lhasa apso Image courtesy of Gilson Gomes

Welcome to our article on the Lhasa Apso breed! If you’re a dog lover, you’ve likely heard of this charming and unique breed. Originally hailing from Tibet, the Lhasa Apso is a small, yet sturdy dog with a rich history and a distinctive appearance. In this article, we will explore the fascinating history and origins of the Lhasa Apso, delve into its size and appearance characteristics, discuss its life expectancy, temperament, trainability, and adaptability, as well as its exercise requirements and energy level. We will also cover grooming requirements, common health issues, and provide a list of comparable breeds. Additionally, we’ll highlight some notable dogs from this breed. So, whether you’re considering getting a Lhasa Apso or simply interested in learning more about this remarkable breed, keep reading to discover everything you need to know about the Lhasa Apso!

History and Origins of the Breed

The history and origins of the Lhasa Apso breed are deeply rooted in the ancient land of Tibet. This breed has a long and storied past, dating back thousands of years. Let’s dive into the fascinating journey of the Lhasa Apso and how it came to be the beloved companion it is today.

Ancient Origins in Tibet

The Lhasa Apso is believed to have originated in the sacred city of Lhasa, located in modern-day Tibet. This breed was highly revered and considered sacred by the Tibetan people. They were often kept as guard dogs in temples and monasteries, where they were entrusted with protecting the sacred spaces and their inhabitants.

Royal Connection

Beyond their role as temple guardians, Lhasa Apsos also had a close association with the Tibetan nobility. They were considered a symbol of good luck and were often given as gifts to visiting dignitaries. The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, was known to have a deep affection for these dogs and often presented them as gifts to important figures.

Breed Development

The Lhasa Apso’s distinctive appearance and traits were carefully preserved and selectively bred within Tibet. Their long, flowing coats served as protection from the harsh Himalayan climate, while their keen senses and alert nature made them excellent watchdogs. The breed’s unique features, such as their signature “lion-like” mane and expressive eyes, became defining characteristics of the Lhasa Apso.

Arrival in the Western World

It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the Lhasa Apso made its way to the Western world. British explorers and travelers, captivated by the breed’s charm and beauty, brought a few Lhasa Apsos back to England. It was here that the breed began to gain popularity outside of its native Tibet.

Recognition and Breed Standard

In 1933, the Lhasa Apso was officially recognized by the Kennel Club in the United Kingdom. The breed was later recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1935. Since then, breed enthusiasts and dedicated breeders have worked to establish and refine the breed standard, ensuring that the Lhasa Apso preserves its unique qualities and characteristics.

Modern Popularity

Today, the Lhasa Apso continues to captivate dog lovers around the world. Their distinct appearance, loyalty, and affectionate nature make them a sought-after breed among families and individuals alike. While they may no longer serve as temple guardians, the Lhasa Apso’s regal heritage and rich history are still evident in their demeanor and presence.

In the next section, we will explore the size and appearance characteristics of the Lhasa Apso, providing a closer look at what makes this breed so visually striking.

lhasa apso Image courtesy of kshitijprakash


Size and Appearance Characteristics

The Lhasa Apso is a small to medium-sized dog breed with a distinctive and elegant appearance. Let’s delve into the size and appearance characteristics that make the Lhasa Apso such a visually striking breed.


The Lhasa Apso falls into the small to medium-sized category. On average, they typically stand between 10 to 11 inches (25 to 28 cm) at the shoulder. When measured from the shoulder to the base of the tail, they have a length of around 20 to 23 inches (51 to 58 cm). In terms of weight, Lhasa Apsos generally range between 12 to 18 pounds (5.4 to 8.2 kg), with males often being slightly larger and heavier than females.

Body Structure

Despite their small size, Lhasa Apsos have a sturdy and well-balanced body structure. They have a deep chest, strong hindquarters, and a level topline that runs smoothly from the shoulders to the tail. This breed has a compact and solid build, giving them an air of strength and composure.

