog black and by defining certain characteristics you should be able to tell what breed it is. Th ink about that as you judge the four setter breeds. A Löwchen in lateral move- ment should maintain the same look as one in stature, not dropping low to the ground in order to remain proportionate and balanced, with the head held high and the tail carried in the same fashion.
Example of lovely head and breed type.
“A LÖWCHEN IN LATERAL MOVEMENT SHOULD MAINTAIN THE SAME LOOK AS ONE IN STATURE, not dropping low to the ground in order to remain proportionate and balanced, with the head held high and the tail carried in the same fashion.”
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This Löwchen has the perfect silhouette—great height to body proportions, substantial head, great muzzle to back skull proportions, great tail carriage and top line and proper trim.
Example of a great head study. Broad skull and muzzle, big round, dark eyes with width between them.
Another area of great importance is the head and expression. It is said to be the Hallmark in breed char- acteristic. Similar to the height and body proportions the standard asks for a well-defined muzzle to head proportion, both being broad and of good substance. Th e muzzle is to be the same length as the back skull or slightly shorter is preferred. Th e eyes are dark, round and large. Not like that of a Pug as they are too prominent, but more like a Bichon without the halos. Brown or Champagne colored dogs can have lighter eyes. Combined with the proper broadness of skull and muzzle you will have a bright, alert, expressive and well- constructed head piece that will not be forgotten. Th e coat should be similar to that of a Maltese except not single mcoated but very dense. Not too course like you will find on a Lhasa, but more fine and soft but yet full, for a “flat coat” (no under coat) is a severe fault as are wooly, wiry, and curly coats. Th e only disqualification you will find in the Löwchen standard is for trimming of the coat. Th at includes both the specified trim as well as shaping and trimming of the long coat. Upon exami- nation, one needs to simply lift the coat from the fore quarters to see if the exhibit is clipped from the elbow down to the height of hock in the rear. Very delicately move the hair o ff the toes to see that they are clipped to where dewclaws would be but not as far as a poodle. Th is creates a “cu ff ” or a bracelet over the feet. Be sure that the “ru ff ” or pack on the body starts at the last rib and continues down the body and hind legs to the hock. Th e tail is clipped half way up from the base so there is a plume. It is extremely important to under- stand the di ff erence between an adult coat and a puppy coat while evaluating trimming. A puppy will have body coat that is full, o ff standing and all one length
Grooming the Löwchen: The shaded areas represent the areas to be clipped.
“Combined with the proper broadness of skull and muzzle you will have a BRIGHT, ALERT, EXPRESSIVE and well-constructed head piece that will not be forgotten.”
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giving the appearance that it is trimmed, but is most likely not. While the adult dog will have a slightly less dense coat with natural breakage, giving the proper look and lay of the coat with no evidence of trimming. As the hair on the cu ff s grow, they will be most susceptible to breakage and expect some symmetry in the shape as natural breakage occurs. Th e movement of the Löwchen calls for an e ff ortless open gait with good reach and drive and proper (high) head carriage. Much like that of a horse in an extended trot. Th ey are to cover ground and are allowed to converge slight- ly to the center line as speed is increased so do not accept a typical toy or terrier like movement in the Löwchen. In summary any qualified judge can judge any breed in general structure and basic movement. Understanding the “essence” of each breed is the challenge. Th e Löwchen standard clearly defines those characteristics that separate them from other breeds. Appreciating and understanding those points will allow judges to sort out an entry of Löwchen and find the one with the best breed type. After all, a mutt can be sound and well structured, but without having the “essence” of a breed, what breed is it?
Above: Excellent example of breed type. Below: Outstanding example of a Löwchen head.
BIO As Carol Strong
(my Mom) brought her first Löwchen into this country in the 80s she became very passion- ate about the breed. As they became recog- nized by the AKC in
the late 90s she shared her breeding pro- gram with the dog fancy through exhibit- ing her Löwchen at shows. My mom headed judges education for many years, produced many champions including one of 3 Best in show winners within the breed, Breed and winners dog/bitch at nationals in the US and Canada, breed winners at several AKC/Eukanuba Invitational and West- minster KC as well as the only Löwchen to place in the group at Westminster to this date. To say the least, Carol was not only a premier breeder of the Löwchen, but loved to share her knowledge about the breed.
