Guide to the Löwchen Club of American Collection (1971-2005)

2006:003
AKD 9.199L

5.25 Cubic Feet
Collection processed by Kari Dalane

PROVENANCE
A gift of Carole Kramer, Löwchen Club of American President (2006).

ARRANGEMENT
The collection is arranged into five series and several sub-series. These series and sub-series are 1) Studbook; 2) Publications, a) LCA publications, i) Catalogues, ii) Miscellaneous, iii) Newsletters, iv) Yearbooks, b) Magazines, c) Miscellaneous, d) Newsletters; 3) AKC presentation; 4) Documents; 5) Clippings.

HISTORICAL INFORMATION

The Club

The Little Lion Dog Club of America was formed in 1971 by Jane and Charles Cook along with Bob and Carol Yhlen. The club aimed to advance the rare breed that had recently made its way to America, known then as the "Little Lion Dog". This name is a direct translation from the French "Petit Chien Lion", as the dog is known in France. The main goals of this club were to protect and promote the Little Lion Dogs in America, as well as begin a studbook for the dogs. The Little Lion Dog Club of America modeled its studbook after the American Kennel Club's registration procedures.

Mrs. Jane Cook imported three dogs from England in 1971. The dogs came from Cluneen Kennel, owned by Mrs. Eilish Banks, and they became the first three dogs in the LLDCA studbook. There were two females, Cluneen Dana and Cluneen Erinna, as well as one male, Cluneen Fergus. Jane and Charles Cook had made a trip to Europe to learn more about the breed, and when they returned with the three dogs, newsmen were waiting at the airport to document the arrival of the Little Lions in the United States.

The LLDCA had the French standard for the "Petite Chien Lion" translated into English and this became the standard for the dog in America. A point system was developed by Liz Vargo and Bob Yhlen in 1984. The first Little Lion Dog specialty show was held in 1987.

The Club voted to change the name of the breed to Löwchen in 1991, and the name of the club accordingly became the Löwchen Club of America. The dog is also known as the Löwchen in Germany and England, while it remains "Petite Chien Lion" in France.

Around this time the club also began work on revising the standard to make it more specific. The new standard was passed by vote in 1993. Also in 1993, the Löwchen Club of America voted to seek American Kennel Club recognition for the breed. The Club revised its Constitution and Bylaws and the Breed Standard in order to meet AKC's requirements. The American Kennel Club voted to recognize the Löwchen Club of America as a licensed club. Beginning in 1996, the Löwchen began to compete in the Miscellaneous class. It moved to the Non-Sporting Group in 1999 when the breed gained full AKC recognition.

The Club's major activity originally focused around maintaining the studbook. Now activities have shifted to holding specialty shows and studying the health of the breed. A 2002 survey conducted by the club in cooperation with Michelle Marini at Virginia Maryland College of Medicine showed that the breed is a relatively healthy one with no major health problems. Minor problems include eye troubles such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. The club also focuses on judge education and has a Löwchen rescue program.

The Breed
The Löwchen is an old breed with origins in 14th century Europe. One theory claims that the Löwchen developed in northern Germany where he descended from the Poodle and was a factor in the development of the Toy Poodle. Another theory claims that Löwchen blood lines trace back to the Mediterranean with the Bichon family of dogs, including the Maltese, Bichon, Havanese, and Bolognese. Whatever the origins, it is clear that in the early days of the breed the Löwchen was a cherished companion of nobility. It is said that the "lion cut", which involves trimming hair to give the dog a miniature lion mane and is still used on many Löwchen today, originated so that ladies could warm their hands on the dogs' naked skin. The dog was captured in a 15th century tapestry "The Lady and the Unicorn" as well as in woodcuts by Albrecht D�rer in the 18th century.

One story that is told about the Löwchen characterizes him as a loyal and fearless little dog. The first part of the story is true; in the late 1700s, a Löwchen named Bijou lived in a castle in Weilburg, Germany. The Löwchen became so distressed when his master went hunting without him that he leaped 60 feet from a tower window into the Lahn River. The legend begins here: some say that Bijou survived the fall and went riding with his master while others say his jump ended in disaster. Either way, Bijou is a hero among Löwchen for his devotion and bravery. His portrait still hangs in the castle today. Unfortunately, the breed declined in numbers as the nobility of the Middle Ages faded. We know very little about the Löwchen from the 1800's until the middle of the 1900's. The breed probably came very close to extinction during this time, reaching an all time low during World War II when there were very few dog breeders in Europe.

After the war, an elderly and eccentric woman, Madame Bennert of Belgium, searched the streets for a Löwchen that had been abandoned by their owners during the catastrophic war years. She devoted the last twenty years of her life to revitalizing the breed in Europe. After she died, Dr. Hans Rickart, a German, took over her mantle. He owned ten Löwchen when he began, a remarkable feat considering there were only an estimated 40 Löwchen in existence. In fact, in both 1960 and 1973 the Guinness Book of World Records called the Löwchen the rarest breed of dog. All Löwchen living today descend from Dr. Rickart's Kennel, Von den drei.

The numbers of Löwchen slowly increased after the war, and France was the first to recognize the breed. England followed shortly and later the United States joined the ranks. According to 2007 AKC registration statistics, the Löwchen is the 139th most popular breed in the United States with 50 litters born in 2006.

