- Group – Non Sporting
- Height – 10-11 inches at the shoulder
- Weight – 6-7 KG
- Life Span – 12-14 years
Lhasa Apsos are extremely protective of their family. An obedient breed, the Lhasa is playful, yet independent, making it a favorite among families. They’re great with kids, too!
The Lhasa Apso is originally from the remote mountains of Tibet – particularly near the sacred city of Lhasa – where they were bred as sentinels and companions for temples and Buddhist monasteries, with special efforts taken to fix a type closely resembling a lion in color and shape. The breed’s keen intelligence, sharp bark, acute hearing and innate ability to distinguish friend from foe made them perfectly suited to these tasks. The origin of the Lhasa Apso is not clear. Some experts suggest that the smallest puppies of the larger Tibetan Terrier sheepdogs, whose legs were too short to make them effective flock herders, were given to the monks and became foundation stock for the breed. Others say that this is complete conjecture. The word “apso,” which is not Tibetan but rather Mongolian, suggests a northern component to the breed.
The monks selectively and purely bred these dogs for centuries and jealously guarded them from outside influence. Legend has it that when a monk (lama, or priest) died but did not reach Nirvana, he was reincarnated as one of the sacred monastery dogs. Occasionally, between the 16th and 20th centuries, the Dalai Lamas (the spiritual leaders of Tibet) presented small lion dogs as gifts to the Imperial families of China and to other dignitaries, as tokens of peace, prosperity and good fortune. These Lhasas were incorporated into strains of small Chinese dogs, no doubt contributing to the formation of the Shih Tzu and the Pekingese.
Before the 1930s, both the Lhasa Apso (a monastery dog) and the larger Tibetan Terrier (a working sheepdog) were referred to as “Tibetan Terriers,” which causes confusion when exploring the history of both breeds. Because they were so closely guarded in Tibet, the Lhasa Apso was late to become well-known among outside dog fanciers. One or two may have filtered out of Tibet in the 1800s, as Victorian paintings occasionally depict dogs quite similar to the Lhasa. Serious breeding outside of Tibet began around the turn of the century, when British explorers and emissaries brought them back from travels to Tibet. The Kennel Club in London recognized the Lhasa Apso in 1908 as the “Lhasa Terrier, 10-inch type,” to distinguish it from the taller and leggier “Lhasa Terrier, 14-inch type.” World War I nearly decimated the breed, but it reappeared in the 1920s.
In 1922, Colonel and Mrs. Eric Bailey acquired a pair of Lhasas when they lived on the Tibetan border in Sikkim. They returned to their English homeland in 1928 with six of their sturdy little dogs, which they showed as the “Lhasa Terrier, 10-inch type” for several years. The Kennel Club (England) finally decided to separate the Lhasa Apso from the larger Tibetan Terrier in 1934. Unfortunately, World War II was a roadblock to implementation of this change, and the breed descended into near obscurity. After the war, fanciers slowly rebuilt the Lhasa Apso breed, which finally achieved Championship eligibility in the Kennel Club (England) in 1965.
The breed fared somewhat better in the United States, where it gained a firm foothold during the 1930s and 1940s. During that time, the thirteenth Dalai Lama presented at least three Lhasa Apsos to Mr. and Mrs. Suydam Cutting of New Jersey. Three more quickly followed, and together they formed the foundation of the breed in North America. The American Kennel Club recognized the Lhasa Apso in 1935; today, it is one of three breeds of Tibetan ancestry being shown in the Non-Sporting Group. During the rest of the 20th century, the Lhasa Apso rose exponentially in popularity, until it became one of the most sought-after of all small dogs world-wide. A Lhasa took Best in Show at the Crufts World Dog Show in 1984.
Modern Lhasa Apsos thrive equally on large estates and in tiny apartments. They continue their service as sentinels, spirited show dogs and beloved companions in the United States and many other countries. The breed’s highly acute sense of hearing also makes them highly valued as service dogs for the deaf.
Personality and Temperament
Lhasa Apsos are calm, loyal, and lovable. They are wary of strangers, but enjoy the company of their family.
Gentle, outgoing and devoted, the Lhasa Apso makes a wonderful pet. Since it’s loving, playful and affectionate, this breed is perfect for families with kids, elderly people or households with other pets. Since the Lhasa Apso likes to be around people, don’t leave it on its own for too long.
You shouldn’t raise your voice to a Lhasa Apso, as it can become depressed. It is a smart breed, which makes it easily training, and it also has a keen sense of hearing, so it knows what’s going on around it. We know it will be hard, but don’t spoil your Lhasa Apso, as it will cause behavioral problems.
The Lhasa Apso travels well and makes a great lap dog. You’ll never be bored around this playful pooch!
Hair, Care and Grooming
Heavy, straight, hard, of good length and very dense. The Lhasa Apso requires weekly grooming with a brush and comb. The hair is very fragile, so care must be taken not to tear it.
The Lhasa Apso is a fairly healthy dog. There are a few issues you may have to deal with. This breed is susceptible to ear infections, which can occur if you don’t take the time to dry them properly after it gets wet, or if it has unnecessary hair in their ears. Keep its long hair away from its face otherwise your Lhasa Apso’s eyes will tear. You may also encounter a skin condition called sebaceous adenitis, which can cause irritations of their skin that lead to Hot Spots or localized skin infections, loss of hair, itching and skin that is flaking. Lhasa Apsos can also develop genetic kidney problems.
Training and Activity
Training your Lhasa Apso can be a rewarding and fun time. Training takes time and patience, so be clam and never be harsh with your dog. Lhasa Apsos are known for having a mind of its own, you’ll need to be extra patient with this strong-willed breed. It’s easier to get your dog to do what you want when you use treats as incentive, and you’ll find that your Lhasa Apso learns quicker this way.
Socialization is important, so start early. Get your Lhasa Apso used to strangers slowly so it doesn’t become overwhelmed. This training will come in handy during visits to the groomer and vets.
As well, you should crate train your Lhasa Apso as soon as possible. This breed loves caves and dens, so it will love its crate. You can get them used to the crate by taking the gate off, which gives them a place to hide without feeling trapped.
Lhasa Apsos have a moderate energy level, so it doesn’t need much exercise. That doesn’t mean your dog should nap all day – you want your pup to stay healthy, trim and fit. Take your Lhasa Apso for walk, let them scamper about and run free to play in the backyard. This breed loves to play fetch and will chase the ball until it gets tired out.
If you don’t have a backyard, don’t worry – your Lhasa Apso can exercise indoors. This breed doesn’t need a lot of space to move around, but your dog will need to get enough exercise every day.
Like with all dog breeds, you should feed your Lhasa Apso a high-quality dog food that can provide the right balance of nutrients.