Head and Expression

One of the most distinctive features of the Lhasa Apso is its head. They have a broad and slightly domed skull, with a well-defined stop. Their eyes are medium-sized, dark, and set well apart. The expression of a Lhasa Apso is often described as alert, intelligent, and full of mischief. Their eyes, combined with their long, flowing hair, give them an endearing and expressive look.

Coat and Colors

The Lhasa Apso is renowned for its luxurious coat, which is one of the breed’s most striking features. They have a double coat, consisting of a soft and dense undercoat and a longer, coarse outer coat. The hair on their head and face falls over their eyes, adding to their unique appearance.

In terms of colors, Lhasa Apsos come in a variety of shades. The AKC recognizes a range of colors, including gold, cream, white, honey, black, parti-color (white with patches of other colors), and grizzle (a mix of black and gray hairs). Some Lhasa Apsos may have darker tips on their ears and tail, adding further depth to their coat coloration.

Tail and Movement

The Lhasa Apso has a high-set tail that is carried well over their back. Their tail is feathered, adding to their elegant appearance. When in motion, Lhasa Apsos have a smooth and effortless gait. They move with purpose and grace, showcasing their agility and balance.

Having explored the size and appearance characteristics of the Lhasa Apso, we can now move on to the next section, where we will discuss the average life expectancy of this breed.

Life Expectancy

The Lhasa Apso is known for its longevity and is generally considered a healthy breed. Let’s explore the average life expectancy of the Lhasa Apso and factors that can influence their lifespan.

Average Life Expectancy

On average, Lhasa Apsos have a relatively long life expectancy compared to many other dog breeds. They typically live between 12 to 15 years, although some individuals have been known to live even longer with proper care and a healthy lifestyle.

Factors Influencing Life Expectancy

Several factors can influence the lifespan of a Lhasa Apso. These factors include:

Genetics and Breeding

Genetics play a significant role in determining a dog’s lifespan. Responsible breeders strive to produce healthy puppies by selecting breeding pairs with good genetic health and longevity. It is essential to obtain a Lhasa Apso from a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs.

Health Care and Veterinary Attention

Providing regular veterinary care is crucial for maintaining the overall health of a Lhasa Apso. Routine check-ups, vaccinations, parasite prevention, and dental care can help detect and address any potential health issues early on. Following a proper vaccination schedule and maintaining a healthy diet can significantly contribute to their well-being and longevity.

Nutrition and Exercise

A balanced and nutritious diet is vital for the overall health and longevity of a Lhasa Apso. Feeding them high-quality dog food that meets their specific nutritional needs, as recommended by your veterinarian, can help support their immune system, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent obesity-related health problems.

Regular exercise is also important for keeping a Lhasa Apso physically and mentally stimulated. While they are not overly active dogs, moderate exercise such as daily walks or playtime can help them maintain a healthy weight, prevent muscle loss, and keep them mentally engaged.

Environmental Factors

Providing a safe and nurturing environment for your Lhasa Apso is essential for their well-being. Avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures, and ensure they have access to clean drinking water and a comfortable living space. Protecting them from hazardous substances, toxic plants, and potential accidents can contribute to their longevity.

Individual Variations

It’s important to note that individual Lhasa Apsos may have variations in their lifespan. Some may live longer, while others may have shorter lifespans due to a variety of factors, including genetics, overall health, and environmental conditions.

By providing proper care, attention, and a loving home environment, you can help ensure that your Lhasa Apso enjoys a long and fulfilling life. In the next section, we will explore the temperament of the Lhasa Apso, shedding light on their personality traits and behavior.


The Lhasa Apso is known for its unique temperament, which combines a regal and independent nature with a loyal and affectionate personality. Understanding the temperament of the Lhasa Apso is essential for potential owners to determine if this breed is the right fit for their lifestyle and preferences. Let’s explore the key characteristics that define the temperament of the Lhasa Apso.

Alert and Watchful

Lhasa Apsos have a keen sense of alertness and are naturally watchful. They make excellent watchdogs and are quick to alert their owners of any potential intruders or unusual sounds. This vigilant nature stems from their history as temple guardians, where they were tasked with protecting their sacred surroundings.

