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  • Temperament: Confident, Smart, Comical
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 71 of 192
  • Height: 10-11 inches (male), slightly smaller (female)
  • Weight: 12-18 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Non-Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Lhasa Apso standing in three-quarter view
Lhasa Apso head and shoulders facing left
Lhasa Apso sitting facing forward
Lhasa Apso coat detail
Lhasa Apso

Find a Puppy: Lhasa Apso

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HEAD

Heavy head furnishings with good fall over eyes, good whiskers and beard; skull narrow, falling away behind the eyes in a marked degree, not quite flat, but not domed or apple-shaped; straight foreface of fair length. Nose black, the length from tip of nose to eye to be roughly about one-third of the total length from nose to back of skull.

BODY

The length from point of shoulders to point of buttocks longer than height at withers, well ribbed up, strong loin, well-developed quarters and thighs.

LEGS

Forelegs straight; both forelegs and hind legs heavily furnished with hair.

COAT

Heavy, straight, hard, not woolly nor silky, of good length, and very dense.

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About the Lhasa Apso

Standing less than a foot high at the shoulder, Lhasas are small but hardy dogs of aristocratic bearing. They’re famous for a floor-length, flat-hanging coat, parted in the middle and draping each side of the body. A feathery tail curls over the back in the distinct manner of Tibetan breeds. The breed’s fans say the dark, oval-shaped eyes—peeping through lavish facial hair—are the windows of a Lhasa’s merry soul. The complete picture is unmistakably Asian: exotic, elegant, and serenely well balanced.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Lhasa Apso

Find a Puppy: Lhasa Apso

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Lhasa Apso Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

Lhasa Apsos thrive on high-quality food. Since they usually have thick skin to support their heavy hair coat, Lhasas need a diet with good protein and fat levels. Breeders recommend a food with fat level above 14 percent. The protein source (meat, fish, game, etc.) depends on the individual dog’s tolerance and taste. Most Lhasas tend to utilize their food very well, and even slight overfeeding can lead to unpleasant digestive outcomes. Food can be fed dry, or slightly moistened with a little flavor enhancement such as cooked meat or a grain-free canned food. Whether to feed once or twice a day is a personal choice for owners, but dogs thrive on consistency, so it is recommended to keep the frequency and time of day constant.

GROOMING

Long hair or puppy cut? Both require regular maintenance, and this is a choice for the owner to make. Lhasas in a puppy cut or other clip still should be brushed regularly and bathed between visits to the groomer. Long hair requires regular brushing, using the right tools and techniques. Expect to bathe a long coat at least every two weeks, and brush at least once between baths. Thorough rinsing is essential, as shampoo residue irritates the skin. Conditioners and finishing sprays make grooming easier. Freshly bathed long or clipped hair should be thoroughly dried and brushed, as damp hair, even when clean, will mat.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Infrequent

EXERCISE

The Lhasa is generally not a couch potato and is adept at self-exercise. They will race around an apartment to run off energy, entertain themselves in a fenced yard, or take their owners on a brisk walk. Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise. They excel at agility, can do scent work, and have been known to retrieve and herd. There are talented Lhasas certified as therapy dogs working in hospitals, nursing homes, colleges, and prisons.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Lhasa Apsos will please you if it pleases them to please you. They are highly intelligent, sometimes compared to a willful toddler. They can learn just about anything that a trainer makes interesting enough to master—on their terms. They do not appreciate repetitive drill and can become uncommonly stubborn if bullied or badgered. Most cases of unacceptable Lhasa behavior involve situations with inconsistent, improper, or nonexistent human leadership. This is a breed for creative, motivated people who enjoy a canine companion of like mind.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

The Lhasa Apso is generally a robust, healthy dog. The most serious health problem in the breed is hereditary kidney dysfunction, which can be present in mild to severe form. There is no reliable test to detect carriers. Prospective owners should seek out experienced, conscientious breeders who are aware of the condition and remove affected individuals from their breeding programs. Breeders have made great progress toward eliminating this problem, and the risk of acquiring an afflicted puppy from a knowledgeable breeder is slim. Other conditions to inquire about are dry eye, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), slipping stifles, hip dysplasia, and cherry eye.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

No recommended health tests

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Lhasa Apso standing outdoors in sunlight.
Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apso

History

This thousand-year-old breed served as sentinel dogs at palaces and Buddhist monasteries isolated high in the Himalayan Mountains. For centuries Lhasas have been associated with the Dalai Lama. In the late 1940s, dogs bred and given as gifts by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama helped establish the breed in America. In Tibetan folklore the country’s protector is the mythical Snow Lion, and Lhasas, the “bearded lion dogs,” are the Snow Lion’s earthly representatives. Lhasa is the name of Tibet’s sacred city; Apso means “longhaired dog.”

Did You Know?

The original name of the Lhasa was Abso Seng Kye, the "Bark Lion Sentinel Dog."
The Lhasa, along with the Tibetan Spaniel and Tibetan Terrier, is one of three natively Tibetan breeds in the Non-Sporting Group, and of the three, it was the first admitted to the AKC (in 1935). The three breeds share the heavy coat of protective hair and an upcurled tail over the back.
Suydam Cutting, a naturalist and world traveler, is singularly responsible for the establishment and reputation of the Lhasa in America.
Lhasas served as guards inside dwellings in Tibet, while Mastiffs served outside.
The Lhasa was originally shown in the Terrier Group and was reassigned in 1959 to the Non-Sporting Group.

The Breed Standard

HEAD

Heavy head furnishings with good fall over eyes, good whiskers and beard; skull narrow, falling away behind the eyes in a marked degree, not quite flat, but not domed or apple-shaped; straight foreface of fair length. Nose black, the length from tip of nose to eye to be roughly about one-third of the total length from nose to back of skull.

BODY

The length from point of shoulders to point of buttocks longer than height at withers, well ribbed up, strong loin, well-developed quarters and thighs.

LEGS

Forelegs straight; both forelegs and hind legs heavily furnished with hair.

COAT

Heavy, straight, hard, not woolly nor silky, of good length, and very dense.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Black & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 018
Cream Check Mark For Standard Color 076
Golden Check Mark For Standard Color 093
Grizzle Check Mark For Standard Color 109
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Red Gold Check Mark For Standard Color 152
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199
Blue 037
Charcoal 331
Gray 100
Liver 123
Silver 176

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Mask With Tips 054
Black Tips 053
Brindle 051
Parti-Color 038
Sable 026
White Markings 014
Sable, White Markings 067

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