Written by Vet Tech

Lhasa Apso A Thousand Year Old Dog Breed

Amber LaRock
Written by: Amber LaRock, Vet Tech
Read facts about the charming Lhasa Apso dog breed, including information about its history and grooming requirements.

The Lhasa Apso is an adorable breed that comes from quite an interesting past. Their “watchdog” history in ancient Tibet correlates to their loyalty to this day, as they are an extremely loyal breed to their loved ones.

In this article, we’ll discuss the history of the Lhasa Apso, the qualities that make them unique, and what you need to know when you bring a Lhasa Apso into your home.

History Of The Lhasa Apso

If you own a Lhasa Apso, you may realize that their attitude signifies a belief that they are much larger than they actually are. This may have something to do with their dignified past as a royal watchdog.

The Lhasa Apso originates in Tibet and takes the name of the holy city named Lhasa. It was here that they were bred by monks to act as guard dogs in ancient monasteries.

This is also why they wear a thick and protective coat, as they originally had to protect themselves against the cold winter in Tibet.

The Lhasa Apso made its way to the US as a gift for C. Suydam Cutting, a well-known world traveler, and soon gained popularity across the country. To this day the Lhasa Apso is still a beloved breed, and they still carry a sense of importance!

Appearance Of The Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso can weigh anywhere from 12 to 15 pounds and can stand up to 11 inches in height. They are known for their luxurious coats that are long, straight, and come in a variety of colors.

The Lhasa Apso’s coat can be black, white, brown, honey, and parti-color. Their coat is often shiny and glossy, and frames their body rather than stand out like other breeds such as the Pomeranian or Chow Chow.

Though their coat is long and luxurious, it does require quite a bit of maintenance. If you are looking for a maintenance-free dog that does not require grooming, then the Lhasa Apso is not for you.

Grooming Your Lhasa Apso

If you choose to bring a Lhasa Apso into your home, be prepared to participate in grooming, sometimes daily. While their coat is one of the main reasons people love this breed so much it does require quite a bit of maintenance. Luckily, they don’t shed a lot.

The Lhasa Apso’s fur is fine, making it easy to become tangled with daily activity. Similar to long hair in a child, after running around the back yard and rolling around in the grass, you may have to get to work on brushing. After all, you will have to invest some time in grooming your long-haired Lhasa Apso.

Due to the challenges that go into maintaining a Lhasa Apso’s coat, most people choose to hire a groomer. The Lhasa Apso is one of the breeds that benefit from biweekly bathing, so again, this is not a low maintenance breed.

If you do choose to welcome a Lhasa Apso into your home, but become overwhelmed with the fur maintenance, you can always keep their fur at a manageable length. Even with short hair, they are still just as cute and just as happy!

Personality Of The Lhasa Apso

Lhasa Apso’s personality is one of the many reasons they have become so popular in the dog world. While they still possess the regal and dignified personality they carried with them throughout the years, they are also compared to having the playful personality of a puppy.

The Lhasa Apso is regal yet playful, brave yet kind, and dignified yet silly. With all of these wonderful qualities combined, the Lhasa Apso is a one-of-a-kind breed.

Their personality is truly complex! They also don’t love to spend time alone, so make sure that you keep your canine well-entertained.

Though the Lhasa Apso may be small, they are anything but fragile. They are known to take on a challenge and forget just how small they are. You will likely see them standing up to large dogs, bravely barking at intruders, and fearlessly chasing animals that enter your yard.

Overall Health Of The Lhasa Apso

While the Lhasa Apso can live a healthy life of up to 16 years, they are prone to a few medical conditions. Some health conditions to be aware of when owning a Lhasa Apso include:

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is extremely common in small dog breeds. This condition refers to the dislocation of the knee joint which can result in pain when the joint grinds and shifts out of place.

Dogs with luxating patellas can experience pain, limping, swelling, lameness, and other signs of pain. If the condition becomes advanced, surgery can be reparative.


Some dogs can experience allergies due to a number of factors. Dogs can experience contact allergies, environmental allergies, or food allergies.

Allergies can cause skin redness, itching, hair loss, vomiting, diarrhea, skin infections, ear infections, and other symptoms depending on the type of allergy.

Dry Eye

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), or dry eye, describes the condition that causes chronic dryness in the eye. Though this condition can be extremely irritating for the dog, it can be well managed with daily eye drops.

Cherry Eye

Cherry eye refers to the swelling of the third eyelid in dogs. It looks like a red mass (hence the name cherry eye) in the corner of their eye when it protrudes.

Cherry eye can be irritating for the dog experiencing it, so it’s recommended to have it surgically revised. Also, be careful during the summer days, because you want to avoid any changes of heatstroke. Dogs don’t do well during the hot weather.

Training Your Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso is extremely independent, making it a bit more challenging to train them. They tend to want to do things their way, meaning they require a strong and firm trainer that is dedicated to making the process engaging for them.

Though their training can require more effort, it is extremely possible to train them properly when using positive and engaging reinforcement.

They are kind of like a class clown. Though the class clown can be told to simmer down and obey the rules, they are still not the most obedient student in the class.

Since they are so independent and can have a bit of an attitude, they do not tolerate negative reinforcement well. Negative reinforcement and punishment style training is no longer acceptable for any breed, but especially any breed that is independent and “angsty” like the Lhasa Apso.

Plus, with proper training, your Lhasa Apso will learn how to be more independent and to be comfortable with staying alone at home.

It is mentioned frequently that potty training can be challenging for the Lhasa Apso. Because of this, many Lhasa Apso owners need to crate their dogs when away from home during workdays or other trips that take them away from the house for a few hours.

It is important to introduce your Lhasa Apso to other children early in their life if you think your Lhasa Apso will be around children in the future because they are known to nip when they are annoyed.

Because of this, it’s best to always supervise interaction with children, or make sure the only children around your dog understand standard canine boundaries.

Exercise And Your Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso is an extremely playful breed. They are known for their puppy-like activity level, so they are always ready to play!

If you live an active life and enjoy your time spent outdoors, the Lhasa Apso will be perfectly content. Though they are small, they are known to enjoy a number of outdoor activities.

Lhasa Apso’s are often apartment dogs due to their small size, but they still require daily exercise.

If a Lhasa Apso does not receive at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, they may begin to show unfavorable behaviors in your home. If you bring a Lhasa Apso into your home, make sure you are prepared to implement daily play into your routine.

Important Tips For Your Lhasa Apso

Now that we’ve covered the main details around the Lhasa Apso breed, let’s discuss some important tips for Lhasa Apso owners to remember.

  • The Lhasa Apso is independent and like to do things their way
  • The Lhasa Apso is a natural watchdog, so expect them to bark when they hear things in and outside of your home
  • The Lhasa Apso thinks they are much larger than they are, so expect a brave and spunky pup that takes on any challenge
  • They require daily grooming, or at least every other day
  • Most Lhasa Apso owners invest in a monthly groomer
  • They can be a bit more difficult to train due to their independent attitude
  • They require at least 30 minutes of daily exercise
  • They do well with positive reinforcement style training
  • They are known to experience eye conditions, so see the vet asap if you notice any changes in their eyes
  • They are known to nip when annoyed, so make sure to monitor them around children


The Lhasa Apso is a spunky breed that can provide your family with endless entertainment. If you choose to bring a Lhasa Apso into your life, you will surely gain a vivacious and loving furry friend!