Some major kennels in United States Löwchen history include Lowe-Ray Kennels, founded by Carole and Bob Yhlen who imported from Cluneen Kennels, and Pepperland Kennels, Leslie Samuels Healy's kennel, an English woman who moved to the United States with several Löwchen. These two lines can be found in many modern day Löwchen.

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Studbook series makes up the bulk of the collection. This series consists of registrations based on a system developed in the earliest days of the Löwchen in America. The first three dogs registered were in fact the first three Löwchen in the United States. There are over 700 registrations dating from 1971- 1996, at which point the American Kennel Club took over the studbook. Each registration includes a pedigree and many also include photos and certificates. The studbook provides detailed records of the Löwchen in the United States from the beginning. This series was removed from its original format and placed in acid free folders. It was kept in its original order, starting with the first dog registered and ending with the last.

The weakest part of the collection is the lack of records from the early days of the club aside from the studbook. The earliest record we have that isn't a registry is a newsletter from 1988. There are histories of the club in their various publications which are informative, but they sometimes conflict with each other as to exact dates. There is also only one meeting minutes dating from 1989, which can be found in the Documents series in the miscellaneous folder.

The next series in the collection is the Publication series. This series has one major sub-series: club publications. This sub-series consists primarily of club newsletters dating from 1988-2001. The newsletters are a valuable resource since they document the activities of the club in a way that the studbook does not. They have been ordered chronologically.

Other notable club publications include club yearbooks. The yearbooks include histories of the club and its activities as well as histories of the breed. They also include photographs of dogs from well known kennels, such as Lowe-Ray Kennel, Pepperland Kennel, Duncara Kennel and Ashland Kennel.

The Publication series is organized with club publications first and non-club publications second. Each of these is then ordered alphabetically.

The next series is AKC Presentation. This series consists of materials from the presentation the LCA made to the American Kennel Club when they were lobbying for the recognition for their breed. It provides a concise overview of club history and activities. It also includes photographs of the ideal Löwchen. The presentations came in three binders, which have been removed and placed in three separate folders, maintaining their original order.

The next series is the Documents series. This series contains membership lists dating back until 1988, a seminar folder that contains much of the same information that can be found in the AKC presentation series, and miscellaneous documents, including one set of meeting minutes from 1989 and some documents relating to discussion of a code of ethics for the club. This series has been ordered alphabetically.

The final series in the collection is the Clippings series. This series consists of three clippings dating from 1994-2003. Two of these clippings are from photo contests held by the club.

Löwchen Club of American Collection (1971-2005)
2006:003
AKD 9.199L
5.25 Cubic Feet

INVENTORY

Studbook
                                      Dogs registry numbers
Box 1   FF 1                             1-36, 1971-1976
            FF 2                             37-62, 1976-1978
            FF 3                             63-77, 1978
            FF 4                             78- 116, 1978-1980
Box 2   FF 1                            117-132, 1980
            FF 2                             133-162, 1981
            FF 3                             163-171, 1981
            FF 4                             172-190, 1981-1982
Box 3   FF1                              191-212, 1982
            FF 2                             213-229, 1982-1983
            FF 3                             230-240, 1983
            FF 4                             241-251, 1983
            FF 5                             252-262, 1984
Box 4   FF 1                             263-273, 1984
            FF 2                             274-286, 1984-1985
            FF 3                             287-300, 1985-1986
            FF 4                             301-337, 1986-1987
            FF 5                             338-393, 1987-1989
Box 5   FF 1                             394-463, 1989-1990
            FF 2                             463-512, 1990-1991
            FF 3                             513-539, 1991-1992
            FF 4                             540-573, 1992-1993
            FF 5                             574-599, 1993
Box 6   FF 1                             601-624, 1994
            FF 2                             625-646, 1994
            FF 3                             647-668, 1994-1995
            FF 4                             669-695, 1995
            FF 5                             696-714, 1995
            FF 6                             715-732, 1995-1996
                        Publications
                                     
LCA
Box 7   FF 1                             Catalogues specialty, 23-25 Mar. 1991- 28-30 May 2003
            FF 2                             Miscellaneous, 1996, 2001
                                                     Newsletters
Box 8   FF 1                                         Feb. 1988-Nov. 1991
            FF 2                                         Winter 1991-Winter 1994
            FF 3                                         Spring 1994-Winter 1997
            FF 4                                         Spring 1997-Mar. 199
            FF 5                                         July 1999-Mar. 2001                          
Box 7   FF 3                             Yearbooks, 1992-1996
            FF 4                             Yearbooks, 2001-2005
Box 9   FF 1                 Magazines, Sept. 1974- Sept. 2006
            FF 2                 Miscellaneous Löwchen Club of Great Britain, 1995-1996
            FF 3                 Newsletters Miscellaneous 19 Sept. 1992-Spring 1999
                        AKC Presentation
Box 10 FF 1                Activity records, 1990-1997
             FF 2                1991-1996
            FF 3                 1995
                        Documents
Box 11 FF 1                Membership lists, 1989-2003
            FF 2                 Miscellaneous, c. 1989-2003
            FF 3                 Nominations, 2000
            FF 4                 Seminar, c. 1997
                        Clippings
Box 11 FF 5                Miscellaneous, c. 1994, 2003