Breed Group:
Companion Dogs

Middle Age: 6 years

Geriatric Age: 11 years

Life Span: 12 to 14 years

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Lhasa Apso Information & Background

The Lhasa Apso is an ancient, small-sized dog breed hailing from the mountains of Tibet. The Lhasa Apso breed emerged around 800 A.D., around the time that Buddhism emerged and became intertwined with Tibetan culture. The Lhasa Apso’s name is derived from their native name Abso Seng-Kye, meaning “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog”, combined with their extreme popularity in the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa. The first Lhasa Apsos came to the western world around 1930 and were brought as gifts by the 13th Dalai Lama. The Lhasa Apso breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1935. Upon recognition, it was placed into the Terrier Group but has since been moved to the Non-Sporting Group.

The Lhasa Apso breed traditionally filled a double role as both companion and guardian. They were used to guard the religious monasteries and homes of nobility in their native Tibet, giving a nod to the meaning of their native name. Belying their small size, this breed is an alert protector that will unfailingly give warning if a threat arises. Bred and raised in the harsh and mountainous landscape of Tibet, the Lhasa Apso is a hardy breed that exercises restraint and economy in all things. One of the most distinguishing Lhasa Apso characteristics is their long, flowing hair that reaches the ground, giving them a regal appearance. Although their coat appears silky, it is rather hard and stiff in texture, protecting them from the mountain environment they thrive in.

Lhasa Apso Temperament & Personality

The Lhasa Apso is an affectionate breed with a gentle temperament that makes them a great family companion. They are happy to play but equally happy to snooze the day away. This is a regal breed that is known to exhibit a stubborn streak but generally is not known to exhibit poor behavior. For a small-sized companion dog, they are relatively independent and don’t need constant attention to be content.

Training a Lhasa Apso

Training for a Lhasa Apso should begin early. Their stubborn personality makes them somewhat difficult to train, and their medium to low energy levels make them less than interested in constant training. They should also be socialized at a young age due to their natural distrust of strangers. This characteristic makes them a watchful guardian, but can lead to problems when they are brought in public or have new faces come to visit. Training a Lhasa Apso will require time, patience, and love.

Exercise Requirements for a Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso has very low exercise requirements. For optimal Lhasa Apso health, it is recommended that they are brought on a short walk or engage in a vigorous play session on a daily basis. If a day is skipped, your Lhasa Apso will probably not care in the slightest. Their low exercise requirements make them a great breed for the elderly or apartment, as well as urban living.

Lhasa Apso Lifespan & Longevity

A healthy breed, a Lhasa Apso lifespan ranges from 12-14 years of age on average. However, Lhasa Apsos life expectancy can reach at least 20 years of age or even older if they are healthy.

Breed Popularity of the Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso is a moderately popular breed. Ranked as the 71st most popular AKC registered breed, their popularity has surely been impacted by the increasing popularity of small-sized hybrid dogs such as the Maltipoo and Cockapoo, which fill the same niche.

Feeding Requirements for the Lhasa Apso

Ensuring your Lhasa Apso has a complete and balanced diet is one of the best ways to help them live a long and healthy life. Lhasa Apsos Ensuring your Lhasa Apso has a complete and balanced diet is one of the best ways to help them live a long and healthy life. Lhasa Apsos are a medium energy breed, so picking a food that has everything they need and nothing they don’t is even more important than with many other breeds. To prevent Lhasa Apso health problems, choose a high-quality food that contains a good balance of proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats. Avoid any food that contains grain based fillers such as soy, corn, and wheat as these have been linked to Lhasa Apso allergies and are harder to digest. Lhasa Apsos typically weigh between 13-15 lbs, so expect to fed them around ¾ to 1 cup of dry food a day, split into two even meals.

How to Groom a Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apsos grooming requirements will vary depending on if owners keep their hair naturally long, or trim it close to the body. With their natural coat, owners will need to brush their Lhasa every other day to avoid matting. If your Lhasa’s hair is kept trimmed and close to their body, expect to give them a good brushing a couple of times a week. When grooming your Lhasa Apso, make sure to check in their ears for any signs of an ear infection. Also, regularly trim their nails and keep their eyes clear of any debris.

Are Lhasa Apsos Good with Children?

