The Revered Lhasa Apso Dog 

Native to Tibet, the Lhasa Apso dog attained a spiritual significance in his homeland where the breed dates back about two thousand years. This tough little dog was originally used to guard the interiors of monasteries and temples while bigger mastiff dogs guarded the exterior.

Lhasa ApsoCourtesy: Flickr user lisaschaos

Lhasas, were once known as the "Bark Lion Sentinel Dog" and for good reason. As a sentinel, their exceptional hearing made them able to quickly identify the presence of intruders and able to give a warning bark to the community.

Like many small size dogs, this breed is very hardy. They are similar in appearance to the Shih Tzu, also from Tibet, especially with respect to their flowing abundant coat which no doubt developed in response to the harsh winters of the Himalayan regions.

Establishment of the Lhasa Apso in the United States is credited to Suydam Cutting, a naturalist and owner of Hamilton Farm Kennels. This gentleman had visited Tibet and became associated with the Dalai Lama who later presented the Cutting family with a pair of Lhasa Apso dogs.

This is a very attractive small dog, with a good health profile, and being suspicious of strangers he can be helpful as a watchdog.

Physical Stats and Care

Height: 9-11 inches
Weight: 13-18 lbs.
Colors: Many colors including sandy, golden, honey, grizzle, slate, smoke, parti-color, black, white and brown, the lighter ones being the most popular.

The coat is very dense and long and requires extensive grooming to keep it in good condition and avoid mats, tangles and dog skin allergies - especially if kept in its naturally long state.

FURminator grooming tool

It is also low shedding which means the daily brushing to remove dead hair is especially important. One of the best tools for this job is the FURminator pictured here.


Characteristics of the Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso may look like a lap dog, but don't treat him like one! While he is friendly, affectionate and playful, he can also be very stubborn and bossy.

This breed tends to challenge for leadership any chance he gets. Of course its easy to see why someone might let this cute dog get by with some naughty behavior, but it's not a good idea.

Lhasa ApsoCourtesy: H.Boney

Without consistent leadership, they will fall into some quite undesirable behaviors and won't be a happy and secure dog. With a strong pack leader, confusion will be avoided, and they will live harmoniously with their family.

When it comes to training, Lhasas respond best to motivational techniques and are very treat oriented.


Health Notes

While this little dog is quite sturdy and generally healthy, there are some health issues to be aware of that may occur during their life time of 12 to 14 years.

The most significant of these is an hereditary condition known as Renal dysplasia, details of which can be found here,

Eye conditions include:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • Galucoma,
  • Dry eye,
  • Cataracts
  • Cherry eye

A few more include:

  • Slipping stifles
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Skin conditions

Responsible breeders should be able to provide a thorough health profile for the parents of any puppies they have available.


How Active is the Lhasa?

Since they are normally very playful and active around the house, the Lhasa Apso dog does not need heavy exercise - a daily walk will do.

But the daily walk should not be overlooked as it is very important to their physical and mental stability.

Here are some popular toys to entertain your pet on rainy days:


Ideal Living Space

While Lhasa Apsos are not fussy about their environment, apartment living would probably not be the best choice if you are gone for several hours a day.

Why? Because of the fact that they have very good hearing and a natural tendency to be a watchdog, noises coming from close neighbors may get their attention and lead to barking.

If at all possible, a home with an outside area for training, play and house training is always the ideal when there is a dog in the family.


standard coated Lhasa ApsoCourtesy: Wikimedia

The Lhasa With Children?

This breed does best with older, as in teenage, children, especially those who have had prior experience handling small dogs.

TheLhasa Apso dog does not like to be carried around by young children and will defend themselves if mistreated.


As a Companion For Seniors?

This breed does well as companions for seniors, empty nesters or more sedentary families providing the considerable grooming needs can be handled.

They are loyal and loving little dogs and exercise requirements are modest.


Share Your Lhasa Apso Story

Such a popular dog and so pretty. Do you have a Lhasa? If you do, we know you must be a proud owner and love to show off your dog at every opportunity - right?

Well, here's your chance to really go to town and tell all our visitors about your treasured pet as well as your knowledge about the breed in general.

You can upload photos and tell your dog's story here. For inspiration, read some of the stories already submitted about other breeds.


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  • Image resources:: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lhasa_Apso_Image_002.jpg>lisaschaos File is licensed under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/ CC BY-SA 2.0
  • https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cachorro_ra%C3%A7a_Lhasa_Apso_posando_para_book_canino.JPG by Henrique Boney, License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 >CC BY-SA 4.0
  • https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lhasaapso.jpg , https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 CC BY-SA 3.0
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