The Lhasa Apso, also known as the Apso Seng Kye (bark lion dog), originated from Tibet thousands of years ago. It is part of the UKC, Companion Dog Group, and the AKC’s Non-Sporting Dog Group.

Brief History

The Lhasa Apso were used as guard dogs in monasteries and Buddhist temples in Tibet. The Lhasa has been associated with the Dalai Lama for centuries and was offered as a gift by the 14th Dalai Lama to the U.S in 1933. Lhasa is a sacred city in Tibet. Apso means a “longhaired dog.”

Physical Features

The Lhasa Apso is small, yet feisty. They have a medium-length muzzle, dark brown eyes and a black nose. With ears that are pendant, and catlike feet, the Lhasa carries their tails over its back. Their tails also have a kink at the end.

This breed has lots of long hair and also has a beard. Their coats come in any color, and is heavy, straight, and long. The hair is parted centrally from the head to the tail.

Average Height:

10-11 inches

Average Weight:

14-15 pounds

Life Expectancy:

12-14 years


The Lhasa Apso is watchful, yet can be friendly. This dog breed is affectionate with family, and enjoys human company. It may be wary of strangers, and sometimes children. This is a happy dog breed that thrives on being pampered. This dog breed should begin with socialization and positive puppy training early on during puppyhood.

The Lhasa is quick to learn, but needs plenty of rewards to become motivated. This breed does not do well with harsh reprimands or long periods of training. They need to be positively trained with short training sessions to maintain focus and enthusiasm. Quite willful, yet sensitive and playful, the Lhasa bonds very closely to his dog parents and will sulk if left behind.

Lhasa Apso

Special Needs

The Lhasa Apso needs plenty of attention and regular exercise. This breed does well with a dog parent that is nurturing and understanding. This breed needs to be careful when climbing stairs, so as not to injure their backs. The Lhasa adores being pampered 24/7, in fact, they often demand it!

Possible Health Concerns

  • Hereditary Renal Disease: Hereditary renal disease in the Lhasa is common. Kidney malformations are called dysplasias, and occur when the kidneys do not develop properly before birth. When the kidneys are too small, this is called hypoplasia. This can occur in one or both kidneys. Kidneys will be pale, small, and firm. Symptoms include excessive thirst and excessive urination. 
  • Cherry Eye. (Prolapsed Nictitans Gland) This is the inflammation of the Harderian gland, which is an accessory tear gland. This can result in dry eye. It is common in young dogs, and certain dog breeds like the Lhasa Apso. With this disorder, the gland of the nictitating membrane thickens and slips out of its proper place. When this disorder becomes severe, the red glandular mass swells and protrudes over the edge of the membrane, hence the name “cherry eye.” 
  • Skin Allergies: Lhasa’s may be prone to Atopic Dermatitis. This is caused by an abnormal immune system response. There are many allergies which can affect the skin, and are caused by fleas, dog food and other allergens like pollen in the air. Consult with your veterinarian if your Lhasa suffers from intense itching.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is the name for a group of diseases that cause degeneration of the retina. This will include inherited abnormalities of the light- sensitive cells.
  • Hip Dysplasia is the abnormal development of the hip joint in dog breeds like the Lhasa Apso. It is generally characterized by a loose joint, and then degenerative joint disease. 
  • Patellar Luxation: This is a hereditary condition that is caused by the abnormal development of the kneecap(patella).X-rays will aid in seeing the severity of the displacement. Treatment usually involves surgical options.


All dogs need exercise, some more so than others! The Lhasa Apso dog breed is one that does well with fun exercise schedules. Off-leash runs at the dog park or beach work wonders to keep your pooch calm and focused. Combining that with positive training classes, allows for your Lhasa to be happy and healthy.


The Lhasa Apso has a long coat that will need to be maintained to prevent matting. It’s best with this breed to opt for a professional clipping. Daily grooming is necessary to maintain coat and skin health. It also promotes new hair growth. Try finishing sprays and dry canine shampoos as well.

Teeth need to be brushed daily with a canine toothbrush and toothpaste. Ears need to be cleaned weekly and checked for sensitivity. Nails trimmed as needed. Your Lhasa will need to have a professional dental cleaning twice a year. 

The feisty and stubborn Lhasa Apso adapts easily to any home. Although they may look like couch potatoes, this dog breed needs exercise and mental stimulation. The Lhasa does well in home environments that will pamper them. This dog breed needs a firm dog parent, and consistent housetraining with lots of fun canine sports that the entire family can partake in.

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