She worked tirelessly to educate people on not just what the breed is all about and how to judge it, but what a great family dog they are as well. Th rough the process, I am guilty by association and can only hope that I absorbed a fraction of Mom’s knowledge and passion for this wonderful breed. Since her passing in January of 2011,
I have taken on the challenge to continue what she started and to educate both show and pet people alike about this breed. I have spent my life in dogs and as a profes- sional Handler of 30 years have assisted many of my clients in the process of breed- ing dogs. So, Under Mom’s kennel name “Bihar” we are moving forward with her breeding program as well.
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THE LÖWCHEN BREED
By Gillian Robertson
“ S ense of humor” is a description that many of us use when asked about these little clowns. Referring to both ours and the dogs themselves. Th rough the ages, Löwchen were sometimes used as jesters to entertain the court. Today, whether it’s their antics in the ring or out, they have a propensity for getting into mischief. I suppose they have to have a sense of humor when you look at their traditional clip. With the Portuguese Water Dogs popularity increasing, people are becom- ing more accustomed to seeing the clip, and like the PWDs it is the most identi fi - able feature of the Löwchen. While the concept of purebred dogs has only been around since the 19th century, the “Löwchen” type dog, with its distinctive clip, can be traced back through art to the 16th century. It is believed that the clip came from the need for cleanliness. From historical accounts, there is a story that if a knight died in battle a lion was carved on his tombstone at his feet, if he died during peace time a Löwchen was placed there instead. Th rough the art work of the period, par- ticularly Albrecht Durer, we know that this little dog was held in high esteem
and was probably used in the castle for both killing vermin and as a family pet for the children. Almost extinct after the Second World War, credit is given to Madame Bennett of Belgium who saved the breed. Th anks to her devotion and careful selection our breed has survived and thrived with relatively few health issues. All of our modern day dogs can be traced to the ones she gathered together at that time. Löwchen can be found in the usual venues of Conformation, Obedience and Agility. However they are also in some very unusual ones such as nose work, tracking, herding and dock diving. Recently the AKC has recognized titles in a new sport called “Barn Hunt” which is similar to the Terrier Go-To Ground Tri- als and yes, Beth Haberkorn Sternitzky, has a Löwchen competing in it too. Rally has established itself as a very popular sport. Barbara Cecil’s Petey achieved a 4th place in the RAE Class (the top class) at the 2013 AKC Rally National Competi- tion March 15, 2013 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Laurie Boyce’s “Pree” has his Tracking Dog Excellent title. We even have some Löwchen that are into sailing which isn’t a surprise as the majority of them seem to love water. Th ese diverse little dogs are willing to take on any challenge present- ed... as long as you make it fun.
Fun is the one thing that a Löwchen thrives on more than anything else. Th ey want to see a smile on your face, hear the excitement in your voice and glee at their achievements. If you are too serious and too regimented a Löwchen is certainly not the breed for you as they will just shut down. Repetitive exercises just bore them. Some people have referred to the breed as stubborn. I disagree. Th ey simply need to be trained in an upbeat positive man- ner. We have several Löwchen that have achieved the highest level in agility. Gary Nordahl’s “Tucker” has MACH 15 and counting and Don Roback’s “J” has the equivalent of a PhD in obedience holding the much revered OTCh title. Both have quali fi ed for the National team several times. Barbara Cecil, Löwchen owner and author of two books on training a small dog, still holds the record of having the most titled Löwchen in our history with her late “Pistol” collecting a whopping 115 di ff erent titles. While Löwchen love to be active and work with you, they are fi rst and foremost a wonderful family pet. Th ese smart, loving, versatile little dogs are well suited to many di ff erent lifestyles. Most are just as happy to sit by your side or at your feet watching a movie as running an agility course. Some actually prefer it, as like people, not every- one is into sports.
“While Löwchen love to be active and work with you, they are first and foremost a wonderful family pet.
THESE SMART, LOVING, VERSATILE LITTLE DOGS ARE WELL SUITED TO MANY DIFFERENT LIFESTYLES.”