The Lhasa Apso is good with children of any age. Very small children should be supervised with the Lhasa due to its small size, as the Lhasa can be inadvertently hurt. Lhasa Apsos love to play and make excellent playmates. They are a medium energy breed, so don’t expect them to play with children all day long. After their play session, they will likely curl up on the couch with your children and nap the rest of the day away.

Lhasa Apso Health Issues

Patellar Luxation: Patellar luxation is a condition where the kneecap, or patella, becomes more easily dislocated from the groove it rides in on the femur. Patellar luxation primarily occurs in small dog breeds, with teacup and miniature breeds being the most affected. Dislocation of the kneecap is extremely painful. The most obvious sign of patellar luxation is a sudden onset of lameness in a limb during a walk or exercise. Your Lhasa may shake their leg repeatedly, or refuse to put weight on one limb.

Entropian and Ectropian Eyelids: Entropian and ectropian eyelids are both serious Lhasa Apso eye problems. With entropian eyelids, the eyelid closest to the eyeball rolls inward, causing eyelashes and the hair normally facing outward to come in contact with the cornea. As the hair rubs against the cornea it can scratch it, leading to scarring and potentially blindness. Entropian eyelids are an extremely painful condition, and should be treated by a veterinarian immediately. With ectropian eyelids, the eyelid rolls outward rather than inward. While potentially less serious than entropian eyelids, this condition negates the protective function of the eyelid. Without this protective layer, the inner lining of the eyelid is exposed to foreign bodies that will cause irritation and inflammation. Over time ectropian eyelids can also lead to serious damage to the eye and vision, and so should be treated immediately. Lhasa Apso owners are encouraged to make checking their dog’s eyes a normal part of their grooming regimen.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a degenerative disease affecting the retina. Specifically, PRA causes a deterioration in the photoreceptor cells of the eye. These cells are responsible for the ability to receive and perceive light. The symptoms of PRA change as the disease progresses. Early on your dog will have a diminished capacity to perceive objects in dim light. In more advanced stages, PRA leads to increased loss of vision and eventually full blindness. Dogs that suffer from PRA suffer no pain, but it does affect both eyes simultaneously. Because PRA is a hereditary disease it is important to check with your breeder to determine if any dog in their line, including offspring or siblings, have ever suffered from PRA. Most dogs, and their relations, that suffer from PRA are subsequently removed from breeding by reputable breeders.

Renal Cortical Hypoplasia: This is a disease that affects the development of the kidneys during adolescence. With this disease, the kidneys in an affected dog fail to grow to a normal size. Due to their reduced size and changes to the cells and structure within the kidneys, affected dogs are unable to properly eliminate waste and toxins from the bloodstream through urine. How renal cortical hypoplasia presents depends on the severity of the case. In only lightly affected dogs or dogs where less than 10% of their kidneys are affected, they can show nearly no signs and live a normal life span. In moderately and severely affected dogs, the disease presents soon after birth to within the first few months of life. Affected dogs will show signs of excessive thirst and urine production, and loss of weight, energy, and appetite. As the disease progresses the affected dog will also experience vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. In moderate and severe cases, there is no cure and the disease will ultimately lead to death. Renal cortical hypoplasia is a congenital disease, meaning it is passed down through the line of dogs. Exactly how renal cortical hypoplasia is passed down is currently unknown, as some lines that carry the gene will not give rise to affected offspring for generations. The Lhasa Apso is a breed in which this condition occurs more frequently, so potential Lhasa Apso owners are encouraged to speak with their breeder about whether this disease has ever appeared in their line.

Brachycephalic Syndrome: Brachycephalic syndrome, or brachycephalic airway syndrome, is a disease that results in abnormal growth in the airways of some breeds. These abnormalities can include one or more of the following; everted laryngeal saccules, hypoplastic trachea, stenotic nares, or an elongated soft palate. These abnormalities affect the airway in some manner and result in a degree of difficulty passing air through the airways. Affected dogs often have noisy breathing, snore during sleep, and may snort when excited or agitated. They will also be more likely to exhibit signs of difficulty breathing during exercise and may lose consciousness due to a lack of oxygen. Surgery is most often necessary to correct the abnormalities in the airway. In overweight dogs, surgery is often accompanied by diet changes to promote weight loss.

Other Resources

national breed website: The American Lhasa Apso Club 
resources: Lhasa Happy Homes Rescue