L’hasa Apso

The L’hasa Apso is a small dog breed that was highly regarded as watchdogs in palaces and monasteries in Tibet. This pure breed is a small sturdy dog that is affectionate, devoted and protective of his family. Highly adaptable, this adorable dog is suitable for both novice and experienced dog parents.


The Lhasa got his name from the city of Lhasa in Tibet. One of the ancient breeds, this dog goes back to 800 BC where he was bred by noble families and monks. The natives called him Abso Seng Kye meaning Bark Lion Sentinel Dog.

Owning a Lhasa was considered good luck as he was considered sacred. The Tibetans believed that when the owner dies, his soul entered the body of his Lhasa. It was almost impossible for regular natives to buy one and the dogs were only allowed out of Tibet as gifts by the Dalai Lama.

Lhasas were given as sacred gifts to the Emperor of China and members of his royal court. The norm was to gift them in pairs to bring luck and prosperity to the recipient. This custom began in the Manchu in 1583.

This breed was registered by the American Kennel Club in 1935.

Physical Characteristics

The Lhasa Apso is a small dog famous for his flat-hanging long coat that is parted in the middle to drape effortlessly over each side of his body.

He has a well-balanced rectangular body with a level topline and his tail is feathery and curls over the dog’s back. The feet and legs are well feathered

The Lhasa has dark brown oval-shaped eyes with an alert, thoughtful and soft facial expression. His head is furnished with a good fall of fur over his eyes. His ears lie close to his cheeks. 

The heavy dense double coat is long and straight. Coat colors include:

  • Honey
  • Black
  • Black and tan
  • White
  • Cream
  • Gold
  • Grizzle
  • Red
  • Red gold


A mature L’hasa measures 9 to 11 inches (25 to 28cm) at the shoulder and weighs 12 to 15 pounds (5 to 7kg). 

Character & abilities

The Lhasa is a royal dog that carries himself with grace and dignity. He thinks he is a large dog who is duty-bound to fiercely guard his home and family. He is however not usually aggressive. 

This dog is charming and loyal. Although he is independent, the Lhasa enjoys spending time with his family with a lionhearted sense of devotion. 

He is alert and sensitive to his environment. He is usually high spirited and assertive but may be aloof with people he doesn’t know and is suspicious of strangers. 

During puppyhood, the Lhasa is cute, curious, energetic and always ready to play. This stage stretches for three years because this breed matures slowly. 

This small dog is usually intolerant of small children and might nip at their heels. He is best suited in a home with older children that are not rowdy. 

With proper training, the Lhasa gets along well with other pets. Even among bigger dogs, he wants to be the leader. The Lhasa will even get involved in activities like hiking or skiing because, in his mind, he is a large dog. 

Trainability & Intelligence

The Lhasa can be challenging to train and needs firm, consistent training. He is intelligent with unique reasoning ability. He may not be the most obedient dog but he is worth the time and effort. 

Early socialization is critical to steer the Lhasa away from his instincts to be wary. The key in training this breed is to take charge and not be manipulated by this irresistible creature. 

Housebreaking the Lhasa can be difficult and crate training is recommended. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

Though he is not a high energy dog, the Lhasa enjoys playing in the yard and is content to take several short walks every day. 

This dog is happy to spend time in the home curling on the laps of his human family, wandering around and playing. 

During adulthood, the Lhasa’s dietary needs can be met with one cup of high-quality dry dog food divided into two meals a day. It is prudent to not leave food out in the bowl to monitor food intake and prevent overeating. 


The Lhasa has a beautiful long coat that is time-consuming to maintain. Daily brushing and combing are required as well as frequent baths. Inexperienced dog parents might want to pass on this function to professional dog groomers.

Some Lhasa parents opt to have the coat clipped short to make it easier to care for.

To get the small dog accustomed to being touched and examined, grooming should begin as early as puppyhood. Outer parts of the ears should be cleaned and checked for infections regularly. 

Regular oral care involves brushing the teeth with vet-approved toothpaste. This will prevent gum and mouth disease. Since the Lhasa’s nails don’t wear down naturally, a trim is necessary once or twice a month. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

The Lhasa Apso has a heavy flowing coat with feathered feet and legs that protect him from extreme temperatures. This however does not mean the dog should be left to live in a kennel or outside the home. He thrives on human companionship. 

This small dog is adaptable and comfortable living in any size of home including apartments. It is important to be patient and prepare for prolonged potty training because he takes more than one year to mentally mature.


The Lhasa is a generally healthy breed but like all dogs is genetically predisposed to certain health issues. When adopting a Lhasa, it is wise to confirm if the dog has been tested and cleared of any health condition. 

  • Patellar luxation
  • Cherry eye
  • Familial Inherited Renal Dysplasia
  • Dry eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Sebaceous Adenitis
  • Allergies 


Exotic and elegant, the Lhasa Apso is a splendid dog. Naturally protective, he can be trained to be friendly and sociable. Any family that loves puppies will enjoy living with this dog that stays puppyish and sweet for three years. 

Our team at All The Small Dog Breeds we have compiled an interesting mix of small dog breed descriptions with traits and facts to help new and experienced dog parents to identify the dog that fits their home and lifestyle. Lhasa Apso


1.5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds


1.5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds

Energy Level

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Good with kids

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