The Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso


Lhasa Apsos originated in the cold mountains of Tibet over 4000 years ago. They are one of the oldest canine breeds, and recent DNA testing shows them to be closely linked with the ancestral wolf. In all likelihood they share ancestry with the Tibetan Spaniel and the Tibetan Terrier. In fact the Lhasa Apso and Tibetan Terrier were once considered to be the same breed.

Lhasa Apsos were used by Tibetan Monks to guard the holy temples. They were actually the second line of defense after the Tibetan Mastiffs who watched over the temple entrances. Lhasas were much more than guard dogs. It was believed that, after dying, Dalai Lama’s souls could actually enter the dog for a short period of time. For this reason Lhasa Apsos were never sold and rarely given to outsiders.

It wasn’t until 1933 that the 13th Dalai Lama gifted a pair of Lhasa Apsos to his friend Suydam Cutting who was visiting Tibet. It was Cutting who brought the Lhasa back to America and started breeding them. The Lhasa became the first Tibetan breed registered by the American Kennel Club in 1935.

Today, there are concerns that the American breed is starting to branch too far out from the original Tibetan Lhasa.

Sizing up:

  • Weight: 12 to 18 lbs.
  • Height: 10 to 11 inches
  • Coat: Long, straight and heavy
  • Color: Many available
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years

What’s the Lhasa Apso like?

The Lhasa’s history of nobility and holiness hasn’t completely been forgotten. It’s easy to put these puppies on a pedestal and give in to every demand they have –resist! A well behaved adult Lhasa starts with a well trained young Lhasa. It’s important that you show Lhasas you are the pack master, and the leader of the house. If they feel, even occasionally, that they’re in control Lhasas will take full advantage. They’ll bark loudly and often, climb on whatever they want, and suffer from separation anxiety whenever you leave the house.

Early socialization is also vital to the breed’s wellbeing. Without it they might be aggressive towards other animals or strangers. They're likely to be suspicious of strangers anyway but should be able to tolerate them on a regular basis.

So long as you can avoid these pitfalls Lhasa Apsos will be a well behaved and comical addition to the family. They love children and look forward to daily walks. The Lhasa is no stranger to being a companion dog and is among the best company you could hope to have.


If you’re getting your Lhasa Apso from a breeder you should ask if his dogs have regular eye exams. Retinal problems have been noted in the Lhapsa Apso.

Other potential conditions should also be taken into consideration:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Kidney stones
  • Intervertebral disc disease

Takeaway points:

  • Lhasa Apsos will require extensive grooming to keep their long hair in good shape.
  • Lhasa Apsos need to know they aren’t the pack leader.
  • Lhasa Apsos were guard dogs and will be suspicious of strangers, it’s important that you not let this suspicion turn into aggression.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

7 things to know about the Lhasa Apso temperament

The Lhasa Apso dog breed has a playful personality and temperament. They’re known to be fiercely independent and fearless, but they also have unwavering loyalty to their owners.

Lhasa dogs might be small in physical stature but the same cannot be said for their huge personality. Here are the seven things you need to know about the Lhasa Apso temperament.

1. They are independent minded

If there’s one thing that all Lhasa Apso dogs possess, it’s a strong willed independent mind. They are most certainly no pushover.

This makes training a Lhasa Apso particularly difficult and challenging. That’s not to say you can’t get through to them and give effective training, but it takes persistence.

Their free spirit is endearing but it also means that if they don’t like what you’re suggesting, they simply won’t do it.

Whilst bribing your Lhasa Apso with treats might sound like the solution, it will only work as long as they allow it to.

2. They can be very stubborn

Lhasa Apso dogs are stubborn and obstinate. If something isn’t their own idea, they probably won’t be interested.

On numerous occasions we’ve put our Lhasa Apso into her bed where it’s more comfortable. Immediately she gets up and sits directly outside the bed.

It’s her way of saying “Don’t make decisions for me”. Several minutes usually pass, and then she discretely moves herself back into the bed and curls into a ball.