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When it comes to color, taking literary freedom with the “Forest Gump” quote, Löwchen “are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get”. White partis, Irish Pied, Sables—the vari- ety is endless and you can get several dif- ferent colors in one litter. Just as Löwchen can come in any range of color and have a pre-disposition to change color, fading and darkening over the years, their per- sonalities can be as di ff erent as night and day. Based on the history of the breed many of us believe that there are actu- ally two very distinct types of tempera- ment within the breed itself. One, the laid back easy going companion dog, the other more terrier like, busier and ready to take on the world. For that reason it is very important for the breeder you are dealing with to know your lifestyle and expecta- tions as they are best suited to match you with the right puppy. An individual who wants to do obedience and agility work would be looking for a puppy with more energy than a retired couple who just want to have a dog to sit with and take for walks. Most of us, as breeders, have had both types of Löwchen at one time or another. Like any breed, there are some health issues. We have been fortunate with having a relatively healthy breed; however there is some PRA. As well, hips and patellas should be checked. Liver and kidney issues have cropped up from time to time and sadly, cancer spares no man or beast. If the puppy is not socialized and taught to be alone, he can su ff er from separation anxiety. Th ey are naturally social little dogs that enjoy other dogs and animals but should have a fenced
yard so they don’t wander to “see what’s on the other side”, as they have a keen sense of curiosity. Th ey de fi nitely need routine to ensure they are housetrained properly or this can become problem- atic. And, as mentioned, the challenge with this breed is to maintain your sense of humor when they decide to get into some mischief ! Barbara Cecil wrote about one of her experiences with the late Pistol in the ring: “...Pistol made his debut in the AKC Open obedience class Sunday (inci- dental brag—he won fi rst place with a 198) wowing the crowd and judge in the process. After watching dog after dog plod through the exercises, the judge was grinning ear-to-ear as Pistol performed everything at warp speed. Pistol’s retrieves—one on the fl at and one over the jump—are par- ticularly noteworthy: he fl ies out to the dumbbell, grabs it, then fl ips his rear almost over his head (this is hard to describe) lands facing me, and then fl ies back in for the front. It’s pretty spectacular and no, I didn’t teach him to do it that way, it’s something he invented himself. “Well, the fi rst place dog in each class got a toy from a big laundry basket full of toys that a steward brought into the ring. I asked the steward, a rather grim young woman, to put the basket on the fl oor and let Pistol pick out his own toy…she arched an eyebrow, but did it anyway. Pistol jumped into the basket and grabbed one toy that had a dainty squeak. Th at wouldn’t do! He grabbed another that had no squeak at all. Toss it! No, not this one! Not that
one either! Almost disappearing into the pile of toys, he at last surfaced with a huge pink pig that, to Pistol’s delight, went SQUEAL! OINK! SQUEAL! OINK! Perfect! “Everyone clapped and Pistol was pleased as punch. ‘My,’ said the ring steward, putting the discarded toys back into the basket, ‘Your dog has… hmmmm… an abundance of personality.” “Now is that a great compliment or what? I’m not sure the steward meant it that way, but that’s how I’m going to take it. Mr. Personality, in abundance! SQUEAL! OINK! Perfect!” Is a Löwchen right for you? Th is lit- tle-known breed has so much to o ff er and while a Löwchen may not be for everyone, the RIGHT Löwchen is a pure delight! BIO Gillian Robertson of Tapestry Ken- nels started showing dogs at 16 when she acquired her first Collie. However, her main breed for 25 years was Shelties. Gillian has judged Sweeps for Sheltie Specialties in both Canada and the US, as well as Breeders Sweeps at the 2012 Canadian National, and two Jr. Han- dling Zone finals in Canada. She fell in love with the Löwchen after seeing them at a show and was fortunate to be mentored by the late Carol Strong, Bihar. She is currently the LCA Awards Chair and Editor of “Headlions”, the Löwchen Club of America quarterly publication. Gillian holds the position of Ontario Director for the Löwchen Club of Canada.
“Just as Löwchen can come in any range of color and have a pre-disposition to change color, fading and darkening over the years, THEIR PERSONALITIES CAN BE AS DIFFERENT AS NIGHT AND DAY.”
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