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Lhasa Apso

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What is Lhasa Apso?

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Lhasa Apso is originated from Tibet and is an indoor guard dog. An average Lhasa Apso height is around 25 to 28 cm and weighs from 6 to 7 kgs. The tail is extremely hairy and curls over. The coat is so long and profuse that it ends up covering their eyes. Their coat has a heavy texture that is neither silky nor woolly. 

The female Lhasa Apso are smaller and weigh less as compared to male dogs. A typical Lhasa Apso has brown eyes and a black nose. They come in black, white, gold, and red with a variety of shading. They live long and are very intelligent and make good watchdogs. It has very sensitive ears and was originally bred to watch over monasteries. 


History of Lhasa Apso

They were bred in Tibet and, for the longest time, were found only in that area. They originally were bred as guard dogs inside the Buddhist Monasteries. The prime objective of the dogs was to alert the monks of intruders, if any. They are known to be present since 800 BC, making them one of the oldest dogs in the world. In 1930, they arrived in the United States of America and were introduced by C. Suydam Cutting, who was proposed with a Lhasa Apso by Dalai Lama the 13th himself. In Tibet, it was a tradition for the ruler to present the diplomat with a Lhasa Apso as a gift. Outside Tibet, Lhasa was considered a prized possession. 

Certain characteristics found in Lhasa result from how they evolved in their environment, which was often the dry, windy weather with high altitudes and dusty terrains. They were bred mostly in the Himalayan Region, where the summers were short with long cold winters. This resulted in the general hardiness, the typical body structure, and the eye fall of the breed. This is also the reason behind the longevity of the dog breed Apso. In the US today, a group of Lhasa Apso were direct descendants of a monastery in Tibet. In the 1980s, the Lhasa Apso arrived in Canada as well. There has been significant effort shown to breed and preserve this line of Lhasa dog. The goal is to increase the genetic diversity of Lhasa Apso while still maintaining integrity. 


Facts About Lhasa Apso 

  • Lhasa Apso is a very intelligent breed of dogs: They are well known for their sharpness and intelligence. They are very motivated when rewarded with food and toys. Hence they can act as a great motivation drive to get them to obey during training. Some might refer to them as stubborn, but in reality, if they are treated well, they will master obedience. It can be tough to get Lhasa to focus on their training, but they will excel in trick training with a lot of incentive. Once the owner understands what food and toys will drive their motivation, Lhasa will do whatever they are asked to. 

  • Lhasa Apso requires daily exercise: As they are a small Lhasa breed, they do not need many exercises. However, 30 minutes of exercise each day is recommended to keep them active. These exercises can include walking, playing fetch, and other canine sports. 

While taking a Lhasa dog for a walk, the owner has to be attentive as they are likely to chase around other small pets and animals on the road. 

They are likely to obey training recall once the owner throws the ball. They will most likely return to the owner with the ball as long as they do not spot another small animal on the way that can distract them. They should be allowed off lead time only when they are properly trained to return to the owner without preying on other animals. They even enjoy spending time with the family in gardens by running around. 

If a Lhasa is being used as a watchdog, then the yard should be fenced if they are to be left unsupervised. They are hardy because they originated from the Himalayas and will scale the entire garden without much issue. 

  • Lhasa Apsos will eat everything as they love Food: In earlier times, they were offered scarps in Tibet by the families of the houses they watched over. They will be happy to eat anything they are offered. However, in modern times, they require at least a cup of kibble every day. The quality of the dog food will therefore decide the quantity that has to be served. If the food is of low quality, then a higher quantity has to be served to satisfy the Lhasa Apso and gain proper levels of nutrients. Overeating should also be avoided as they are so small, overeating could lead to mobility issues and cause joint pains. As for treats, the owners should serve fruits that are safe for dogs and even vegetables that will act as a healthy reward. 

  • About their Grooming: A full coat golden Lhasa Apso usually has its coat flowing to the floor. 

However, Lhasa Apso Comes in two Different Coat Types: 

  1. A Full Coat: Where their coat is flowing to the floor. 

  2. A Puppy Cut: Where they are given a trim to cut short their coat. 

As per standards, it is suggested to keep the coat at a reasonable length. However, it depends on the owner of the dog. 

Professionals should only do the grooming of the brown Lhasa Apso as it requires a very precise cut. They need their coat to be brushed daily from head to tail for it to remain healthy. For the tangles to be removed, the brushing can be done in sections. The color of their coat determines how frequently they will need bathing. 

