Lhasa Apso

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    History & Overview

    The little shaggy coated Lhasa Apso dog can trace its heritage back to the picture postcard mountains and high plateaus of Tibet. Lhasa Apso dogs and puppies have lived for centuries in the monasteries and homes of the Tibetan people. They were never offered for sale but always given as gifts, being a talisman of the rich nobles and Buddhist monks.

    Lhasa Apso gets his name from the capital and largest city in Tibet with a population of 170,000. Lhasa is a shortened form of lha sacha, which means “god’s place.” Its extremes of weather include harsh winds with low temperatures in the winter and, hot, dusty daytimes in the summer. The Lhasa Apso breed probably descended originally from European and Asiatic dogs such as the Puli and the Pumi.

    One of the reasons why it has been so challenging to establish the breed outside Tibet is that the majority if typical specimens were confined to the monasteries or owned by the nobles who were seldom willing to part with them.

    In 1901 Miss Marjorie Wild acquired her first Lhasas Apso from the Honorable Mrs Mclaren Morrison, who saw the breed in Darjeeling, India, and brought some with her on her return to England. Thereafter, Miss Wild devoted some seventy years to breeding and showing the breed until her death in 1971. Early in 1933 Mr and Mrs Suydam Cutting, who had seen the Lhasa Apso in Nepal, were given two by His Holiness the 13th Dalai Lama. It is largely through the efforts of Mr and Mrs Cutting that the Apso found its place in the American show scene and their Hamilton Kennels became known throughout the world.


    The Lhasa Apso is known in his native Tibet as “Apso Seng Kye,” which translates literally as “Hairy Lion Dog”. The Tibetans refer to this dog simply as the Apso, pronounced “Apsok”. This is one of the most ancient companion breeds, having been kept by Tibetan monks for many centuries in the isolation of their great monasteries. These dogs were pure-bred and jealously guarded against outside influence. Their primary purpose was to guard the household of their masters while the Tibetan Mastiff guarded the grounds. Considered a “holy dog,” Lhasas was often presented as a gift to visitors as a token of luck.

    The history of Lhasa Apso is still unknown. It is believed that many centuries ago the smallest puppies of the sheep-herding Tibetan Terriers were given to the monks as monastery dogs. These little animals whose legs were too short for herding sheep became the foundation stock of the Lhasa Apso breed. Because they were so closely guarded in Tibet, Apso arrived in the West in the late 19th century.


    The Lhasa Apso is alert, steady but a little bit aloof with strangers. This breed responds to motivational training. It should have a dominant owner. They are good watchdogs with a loud, persistent bark, which gives the impression to intruders of a much larger dog. The breed can be noisy and may be too nervous around children and strangers. They are inclined to fight if they are not the only dog in the house. They have a fine sense of hearing.

    These little dogs travel well . Lhasa Apso bitches make good mothers. They dislike being alone and can be snappish if surprised or peeved. Lhasas should be “gay and assertive, chary of strangers.” They can be very stubborn dogs. Some people perceive this as a lack of intelligence, but that is not the case.

    The Lhasa’s fearless nature and confidence allow him to adapt to any situation. This breed tends to be somewhat suspicious of strangers. It is difficult for many to believe that these invitingly adorable bundles of fur are so discriminating with their affection, but in this case, appearances are truly deceiving.

    Trying to force Lhasa to make friends before he is ready will usually have just the opposite effect than the one desired. A particularly endearing trait of the breed is an incredible sensitivity to emotions. They seem to be able to read a person’s heart without fail and will react to each emotion in their own personal way. The Lhasa Apso is a vocal breed. They will sound an alarm whenever they see, hear, or smell something out of the ordinary.

    This long-coated fellow makes an excellent apartment dog. Lhasas are very long-lived, playful and affectionate. Their independent and stubborn nature requires patience and understanding. In general, Lhasas are very eager to please, although some are aloof and haughty. They need to be trained with positive reinforcement — lots of praise and rewards.

    The Lhasa Apso temperament is unique. He is rather calm and deliberate, although suspicious of strangers which may be attributed to their heritage of seclusion in Tibet. Intensely loyal to their family, they are a small dog with a big heart! Try and buy your Lhasa Apso puppy from a Reputable Breeder.