That’s her way of saying “Yep, it was comfy… but I’ll move there on my own terms!”

3. They want to be boss

The Lhasa Apso dog can be bossy and demanding at times. The breed likes to think they are in charge and without firm and consistent training they will challenge you for leadership of the pack.

This could be a problem if you introduce another dog into your home. It’s especially important for this breed that they are well socialised with other dogs and children in the first 12 weeks of being at home as a puppy.

4. They can be short tempered

Lhasa Apsos are small but fierce and they will snap if they feel they have been unfairly punished.

For this reason, you should be vigilant around small children, particularly if the Lhasa is not well socialised.

Training will be the key to preventing your Lhasa from developing a case of ‘small dog syndrome’, which is a type of aggression that develops through lack of socialisation with other dogs.

5. They’re friendly but suspicious

These little dogs will be the best of friends and they have a very warm personality. However they are suspicious of strangers.

Lhasa Apso dogs were originally bred as watch dogs, which is why their naturally suspicious nature is so embedded into their personality.

A well socialised and trained Lhasa Apso will still respond to strangers with suspicion, but they will very quickly let their guard down as soon as they recognise friendly intentions.

6. They are affectionate

Lhasa Apsos are very loving and affectionate with people they know well and trust.

They take their watch dog duties very seriously and for this reason they will be protective of their family.

Once you’re in their circle of trust, a Lhasa Apso will shower you with love and affection.

7. They can be fun and silly

Even a Lhasa Apso has to have some downtime from watch dog duties. Just like everyone else, they do sometimes let their hair down!

Our experience of Lhasa Apso dogs is that they are highly comical and will bring joy and laughter to any household.

What is the Lhasa Apso temperament like?

If we summed up the temperament of a Lhasa Apso, we’d say they are strong-willed, independent but good natured.

It’s important that you socialise and train your Lhasa as soon as you bring them home, as the early puppy months are so important for developing their personalities.

This is especially vital for Lhasa Apso dogs which are certainly more stubborn than many other dogs.

Be patient and persistent, and you will be rewarded with a wonderfully fun and loyal companion.

Lhasa Apso Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits

Considered "easy keepers," affectionate and a good companion, the Lhasa Apso was bred as a guard dog and therefore can be aloof, stubborn and demonstrate a sharp, loud bark.

The Lhasa Apsos are long-lived dogs, routinely going into their late teens. The record holder is a breed champion who lived to 29 years of age.

Weight Range:

Male: 13-15 lbs.
Female: 13-15 lbs.

Height at Withers:

Vital Stats:

The Lhasa Apso thinks he's a large dog, a very large dog. Bred for hundreds of years to be a royal watchdog, the modern Lhasa approaches life the way his forebears did: he is a loyal guardian of home and family.

The Lhasa's protective nature can surprise those unfamiliar with him, given his small size and long, flowing coat. He certainly doesn't appear fierce.

But when it comes to protecting his own, the Lhasa is fierce, though never unusually aggressive. He's naturally suspicious of strangers — an excellent trait for a palace guard — and he takes his job as protector seriously.

The lionhearted Lhasa's devotion also means he enjoys sharing life with his family. He's intelligent, independent (a watchdog must think on his own), and mischievous.

If you are considering a Lhasa — and many find his looks irresistible — you must consider this breed's protective nature. Early socialization and training are absolutely critical to a Lhasa's success as a family member, so that he can properly direct his natural tendency toward wariness. The time invested in training him, however, is well worth your effort in terms of the loyalty, joy, and companionship that this long-lived, hardy little dog provides.

The Lhasa likes doing his own thing, which means his goal in life is not necessarily to please you. In this he differs from such breeds as the biddable Labrador Retriever. While the Lhasa can be trained successfully, he is not always the most obedient dog in the class.

But those who know and love the Lhasa praise his smarts and unique ability to reason. He can even tend toward manipulation, so consistency is key in training the Lhasa pup (just as it is with raising children). If you don't take charge, your Lhasa will certainly try.

