Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Adorable Lhasa Apso

Famous for their incredibly adorable nature, cuteness, impressively beautiful coat, and unbelievable intelligence, Lhasa Apso is a small dog breed that’s exceedingly loyal and loves spending time with his family.

Cute Lhasa Apso

As a gorgeous lap dog with a long history of pedigree, Lhasa Apso is considered sacred in Tibet; his country of origin. While the Lhasa Apso has physical features almost similar to those of the Maltese and Shih Tzu, you can easily distinguish them with their longer snout and deep dark set eyes. An active dog that’s great for apartment living, the Lhasa Apso isn’t so demanding although they love being pampered.

The Lhasa Apso is among dog breeds with the longest life span and among the most loyal pooches. For this reason, you should get to know much more about the adorable Lhasa Apso. You’ll probably want to get yourself a Lhasa Apso as a loyal companion and affectionate pal who will independently stay by your side for the next decade or so.

If you’re trying to make a decision whether the Lhasa Apso is the right pet dog for you or you just want to know more about the breed, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve pulled together lots of amazing things you should know about the breed. At the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of this unique breed and you’ll be in a pretty good position to decide whether the Lhasa Apso is the right dog breed for you.

Where do Lhasa Apsos Come From?

Named after Lhasa, the Himalayan capital city of Tibet, this non-sporting dog has a long history in his country of origin: Tibet. The dog breed was originally known as “Abso Seng Kye,” which translates to the Bark Lion Sentinel Dog. According to American Kennel Club (AKC), the Lhasa Apsos have been in existence since 800 A.D., making it one of oldest pure dog breed in the world.

While the first name of this dog breed “Lhasa” is the name of Tibet’s capital city, the origin of the second name “Apso” is less clear. The word “apso” is a Tibetan word meaning “bearded,” which gives the term Lhasa Apsos the meaning, “long-haired Lhasa dog”. There are also claims that the word “apso” is derived from the Tibetan word “rapso,” meaning goat-like. This would translate to “wooly Lhasa dog”.

This dog breed lived in isolation with Tibetan monks and Buddhists in the Himalayan Mountains. Their sturdy, robust, and active nature made them perfectly suited for the mountainous region. For this reason, they were generally used as internal guards in Buddhist monasteries and to alert Tibetan monks and nobles of any intruders.

How did they come to the West?

In the ancient world, Lhasa Apsos were considered a very precious gift as they were a sign of good fortune. Legend has it that the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, gave Lhasa Apso to the emperor of China many centuries ago and it was arguably how the Shih Tzu breed, which is Lhasa Apsos’ close cousin, came to be.

Although Lhasa Apsos had been around for centuries, they were only introduced to the West in the 19th century. According to adoptapet.com, British colonialists in India were vacationing in the Himalayan Mountains when they were impressed by these dogs and took the breed back with them to England.

Where does Lhasa Apso come from?

To reach the United States, it’s reported that the 13th Dalai Lama gave explorer Charles Suydam Cutting two Lhasa Apsos when he visited Tibet in the 1930s.

What is the Size of a Full-Grown Lhasa Apso?

As one of the smallest dog breeds, it’s highly likely that you might get confused to know whether your Lhasa Apso is fully grown or still a puppy. Again, a Lhasa Apso is a dominant breed that’ll always act like he’s big yet they aren’t as big as they think.

Lhasa Apso Size

With that in mind, a male Lhasa Apso will ideally grow to around 11 inches (27.94 cm) in height while a female Apso will grow up to a maximum height of 10 inches (25.4 cm). This is generally measured from the ground to the shoulder.

What is the Ideal Weight for a Lhasa Apso?

In terms of weight, a healthy fully-grown male Apso weighs between 14 and 18 pounds (6.4 and 8.2 kg) while a female one weighs around 12 to 14 pounds (5.4 to 6.4 kg). These are however average weights and can vary depending on your dog’s diet.

It’s normally advisable to ensure that your Lhasa Apso falls within these measurements. In other words, you shouldn’t overfeed your Apso to exceed the stipulated weights and should see your vet if the weight is below the specified weights.

What is the Average Lifespan of a Lhasa Apso?

Unlike bigger dog breeds such as the Great Dane (ADD-LINK to the Great Dane article) which are known to have shorter lifespans, the Lhasa Apso is one of the dog breeds with the longest lifespans. Generally, your Lhasa Apso can live for 12 to 14 years but don’t be surprised if he lives for 20 years.

