The Lhasa Apso: A Loyal and Playful Companion


The Lhasa Apso is recognized as one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Believed to have come from a breed of mountain wolf 4,000 years ago in the region of Malaysia, the Lhasa Apsos have found its home in the mountains of Tibet where the monks used them as interior sentinels to alert them of intruders.

Their name is derived from Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, and Apso which in the Tibetan language means “bearded.” The combination of the two names, Lhasa Apso, means “long-haired Lhasa dog.” Because this dog was exclusively a resident in the monasteries, it was also considered sacred and brings good fortune to whoever owns it.

Much so for this reason that this dog rarely leaves the monastery except when it is given as a sacred gift to the Chinese Emperor and his family by the Dalai Lama. The Lhasa Apsos were given as pairs to symbolize as good luck and prosperity. In the year 1933, the 13th Dalai Lama gifted a pair of these dogs to the world-renowned traveller and naturalist, C. Suydam Cutting, who is an American.


It was considered a historic entry of this breed into the US and the start of the breed’s proliferation. By 1935, the Lhasa Apso was accepted by the American Kennel Club.

Traits and Behavior

Due to their innate intelligence, they show traits of assertiveness, highly spirited, and respond to the motivational form of training. Such training needs a lot of patience as these dogs take a long time to mature mentally.

In the course of the training period, these dogs may suffer from what is known as “small dog syndrome,” wherein the dog thinks he is the leader of the pack instead of the humans. If not corrected at an early period, they can become so assertive that they do not cooperate, can become wary of strangers and with people dwelling in the same house or even with other dogs.


However, their main asset is their keen sense of hearing such that they make good watchdogs. With constant management and training, these dogs will remain devoted to their owners and can be dutiful house pet.

Pet Care and Diseases

Their heavy and straight long hair covering takes much grooming maintenance. Some owners make a regular cutting off their hair to make them short for easier maintenance. Since they shed less, brushing or combing must be done daily to prevent matting of the hairs.

Their dense coat covering serves as protection from the extreme climate condition when they used to be in Tibet.


Bathing is not much needed but an alternative is to dry shampoo them. There’s also a need to check closely the eyes, ears, and legs for matting of hair in those areas.

Since this breed is basically of good stock, its life expectancy is 15 to more years.

Prone health problems are skin infections which may be due to parasites that inhabit their thick coat covering, kidney problems, eye infection.

To keep them in shape, a daily walk will be ideal for these small dogs.


A small dog, the Lhasa Apso stands at an average height of 10.75 inches at the withers and weigh about 12 – 18 pounds. Its distinguishing feature is its heavy coat covering which is straight but hard, and very dense.

This breed comes in a wide variety of colors – black, white, red and gold with different shadings. Its double coat is so dense and heavy that it covers the entire body including the head and eyes, sometimes reaching the floor.


Its body length is longer than its height. The muzzle length is medium built with straight front legs and tail that is well feathered and set high in a screwed bearing. It’s got small, deep-set dark brown eyes and ears that are pendant-shaped and heavily feathered.

General Information

This breed has a life expectancy of about 15 or more years. Litter size can vary from 1-8 puppies. Other names include Tibet, Lhasa, Tibet Lhasa Lion Dog, Tibet Dog and Yabusu.


Breed Club

Visit this dog club website dedicated to Lhasa Apsos. Click this link:

Pet Portraits

Here's one of our custom pet portraits of a Lhasa Apso we did recently for a customer. How cute is Tito!

lhasa apso pet portraits printy paw

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