Lhasa Apso

"Tibetan Treasure"

Photo of Lhasa Apso


Legend has it that the breed has existed for thousands of years and was first seen in the religious capital of Lhasa. Referred to as “lion dogs,” they are the possible result of breeding from the shaggy herding dogs of that region. Among the breeds ensuing from these ancient dogs were the Tibetan Mastiff, the Lhasa Apso, the Shih Tzu, the Tibetan Terrier, and the Tibetan Spaniel. What is known for certain is that a pair of Lhasa Apsos was given as a gift by the Dalai Lama to visiting Americans, C. Suydam Cutting in 1933. In 1935, the American Kennel Club registered the breed and is now one of three Tibetan breeds shown in the Non-Sporting Group.


These not-so-fragile small dogs are even-tempered and adapt well to most human environments, especially city life. They do not yap at any noise or movement they hear or see. Lhasas are not nervous dogs. Despite the glamorous look of their well-groomed coats, they often display clown-like behavior with a delightful and entertaining desire to play. They are possessed of an independent nature to the point of stubbornness that is reminiscent of terrier behavior. If you mistreat them or train them with harsh methods, they resist and become quite aggressive. They can be bossy and contentious when kept in pairs. They are highly intelligent dogs, bold, live-wires, self-assured, stubborn and self-willed. Yet, to live with one is to love the breed. Lhasa Apsos do appreciate their families. They are friendly with those who are not part of the family once they have been introduced and then become outgoing and playful with them.


Small in size, their long, graceful coats that hang almost to the floor create a regal appearance as they move across the floor. Their ears are long, pendant-like and hidden by an abundance of feathered hair, which seem to be an extension of the flowing coat. The muzzle is of medium length with a level or slightly undershot bite. When you can see them, their eyes are dark brown with a solid black nose. The tail curls up and over across the back and is hidden under a profusion of long, feathered fur. Its topcoat is profuse, heavy, straight and hard. All coat colors are accepted equally for show with or without dark tips to ears and beard. They are most often seen in red, gold, cream, honey, white, slate, brown, black parti-colored, or shaded. In the show ring the coat is very dense, hangs to both sides all the way to the floor so that you can barely see their legs as they float along in a spirited gait.


These loving and affectionate dogs are very responsive to intelligent training techniques. They cannot be hit or jerked when corrected and must not be controlled with a metal slip collar. If a slip collar is used at all, it must be narrow and made of nylon. A traditional show lead or a slender leash and stationary collar are the most suitable for this breed for training purposes. Anything that causes pain will make this breed aggressive and trigger his tendency to resist. Housebreaking is usually the greatest training challenge. You must decide from the beginning to either paper train these dogs or to use the outdoors. The two concepts create confusion. When training is introduced at an early age, along with socialization with other people and place, and a strong bond is established, obedience training offers no special problems.

Grooming & Care

Their lavish coats require daily grooming which involves a thorough brushing and combing. The grooming tools must go through the long, hard coat down to the skin and then in the reverse direction the outer ends of the coat. The eyes and ears must be brushed separately and carefully. If these dogs are not brushed daily their long hair will mat and tangle creating a severe grooming problem. It is important to note that one must start with a distinct part running down the length of the spine with the long hair flowing to the ground on either side of it. They shed in moderation and a very minimal amount of trimming is necessary. They will require an occasional bath. It is best to start out with a professional groomer.

Health Concerns

Patellar luxation (knee dislocation), eyelash disorders, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and various skin disorders can be seen in this breed.

Famous Lhasa Apso

Milhous van Houten's dog on "The Simpsons" is a Lhasa Apso.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 3
Schedule 34
Home 44
Children 48
Experience 11
Quick Facts
Grooming 57
Exercise 61
Challenges Extensive grooming, aggressiveness, territoriality, snappishness, touch shyness, housebreaking.
Height 10 to 11 inches
Weight 13 to 16 pounds
Life 13 to 15 years
Home Alone 82
With Kids 89
With Strangers 92
Availability 96

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

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