The Lhasa Apso (pronounced "LAH-Suh-AHP-so") is a smart and wilful small dog with a big personality. They're often described as funny, merry, and eager to please. Originating in Tibet, the Lhasa was bred to be a watchdog in palaces and Buddhist monasteries high in the Himalayas. Lhasa comes from the city in Tibet and Apso is a Tibetan word that loosely translates to "dog." This ancestry reveals itself in modern-day Lhasa—they're alert and loyal to their owners, though often wary of strangers.
5.4 – 8.2 Kg
25 – 28 cm
Life Expectancy:
12 – 15 years
Litter Size:
4 to 6 puppies
Breed Appearance:

Full-grown male Lhasa apsos are about 10–11 inches tall and weigh 12–18 pounds, while female pups are slightly smaller. Lhasa apsos have gorgeous black, tan, cream, white, and/or red-coloured coats, but they can also be blue, grey, and silver, though those are less common. Their luscious locks grow long, so you might want to tie up their flowy hairdo with a scrunchie or give them a sweet "puppy cut" to keep fur out of their eyes. They have black and brown button noses, long beards (if their hair is kept long), and slightly longer snouts than similar snub-nosed dogs like the Pekingese.

Lhasa apsos have a regal history that begins in 800 B.C. Tibet, when they were bred as sentinel dogs who stood watch inside palaces and Buddhist monasteries high in the Himalayan mountains, according to the ALAC. Legend has it, the brave little Lhasa apsos inspired this ancient Tibetan saying: "If the snow-lion stays in the mountains, it is a snow-lion; if it comes down to the valleys, it becomes a dog."
Lhasas have held popular status with Buddhist monks and Dalai Lamas over the centuries—they were never sold, and thus a highly prized gift. Some Tibetian Buddhists believe that the souls of lamas (priests) are reborn as Lhasa apsos in the stage of reincarnation just before they are reborn as humans, according to the ALAC.
Lhasa apsos first came to the West in the early 19th century, landing in the U.S. (specifically, New Jersey) in 1933 after being gifted to a couple by the Dalai Lama. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed just two years later, and the ALAC was founded in 1959.
The Lhasa Apso dog breed is originally from Tibet, where they were highly regarded watchdogs in the palaces and monasteries of their mountainous homeland.
Currently Used As:
Today's Lhasa is no longer a palace guard but primarily a family companion who loyally protects their family from danger.
Lhasa Apsos will please you if it pleases them to please you. They are highly intelligent, sometimes compared to a willful toddlers. They can learn just about anything that a trainer makes interesting enough to master's on their terms. They do not appreciate repetitive drill and can become uncommonly stubborn if bullied or badgered. Most cases of unacceptable Lhasa behaviour involve situations with inconsistent, improper, or non-existent human leadership. This is a breed for creative, motivated people who enjoy a canine companion of like mind.
The Lhasa apso is a generally healthy breed but can be prone to health problems like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. According to the American Lhasa Apso Club (ALAC), they may also deal with eye issues like retinal atrophy, pigmentary keratitis, dry eye, and glaucoma.
Other common health issues for Lhasa apsos include cherry eye (a red mass at the inner corner of the dog's eye), allergies, and a genetic skin condition called sebaceous adenitis, where the sebaceous glands become inflamed. Lhasa apsos can also be susceptible to haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE), a life-threatening disease that can occur in small and medium-sized dog breeds, according to the ALAC. If you catch the warning signs (like bloody diarrhoea) early, the condition can be cured.
With the right care, Lhasa apsos live long lives—about 12–15 years on average. Some have even been reported to have lived well into their 20s.
If you buy a Lhasa from a breeder, it's important that they be reputable and dedicated to maintaining healthy animals. The Lhasa apso breeder should be able to show you lineage records that prove their dogs are healthy enough for breeding.
Living Condition:
Lhasas are loyal to their tribe and do well with adults and children who respect their boundaries. Lhasas can make great family pets—even with small children—as long as the children understand (with the parents' direction) to give the dog some space. If properly socialized and trained, Lhasas can get along with other dogs and pets but know that Lhasa can like to be the boss.
Lhasas will tolerate being left alone for reasonable periods of time, but think twice if you have neighbours who would be disturbed by any warning barking while you're away. They are not a 'yappy' dog, but with their keen hearing, they will alert you of unexpected events. Their small size might make them seem like ideal apartment dogs, but their bark might prove otherwise.
Lhasa apsos are quick on their little legs! These pups can excel in agility, where they'll get the exercise and mental stimulation to make them happy. Lhasas need a moderate amount of exercise. A 20-minute walk once or twice a day and some playtime in the house or yard, especially during the puppy stage, will do.
The Lhasa is generally not a couch potato and is adept at self-exercise. They will race around an apartment to run off energy, entertain themselves in a fenced yard, or take their owners on a brisk walk. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise. They excel at agility, can do scent work, and have been known to retrieve and herd. There are talented Lhasas certified as therapy dogs working in hospitals, nursing homes, colleges, and prisons.
When it comes to grooming, the Lhasa apso is definitely high-maintenance. Though she doesn't shed much, her long and lavish coat can get quite tangled and matted if not cared for correctly—daily brushing and a bi-monthly bath is recommended. Some owners opt to keep their dog's coat short in a "puppy cut" style so that it's easier to maintain, but both hairdos are equally adorable and aww-worthy.
Lhasas will also need basic grooming every couple of weeks beyond their hair care, including nail trims and teeth brushing. Experts recommend brushing your dog's teeth every day if possible. Just make sure to use dog toothpaste, because human toothpaste is toxic for dogs! Her ears also need to be checked and cleaned regularly.
Your Lhasa should eat dog food made from high-quality ingredients. Monitoring her food and exercise is an important part of care, preventing your dog from gaining an unhealthy amount of weight. A visit to your vet can help you determine how much and how often to feed your Lhasa to keep her healthy.
- Friendly and Affectionate
- Requires Frequent Grooming
- Protective
- Stubborn
- Excellent Lifespan
- Fragile
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