Independent and Assertive

As a breed with a long history of independence, the Lhasa Apso can exhibit a strong-willed and assertive personality. They are known to have a sense of dignity and may not always be eager to obey commands or follow instructions blindly. This independent streak requires consistent and patient training to establish boundaries and reinforce desired behaviors.

Loyal and Protective

Despite their independent nature, Lhasa Apsos form strong bonds with their families and are incredibly loyal companions. They have a protective instinct and will often become fiercely devoted to their loved ones including children. This loyalty makes them excellent family pets and can create a deep bond between the Lhasa Apso and their owners.

Affectionate and Playful

Beyond their regal demeanor, Lhasa Apsos are also known for their affectionate and playful nature. They thrive on companionship and enjoy being part of the family. Lhasa Apsos are often described as being loving and devoted to their owners, seeking attention and physical affection. They can be quite playful and enjoy engaging in interactive games and activities with their loved ones.

Adaptability and Sensitivity

Lhasa Apsos have a moderate level of adaptability and can adjust well to different living situations. While they can adapt to apartment living, they still require mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. It is important to provide them with regular exercise and mental enrichment to keep them happy and content.

Lhasa Apsos are known for their sensitivity and can be affected by harsh or negative training methods. They respond best to positive reinforcement training techniques that involve praise, treats, and rewards. They thrive in a calm and loving environment and may become anxious or stressed in high-energy or chaotic households.

Understanding the temperament of the Lhasa Apso is crucial for potential owners to ensure a harmonious and fulfilling relationship with this breed. In the next section, we will explore the trainability and adaptability of the Lhasa Apso, providing insights into their ability to learn and adjust to different environments and situations.


lhasa apso Image courtesy of kshitijprakash


Trainability and Adaptability

Trainability and adaptability are important factors to consider when bringing a Lhasa Apso into your home. Understanding their trainability and how they adapt to different environments will help you provide the best care and training for this breed. Let’s explore the trainability and adaptability of the Lhasa Apso in detail.


Lhasa Apsos have a reputation for being independent thinkers, which can sometimes make training a bit challenging. However, with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques, they can be successfully trained. Here are a few key points to consider when training a Lhasa Apso:

Early Socialization:

Early socialization is crucial for Lhasa Apsos to ensure they grow up to be well-rounded and confident dogs. Expose them to various people, animals, sounds, and environments from a young age to develop their social skills and prevent fear or aggression issues.

Positive Reinforcement:

Lhasa Apsos respond best to positive reinforcement methods, such as treats, praise, and rewards. Harsh or forceful training methods can be counterproductive and may lead to resistance or fear. Keep training sessions short, fun, and engaging to maintain their interest and motivation.

Consistency and Firmness:

While Lhasa Apsos may test boundaries, it’s essential to establish consistent rules and boundaries. Be firm and assertive in your commands, but always maintain a calm and patient demeanor. Consistency in training will help them understand expectations and respond accordingly.

Obedience Training:

Teaching basic obedience commands, such as sit, stay, come, and leash walking, is essential for the safety and well-being of your Lhasa Apso. Enroll them in puppy classes or seek the guidance of a professional dog trainer to help you with their training.


Lhasa Apsos have a moderate level of adaptability and can adjust well to different living environments. They are well-suited for apartment living, as long as they receive regular exercise and mental stimulation. However, it’s important to note the following aspects of their adaptability:

Sensitivity to Heat:

Due to their long, flowing coats, Lhasa Apsos are sensitive to heat. They can struggle in hot and humid climates, so it’s important to provide them with a cool and comfortable living environment during hot weather. Regular grooming and trimming of their hair can also help keep them cool.

Separation Anxiety:

Lhasa Apsos can be prone to separation anxiety if left alone for long periods. They thrive on human companionship and may become anxious or exhibit destructive behaviors when left alone. Proper crate training, gradually increasing alone time, and providing mental stimulation can help alleviate separation anxiety.

Changes in Routine:

Lhasa Apsos appreciate a consistent routine, and sudden changes in their environment or schedule can be stressful for them. If you anticipate any changes, such as travel or a new living arrangement, gradually introduce them to the new situation to help them adjust more smoothly.

