Lhasa Apso Dog Breed Information

Lhasa Apso Dog Breed Description

The Lhasa Apso is identifiable by its long coat that reaches the floor. The coat is heavy and double-coated, draping over the whole body and coming in the following colours: Gold, cream, and honey (the most popular colours); however, they also come in smoke, dark-grizzle, slate, and a multi-colour assortment of brown, white and black.

The colour of the Lhasa Apso can change as it grows and matures. Some have likened their appearance to a miniature version of the Old English sheepdog. The coat itself has a hard, heavy texture and feel, without silkiness.

The hair cascades over the body as well as the apple-shaped head, finishing over its eyes. Lhasa Apsos have dark a dark beard and moustache, with a medium-length muzzle, without squaring. The ears are feathered heavily and pendant in shape, while the eyes are deep-set, dark brown in colour, and large (but not overly so).

They have a longer body than they are tall, with strong loins and well-developed thighs. The forequarters are straight, and both forelegs and hind legs are covered with hair. They have cat-like feet with thick pads and a well-feathered tail and are carried in a screw-like fashion over the back.


Their slightly ostentatious look hides a hardy dog, full of character. The Lhasa Apso is an assertive and intelligent breed, with a friendly and lively disposition, displaying a lot of affection for its masters. They can be trained to a high obedience level; however, unfortunately, due to their size, many owners neglect obedience training and do not reinforce their position as pack leaders. As a result, this breed is susceptible to ‘small dog syndrome.’ This can lead to a variety of unwanted and negative behaviours.

Having said this, if this dog is made aware of its place in the ‘family pack’ and owners display alpha dog traits, they should make wonderful little pets. When training a Lhasa Apso, motivational and positive reinforcement methods achieve the best results. The Lhasa Apso is a vocal dog with a keen sense of hearing and can make a good watchdog.

HEIGHT: Dogs 25-28cm (10-11 inches), Bitches 22-25cm (9-10 inches)

WEIGHT: 5.9-6.8kg (13-15lbs)


Lhasa Apsos can suffer from skin conditions if parasites are not removed from the thick, long coat, and some dogs may suffer from hip dysplasia. More rare issues include eye problems, kidney issues, and bleeding ulcers.

Living Conditions

These dogs will do fine in an apartment; they are very active indoors. However, their small size means that they will not require too much room to run about and will not require a back garden or yard.


A brisk daily walk is needed to keep this breed fit, both physically and mentally. Although these dogs are very active indoors and play a lot, while this will burn some of their energy, it is important to understand that walking outside and not simply playing is an inherent need of all dogs. It fulfils an instinctive requirement and can go a long way to help reduce unwanted behaviour issues.

LIFE EXPECTANCY: Average 15 years; however, many have been known to survive to 18 years

LITTER SIZE: Average of 4 puppies


The Lhasa Apso´s coat is parted along the spine and falls straight on either side. It doesn´t require stripping or trimming. However, daily brushing is required when they are in full coat, avoiding matting. Cutting the coat shorter can reduce the grooming requirements. Dry shampoo when necessary. Feet, ears, and eyes should be checked and cleaned regularly. Lhasa Apsos are average shedders.


The Lhasa Apso is native to Tibet, where its name is Abso Seng Kye, which translates as “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog.” It finds its home in the region surrounding the sacred city of Lhasa. Its keen hearing and vocal bark were used as a second means of defence against intruders. They were able to distinguish between friends and foes with astonishing accuracy. This perfected ability led to the breeding of Lhasa Apsos for almost 2000 years by Tibetan monks and nobles.

So revered were these little dogs. It was considered the vessel by which an owner’s soul was carried upon his or her death. The first export of the Lhasa Apso came as a gift from the Dalai Lama, and for many years, it was close to impossible to purchase this breed, despite its fabled bringing of good luck.

The Lhasa Apso arrived on British shores in the 1920s and in America in the 1930s. Suydam Cutting, a naturalist, and traveller is considered the man solely responsible for the breed’s popularity in the United States. The Lhasa Apso was originally considered a terrier breed (1935). However, it was reclassified in 1959 as part of the Non-Sporting Group. The breed is now the most popular Tibetan breed in the United States and the United Kingdom.