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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Lhasa Apso Dog Breed Guide: Pictures, Info, Care & More!

Lhasa Apso Dog Breed Guide: Pictures, Info, Care & More!

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Lhasa Apsos have been around for at least 1,000 years and were used as guard dogs in the Himalayas for Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and palaces. They have even been long connected with the Dalai Lama! Lhasa Apsos are bold and independent dogs that are also very merry and loyal when with their families.

Breed Overview


9–11 inches


12–18 pounds


12-15 years


Black, black & tan, golden, grizzle, cream, white, red, red-gold

Suitable for:

Families living in apartments


Confident, loyal, loving, happy, playful, bold, stubborn

They are famous for their coats that are parted in the middle and fall like curtains to the floor. They are also known for their perky, feathered tail that curls over their backs. They come in a wide variety of colors—everything from black to honey to a red-gold color. The fur on their heads and ears is dense and gives them a lion-like appearance, which is partly why they are sometimes called lion dogs.

Lhasa Apso Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.


Lhasa Apso Puppies

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Image By: kshitijprakash, Pixabay

The Lhasa Apso does appreciate some activity and can be playful, but they are small in size and enjoy lounging around the house as well. They are very stubborn and independent dogs that can be a challenge to train, but they love their families and can be aloof with strangers. Lhasa Apsos are generally healthy dogs and can live well into their 20s.

Be ready to have a loyal and loving dog by your side when you bring home a Lhasa Apso. These small dogs are great companions to cuddle and to exercise with. They are generally very healthy dogs, but of course, they can still inherit some health issues. With proper diet, exercise, and grooming, your pup can grow into a happy and healthy dog!

Temperament & Intelligence of the Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso is a very confident dog who can be a bit of a clown when with the family. They might be very small dogs, but they are robust and hardy overall. Because of their protective natures, some people might be rather surprised at their protectiveness for those they love. Their long, flowing coat combined with their small stature might give the impression of a pampered lap dog.

While Lhasa Apsos are very loyal to their owners, they are also very independent, stubborn, and usually enjoy doing their own thing.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Lhasa Apso is a very playful dog but would probably get along best with older children and will enjoy playtime with children who know how to handle them. Young and rowdy children won’t mix very well with these dogs, and all children in the household should be taught to respect and handle dogs well.

They do make excellent watchdogs and will protect their family quite fearlessly but aren’t necessarily aggressive dogs.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Lhasa Apsos are big dogs in small dog bodies, so they will attempt (and succeed) to take charge of dogs of all sizes. But they get along with other dogs quite well, and with proper socialization, Lhasa Apsos also get along with most other pets as well.

Image By: Jumpstory


Things to Know When Owning a Lhasa Apso:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Feeding your Lhasa Apso will consist of finding high-quality food (like this one) that is designed for her age, size, and activity level. They need higher fat and protein levels because they have thick skin that helps to support the weight of their coats. Experts recommend feeding Lhasa Apsos food with more than 14% fat levels, but be careful not to overfeed.

Exercise 🐕

Lhasa Apsos are quite capable of exercising themselves by running around your house or apartment and will only require a few short walks every day. If it’s a yucky day outside, they can get their exercise inside and will be happy just playing and sleeping on your lap.

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Image By: kshitijprakash, Pixabay

Training 🎾

Training the Lhasa Apso can be a challenge thanks to their stubbornness and intelligence. They are smart enough to learn but independent enough to want to only learn on their own terms. The more you punish or bully the Lhasa Apso, the more stubborn they become, so it’s best to stick with short and consistent lessons.

Grooming ✂️

If you decide to cut your Lhasa Apso’s coat yourself, hoping it will reduce the amount of grooming they need, you’d be only slightly right. The shorter cut on the Lhasa Apso still requires regular maintenance and will need brushing several times a week, but the long coat could use a daily brushing to prevent mats. Bathing the Lhasa Apso with a good shampoo, such as this one, should be done every 2 to 4 weeks.

You should brush your Lhasa Apso’s teeth about 2 to 3 times a week, clean her ears about once a month, and trim those nails about every 3 to 4 weeks.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Lhasa Apsos are a very healthy and robust breed, which isn’t always the case with purebreds. However, there are a few conditions they are prone to inherit. The vet will thoroughly examine your Lhasa Apso’s eyes in addition to a regular physical exam when she’s a puppy to ensure she won’t inherit any of these conditions. Your vet will check your dog’s knees and hips and will run a urinalysis and a variety of blood tests to ensure your pup is in good health.

Male vs Female

One of the more obvious differences between male and female dogs is usually in size. The Lhasa Apso is no exception, but it is a little harder to detect. The female Lhasa tends to be only slightly smaller than the male.

The other very obvious difference is in the kind of surgery your dog needs. Neutering the Lhasa Apso male is typically an easier and, therefore, cheaper procedure than spaying the female. Experts say that spaying or neutering your dog will help prevent serious health conditions from developing later, in addition to improving behavioral issues.

Some believe that there are personality and temperament differences between female and male dogs. It is thought that males can be a little less affectionate and are more territorial than females, but this isn’t always the case. Overall, the true test of a dog’s personality starts while they are young and also depends upon how well socialized they were as a puppy, and how they have been treated as an adult.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Lhasa Apso

1. They Are Known As The “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog”

Lhasa Apsos are called Abso Seng Kye in their native Tibet, which translates to “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog.” This name stems from their original job as sentinels within Tibetan habitations and from their association with the Snow Lion, a mythical guardian of Tibet.

2. The Lhasa Apso Is Long-Lived

These pups typically have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years of age, but the oldest recorded Lhasa Apso was 29 years old! If you take excellent care of your Lhasa, she might very well live into her 20s.

3. Lhasa Apsos Are An Important Part Of Reincarnation

During the reincarnation process, Tibetan Buddhists believe that lamas, or spiritual leaders, are typically reborn as the Lhasa Apso dogs before they are then reborn again as humans. The Lhasa Apso is a very important spiritual dog for the Tibetans.

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Credit: PicsbyFran, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

The Lhasa Apso has an incredible history and a personality to match. This breed will be a great fit for single people or families with older children.

Finding Lhasa Apso puppies shouldn’t prove too difficult as they are a popular breed that is adaptable to living in the country or the city. You can post your interest in finding a puppy on social media or locate a breeder in your area. Or you could consider adopting your pup from a rescue organization, like the Lhasa Apso Rescue, which shows how many of these dogs are available in each state.

If you’re on the lookout for a sassy, smart, and protective dog that can fit in your lap for a good cuddle, the Lhasa Apso might just be the perfect dog to add to your family.

Featured Image Credit: Sonja-Kalee, Pixabay

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