Understanding the trainability and adaptability of the Lhasa Apso will enable you to provide appropriate training methods and create a comfortable living environment for this breed. In the next section, we will discuss the exercise requirements and energy level of the Lhasa Apso, helping you determine how to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.

Exercise Requirements and Energy Level

Understanding the exercise requirements and energy level of the Lhasa Apso is crucial for providing them with the necessary physical and mental stimulation. Let’s explore the exercise needs and energy level of the Lhasa Apso in detail.

Exercise Requirements

The Lhasa Apso is a moderate-energy breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their overall health and well-being. While they are not as high-energy as some other breeds, they still benefit from daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Here are a few key points to consider regarding their exercise requirements:

Daily Walks:

Taking your Lhasa Apso for daily walks is important to provide them with mental and physical stimulation. Aim for at least one or two walks per day, with each walk lasting around 20 to 30 minutes. This will help them burn off energy, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent boredom-related behaviors.

Interactive Playtime:

In addition to walks, interactive play sessions are beneficial for Lhasa Apsos. Engage them in games such as fetch or hide-and-seek to keep them mentally stimulated and provide an outlet for their natural instincts. Puzzle toys and treat-dispensing toys can also keep them entertained and mentally engaged.

Training and Mental Stimulation:

Lhasa Apsos thrive on mental stimulation, so incorporating training sessions and interactive games into their routine is highly recommended. Training not only provides mental stimulation but also strengthens the bond between you and your Lhasa Apso. Teaching them new tricks or participating in canine sports can be rewarding for both of you.

Energy Level

While the Lhasa Apso is not an overly energetic breed, they do have bursts of energy and enjoy playtime. However, they are also content to relax and spend time with their family, especially when their exercise needs are met. It’s important to balance their exercise and playtime with periods of relaxation, as they appreciate a calm and comfortable environment.

Age and Health Considerations

Keep in mind that the exercise requirements and energy level of a Lhasa Apso can vary depending on their age, health, and individual personality. Puppies, for example, may have more energy and require shorter, more frequent bursts of exercise. Older Lhasa Apsos may have reduced energy levels and may need gentler exercise options.

Additionally, it’s important to consider any health conditions or physical limitations that your Lhasa Apso may have. Some individuals may have joint issues or respiratory conditions that require modified exercise routines. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate level and type of exercise for your Lhasa Apso based on their specific needs.

By providing regular exercise and mental stimulation, you can help keep your Lhasa Apso happy, healthy, and well-balanced. In the next section, we will discuss the grooming requirements of the Lhasa Apso, as their luxurious coat requires special attention and care.

Grooming Requirements

The Lhasa Apso is known for its stunning, long, and flowing coat, which requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and beautiful. Let’s explore the grooming requirements of the Lhasa Apso in detail.

Coat Maintenance

The Lhasa Apso has a double coat consisting of a soft and dense undercoat and a longer, coarse outer coat. This breed’s coat grows continuously and can reach impressive lengths if left untrimmed. Here are some essential grooming practices for the Lhasa Apso’s coat maintenance:


Regular brushing is crucial to prevent matting and tangling of the Lhasa Apso’s coat. Aim to brush their coat at least two to three times a week, using a pin brush or a slicker brush. This helps remove loose hair, prevent mat formation, and keep their coat in good condition.


Bathing the Lhasa Apso should be done on an as-needed basis. Generally, bathing every four to six weeks is sufficient, unless they get exceptionally dirty or have a specific skin condition. Use a mild dog shampoo and ensure thorough rinsing to prevent skin irritation.

Coat Trimming:

To maintain a manageable length and prevent the coat from becoming too overwhelming, regular coat trimming is necessary. Many Lhasa Apso owners choose to keep their dog’s coat trimmed short for easier maintenance, while others prefer to maintain a longer, show-style coat. A professional groomer can assist with coat trimming, or you can learn to do it yourself with proper guidance.

Facial Hair Care

The Lhasa Apso’s facial hair requires special attention to keep it clean and prevent eye irritation. Here are some important facial hair care practices to follow:

Eye Care:

The long hair around the eyes can be prone to trapping dirt and irritating the eyes. Regularly check their eyes for any signs of redness, discharge, or irritation. Use a damp cloth to gently wipe around the eyes to keep the area clean.


