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What is a Lhasa Apso?

The Lhasa Apso is a small, ancient dog breed originating from Tibet, known for its flowing mane and watchful demeanor. Revered as a sentinel in monasteries, this breed combines keen alertness with a serene disposition. With its rich history and unique characteristics, the Lhasa Apso is a companion like no other. How might this noble guardian become your cherished friend? Continue reading to find out.
Nychole Price
Nychole Price

The Lhasa Apso is a toy breed dog that originated in Tibet. This breed of dog was bred to protect the monks from intruders in the Buddhist monasteries. Lhasa Apso means "long haired Tibetan dog."

Lhasa Apsos stand approximately 10.75 inches (27.30 cm) tall at the shoulders. Male Lhasas weigh between 14 to 18 pounds (6 to 8 kg) while females weigh between 12 to 14 pounds (5 to 7 kg). Lhasa Apsos have dense fur that vary in color from white to dark brown, while some have tan and white splotches. Breed standards for Lhasa Apsos require that they have a black nose and dark brown eyes.


The Lhasa Apso is generally a very healthy dog with very little genetic predisposition to health disorders. Some Lhasas will develop skin disorders, hip dysplasia, kidney and eye problems or bleeding ulcers. If the dog is properly cared for, the chances of developing these disorders are very minimal.

A relatively low energy dog, the Lhasa Apso may have brief periods of high activity, especially in cold weather. Due to their thick coats, Lhasas thrive in cold weather. Lhasas prefer to sit and lounge all day, except for occasional sprints around the yard to check for intruders.

Lhasa Apsos are very loyal to their owners, but wary of strangers. They can be snappy, especially if they deem a visitor untrustworthy. Due to their low tolerance level, they are not recommended for families with small children. With intense effort, it can be managed, but it will involve training the dog and the child. These dogs are stubborn and require diligence when training.

Caring for a Lhasa Apso requires a great deal of grooming. A Lhasa's coat must be combed every day to prevent painful tangles and matting. Mats will pull the Lhasa's hair painfully tight, resulting in the skin tearing. Dry shampoo the Lhasa Apso's hair as necessary. Overwashing can result in this breed of dog developing skin disorders.

The Lhasa Apso must have the hair around her eyes and ears trimmed regularly. Due to the skin around the eyes and ears being so delicate, the weight of the long hair can tear it. You can do this yourself, or take your dog to the groomer. This will also prevent your Lhasa from developing eye and ear infections.

This type of dog requires a daily walk to meet their exercise requirements. Lhasas who are walked regularly are less destructive and cooperative. The Lhasa Apso is a perfect apartment dog due to his small size and low exercise requirements.

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Discussion Comments


Lhasas were bred to be sentinel dogs inside the Dalai Lama's palace - they bark because for thousands of years they were bred to be guard dogs. Anything that hot past the mastiffs was their responsibility. I have trained mine (have an almost three and almost twi year old - nine days and a year apart) that if I say it is just the mail or " it's okay it is just _____" they stop but, you have to be consistent. They know the mail because I have a door slot, the landscapers make distinct sounds, etc. Otherwise, I am grateful for the barking which stops as soon as I give the all clear.

In the 90s, there were puppy mills overbreeding Lhasas. The breed club for the AKC clamped on these people as did the federal government which is why it is more difficult to find this delightful breed. I grew up with Lhasas and can say that while they are content to be with me when I am home they do love to exercise, play and run around as well as bring avid chewers.

Lhasas are one of the 13 ancient breeds that descend from the Central Asian white wolf so they definitely have their moments - not beagle-esque but they can run and jump and are well-suited to competing in agility if that is your interest. But, whatever you choose these highly intelligent, loyal dogs will find there way yo your heart quickly and permanently.

A few notes: Lhasas are part of the non-sporting group and are not considered toy breeds. Further, if you do trim your dog it is advisable to pull the "fall" back, but as they are engineered, they very long lashes will prevent their hair from affecting their eyes but you do need to keep a check on their ears so they do not develop an ear infection.

I have always kept mine long except for the trimming of the feet and around the anus year round, once a week to the groomer for a bath and brush out and tidying up. They are very aware of their hair and how they look. Every week and in between brushing is an opportunity to prance. I love this little big dog. They have huge personalities and an unending supply of love and companionship. They are not your pet; they believe themselves to be your companion. They are a wonderful breed -- mine leave everyone smiling.


I have an amazing Lhasa that I adopted a few months ago from a shelter (somebody else's loss whoever was careless enough to lose this amazing dog). Once he became extremely comfortable with us the protective nature started which I can totally handle.

My only big concern is his intense reaction to people on bicycles. Whenever we are on his walks the second he sees someone on a bike he flips out barking and just going crazy! I have no idea why!


My Lhasa goes absolutely nuts when someone comes to the door, until they come to the top of the stairs and they greet her; then she stops barking. I have tried everything to get her to stop barking, to no avail. Otherwise she is a lovely, lovable, loyal pet, with occasional bursts of energy, then she lounges around the rest of the time.

Her coat gets kind of oily and smelly, even though I bathe her regularly. If anyone has suggestions, please post.


I love my Lhasa Apso; he is so smart and energetic. I am moving to Florida and I am very worried about my dog because any airline wants to ship my dog to the states because of the temperatures.


I have had two lhasa apsos. One is very lively and confident and very good with children and the other is much less active. We say that she is on lhasa speed, which is quite slow for most of the time, but can liven up at times.

They are an addictive, adorable breed and I am besotted and hope that my angel outlives our previous female, who was 15, which isn't old for a lhasa.


I have always heard if dogs are inbred too much they will be hyper. I have a Lhasa and she is very mellow. She does have a barking fit with strangers.


I have a Lhasa Apso and he is so energetic. I wonder why as I also researched and most articles say that they should not be that active all the time. Any thoughts on this? Sandra of Pet Meds

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