Few pups are cuter than the Lhasa puppy, with his sparking eyes and fluffy coat. These little ones are curious and full of energy, and they love to play. The Lhasa matures slowly and remains puppyish until he's three years old. New owners need to keep this in mind when training Lhasa puppies, or they can become frustrated with the Lhasa's refusal to take lessons too seriously. Housetraining can be difficult crate training is recommended.

Now, about that Lhasa coat — it's splendid: long, thick, and beautiful. It's also a chore to keep in good condition. Daily brushing and combing are necessary to keep it free of tangles. Frequent bathing is necessary, too, to keep the Lhasa smelling sweet. Some owners opt to trim the coat short, or trim the hair around the face. If you are considering a Lhasa, know that you'll be doing a lot of grooming, or that you'll be on a first-name basis with a professional groomer.

What about children and the Lhasa? Be aware that the breed is known for being impatient with the normal clumsiness associated with children he'll nip. He tends to bond with adults more than with youngsters, but this isn't a hard-and-fast rule. Older children, or young children who are exceptionally gentle with dogs, can live happily with the Lhasa. If you are seeking a 100 percent "kid dog," the Lhasa is probably not a good choice.

The average Lhasa lives a long time: 12 to 15 years is not uncommon, and some live 17 to 20 years.


  • The Lhasa is highly independent his aim is to please himself, not you.
  • The Lhasa is a leader, and he'll be your leader if you allow him to.
  • The Lhasa is a naturally protective watchdog. There's no changing this, though you can teach him good canine manners. Early, positive socialization is essential to help him become a friendly, sociable pet.
  • The Lhasa matures slowly. Don't expect too much too soon.
  • The beautiful Lhasa coat needs a lot of grooming. Expect to do a lot of work, or to pay a professonial groomer.
  • Dental care is essential. Brush the Lhasa's teeth regularly, and have your veterinarian check his teeth and gums periodically.
  • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.


The Lhasa comes from Tibet, and he takes his name from the holy city of Lhasa. For thousands of years, the Lhasa was bred exclusively by nobility and monks in monasteries to act an inside guard and protector. He's known in his homeland as Abso Seng Kye, which translates as "Bark Lion Sentinel Dog." The Lhasa's thick coat is protective his native climate is one of intense cold and extreme heat.

Recorded history of the breed goes back to 800 B.C. A Lhasa was considered good luck, but it was nearly impossible to buy one: he was a watchdog in temples and monasteries and was therefore considered sacred. It was thought that when an owner died, the human soul entered the body of his Lhasa Apso. Lhasas were not allowed to leave the country except when given as gifts by the Dalai Lama.

From the beginning of the Manchu Dynasty in 1583 until as recently as 1908, the Dalai Lama sent Lhasas as sacred gifts to the Emperor of China and members of the Imperial family. The Lhasas were always given in pairs and were thought to bring with them good luck and prosperity.

The first Lhasas to enter the United States directly were given as gifts by the 13th Dalai Lama in 1933 to C. Suydam Cutting, a noted world traveler and naturalist. Cutting owned Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, New Jersey, and the two gift dogs became the foundation stock for his kennel.

The American Kennel Club accepted the Lhasa Apso as a breed in 1935.

Males stand 10 to 11 inches high and weigh 13 to 15 pounds females are slightly smaller.


The Lhasa Apso personality is a special and interesting mix. He's a happy, mischievous, and playful dog he's also regal, independent, and fierce. He takes the job of guarding his home and family seriously he also takes a long time to grow up, and even then he remains somewhat puppyish until old age.

The Lhasa may be small, but he isn't a bit fragile. He's sturdy and strong, and he's naturally wary of strangers. He will make friends, but not until he knows that an individual poses no threat. He's an excellent watchdog.

The independent Lhasa likes to be "top dog." Training and socialization, beginning with puppy classes, are essential. They'll teach him good canine manners and prevent him from thinking he can rule the roost. Lhasa owners must be strong, kind leaders.

The Lhasa is not extremely active and is content living indoors. Unlike many other breeds, he doesn't need vigorous exercise to reduce nervous energy. However, he does enjoy and benefit from short walks and play sessions.