Many Lhasa Apso owners choose to tie the hair on the top of the head into a topknot to keep it out of their dog’s eyes. Use soft, non-pulling elastic bands or hair clips to secure the hair, ensuring it is not too tight or uncomfortable for your Lhasa Apso.

Other Grooming Considerations

In addition to coat maintenance and facial hair care, there are a few other grooming considerations for the Lhasa Apso:

Nail Trimming:

Regular nail trimming is important to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. Trim their nails every 4-6 weeks or as needed, being cautious not to cut into the quick (the sensitive part of the nail).

Ear Cleaning:

Inspect and clean their ears regularly to prevent ear infections. Use a veterinarian-approved ear cleanser and gently wipe the ear flaps and the visible part of the ear canal.

Dental Care:

Maintaining good dental hygiene is crucial for their overall health. Regularly brush their teeth with a dog-friendly toothpaste and provide dental chews or toys to help keep their teeth clean.

By following these grooming practices and establishing a regular grooming routine, you can ensure that your Lhasa Apso’s coat remains healthy, beautiful, and free from matting or discomfort. In the next section, we will discuss the common health issues that can affect the Lhasa Apso breed.


lhasa apso Image courtesy of Sonja-Kalee


Health Issues

Like all dog breeds, the Lhasa Apso is susceptible to certain health issues. While they are generally a healthy breed, it’s important to be aware of potential health concerns to ensure your Lhasa Apso receives proper care and attention. Let’s explore some common health issues that can affect the Lhasa Apso breed.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a genetic disorder that affects the retina of the eye, leading to progressive vision loss and eventually blindness. Responsible breeders will conduct eye examinations and genetic tests to ensure their breeding stock is free from this condition. Regular veterinary check-ups and eye screenings are essential for early detection and management of PRA.

Renal Dysplasia

Renal Dysplasia is a developmental disorder affecting the kidneys. It can lead to abnormal kidney structure and function, potentially resulting in kidney failure. Responsible breeders will perform health screenings, including kidney evaluations, to reduce the risk of passing this condition to offspring. Regular monitoring and a healthy diet can help manage renal dysplasia.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar Luxation is a condition where the kneecap (patella) dislocates or moves out of its normal position. It can cause limping, lameness, and discomfort. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent or manage this condition. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.


Lhasa Apsos can be prone to allergies, including food allergies, environmental allergies (such as pollen or dust mites), and contact allergies. Common symptoms include itching, redness, skin irritations, and ear infections. Identifying and avoiding allergens, along with appropriate veterinary care, can help manage allergies in Lhasa Apsos.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a hereditary condition that affects the hip joints, causing improper development and potential joint instability. It can lead to arthritis and mobility issues. Responsible breeders will conduct hip evaluations to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia in their breeding stock. Regular exercise, weight management, and joint supplements can help manage this condition.

Other Considerations

While the above health issues are commonly associated with the Lhasa Apso breed, it’s important to note that not all individuals will develop these conditions. Responsible breeding practices, regular veterinary care, and a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of these health issues.

Regular veterinary check-ups, routine vaccinations, preventive care, and a nutritious diet are essential for maintaining the overall health and well-being of your Lhasa Apso. By being aware of potential health concerns and taking proactive measures, you can help ensure that your Lhasa Apso leads a happy and healthy life.

In the next section, we will discuss some comparable breeds to the Lhasa Apso, allowing you to explore other options if the Lhasa Apso is not the right fit for you.

Comparable Breeds

While the Lhasa Apso is a unique and wonderful breed, it may not be the perfect fit for everyone. If you’re considering other breeds that share similar characteristics or traits with the Lhasa Apso, here are a few comparable breeds to explore:

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a close relative of the Lhasa Apso, sharing a similar history and appearance. Like the Lhasa Apso, the Shih Tzu has a luxurious coat that requires regular grooming. They are also known for their affectionate and loyal nature, making them excellent family pets. Shih Tzus are generally friendly and get along well with children and other pets.