It’s usually reported that mixed dog breeds tend to live longer than purebred dogs. This is because they have a hybrid vigor that makes them healthier than their purebred counterparts and doesn’t suffer from genetic illnesses that are common in purebred dogs. However, the Lhasa Apso debunks this myth as it’s one of the purebred dogs that have a longer lifespan than most of the mixed dog breeds around.

According to AKC, the oldest Lhasa Apso on record lived for 29 years before passing away in 1939.

At What Age Do Lhasa Apso Become Fully Grown?

Having a pint-sized dog breed such as Lhasa Apso can be quite confusing when it comes to knowing when he’s fully grown. This is because they often maintain their puppy antics even after passing the one-year mark. Although many believe that most dogs stop growing after a year, this is far from the truth. The truth is; dogs grow at different rates and this depends on the breed type, diet, health, and many other factors.

Dog experts give general guidelines to help you figure out whether your lovely dog is fully grown or still have a lot of growing up to do. While these guidelines mostly revolve around factors such as the dog’s build, diet, and exercise, they mostly depend on the breed type.

That said, a Lhasa Apso attains the full-grown status at around 9 to 12 months but can take up to 18 months. Again, you shouldn’t be surprised if your Apso retains his puppy-like personality traits until the age of 3 because it can sometimes happen.

What Colors do Lhasa Apsos Come In?

I once came across an incredibly beautiful shade of Lhasa Apso that I’d never seen before. It had a red tinge coat with gorgeous white markings all over the body. Such shades are rare in Apsos given that it’s not among Lhasa Apsos 8 standard colors and 5 alternative colors recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Lhasa Apso Colors

According to AKC, the standard colors of Lhasa Apsos include solid black, clear tan (a mixture of white, red and gold), black tan, sable colors (grey, cream, red and gold), and brindle (red and gold cream). Of all these colors, sable colors are the most common color in Lhasa Apsos and is a mixture of dark and light colors in varying quantities.

Lhasa Apso Colors

The alternate colors found in Lhasa Apsos include gray, charcoal, liver, blue, and silver. These colors can either be diluted as softer standard colors mentioned above or as rare types of grizzle. The most popular alternate color found in Apsos is blue, which appears like a washed-out black while silver is a mixture of black, blue and cream colors. It’s important to note that Lhasa Apsos that come in alternate colors are always very outstanding and dazzling.

Lhasa Apso Temperament and Personality

In addition to being used as sentinels in Buddhist monasteries in ancient Tibet, these little cuties were also used in some religious ceremonies since they were held in high regard by the monks. Given their important roles as guards, the Lhasa Apsos are oblivious of how small they are and remain fearless and bossy.

Lhasa Apso Temperament

They demand the attention of people whenever they’re together in the room and that’s why they’ve lately become lap dogs. They’re clownish and will perform mischief as long as they become the center of attention. They can also be quite moody and egoistic. Their suspicious nature makes them snippy and they can be aloof with strangers. They’re also not good with other dogs or pets if not given a fair amount of socialization.

Despite these weird personality traits, Apsos are largely known for having heart of gold, being extremely loyal, and always striving to bring great joy to their masters and to the homes they reside in.

Are Lhasa Apsos Stubborn?

Lhasa Apsos are genetically hard-wired to be watchdogs. This makes them overly protective, independent, very stubborn, strong-minded and can be domineering. They become very anxious when around strangers and can still bark loudly and sharply even after urging them to back down. Their stubborn nature is down to the fact that they were genetically bred in isolated areas where they rarely interacted with other people and animals.

Are Lhasa Apsos Stubborn?

As a pet owner, it can be quite challenging to handle such type of stubbornness. However, you can train him by teaching him social skills from an early age. You can use fresh lavender to calm them down. Simply mix lavender with water and then spray the lavender mixture in their sleeping room and he’ll calm down.

Are Lhasa Apsos Aggressive?

Lhasa Apsos are extremely protective and will alert you by letting out sharp, loud, and high-pitched bark as soon as they detect danger or become suspicious. In general Lhasa Apsos are not aggressive. However, they are not very fond of rules and can become aggressive whenever they feel bullied or pushed.

It’s however important not to confuse an assertive dog for an aggressive dog. Lhasa Apsos aren’t hyperactive, but they’ll not allow you to push them around.

The Lhasa Apsos is an active dog and can become assertive, especially when they’re bored. It’s therefore important to keep them busy so that they don’t become aggressive or assertive.

Do Lhasa Apsos Bite?

