At a glance
Lhasa Apsos are a small non-sporting breed of dog that originated in Tibet. His job assignment hundreds of years ago was to protect monasteries from intruders.
- Names – “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog”, Bobbydog, Bob, Apso Seng Kyi, Tibetan Apso
- Group – AKC: Non-Sporting Group; KC: Utility
- Size – small
- Life expectancy – average lifespan is 15 years; age range of 14 to 18
- Cost of ownership – low
- Ease of ownership – high
- Aggressive tendency – medium
- Amount of Exercise – low
- Amount of Grooming – medium
- Ease of Training – medium
- Obedience level – medium
- Suitable for Children – high
- Amount of Care Required – medium
- Susceptibility to Health Problems – low
The Lhasa Apso’s long, shaggy double coat, perfect for high-altitude Tibet, covers the dog’s entire body. While all colors are accepted for show, gold, cream, and honey are the most popular shades. Other coat color possibilities are smoke, dark-grizzle, slate and a multi-color assortment of brown, white and black. Abundant hair hangs from the head over his eyes. The dog has a dark beard and mustache and a non-square muzzle that is of moderate length. Small, dark deep-set eyes peek out from behind their hair and their face is framed by heavy feathered ears. The neck has a substantial scarf of fur and the feathered tail is carried over his back.
- Bitch: 5kg (11lbs) to 6kg (13lbs)
- Dog: 6kg (13lbs) to 7kg (15lbs)
- Bitch: 23cm (9″) to 25cm (10″)
- Dog: 25cm (10″) to 28cm (11″)
- Color – black, white, brown, gray, cream or particolor
- Coat – heavy, straight, hard, not woolly or silky, of good length, and very dense
- Shedding – low
- Allergies – low
- Causes Allergies – low
The Lhasa Apso is a dignified breed. Although this canine has a bit of a clownish personality, he prefers being a companion to a simple pet. The Lhasa’s temperament is well defined. He is independent, affectionate and stubborn. He requires understanding and patience and does not respond well to harsh and strict discipline. He is clear-headed and wary of people outside that of his familiar circle. They conform easily to their master’s environment and schedule, especially when it comes to sleeping patterns and walks.
- Separation Anxiety – medium
- Barking tendency – medium
- Aggressive tendency – medium
- Compatibility with other animals – high
- Suitable for children – medium
- Watchdog suitability – high
The Lhasa Apso possesses a double-edged temperament. They balance their affectionate devotion with their independence and sense of importance. They are lively and spirited with spontaneous gaiety and are wonderful watchdogs. The Lhasa is not for families with small or rough children, as they resent rough handling and will even give the odd bite when surprised or angered. They do not like to be left alone for long periods of time, require plenty of attention and do not particularly enjoy sharing their owner’s affection with other pets.
Regardless of the training techniques one favors, it is imperative that a Lhasa is taught acceptable behaviors. Most training basically employs a mixture of both positive reinforcement and correction. Reinforcement generally includes treats, praise and affection. Correction is usually given in the verbal form of “No”. However, physical correction, such as leash or collar tugging, should not be used for this breed.
A common problem many owners face when training is failing to teach the dog proper obedience because they overlook the dog’s need for such guidance due to their size. All breeds, regardless of their size must learn obedience commands, so they know their place in the pack. The owner must be respected as the pack leader or the Lhasa will be difficult to control.
- Obedience – medium
The Lhasa has plenty of energy. He is very active indoors but also loves romping around outside. He should be provided with several short walks every day.
- Energy – high
- Amount required – a total of 20 minutes of walking per day
The care a Lhasa dog requires includes daily coat grooming to remove and prevent mats, bathing, plucking hair out of his ears, parting the hair along his spine, trimming the hair located between the feet pads, and clipping the nails.
The Lhasa Apso needs a quality dog diet, which should include a good dry food and even the occasional treat of well-prepared raw meat. Owners need to prevent overfeeding, since Apsos are prone to obesity.