The Pekingese is another breed that shares some similarities with the Lhasa Apso. Both breeds have a long history and were favored by Chinese royalty. Pekingese dogs are known for their independent and regal demeanor. They also have a luxurious coat that requires regular care. Pekingese are generally calm and devoted companions, making them ideal for those seeking a loyal and low-energy breed.

Tibetan Spaniel

The Tibetan Spaniel is a breed that hails from Tibet, just like the Lhasa Apso. While they may have a different appearance, with shorter hair and a smaller size, Tibetan Spaniels share a similar history and background. They are known for their intelligence, alertness, and loyalty. Tibetan Spaniels are generally good with families and adapt well to various living environments.


The Maltese is a small toy breed that shares some traits with the Lhasa Apso. They both have a long, flowing coat that requires regular grooming. Maltese dogs are known for their sweet and affectionate nature. They are generally playful, sociable, and enjoy being the center of attention. Maltese dogs make great companions for individuals or families looking for a small, loving breed.

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire Terrier, or “Yorkie,” is another small breed that may appeal to those interested in the Lhasa Apso. While they have different coat textures, both breeds require regular grooming to maintain their appearance. Yorkies are known for their spunky and lively personalities. They are intelligent and can be trained to excel in various activities. Yorkies make great companions for individuals or families seeking a small and energetic breed.

Remember, each dog breed has its own unique characteristics and traits. While these breeds share some similarities with the Lhasa Apso, it’s important to research and consider the specific needs and temperament of each breed to find the best fit for your lifestyle and preferences.

In conclusion, the Lhasa Apso is a remarkable breed with a rich history, distinctive appearance, and unique temperament. Whether you choose the Lhasa Apso or one of its comparable breeds, make sure to provide them with the love, care, and attention they deserve.

Notable Dogs from This Breed

Throughout history, there have been several notable Lhasa Apsos that have left their mark on the breed and the world of dogs. Let’s take a look at some of the remarkable Lhasa Apsos that have gained recognition and made a significant impact.

Champion Tibet’s Darjeeling

Champion Tibet’s Darjeeling, also known as “Darcy,” was a highly influential Lhasa Apso in the show ring. Born in the 1980s, Darcy achieved great success, winning numerous Best in Show titles and becoming a breed record holder. His exceptional conformation and movement contributed to the breed’s standard and popularity.

Seng Khri Bartok Of Dargo

Ch. Seng Khri Bartok Of Dargo, affectionately known as “Bartok,” was another notable Lhasa Apso who made a mark in the show circuit. Bartok was a multiple Best in Show winner and earned the prestigious title of Top Lhasa Apso in the United Kingdom. His beauty, elegance, and showmanship made him a breed ambassador.

Shut Up And Kiss Me Dell’Alberico At Kritska

Ch. Shut Up And Kiss Me Dell’Alberico At Kritska, or “Rocket,” gained international recognition as an exceptional Lhasa Apso. Born in Italy, Rocket made history by becoming the first Lhasa Apso to win Best in Show at the renowned Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2012. His success showcased the breed’s beauty and versatility.

Rufkins Monarch Magic

Ch. Rufkins Monarch Magic, known as “Monarch,” was a Lhasa Apso who achieved great success in the show ring. Monarch was a multiple Best in Show winner and held the record for the most Best in Show wins by a Lhasa Apso in the United States. His striking appearance and incredible presence captivated judges and spectators alike.

These notable Lhasa Apsos, among others, have not only achieved great success in the show ring but have also contributed to the breed’s development and popularity. Their beauty, talent, and achievements have helped showcase the Lhasa Apso’s unique qualities to the world.

In conclusion, the Lhasa Apso is a breed with a rich history, distinctive appearance, and unique temperament. Whether as devoted companions, successful show dogs, or breed ambassadors, Lhasa Apsos continue to captivate dog lovers with their regal charm and loving nature.

The history and origins of the Lhasa Apso breed are deeply rooted in the ancient land of Tibet. The Lhasa Apso breed has a long and storied past, dating back thousands of years.

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