    This is a dog of great dignity and style. The dogs should be about 10 or 11 inches at the withers for dogs, bitches slightly smaller. The coat can be any color, including parti-colors, grizzles and brindles, and should be heavy, straight, hard and very dense. The texture should not be woolly or silky. The head should have heavy “head furnishings,” and the ears should be heavily feathered.

    The shape of the head should be with a narrow skull, falling away behind the eyes in a marked degree, not flat, but not domed or apple-shaped, with a straight foreface of fair length. The nose should be black, and the length from the tip of the nose to the eye should be roughly one-third of the total length from nose to back of the skull. The eyes are dark brown, neither very large and full, nor very small and sunk.

    The Lhasa’s feet should be round and catlike, and well-feathered. The tail, also well-feathered, should be carried well over the back in a screw, and there may be a kink at the end of the tail. A “low carriage of stern” (tail) is considered a fault in the breed.

    At A Glance

    Country of Origin:



    Toy Dog


    FCI Classification: Group 9 – Companion & Toy Breeds; Tibetan breeds (without working trial)
    AKC Classification: Non-Sporting Group


    Small (10 – 11 inches at shoulders)


    Golden, sandy, honey, dark grizzle, slate, smoke, parti-colour, black, white or brown. All equally acceptable.

    Litter Size:


    Life Span:

    10 – 15 years

    Grooming Requirements:

    High. Daily brushing and combing (metal comb required) to prevent undercoat from matting. Bathe every 7 – 14 days. Professional grooming every 6 – 8 weeks.




    Intelligent, alert, watchful, assertive, regal little dog. Ideal watchdog. Big dog personality in a small package.

    Social skills:

    Gets along well with other animals.

    Suitability for Children:

    Very good with children

    Exercise Needs:

    Content to play at home or take a walk on a leash

    Train Ability:

    Stubborn and reacts poorly to harsh language. Start obedience training early.

    Health & Behavioral Issues:

    Responsible breeders will screen their Lhasa Apsos for:


    Grooming and maintaining a Lhasa Apsos show coat requires a great deal of work and commitment. Lhasas show coats can’t “wait until you have time” or “feel like getting around to it.” A regular routine is the only way to keep a Lhasas coat in top condition.

    After each session of dematting, you will notice a loss of coat. After several of these sessions, you’ve acquired a real problem. Your coat will begin to take on that “novice” look and will not be as competitive with the glorious coats of professional and veteran exhibitors.

    If you have a busy schedule, include regular grooming in your daily routine. A twenty-minute to half-hour session several times a week will save you a great deal more time and coat than a once a week or every other week routine. Not only is this a time-saver, but it can also be a source of great relaxation after a long hard day. It also gives you and your dog some special time together each day for socialization and bonding.

    Remember, there is no substitution for good grooming habits. Once a hair is lost, it takes 12 to 18 months to regrow to full length. Think about that the next time you have a brush full. To keep the Lhasa coat static-free, do not allow your Lhasa on your carpeting if he has house privileges since carpet is a great conductor of electricity. When doing your Lhasa’s bedding or laundry, try doubling the amount of unscented fabric softener.


    Brushing should be the first part of your daily routine. To do this, it’s best to have the dog lie on his side. At first, the dog will resist, but be firm. This allows you to make sure that the undercoat is free of mats. Start by brushing all the hair back with your soft pin brush. Do not tug or pull. Now spray the coat lightly with a mixture of one part cream rinse and eight parts water in a spray bottle. To brush the dog, start section by section. First work near the front of the dog, making special attention to the front paws and stomach. Brush a small amount of hair down at a time until all the hair is completed.

    Turn the dog on the other side and do the same thing with that side. Cleaning the eyes and brushing around the eyes and mustache is even more important part of the daily grooming than the brushing of the rest of the dog’s body. A small comb should be used around the eyes to remove any accumulations of hair that could cause tearing. Do it as slowly and carefully as possible to prevent scratching the eyes. The best way is to hold the head firmly under the chin by holding some hair. This important to keep the head steady. Check the eyes. If there is some cloudiness in the pupil, or the white of the eye seems red, consult your veterinarian immediately.

    Video Credits: dogs tv


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