The Lhasa likes to stay close to his family, following them room to room to join in the activities or sit on a lap. However, because of his independent nature, he's fine when left alone at home for reasonable amounts of time. The Lhasa doesn't usually suffer from separation anxiety.

Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.

Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.


Lhasas are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Lhasas will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

In Lhasas, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease from Auburn University for thrombopathia and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (

  • Cherry Eye: This malady occurs when the gland known as the third eyelid swells. It looks like a red mass — a cherry — at the inner corner of the dog's eye. The treatment for cherry eye is usually surgery.
  • Patellar Luxation: Also known as slipped stifles, this is a common problem in small dogs. The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, although many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
  • Allergies:Allergies are a common ailment in dogs, and the Lhasa Apso is no exception. There are three main types of allergies: food allergies, which are treated by eliminating certain foods from the dog's diet contact allergies, which are caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos, and other chemicals and inhalant allergies, which are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, and mildew. Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
  • Sebaceous Adenitis (SA): This is a serious problem in dogs. This genetic skin condition is difficult to diagnose and often is mistaken for hypothyroidism, allergies, or other conditions. When a dog has SA, the sebaceous glands in the skin become inflamed for unknown reasons, and they're eventually destroyed. Affected dogs typically have dry, scaly skin with hair loss on top of the head, neck, and back. Severely affected dogs can have thickened skin, an unpleasant odor, and secondary skin infections. Although the problem is primarily cosmetic, it can be uncomfortable for the dog. Your vet will perform a biopsy of the skin if SA is suspected. Treatment options vary.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca: Commonly known as dry eye, this is an inflammation of the eye that occurs when the tear production is deficient. The symptoms, a gooey yellow discharge, can be mistaken for conjunctivitis. Treatment includes medication, artificial tears, and sometimes surgery.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
  • Familial Inherited Renal Dysplasia: This is a developmental or genetic defect of the kidneys, which are noticeably small and irregular in shape. The disease varies in severity: severely affected puppies are excessively thirsty and small for their age, and they often suffer renal failure. Mildly affected dogs may show no symptoms.

The Lhasa is a great choice for people with limited space. He's well suited for apartment or condo living, though he does enjoy playing outside in a fenced yard.

The Lhasa is content with several short walks each day. He is not high-energy dog, and he doesn't tend to bounce off the walls when cooped up on a rainy day. He's happy sitting in your lap, wandering around the house, playing with his toys, and alerting you to passersby.

Housetraining the Lhasa can be challenging, so it's wise to crate train. Also, remember that this dog will likely take a long time to mature mentally. He may reach full size at one year of age, but his behavior will still be quite puppyish. Be especially patient during training — keep it positive and consistent, and be willing to go the long haul.


Recommended daily amount: 3/4 to 1 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

Keep your Lhasa in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.

For more on feeding your Lhasa, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

Coat Color And Grooming

The Lhasa coat is gorgeous. Normally it is long, straight, and dense. It comes in many colors, including honey, black, white, slate, or parti-color.

Keeping the Lhasa coat gorgeous, however, is time-consuming and difficult. Regular, even daily, brushing and combing are necessary, as is frequent bathing (every two to four weeks). Many owners elect to hire a professional groomer, because although a hardworking owner can learn to manage the Lhasa's coat, it's certainly not a job for beginners.

In fact, it's not uncommon for owners to have their Lhasa's coat clipped short to cut down on grooming chores. The beautiful flowing coat is gone, but what's left is a lot easier to care for.

Brush your Lhasa's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal just clean the outer ear.

Begin accustoming your Lhasa to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

Children And Other Pets

Children are probably not at the top of the Lhasa's list of favorite things. He tends to be intolerant of the normal antics of children, and he'll nip. The Lhasa is best suited to a home with older children who understand how to properly handle him. He's not advised for a family with young or rowdy kids.

