Breed Group: Non-Sporting
Height: 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 12 to 18 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 15 or more years
The Apso, as he’s known in his homeland of Tibet, is dignified yet mischievous. His alert and somewhat suspicious nature make him an excellent watchdog, and indeed that was his purpose for centuries. He has a long, flowing coat that requires extensive grooming.
Did You Know the Lhasa Apso is Manipulative, Dignified, Mischievous, and Tough ?
Lhasa Apsos were first bred 2,000 years ago by Buddhist monks in and around Tibet. The monks believed that when the Lhasa’s owner died, if he was not ready for Nirvana his soul would be reincarnated in the dog’s body.
Manipulative. Dignified. Mischievous. Tough. All of those words describe the lovely Lhasa Apso. The breed’s name means “bark lion sentinel dog,” a reference to his purpose as an alarm dog for Buddhist monks as well as to his “lionlike” appearance. The Lhasa is not a fearful dog by any means, but he is cautious. Lhasas are thinkers and they like to study people and situations thoroughly before accepting them. They have a moderate activity level and their size makes them suited to any home, from an apartment to a palace.
The sturdy Lhasa Apso once lived as a monastery watchdog in Tibet and is still a good watchdog today. Toward strangers, he is suspicious. This is not a dog who will invite the burglar in and show him where to find the silver. He is affectionate with family members, but independent enough that he doesn’t need constant attention.
The Lhasa pegs his activity level to that of his family. Exercise is good for him, though, so make sure he gets some activity daily. A brief walk is a good way to get him out and about, but he will also enjoy playtime in the home.
The Lhasa can be a wonderful family companion if children are old enough to treat him with respect. He is not a breed that will put up patiently with having his ears, tail, or hair pulled.
Pleasing his people is not high on the Lhasa’s list of goals in life. Lhasas are smart, but they can also be stubborn and independent. Train them with patience and positive reinforcement techniques, and be firm and consistent in what you ask of them. This is a breed that is easily bored. Keep training sessions short and fun.
That said, there are Lhasas who compete successfully in agility, rally and obedience trials. At least one Lhasa has achieved a Utility Dog title. If you have a Lhasa who is motivated by praise, attention, and applause, these sports can be a fun way to spend time with your dog. Lhasas with outgoing personalities are popular therapy dogs, providing a dose of Lhasa love to hospital patients and residents of nursing homes.
If you are looking for a dog with an easy-care coat, it’s safe to say that the Lhasa Apso is not the right choice. That glamorous Lhasa you see sweeping around the show ring is the product of endless hours of grooming. For a pet, expect to brush and comb the long, straight, heavy coat at least every other day. Pet Lhasas can be kept clipped short, but that still means frequent professional grooming. Neglected coats become tangled and matted, which is painful and can lead to serious skin infections. A Lhasa needs a bath at least every two to three weeks; his nails need to be trimmed and ears cleaned every week or as needed. And don’t forget to brush his teeth.
Speaking of coat, you may have heard that the Lhasa does not shed like shorthaired dogs, making it a “non-allergenic” breed, but that’s not correct. It’s a dog’s dander — flakes of skin – that triggers allergic reactions, not the coat. Because their coats have a longer growth cycle than those of dogs with the more typical canine “double coat,” Lhasas may shed less, which means less dander in the environment and sometimes fewer allergic reactions. But they still produce dander and can still cause an allergic reactions. Avoid breeders who tell you their dogs are “non-allergenic.”
It goes without saying that the Lhasa Apso, which was bred exclusively as a companion dog, needs to live in the house and never outdoors.