Let's talk Lhasa Apsos

Their most striking feature might be their long, flowing locks, but alert, loyal and affectionate little Lhasa Apsos also have a long and illustrious history. The breed dates back over a thousand years to the isolated palaces and monasteries of Tibet where Lhasa Apsos were developed to be guard dogs. That ancient bond with humans combined with beautiful looks, manageable size and good natures has made the Lhasa Apso a sought after modern day canine companion. 

Official name: Lhasa Apso

Origins: Tibet

Side view of Lhasa Apso in black and white
 Drooling tendencies  Very low  Warm weather?
 Shedding level  Medium  Suited to apartment living ? Very high
 Energy level*  Low  Family pet?* Medium
 Compatibility with other pets  Medium  Can stay alone?* High

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs.

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 

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Illustration of white Lhasa Apso
Male
25 - 28 cm Height
5.5 - 8 kg Weight
Female
25 - 28 cm Height
5.5 - 8 kg Weight

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 10 months
 Adult age 10 months to 8 years  
 Mature age  8 to 12 years
 Senior age  From 12 years

Lhasa Apso standing on tree truck

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Get to know the Lhasa Apso

All you need to know about the breed

Lhasa Apsos were originally developed as watchdogs more than a thousand years ago – a role that seems all the more impressive when you consider that this is a dog whose thick curtain of hair often looks as though it must be obstructing their vision entirely (did we mention they need a lot of grooming?)

It’s true that the Lhasa Apso’s extraordinary coat is their most recognisable feature, but these charming and confident dogs have much more to offer besides. Lhasa Apsos are robust little dogs with an independent nature. They can be wary of strangers (that guard dog conditioning runs deep) and they need early socialisation and consistent training to make sure they are at ease in everyday situations.

Once trained, Lhasa Apsos are affectionate with their human families, curious and mischievous – a furry little bundle of fun. They are not known to be aggressive but these small dogs are not the best choice for families with small children as they may be impatient with the normal rough-and-tumble of life with toddlers. Their small size means Lhasa Apsos are well suited to living in an apartment, as long as they get regular walks and chances to play.

Lhasa Apso puppy looking over tree trunk

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2 facts about Lhasa Apsos

1. Dalai Lhasa

Thanks to the breed’s origins in the monasteries of Tibet, the Lhasa Apso has long been known as a sacred dog, associated with the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama was instrumental in making these little dogs known in the wider world – dogs he gave as gifts in the first part of the 20th century helped establish the breed in the US. 

2. Little Lion Dog 

They may be small dogs – but Lhasa Apsos sure are mighty. With their abundant fur, often regal stance and confident personality, the Lhasa Apso’s nickname, “Little Lion Dog”, suits this ancient and long-revered breed perfectly, even if they are more likely to bark than roar.

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History of the breed

With their flowing locks in shades of grey, beige, brown and white, Lhasa Apsos may look like they just stepped out of the grooming salon. But these diminutive canines were in fact developed for an extreme environment of high altitudes, rough terrain and isolation.

Over a thousand years ago, Lhasa Apsos were bred for their watchdog skills and put to use to guard the remote mountaintop palaces and Buddhist monasteries of Tibet (capital, Lhasa), often known as “the roof of the world”. This important role conferred a sacred status on these little dogs, which were associated with good luck and prosperity and were never sold, only given as gifts.

Lhasa Apso sitting in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Lhasa Apsos

1. Coat

Lavish, long and smooth coat hanging to the ground.

2. Body

Small stature and feathered tail curling over the back.

3. Colouring

Coat shades include sandy, slate, black, white or brown.

Close-up of grey Lhasa Apso

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apso running across grass

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Caring for your Lhasa Apso

Grooming, training and exercise tips

With their abundant hair, Lhasa Apsos need a significant amount of grooming: regular brushing and bathing is the order of the day even if you choose to clip it short. If it’s kept in its lavish natural state, we’re talking daily brushing as well as fortnightly baths including a shampoo, a specially formulated doggy conditioner and a drying session to avoid matting. Lhasa Apsos need regular physical exercise as well as mental stimulation but their small stature means that as long as they get plenty of walks or chances to play outside, they are well suited to apartment living. Lhasa Apsos are known for their independent streak, so training may not be a walk in the park: you’ll need to be patient and consistent and start early. Socialisation is important from puppyhood, to temper the breed’s natural wariness of strangers and make sure they’re at ease in everyday situations. 

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All about Lhasa Apsos

Lhasa Apsos are loyal, affectionate to and protective of their human families, but they are best suited to households without very small children – they’re small dogs and can be intimidated by even accidental clumsiness. 

Well … those luxurious locks aren’t going to look after themselves. Lhasa Apsos do need a lot of grooming, to avoid tangles, it’s true, but that brushing time is a perfect excuse for a cuddle so it won’t be a chore. 

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/