If he's properly socialized and trained, the Lhasa gets along with other dogs. He does like to be top dog, so he's often the leader, even around other dogs who are much larger. He isn't afraid to join in activities normally associated with large dogs, such as hiking or cross-country skiing. The Lhasa thinks he's a large dog.

The Lhasa can get along with other pets as well, given proper introductions and training.

Rescue Groups

Lhasa Apsos are often obtained without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Lhasa Apsos in need of adoption and/or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club, and they can point you toward a Lhasa Apso rescue organization.

The lavishly coated Lhasa Apso is a truly ancient breed! They are smart, confident, and complex. Lhasas are family comedians but also have a protective nature!

Available Pups

Puppy Knowledge

Clubs, Registries & Associations

American Canine Association Continental Kennel Club Universal Kennel Club International American Kennel Club United All Breed Registry America's Pet Registry, Inc. United Kennel Club (Based on breed recognition. See store for details on this particular puppy.)


The Lhasa Apso, an ancient breed dating back at least 800 BC, was bred for use as a watchdog in Tibetan temples and monasteries. This breed was considered sacred and that they imparted good luck to their guardians. In the early 20th century, the little Lhasa Apso was introduced to other parts of the world.


Small, up to 10-11” at the shoulders, weighing anywhere from 13-15 pounds. The Lhasa Apso is a sturdy little dog with a long single coat in colors of cream, gold, honey, slate, smoke, brown/white/black, and dark grizzle. The puppy coat may change color as the dog matures.

Health Awareness

The Lhasa Apso has a long life expectancy of 15 years with the oldest recorded age of 29 years! This breed is prone to hip dysplasia, kidney disorders, eye problems, bleeding ulcers, and skin allergies.


The Lhasa Apso is a spirited little dog and makes an excellent fearless watchdog with an acute sense of hearing. Nothing gets by a Lhasa Apso! They are assertive and will bark their commands at you to get you to comply to their wishes! Independent, curious, clever, and persistent, your Lhasa Apso will entertain you with lively antics. They enjoy learning, and training will be easy if you use rewarding methods. This can be a willful breed and they want to know what’s in it for them when you’re training. You need to be a calm, knowledgeable, and humane owner giving consistent and committed leadership to your Lhasa Apso using only motivational training methods. While affectionate with their family, they are wary of strangers, fearful of the movements and noises of toddlers, and will bite when frightened or surprised. Socialize, socialize, socialize your Lhasa Apso when a puppy to diminish his or her fears.

Exercise/Energy Level

The Lhasa Apso is a busy and active breed, and requires a brisk daily walk and plenty of off-leash play and running in a safe, fenced area. They also need mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destruction, so be sure to provide your Lhasa Apso with plenty of interactive toys that challenge their problem-solving skills.

Additional Information

Grooming Requirements: Requires daily brushing and professional grooming. Their long, heavy coat requires regular grooming. Average shedders. Coat: Long Shedding: Little to no shedding Hypoallergenic: Yes Apartment Living: Good for apartment living if given sufficient exercise. Lap Dog: Yes Good With Children: Must be socialized to all ages of children when a puppy. Better with older children who understand how to respect this breed. The Lhasa Apso does not tolerate roughhousing and will bite. Good With Other Pets: Not generally trustworthy with other pets and will fight with other dogs.


Gay and assertive, but chary of strangers.

Size, Proportion, Substance

Variable, but about 10 inches or 11 inches at shoulder for dogs, bitches slightly smaller.

Head---Heavy head furnishings with good fall over eyes, good whiskers and beard skull narrow, falling away behind the eyes in a marked degree, not quite flat, but not domed or apple-shaped straight foreface of fair length. Nose black, the length from tip of nose to eye to be roughly about one-third of the total length from nose to back of skull. Eyes---Dark brown, neither very large and full, nor very small and sunk. Ears---Pendant, heavily feathered. Mouth and Muzzle---The preferred bite is either level or slightly undershot. Muzzle of medium length a square muzzle is objectionable.

Neck, Topline, Body

The length from point of shoulders to point of buttocks longer than height at withers, well ribbed up, strong loin, well-developed quarters and thighs.

