Animal stories: Lhasa apsos

Lhasa Apsos are long-haired, pleasant little dogs. They are slightly longer than they are tall. They have a very good hearing and could be very good watchdogs.

Lhasa Apsos have a very long, thick, straight coat. The hair falls over the eyes and also forms a beard and mustache. Their long and large ears are feathered. They have a strong and well-arched neck, falling into well laid back shoulders. The legs are short and muscular. Their tail is long coated and should be set high and carried over the back.

These dogs are very aware of who is a friend and who is a stranger. They are very loyal, trustful and intelligent dogs. They do get along well with children and enjoy their company.

They were first used as indoor guards of the temples and as companions for the monks of these temples. Now, they are family pets.

Average size

Lhasa Apsos weighs from 6-7 kg and is 25-28 cm tall at the shoulder.

Coat colour

They come in a variety of colours like white, golden, black and different shades of brown.


They are intelligent dogs that can be stubborn at times.

They need to be trained from an early age. With patience and consistency they can become relatively obedient. They are quite sensitive and so do not respond well to loud voices. They must not be overly spoiled as they may develop behavioural problems.

Food requirements

The Lhasa Apsos are not a demanding dog feeding wise. But their diet has to be observed well as they may suffer from back problems if overweight.


The Lhasa Apso lives for about 15 years.

Pet grooming

The Lhasa Apso has a very long, thick, straight coat that requires a lot of daily grooming. As the undercoat is so soft it must be combed to prevent any tangles forming.

If they are not kept properly groomed they can develop skin problems. Even though the hair goes over the eyes, the eyelashes are long and strong enough to allow the dog to see very well.

They also require to be bathed fairly regularly to keep them feeling clean and fresh. If the coat becomes too much, they can be kept short.

Country of origin

Tibet: The Lhasa Apso originated in Tibet, probably in the 600’s. The word ‘Lhasa’ may refer to the capital of Tibet, and ‘apso’ means ‘goat-like’. The Lhasa Apso was only bred in Tibet, by the holy men and the nobles, for at least 2,000 years. They were used as watchdogs in the temples and monasteries.

The people of Tibet greatly respected these little dogs, as they believed they were the reincarnations of the holy lamas. They were never sold or bought but given as gifts, and it was considered a great honour to receive one.

The Dalai Lama traditionally gave a Lhasa Apso as a gift. The Lhasa Apso was first seen in Britain in the 1920’s and introduced to America in the 1930’s where it was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1935. The Lhasa Apso was the first Tibetan breed to be accepted.