A Dip into History

From the evidence of pictures and sculpture people
have kept small companion dogs in the lion trim for many centuries in the

and the rest of Europe. From a breeding colony in Lyon in the south of
France, the Little Lion Dog as a breed was recognised by the FCI as of French
origin and given the name of Le Petit Chien Bichon (The Little Lion Lap Dog).
Any colour was

Permissible, self or particoloured.

The most sought after colours were black, white or
lemon. The height was given as 25 – 35 cm. They were not very numerous but were
bred, registered and shown.

Due to their importation into England from Germany, in
the English speaking world the breed is now called the Lowchen: said without
any stress on either syllable. With a mispronunciation of the word splitting it
into two syllables ‘Low chen’ the breed is sometimes taken to come from the far
east, but this is not true.

The origin of the lion-clip is not known, but those
clipped certainly stay cleaner that way and when snuggled up close act as very
good ‘hot water bottles’. The ladies would not have appreciated dirty wet fur
on their long skirts and room furnishings. The lion as the king of beasts has
status so perhaps the Lion dog did too.

At the beginning of the century Coninick of
Dieghem successfully bred and showed lion dogs for a while and then moved away
and was not heard of again. One he bred
was a delightful little white bitch which was slod to the later rescuer of the
breed Mme Bennert of Brussels but she was unfortunately stolen. They were rare
before the 1939 war, which was disastrous for all dogs in the occupied
countries, and the breed had become virtually extinct afterwards. Mme Bennert
decided to devote herself to reviving the breed. She wrote that she finally
found two typical bitches, a blue from Lille and a biscuit coloured one from
the Dieghem area and finally found a blue male that she called Ulan and from these
she started her breeding programme.

These three Lowchen with one other bitch were her
foundation stock and were registered by single name with further details
unknown. The three bitches were called Sirginia. X’Marquise and Fgitane. Until
registered breeding could be established a Kennel name could not be used so the
early generations were also designated by a single name and as such appear in
early British pedigrees. Mme Bennert’s first litter was born on the 13th
April 1948. The only one from her breeding registered with her Kennel name and
concerned with British pedigrees was Int.Ch.Quartz de la Souveraine and he was
born on 5.5.1967.

She took the name of her street for her Kennel name.

From her stock two other breeders were established,
Mme de Meuleniere, Chateau de Goudenhaven, near Gent

and Dr.Rickert
in Germany from whom came all the Lowchen imported into Britain.

The following is a list differentiating with colons
the generation of those Mme Bennert’s breeding who are behind all British
pedigrees. Ulan, Sirginia, X’Marquise & Fgitane :
Karina, Hardi, Domino & Judith :

Ch.Blaguer, Ch Berta, Imre & Xandre : Olaf &
Odile : Int.Ch.Quartz De La Souveraine.

This is not a complete list of her breeding and it
seems probable that Mme Bennert did not register all that she bred, choosing
puppies of a type to stabilize the breed.

Mme Bennert allowed Dr Rikert to have Hardi (born
1.8.58) by Ch Blaguer ex Fgitane and a full sister to Judith (born27.9.60) and
also Lizzie who is not mentioned in any of our breeding records. Dr Rik-ert’s Kennel name “Von Der 3 Lowen”
means “from three lions”. Dr Rikert continued his association with Mme Bennert
and established his breeding programme and later added Int.Ch.Quartz De La
Sou-veraine to his Kennel name.

Mme Bennert died in 1972 at the age of 96. Aline vd3
Lowen was born in Dr Rikert’s first litter when he mated Hardi & Judith.
For his second litter he mated Judith to Mme Bennert’s Domino and on 18.12.62
four puppies were born.

Three bitches who all went to different breeders to
start new kennels, and Ch Bejamin vd3 Lowen.

Bienchen vd3 Lowen was Frau Irmgard Ostertag’s
foundation bitch, and when mated to Benjamin produced Adam von Livland.

With Bangbux vd3 Lowen Frau Marga Schuh started her
Von Der Goldquelle Kennel.

At four Butzi
vd3 Lowen with her son Itzi, sired by Adam v Livland were imported into the UK
by Mrs Eilish Banks in 1968 to found the Cluneen Lowchen Frau Imregard Jansen’s
Bungener Heide Kennel was also started by vd3 Lowen stock and she bred her
first litter in 1971. Pino & Poll vd3 Lowen were the parents of Priscilla
Dutson’s 1973 imports.

Earl &
Esmeralda vd Bungener Heide.

It was Eillidh Stenning who first imported the present
day Lowchen into Britain. At the time she was already showing and breeding
dogs, particularly Cavalier King Charles Spaniels so when she visited Germany
in the 1960’s she went to a dog show. There she saw some ‘grand little dogs’
which she decided to bring home to Britain and establish here.

She imported
the first two in 1968 having to wait some time to obtain a pair that were as un
related as possible as it was still very early in the German breeding
programme. Mrs Stenning wrote that she had intended to import another pair but
when they were old enough to travel there was an import ban due to the
appearance of a rabid dog at Camberley and the opportunity was lost. Mrs Banks
was able to go ahead as her next batch of imports were quarantined in Ireland
before they entered the UK.

In 1969 The Guiness Book Of World Records classified
the Lowchen as the rarest breed of dog in the world, at which time there were
40 dogs said to exist. 20 of them in Germany.

Because of the small numbers involved it was quite a
while anywhere before the matings could be otherwise than very close. In light
of this the diversity of shape, heads and eyes, general proportions and coat
type that has ensued is surprising.

were fourteen imports to start the British Lowchen. The KC have no record of
progeny registered to Cluneen Ocky vd3 Lowen or Winsomore Neck v.d. Lowen and
although Doddo vd3 Lowen had a dog and bitch puppy registered neither was bred