As noted above, Lhasa Apso is an independent dog that isn’t a pushover in any way. This dog has a small mouth and will mostly bark and growl instead of biting. He will simply circle around his target and growl to intimidate and size them up. However, they can bite if they feel threatened.

In short, Lhasa Apso isn’t a dangerous dog breed. The dog has a small mouth that can do minimal damage if it were to attack. It’s always crucial to prevent any form of aggression by training him from a young age. You should also bring him up into a kind, caring, and loving family so that he becomes loyal as the dog breed is known to be.

Are Lhasa Apsos Affectionate?

Although the little wooly dog from Tibet can be aloof and standoffish especially with strangers, he’s one of the most affectionate dogs to his master. If there’s no intruder or stranger around, he can be so relaxed and will roll around on your lap and let you rub his ears and face.

Are Lhasa Apsos affectionate?

Lhasa Apso is also an active and very energetic, but also very curious and wary of strangers. However, he’s always calm and will go to great lengths to please you and can at times become manipulative and resort to clown-like behavior.

Are Lhasa Apsos good with Kids and Families?

As an active dog that’s very playful and cheerful, the Lhasa Apso can become highly devoted and attached to you. However, the dog breed may not be the best with kids because he doesn’t like to be manhandled and may lack the patience to tolerate his ears or hair being pulled.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t bring one to your home. All you need to do is train him to properly socialize and he’ll be a perfect pooch for just about any type of family. This is because no dog can be totally good or bad. The way a dog relates to you or members of your family will depend 50% on the breed and 50% on his life experience and how you train him.

Do Lhasa Apsos make Good Pets?

Honestly speaking, the Lhasa Apso isn’t recommended for families with kids under the age of 12. Although the Lhasa Apso can be great with adults and seniors, his temperament and personality aren’t suited for young kids. This is because he cannot tolerate immature or rough handling and may impulsively bite if irritated by rough play or stepped on. Nonetheless, it can make a good family pet if properly trained.

According to Vet Street, this dog breed is also a popular therapy dog thanks to his outgoing personality and can provide a positive vibe to residents of nursing homes and hospital patients.

Are Lhasa Apsos Easy to Train?

Lhasa Apsos are known to be extremely stubborn and territorial. This can make training them a little difficult especially if you don’t start training them at an early age. But if you do it properly, with dedication, persistence and throughout his life, your Lhasa will perfectly understand how to interact with you, as well as with strangers.

Given their stubbornness, you shouldn’t use punishment-based (negative reinforcement) training because it will make him more stubborn. Instead, use positive reinforcement training methods and make sure you supply your lovely pooch with lots of treats as part of this training technique.

Do Lhasa Apsos Need a lot of Exercises?

Originally bred in the Himalayan Mountains, the Lhasa Apso is a cold-adapted animal and is great at conserving heat. For this reason, your Lhasa Apso doesn’t have an excess reserve of energy that he needs to burn off through lots of exercise. Again, this lovely dog has a short muzzle and can have breathing trouble if exercised too hard.

Nevertheless, the Lhasa Apso is an active dog and will need some form of exercise. Taking him for a 15 to 20-minute daily walk is recommended. Additionally, he can get bored quite quickly so you can prevent this boredom by stimulating his mental intelligence through free play and toys.

Do Lhasa Apsos Shed a lot?

As stated by Vet Street, Lhasa Apsos have double coats that have longer growth cycles than other typical double coat canines. This means that your Lhasa may shed less when compared to other pet dogs.

However, it’s important that I tell you that the Lhasa Apso may not be the right choice for you if you’re looking for a pet dog with an easy-to-groom coat.

Do Lhasa Apsos Shed a lot
Lhasa Apso grooming

To make him look glamorous, you’ll need to spend time grooming at least every other day. You’ll also need frequent professional grooming to keep his long hair clipped short so that they don’t tangle and become painful or lead to serious skin infections.

Are Lhasa Apsos Hypoallergenic?

I think it’s important to remind you to run for the hills if you come across a breeder who tells you his/her dogs are hypoallergenic or non-allergenic because no dog is 100% non-allergenic.

Even though the Lhasa Apso doesn’t shed a lot like short-haired dogs, it’s not a hypoallergenic dog because it can produce dander or flakes of skin that can trigger allergic reactions.

How often should you bathe a Lhasa Apso?

You should consider bathing your Lhasa Apso at least every two to three weeks. You should also brush his teeth, keep his nails trimmed and clean his ears every week. This will prevent his thick and dense coat from tangling or matting easily and also to keep his skin and coat healthy.