If it is a lighter color, they should be bathed once in two or three weeks. However, dark color coats can be irregular in bathing, but it is suggested to wash their coats at least once a month. 

They will also require frequent grooming because of the structure of their face; dental care is given great importance. Their teeth should be brushed daily. To make the grooming a happy and fun experience, they can be taught games that will help them stay patient during grooming, especially during brushing and clipping. They are a unique Apso breed with hair inside the ears, which has to be cleaned regularly. 

  • The literal meaning of the Lhasa Breed: When roughly translated, Lhasa Apso means ‘bearded lion dog,' which refers to their appearance and determined temperament. Even though they are small in size, Lhasa Apso is known to be very protective and tenacious. In addition, they are very faithful to their owners and are amazing watchdogs as well. 

  • They love to bark: Every potential owner should be well aware that Lhasa Apso barks a lot. They love to bark, and sometimes it can feel like they are shouting at you. They are not instantly comfortable around new people and will require time to put their guard down. They are a unique combination of loving yet aloof. They enjoy barking, and it is because, for hundreds of years, they were bred as watchdogs, so the barking behavior is their instinct. No matter how well trained the dog is, it will still bark as its barking is nowhere related to its obedience. For someone living in an apartment surrounded by neighbors, this is something that has to be considered. 

  • They are very costly and difficult to find:  As they are rare, getting your hands on one is very difficult. It is always a struggle to find a responsible breeder, and on finding one, there is often a waiting list for the same. Their original cost is very high, and the overall cost is increased due to their food, grooming, health screening, and other requirements of dogs in general. Due to the high price, there is often a line of unethical breeding, so one should only purchase the dog from a reputed breeder. For adoption, they are very hard to find in rescue shelters. 

  • They are fairly healthy dogs: Lhasa Apso is considered a very healthy breed and often lives for almost 14 years. They are a breed with a short skull and a flat nose with a snout which makes them prone to a few health diseases: 

  1. Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This is a hereditary condition that often leads to blindness. For Lhasa Apsos, this often occurs due to foreign objects like dust that enter the eye. The condition has no cure but can be managed with medication.

  2. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: In this, their joints get deformed, resulting in awkward movement of joints and can lead to more severe problems in the future.

  3. Juvenile Renal Disease: It is very common and usually occurs during the initial years. The symptoms include having more water than usual. It consists of vomiting, weight loss, and eventually the loss of a kidney. It can be managed with a special diet and through fluids. 

As most diseases are hereditary, the parents should be tested before breeding. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Concerns Regarding Lhasa Apso?

Ans: They should not be around children as the clumsiness shown by little ones often trigger them. They do not tolerate being teased and are very possessive about their toys and food, and will get defensive if anyone comes in their way, be it, children.

2. Why Do You Need to Take Care of Adult Lhasa Properly?

Ans: The adult Lhasa has a lot of dignity and is rather calm. The dog is mannered as long as there is the mutual respect in the relationship between the dog and the owner. They need to be given proper training and character development from the initial stage itself. 


They are not just all bark but even bite if teased and pushed. Therefore, they need to be given training in socialization from an early age to avoid biting when introduced to strangers. 


They have sharp senses with great observation skills and will doubt if anything is new or different. They are very responsible for their duty as watchdogs. Around other dogs, they can be very jealous and bossy though they learn to coexist with other pets in the house as time passes. They are very strong-headed, and it can be a task to train them as they are very dominant. Hence incentives are used for them to cooperate with the trainer. They require a very confident owner that is capable of taking charge. They are highly suspicious dogs and have quick defenses. Their temperamental and behavior can be shaped as they grow, provided the training has started at an early age. 

3. How can Lhasa Apso Be the Best Pet Dog that You Have Ever Got?

Ans: Apart from all the challenges that come with a Lhasa Apso, they also prove to be worth it all. They are cute and playful and make a good house dog that is also protective. They are very loyal to their family and will give everything to becoming a great watchdog. They are small but not at all sissy. They have comical antics and will be great entertainment to the entire house. 


They have a huge history behind them, and the fact that they are still so famous after hundreds of years proves that they are the most popular breed for a reason. Their lustrous hair and model looks grab all the attention. Their exceptional hearing acts as a great advantage as watchdogs. They are perfect family dogs and will run around and be ready to be petted at all times. They might not be kid-friendly but will be fantastic around older kids and adults. If they are with experienced pet owners, then with proper training, they can learn to be calm around children. It all depends on how early they are trained. 

Overall, Lhasa is indeed one of the cutest dogs with its sparkling eyes and fluffy coat. They are the perfect cuddly toy dog!