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The Lhasa Apso originated in Tibet in the Himalayan Mountains hundreds of years ago. It's named after the sacred city of Lhasa. For years the breed remained solely bred in Tibet by holy men and nobles. It was used as a watchdog in temples and monasteries. The dogs were considered sacred and were thought to bestow good luck to their owners. The belief was that when its master died the master's soul entered the Lhasa Apso's body. The breed was not easy to find outside of Tibet and were very rarely sold. Tibet's ruler would present them to visiting foreign diplomats as gifts and because of this they became known outside of Tibet. The Lhasa Apso first appeared in Britain in the 1920's. In 1933 the dogs spread to other parts of the world thanks to C. Suydam Cutting, who introduced the first Lhasas to the USA as gifts from the 13th Dalai Lama.


The Lhasa Apso is a small, hardy little dog. The body length is longer than the height of the dog. The small, dark, deep-set eyes are dark brown and the pendant ears are heavily feathered. The front legs are straight. The back legs are heavily covered in hair. The muzzle is medium in length. The teeth should meet in a level or slightly undershot bite. The feet are rounding, catlike with an abundance of hair. The tail is set high, well feathered and carried over the back in a screw. Some tails have a kink at the end. The dense, double coat is straight and long over the entire body, including over the head and eyes, reaching to the floor. Any colour is acceptable in the show ring. Gold, cream, and honey are the most popular, but the coat also comes in dark-grizzle, slate, smoke, and multi-colours of brown, white and black. Puppy coats often change colours as the puppy grows. Owners often cut the dogs hair short in a puppy cut to make them easier to care for.


This is a hardy dog with a friendly, assertive, intelligent and lively manner. Lhasa Apsos are spirited and devoted little dogs that make good pets. They are affectionate and obedient with their masters. This breed responds to motivational training. They have a keen sense of hearing, and make good watch dogs.

The Lhasa Apso travels well. Sadly this little dog often falls victim of human induced behavioural problems because he is allowed to believe that he is the pack leader as he is allowed to do as he pleases. This causes many varying degrees of negative behaviours to come out in the dog.

They become suspicious of strangers, and may not tolerate children. They will become wilful with a loud persistent bark, as they try and get people to listen to them. They will become nervous and untrustworthy with strangers and children, and inclined to fight with other dogs. Often times they will develop separation anxiety getting very upset when left alone. Followers are not allowed to leave the pack leader, however pack leaders can leave the followers.

They can become can snappish if surprised or peeved, and can display guarding behaviour. These negative behaviours are not traits of the Lhasa Apso, they are brought about by bad human leadership resulting from the dog not being treated like the canine species it is. A mentally stable dog, which gets enough physical and mental exercise, will have a totally different personality. It is all up to the humans around the dog to act as they should even though this breed is small and cute. As soon as people start being true pack leaders, the dogs behaviour will change for the better.

Height, Weight

Height: Dogs 25-28cm a little less for Bitches.
Weight: Dogs 5.9-6.8kg a little less for Bitches.

Health Problems

Generally a very healthy breed. Sometimes they have skin problems if the coat is not kept free of parasites. They do have a slight tendency to get hip dysplasia, kidney problems, eye problems and bleeding ulcers.

Living Conditions

These dogs are great for those who live in flats or smaller dwellings although they are very active indoors.


Lhasa Apso need a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds; play will not fulfil their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behaviour problems. They will also enjoy a good run in a safe open area off lead, such as a park or large garden.

Life Expectancy

This breed is very long-lived living upwards of 15 years with some dogs living up to 18 or more years.


The long coat parts at the spine and falls straight on either side. No trimming or stripping is needed, although when in full coat, they need to be brushed about once a day to keep their coats from matting. Some owners opt to cut the coats short for easier grooming. Shampoo as necessary. Check the feet for matting and for foreign matter stuck there. Clean the eyes and ears meticulously, for they tend to tear. Some owners prefer to get their coats clipped to cut down on grooming. This breed does not moult much at all.

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