Do Lhasa Apsos Bark a lot?

Having been used as watchdogs for centuries, the Lhasa Apso seems to have carried the gene of letting out loud and sharp bark every now and then especially when he sees intruders or something suspicious. You can however prevent this through appropriate training.

Do Lhasa Apsos have a lot of Health Problems?

As one of the oldest pure dog breeds in the world, the Lhasa Apso is prone to various health problems that you should always check out. Your Lhasa Apso can be susceptible to eye problems, ear infections, and chronic allergies.

These eye problems can include progressive retinal atrophy, dry eye, corneal ulcers, and cataracts. In fact, if you don’t act quickly when you notice any eye problem, your lovely Lhasa Apso may end up blind. It’s therefore important to test your Lhasa for eye problems and consult with your vet to ensure that your pet is under the right eye condition at all times.

In terms of chronic allergies, your Lhasa Apso can suffer itchy skin, as well as other serious skin diseases such as sebaceous adenitis. He can also suffer from luxating patella (loose knee joints), which can cause pain and disability and can be fixed through surgeries.

Are Lhasa Apsos good for First-time Owners?

Lhasa Apsos are not the best choice for first-time owners since they’re quite headstrong especially when they get moody. Again, they’re naturally independent and may not take orders from you despite being loyal. This makes them harder to train and may be very frustrating if you aren’t used to such dog antics.

What Dog Food should Lhasa Apsos Eat?

The Lhasa Apso is undoubtedly a picky eater and won’t eat just about anything especially if it’s a low-quality diet. For this reason, you may have to try a few dog foods to find out the one that perfectly suits him. Nevertheless, his diet should consist of Vitamins A and E, as well as Omega fatty acids to help in preventing him from skin conditions.

Some of the best dog foods to consider for your Lhasa Apso include; Wellness CORE Grain Free Small Breed Formula, Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken and Sweet Potato Recipe, Nature’s Recipe Small Breed Grain-Free Chicken, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Recipe, and Fromm Small Breed Adult Gold.

How Many Times a Day Should You Feed Your Lhasa Apso?

To prevent canine bloat and tummy upsets that are common in dogs, it’s recommended that you feed your mature Lhasa Apso twice a day; once in the morning and in the evening.

You should however feed your puppy Lhasa Apso 4 times a day (48g to 102g) and reduce this amount gradually as he approaches maturity.

What Human Foods can Lhasa Apso Eat?

The Lhasa Apso is generally allergic to grains such as corn and wheat, so you should avoid giving him such foods. According to the AKC, you can consider feeding him chicken, fish, lamb, cheese, coconut, eggs, honey, ham, pork, salmon, quinoa, yogurt and many more.

You should however NOT give your Lhasa Apso almonds, cinnamon, chocolate, garlic, ice cream, macadamia nuts, bones, xylitol, onion, fresh and dried fruits, avocado, and any caffeine product.

How many Puppies can Lhasa Apso have?

Although the litter size of your Lhasa Apso can vary, a mum-to-be can carry up to eight puppies. The pregnancy can last for eight to nine weeks but the bigger the litter the shorter the pregnancy period.

How much does a Lhasa Apso Cost?

As one of the world’s oldest dog breeds, the Lhasa Apso is one of the most highly valued and coveted pure dog breeds in the world. For this reason, they don’t come cheap and will have you parting with between $500 and $1000 to own one. In fact, you’ll have to spend from $2500 to $5000 on puppies from champion bloodlines. You should go for a top-notch breeder and avoid cheap ones, which may end up costing more in the long run.

Final Thoughts – Should You Get a Lhasa Apso?

Like most people, you’ve probably fallen in love with the Lhasa Apsos by just watching how adorable they are. However, many people have no idea how much effort and time it takes to own and properly take care of this cute and insanely intelligent dog breed. To this end, I believe you’re in a much better position to know whether a Lhasa Apso can be the right pet for you.

As you’ve noticed, the Lhasa Apso isn’t a dog for everyone. For instance, he can’t be a perfect fit for a family with small kids. The Lhasa Apso requires lots of patience, effort, love, and understanding. This is a dog breed that can be a perfect fit for a true dog owner and aficionado; someone who’s ready and willing to do everything to make his/her dog happy and healthy. If you’re ready to take on the responsibility, then your next ten years will be filled with lots of love and laughter. If you’re however not ready to make such sacrifices, then I’d only advise you to move to the next dog breed.