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Lhasa Apso Dog Breed Information

General Information:

Average Height: 9-11 in
Average Weight: 13-15 lbs
Average Life Span: 13-15 yrs
Coloring: All colors are accepted
Area of Origin: Tibet
Similar Breeds: Shih Tzu, Tibetan Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel, Pekingese

History and Origin:

Developed in the city of Lhasa, Tibet, the Lhasa Apso is truly an ancient breed. A descendant of a tiny mountain wolf that populated the area up to four thousand years ago, the Lhasa Apso became domesticated around 800 BC. Despite its small size, the Lhasa Apso’s primary function in ancient Tibet was as a watch dog, guarding the houses of the aristocracy and also Buddhist monasteries. It was used as a partner to the Tibetan Mastiff; while the Mastiff had the size and strength to physically protect the home, the Lhasa Apso’s exceptional hearing and high-pitched bark made it the perfect security alarm. While the breed is ancient, the Lhasa Apso has only been present in Europe and North America for under one hundred years. Some Lhasas made their way to the United Kingdom accompanying soldiers in the early 1900s, however it wasn’’t until 1933 that the Lhasa Apso established itself in the West. Two Lhasa Apsos were given to explorer Charles Suydam Cutting by the 13th Dalai Lama after he became the first westerner to step foot in Lhasa, known as Tibetan Buddhism’s “Forbidden City.” Originally classified under the Terrier group in 1935, the American Kennel Club transferred the Lhasa Apso to the Non-Sporting Group in 1959.

Personality and Temperament:

The Lhasa Apso is a strong-willed little dog, loyal to its family but wary with strangers. It is independent and fearless, with a notable ability for reasoning. Due to its cautious nature, early socialization is necessary to ensure the Lhasa does not become defensive or aggressive toward other dogs or people. With consistent, strong leadership, the Lhasa Apso can become a fantastic companion, however it does have a tendency to be impatient; it is not best suited to live with children. While small in stature, the Lhasa Apso may also not be the ideal breed for a nervous or first-time owner as it can become exceptionally stubborn.

Exercise & Training:

Despite its size, the Lhasa Apso need daily exercise to stay happy and healthy. It loves to play, and a fenced yard for it to run around in is ideal. The Lhasa Apso tends not to do well in obedience classes, although proper socialization and training is needed from a young age to prevent behavior problems such as excessive barking or nipping. The breed needs to be treated like a dog, and not as a small human; the Lhasa Apso is prone to developing Small Dog Syndrome if allowed to dominate its owner.


Once the Lhasa Apso’s exceptionally long coat is fully grown out, it does not need any more than a brushing a day to keep it tangle-free. If a shorter coat is desired, professional grooming twice or three times per year will keep it at a more manageable length. Bathe only when absolutely necessary to prevent drying out the skin. Wiping the eyes daily will prevent tear buildup, as the Lhasa is prone to excessive tearing. It is a very low shedder, and is frequently considered to be a hypoallergenic dog, suitable for those who suffer from allergies.

Similar Breeds:

Evidence suggests that the Lhasa Apso is one of the oldest domesticated breeds of dog, and has changed little over the centuries and millennia. It is related to the Tibetan Spaniel and the Tibetan Terrier, and is believed to have been bred with the Pekingese to develop the Chinese Shih Tzu.

Interesting Facts about the Lhasa Apso:

1. The name, “Lhasa Apso,” translates to “wooly dog of Lhasa.”

2. While it may not seem like it, the Lhasa Apso (along with its cousins, the Shih Tzu and Pekinese) is one of twelve breeds most closely related to the wolf. Others include the Siberian Husky, Akita Inu and the Alasksan Malamute.

3. The Lhasa Apso is known in Tibet as the “Apso Sen Kyi,” meaning “Bearded Lion Dog.”

4. The Tibetan line of Lhasa Apso faced extinction during the Chinese invasion of Tibet in the 1950s; many dogs were killed as the Lhasa Apso is a cultural symbol to the Tibetan people.

5. The Lhasa Apso was prized not only for its guarding abilities in Tibet, but also for its spiritual capacity. Buddhist lamas (spiritual teachers) believed that their spirits could enter into the bodies of the Lhasa Apso while they prepared for rebirth in another body.

6. Like the Japanese Chin, the Lhasa Apso was never sold in its native land; highly prized, the little dog could only be acquired if received as a gift.

Organizations dedicated to the Lhasa Apso:

Lhasa Apso Rescue (USA)
The American Lhasa Apso Club
Animal League – Adopt a Rescued Lhasa Apso
Lone Star Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso Rescue Group – Texas

Breed Information Lhasa Apso

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • linda
    September 26, 2014, 4:23 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this ….bang on …..I have two Lhasa apso s . Well done

  • Maureen Millett
    October 9, 2014, 12:32 am

    Did you mean ‘Apso Seng Kyi ‘ ????

  • Stephanie Larson
    June 23, 2015, 12:28 am

    I have a cavalier female who is 2 years and I am looking for a playmate for her. I am looking for a male around the same age.

    I live in Honolulu. Please contact me at 808_563_0465 If you have any other information.


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