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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso

Origin: Tibet

AKC Group: Non-sporting

Height: Males 10 inches (Male)

Weight: 13 pounds (Male)

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Male height: 
Males 10 inches
Male weight: 
13 pounds
Double coat - a heavy, straight, hard and dense outercoat and a moderate undercoat.
All colors including: golden, sandy, honey, grizzle, slate, smoke, particolor, black, white and brown.

The dog breeds of the Far East have an ancient history, and so it is for the Lhasa Apso. Small, shaggy dogs were known in Tibet as far back as 8,000 B.C.E. Their history became known because they were often presented as gifts to visiting dignitaries and as tokens of good luck, believed to bring peace and prosperity to the homes in which they lived. When Tibet converted to Buddhism in the 7th century C.E., breeders of the small dogs wanted to fix a type to resemble the lion. A symbol of Tibetan royalty even before Buddhism, the lion also represented the power of Buddha, so it was natural that the people wanted a leonine-colored and shaped dog. Lhasas - literally, "lion dogs" - became fixtures inside the homes of Tibetan nobility and in lamas' (priests') monasteries, and they were used as watchdogs, barking at the approach of strangers. Lhasa dogs began to appear in the West around the turn of the 20th century, brought back by British explorers, emissaries and other travelers to Tibet. There was much confusion at first, with shaggy Oriental dogs of a variety of sizes being called "Lhasa Terriers." Only later did authorities distinguish between the leggier and longer-headed Tibetan Terrier and the smaller Lhasa Apso. The Lhasa gained a firm foothold in the United States in the 1930s and has been popular ever since.

Today's Lhasa Apso is true to his long and distinguished past of serving as a spirited and highly regarded companion. In his heart, he believes that he is the special one in the household, the one to whom others should respect and even defer. He is friendly and assertive, with a unique ability to distinguish friend from foe and to let those he loves know when someone is bothering him. Properly socialized, he can make a wonderful companion and an affectionate and self-possessed ruler of the roost.
At home: 
Because of their smaller size and the fact that they don't need a great deal of exercise, Lhasas make great apartment dogs. They can be rambunctious inside the home. Their independent nature means that they can be left alone for short periods without resorting to destructive behavior. They make good sentinels at home - with their watchdog instincts and excellent hearing, Lhasas will bark at the approach of strangers. A fenced-in yard is always appreciated by fun-loving Lhasas who enjoy the space for some clowning around.
The Lhasa is small but not too small and will gladly accompany his family on regular outings - even extended walks. He is playful and commanding indoors and will exercise himself following people around and insisting on being part of the action.
When it comes to feeding a Lhasa Apso, it's helpful to remember that he was once an extremely pampered pet. This attitude often carries over to the dog bowl, and it can be challenging to satisfy a Lhasa with food that's best for him. Feed small amounts of a high-quality, age-appropriate food, and if you must, supplement with very small amounts of things that are good for him, like steamed brown rice or lean meats that have been thoroughly cooked.
Lhasas are used to being spoiled - they have been for many centuries! This doesn't mean that they won't do what you ask, but they are inclined to do things when they are ready, not necessarily when you are. Fortunately, they are devoted companions, and when trained with rewards that motivate them, they are quick and able learners. Housetraining may take some extra time and patience. Socialization is critical for this breed.
Lhasas are wary of strangers and aren't always tolerant of children who are too rough around them. Lhasas can be somewhat territorial with other dogs and pets.
The average life span of the long-lived Lhasa Apso is up to 18 years - and sometimes longer. Breed health concerns are relatively few: an undershot jaw is typical because the Lhasa is a brachycephalic breed, and they can suffer from eye problems.
Fun fact: 

Tibetan legend says that lamas who failed to reach Nirvana came back reincarnated as Lhasa Apsos.

Grooming blurb: 
Lhasa Apsos who compete in the show ring need daily attention to their coats to keep them dirt- and matte-free. People who don't show their Lhasas typically keep the coat clipped for ease of grooming. All Lhasas should be brushed regularly to keep the fur from tangling. Extra care should be taken to keep the area around the eyes clean, as Lhasas tend to tear.
This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.