Lhasa Apso

A Quick Look at the Lhasa Apso…

The Lhasa Apso is a small and resilient dog that is very independent and dignified. He has a cheerful disposition, is mischievous, aloof and has a mind of his own. While he loves his family and is a proud member of his pack, his goal in life is not always to please his owner.

Originating in Tibet, the Lhasa is friendly, assertive, devoted and affectionate. His long, non-shedding coat of hair is quite beautiful and is the dog’s trademark appearance. He has sharp hearing and is a good watchdog. This breed is intelligent and excels in the show ring, shines in agility and is always ready to take on a new challenge.

Here are some fast facts about the Lhasa Apso:

Dog Group:
non-sporting or utility/terrier
Recognized By:
Dogs – 13 – 15 lbs. (6-7 kg)
Bitches – 11 – 13 lbs. (5-6 kg)
Dogs – 10 – 11 in. (25-28 cm)
Bitches – 9 – 10 in. (23-25 cm)
Average litter size:
4 – 5 puppies
Life expectancy:
14 – 18  years (average of 15 years)
Health problems:
Coat care:
Exercise needs:
Suitable for children:
Pet compatibility:
Barking frequency:

Brief History

The Lhasa Apso originated in the Himalayan Mountains in Tibet many centuries ago. The dog was named after the sacred city of Lhasa, where most of the dogs lived. They were primarily designed to be watchdogs and were used in temples, monasteries and the homes of Tibetan nobility. Lhasa Apso’s were considered to be sacred dogs and were only bred in Tibet by noble and holy men. It was the belief that when the dog’s master died, the soul of his master would enter the Lhasa’s body. Theses small canines were considered to be very lucky to own.

It was very difficult to obtain one of these dogs and they were not available outside of Tibet. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the Lhasa was introduced to other parts of the world. The breed was introduced as gifts from the 13th Dalai Lama, who presented them to visiting foreign diplomats. They first appeared in Britain in the 1920’s and then later in the U.S. in the 1930’s. The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935.

Lhasa Apso Breed Appearance and Characteristics

General Appearance – The Lhasa Apso is a small and sturdy dog. They have a medium length muzzle and a black nose. Their medium-sized dark brown eyes are set deeply in the head and give the dog a pleasant, alert and intelligent expression. The pendant ears of the Lhasa are well feathered. They have straight front legs, round feet and the body is longer than the dog’s height. Both the body and legs are covered in an abundance of hair. The tail is feathered and carried over the back in a screw shape.

The double coat of the Lhasa Apso is dense, naturally long, straight and covers the entire body, including the head and legs, all the way to the floor. The colors of the coat include: Gold, honey, cream, white, black, slate, smoke, dark grizzle and various colors of brown.

Typical Temperament – The Lhasa Apso has a double-edged personality. They balance their devotion and friendly nature with self-importance and independence. They are very vivacious, high spirited and cheerful. They enjoy the company of their pack, having great affection for their owner. While these canines are compatible with other pets and children, they are best suited to families with older and more respectful children who know how to properly handle the dog. In regard to other household pets, Lhasa’s should be socialized with these animals at a young age or they will not be as accepting of these other animals or the attention their owner gives them when they are older.

The Lhasa is an excellent watchdog and can be suspicious of strangers. He is intelligent, can be very obedient and enjoys challenges, as long as he has a strong leader to teach him proper obedience and socialization to prevent behavioral issues from occurring. Finally, this breed enjoys the company of people and will not be happy if he is left alone for long periods of time. He requires a lot of attention, so owners need to be prepared to meet these demands.

Basic Lhasa Apso Care Requirements

Grooming – Taking care of the double coat of a Lhasa Apso isn’t a difficult process as long as owners groom them on a daily basis. The hair should be brushed all over the body at least once per day to keep it free of mats. Special attention should be given to the legs and feet where matting is much more likely to occur. Unless the dog will be used for showing purposes, they should only be washed or dry shampooed when necessary, as frequent washing can dry out their skin and lead to health problems. To make grooming easier, Lhasa’s can be clipped short.

This breed is prone to tear stain. To prevent this, as well as possible ear infections, the eyes and ears should be checked and cleaned on a daily basis with a soft, clean, warm wash cloth. Nails should be clipped every month and teeth brushed every few days to aid in the maintenance of good oral hygiene.

Exercise – Lhasa Apso’s require a daily 20 minute walk and a bit of play time. While they do not require an exceptional amount of exercise, they must be provided with a walk every day to prevent behavioral problems from occurring. Lhasa’s also enjoy the freedom to romp around off lead and will be happy to run around in a safe environment, such as a fenced yard.

Approximate Food Cost – On average, the Lhasa Apso consumes 1 to 1½ cups of dry food per day at a cost of about $10 – $15.

General Health Information

Lhasa Apso’s are typically a healthy breed. However, while they are a long lived breed, they are susceptible to certain ailments that may include, skin problems, hip dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atropy (PRA) and other eye problems, kidney disease, and bleeding ulcers. Keep in mind that some of the illnesses do not affect the breed as a whole but are directly related to certain breed lines. Thus, it is important that you make sure the breeder performs necessary tests to check for genetic diseases and refrains from breeding unhealthy dogs.

Common Illnesses include:  PRA, kidney disease.

Are You the Right Lhasa Apso Owner?

Living conditions – Lhasas are great apartment dogs. They are active indoors and are perfectly fine without a yard as long as they are provided with a daily walk.

Training – Even though they are a small and sweet looking dog, this doesn’t mean that the Lhasa does not require obedience training. It is imperative that the Lhasa is taught proper behaviors and knows his place in their pack. If he is not provided with early and consistent training, he will choose to follow his own rules. This breed is independent and will need positive reinforcement and correction. They respond well to firm yet gentle training and will respect their handler as long as this person makes it clear they are in charge. Socialization and Training should begin while the Lhasa is still a puppy or he can become difficult to control.

Common Problems – The Lhasa Apso is very prone to Small Dog Syndrome, a behavior that results when owners allow their dog to believe he is the pack leader and in charge of the people in his family. This can lead to many negative behaviors including guarding, possessiveness, snapping and biting. This breed is highly susceptible to separation anxiety and can become incredibly upset when left alone. To help prevent and control common problems this breed requires proper obedience training, socialization, physical and mental exercise, as well as plenty of affection and attention.

The bottom line…

The Lhasa Apso is an independent breed that is an excellent pet for apartment dwellers, single owners and families with older and more responsible children. He thrives on attention and companionship and does not do well when left alone for long periods of time. His long coat requires daily grooming. He is a superb watchdog and needs early socialization and training to avoid future behavioral problems and to develop into the beautiful dog he was meant to be.

Filed Under: Lhasa Apso Training


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