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
242 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2017
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