Heavy, straight, hard, not woolly nor silky, of good length, and very dense.

Well feathered, should be round and catlike, with good pads.


All colors equally acceptable with or without dark tips to ears and beard.


Standing less than a foot high at the shoulder, Lhasas are small but hardy dogs of aristocratic bearing. They’re famous for a floor-length, flat-hanging coat, parted in the middle and draping each side of the body. A feathery tail curls over the back in the distinct manner of Tibetan breeds. The breed’s fans say the dark, oval-shaped eyes—peeping through lavish facial hair—are the windows of a Lhasa’s merry soul. The complete picture is unmistakably Asian: exotic, elegant, and serenely well balanced.


This thousand-year-old breed served as sentinel dogs at palaces and Buddhist monasteries isolated high in the Himalayan Mountains. For centuries Lhasas have been associated with the Dalai Lama. In the late 1940s, dogs bred and given as gifts by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama helped establish the breed in America. In Tibetan folklore the country’s protector is the mythical Snow Lion, and Lhasas, the “bearded lion dogs,” are the Snow Lion’s earthly representatives. Lhasa is the name of Tibet’s sacred city Apso means “longhaired dog.”


Heavy head furnishings with good fall over eyes, good whiskers and beard skull narrow, falling away behind the eyes in a marked degree, not quite flat, but not domed or apple-shaped straight foreface of fair length. Nose black, the length from tip of nose to eye to be roughly about one-third of the total length from nose to back of skull.


Lhasa Apsos thrive on high-quality food. Since they usually have thick skin to support their heavy hair coat, Lhasas need a diet with good protein and fat levels. Breeders recommend a food with fat level above 14 percent. The protein source (meat, fish, game, etc.) depends on the individual dog’s tolerance and taste. Most Lhasas tend to utilize their food very well, and even slight overfeeding can lead to unpleasant digestive outcomes. Food can be fed dry, or slightly moistened with a little flavor enhancement such as cooked meat or a grain-free canned food. Whether to feed once or twice a day is a personal choice for owners, but dogs thrive on consistency, so it is recommended to keep the frequency and time of day constant.


Long hair or puppy cut? Both require regular maintenance, and this is a choice for the owner to make. Lhasas in a puppy cut or other clip still should be brushed regularly and bathed between visits to the groomer. Long hair requires regular brushing, using the right tools and techniques. Expect to bathe a long coat at least every two weeks, and brush at least once between baths. Thorough rinsing is essential, as shampoo residue irritates the skin. Conditioners and finishing sprays make grooming easier. Freshly bathed long or clipped hair should be thoroughly dried and brushed, as damp hair, even when clean, will mat.


The Lhasa is generally not a couch potato and is adept at self-exercise. They will race around an apartment to run off energy, entertain themselves in a fenced yard, or take their owners on a brisk walk. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise. They excel at agility, can do scent work, and have been known to retrieve and herd. There are talented Lhasas certified as therapy dogs working in hospitals, nursing homes, colleges, and prisons.


Lhasa Apsos will please you if it pleases them to please you. They are highly intelligent, sometimes compared to a willful toddler. They can learn just about anything that a trainer makes interesting enough to master—on their terms. They do not appreciate repetitive drill and can become uncommonly stubborn if bullied or badgered. Most cases of unacceptable Lhasa behavior involve situations with inconsistent, improper, or nonexistent human leadership. This is a breed for creative, motivated people who enjoy a canine companion of like mind.


The Lhasa Apso is generally a robust, healthy dog. The most serious health problem in the breed is hereditary kidney dysfunction, which can be present in mild to severe form. There is no reliable test to detect carriers. Prospective owners should seek out experienced, conscientious breeders who are aware of the condition and remove affected individuals from their breeding programs. Breeders have made great progress toward eliminating this problem, and the risk of acquiring an afflicted puppy from a knowledgeable breeder is slim. Other conditions to inquire about are dry eye, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), slipping stifles, hip dysplasia, and cherry eye.

Watch the video: MAX SPEAKS the talking Lhasa Apso