Taking care of a Lhasa Apso’s coat is serious business. A young dog should be introduced to grooming to encourage his acceptance of the process. You can help familiarize the Lhasa pup with grooming by brushing him every day and bathing him once a month. House pets that do not need to be groomed for showing are often clipped short in a style known as a “puppy cut” to reduce coat maintenance. The full adult coat with the characteristic rough outer coat does not develop until the dog is 6 or 7 years of age. This adult coat will require grooming once a week.
Breeders recommend blow-drying Lhasa Apsos after the bath to prevent them from catching a chill. The hair above the eyes can be tied with bands or plaits but in exhibitions the hair is permitted to fall over the eyes.
- Ease of grooming – medium
- Amount of grooming – medium
There are just a few considerations regarding the breeding of Lhasas. Many unscrupulous breeders use pedigrees for their breeding without carefully observing the heritage and characteristics of the stud or the bitch. These breeders do this for the (ultimately false) sake of preserving the true blood of the breed.
Another important concern is how some breeders are easily distracted from their breeding goals whenever they see an unexpectedly positive trait in a new litter. A good breeder plans to achieve specific objectives and has reasons for going ahead with a particular breeding. Furthermore, when it is time to select from a litter, the goals and possible choices are matched accordingly.
In summary, the best breeders are also the best researchers. They make intelligent pedigree choices and make honest selections that will benefit the line..
- Litter size – average of 6; range of 1 to 8 puppies
- Puppy cost – average of $580; range of $ 440 to $733
The Lhasa is a fairly healthy dog. That said, they are prone to certain hereditary ailments including hip dysplasia and kidney problems. However, it is important to note that the incidence of kidney problems seems to be in only some breed lines and does not affect the breed as a whole.
- Life expectancy – average lifespan is 15 years; range of 14 to 18
- Susceptibility to illness – low
- Common health problems – progressive retinal atrophy and kidney disease
This dog will be appreciated by city dwellers, the elderly and families with older and considerate children. Though he is small, the Lhasa does not want to be a simple lap dog and will want to be the protector of the household. The Lhasa Apso will develop a strong bond with their owner and will love his family but will generally regard strangers with suspicion.
- Living conditions – These dogs are ideal for apartment living. They are very active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
- Good with Children – The Lhasa is not suited for families with small children, or in homes where there are rough or ill behaved children.
The oldest records mentioning the Lhasa Apso date back hundreds of years ago in Tibet. The dog was known as the inner guard dog in Tibetan temples. He was highly regarded for his intelligence, acute hearing and natural instinct for distinguishing friends from strangers. In addition to being guard dogs, they were also known as the temporary keepers of dead souls that were stopped from entering the afterlife. Additionally, the breed was often treated as royalty.
Prized by the country of Tibet, the Lhasa Apso was once not allowed to leave the city of Lhasa except to be given as gifts from the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet. The first of the breed to enter directly into the U.S. were a gift to a tourist-couple named Mr. And Mrs. C.S. Cutting, who received their dogs directly from the 13th Dalai Lama. The Cuttings, who owned Hamilton Farms in New Jersey, used their male and female pair as the foundation stock of the Hamilton Farm Lhasas. The Lhasa Apso was accepted as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1935.
- County or origin – Tibet
- AKA KC name and group: Herding, AKC Non-Sporting
Did you know…
- A Lhasa Apso puppy’s coat changes colors as it grows.
- In the animated series Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, Peter’s Aunt May has a Lhasa Apso named Ms. Lion.
- On a 1972 episode of the game show “The Price is Right,” a Lhasa Apso puppy was the first item up for bids.
- When the equally Asian and captivating Shih Tzu first arrived in the United States, they were mistakenly identified as Lhasas and were bred to actual Lhasas. This mistake has not been forgotten, as even today one will find stress placed on the “pure Hamilton line,” indicating no Shih Tzu blood flows in the veins of these Lhasa Apsos.