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Alternative names
Petit Chien Lion
Little Lion Dog
Country of origin
Common nicknames
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 9 Section 1 #223  
AKC: Non-Sporting  
ANKC: Group 1(Toys)  
CKC: Group 6 (Non-Sporting)  
KC (UK): Toys  
NZKC: Toys  
UKC: Companion Breeds  
Not recognized by any major kennel club
This breed of dog is extinct

The L÷wchen once had the dubious disinction, like the Portuguese Water Dog and the Havanese, of being the "rarest dog in the world". Even today, the breed generally has fewer than a few dozen new registrations each year worldwide1.


The L÷wchen is, depending who you ask, a terrier or bichon type dog, with a long, slightly harsh coat that should be presented in a lion cut. This means that the haunches, back legs, front legs (except bracelets around the ankles), and the entire tail but the tip are shaved, and the rest of the coat is either left natural or is slightly trimmed to give the appearance of a lion-like form. A small dog, they are considered by some registries as toys, and have been long-time companions of royal courts.

The head of the L÷wchen is one of the most important features, with its short, wide muzzle, broad skull, lively round eyes, and pendulant ears. The head, when in proportion to the body, is neither too big nor too small, but helps to emphasize the friendly, regal, and leonine personality of the L÷wchen.

The coat should not be thin and fluffy like a Bichon Frise, but wavy with a mix of thicker hairs amongst the fine ones. This allows for a flowing coat that is not frizzy or fly-away, and a L÷wchen coat should neither be soft like a bichon nor harsh like many terriers. They can come in all colours that allow for dark eyes and nose, except, in the case of FCI, brown.


The L÷wchen's origins are cloaked in mystery. The little lion dog is seen in many art pieces featuring dogs as far back as the 1500s, but it is unclear whether these were all dogs like the L÷wchen, or simply small dogs of the Bichon type that were trimmed in a lion cut.

It is an old breed type, found in many countries as far back as the 1500s. The modern sources of the breed were french and german enthusiasts in the late 19th century.

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