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  • Temperament: Confident, Smart, Comical
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 71 of 196
  • 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.
©American Kennel Club
Three Lhasa Apsos side by side outdoors in the grass.
VKarlov/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images
Lhasa Apso laying down in profile.
©otsphoto - stock.adobe.com
Lhasa Apso head in profile facing left.
©American Kennel Club
Lhasa Apso standing in the garden.
©Barbara Schwartz
Lhasa Apso sitting facing forward.
©American Kennel Club
Lhasa Apso standing in a mountainous landscape.
©Ricant Images - stock.adobe.com
Lhasa Apso sitting on the couch.
©Audrius Merfeldas - stock.adobe.com
Lhasa Apso at the AKC National Championship.
David Woo ©American Kennel Club
Lhasa Apso puppies laying side by side.
©otsphoto - stock.adobe.com

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.

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Reflecting his Tibetan heritage as an indoor sentinel on the Tibetan Plateau, north of the Himalayan Mountains, the Lhasa Apso is a small, sturdy, well-balanced rectangular dog of moderation possessing a level topline and a tail carried well over the back. There should be neither exaggeration of any body parts nor hint of massive bone or body. A distinguishing characteristic of the Lhasa Apso is its heavy, dense, double coat that is parted in the middle from head to tail. In addition, the Lhasa Apso has good headfall and well-feathered feet and legs as these features protected this small dog against extreme temperatures and the rough terrain of his native land.

HEAD

Expression – Alert, thoughtful, intelligent. Heavy head furnishings enhance the proper Lhasa expression with good fall over eyes, good whiskers, and beard. Full depth of dark pigmentation on eye rims and lips is essential to achieve the desired softness of expression. Eyes – Dark brown, almond shaped. Round full eyes and very small sunken eyes are undesirable. Ears – Pendant, set slightly above eye level and carried close to the cheeks, heavily feathered. Skull – Narrow, falling away behind the eyes in a marked degree, not quite flat, but not domed or apple- shaped. Stop – Moderate. Muzzle – Straight foreface of fair length with the length from tip of nose to eye to be roughly one-third the total length from nose to back of skull. A square muzzle is objectionable. Nose – Black. Bite – The preferred bite is either level or slightly undershot.

BODY

Neck – Moderate in length, blending smoothly into the shoulders. Body – Rectangular when viewed in profile, with the length from point of shoulder to point of buttocks being longer than the height at withers. Chest of good depth extending to or slightly below the elbow. Prosternum well developed. Well ribbed up with the ribs extending well back towards hindquarters, strong loin, well-developed quarters and thighs. Topline – level from withers to croup, whether standing or moving. Tail – Well feathered and set sufficiently high to enable the tail to be carried well over the back in a curl lying to the side; there may be a kink at the end. Low carriage of stern is a serious fault. This means that when the Lhasa is moving, the tail is carried well over the back. A dropped tail while standing is not to be penalized.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – Well laid back. Elbows close to the body. Shoulder blade and upper arm are ideally equal in length (i.e., length from point of withers to point of shoulder and point of shoulder to point of elbow should be equal.) Viewed from the front, the rib cage is oval in shape. Legs – Heavily furnished with hair. The legs are straight from elbow to pastern. The vertical distance from the withers to the elbow equals the distance from the elbows to the ground.
Pasterns – Strong, perpendicular. Dew claws – may be removed. Feet – Well feathered/heavily furnished, should be round and catlike, with good pads. The hair may be trimmed for neatness.

HINDQUARTERS

Well-developed rear assembly. Angulation of hindquarters should be in balance with forequarters to provide equal reach and drive. Legs – Heavily furnished with hair. Hocks – Well let down, set slightly behind the point of buttocks, perpendicular to the ground and turn neither in nor out. Feet – Same as forefeet.

COAT

Double coated, heavy, straight, hard, dense, not woolly or silky, of good length. Color: All colors equally acceptable.

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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 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. Established in 1959, the American Lhasa Apso Club is the official AKC Parent Club for the Lhasa Apso.
Lhasa Apso puppies laying side by side.
©otsphoto - stock.adobe.com

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.

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.
©Barbara Schwartz
A vintage photograph of Lhasa Apsos together in the yard.
A vintage photograph of a litter of Lhasa Apso puppies.
A vintage photograph of a Lhasa Apso puppy.
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 Lhasa Apso was recognized by the AKC in 1935 and is the club's 97th breed.
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. The three breeds share the heavy coat of protective hair and an upcurled tail over the back.
Lhasa Apso puppies are much slower to mature than many other breeds and adjust best in new homes after they're 10 weeks old.
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 Apso was originally shown in the Terrier Group and was reassigned in 1959 to the Non-Sporting Group.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Reflecting his Tibetan heritage as an indoor sentinel on the Tibetan Plateau, north of the Himalayan Mountains, the Lhasa Apso is a small, sturdy, well-balanced rectangular dog of moderation possessing a level topline and a tail carried well over the back. There should be neither exaggeration of any body parts nor hint of massive bone or body. A distinguishing characteristic of the Lhasa Apso is its heavy, dense, double coat that is parted in the middle from head to tail. In addition, the Lhasa Apso has good headfall and well-feathered feet and legs as these features protected this small dog against extreme temperatures and the rough terrain of his native land.

HEAD

Expression – Alert, thoughtful, intelligent. Heavy head furnishings enhance the proper Lhasa expression with good fall over eyes, good whiskers, and beard. Full depth of dark pigmentation on eye rims and lips is essential to achieve the desired softness of expression. Eyes – Dark brown, almond shaped. Round full eyes and very small sunken eyes are undesirable. Ears – Pendant, set slightly above eye level and carried close to the cheeks, heavily feathered. Skull – Narrow, falling away behind the eyes in a marked degree, not quite flat, but not domed or apple- shaped. Stop – Moderate. Muzzle – Straight foreface of fair length with the length from tip of nose to eye to be roughly one-third the total length from nose to back of skull. A square muzzle is objectionable. Nose – Black. Bite – The preferred bite is either level or slightly undershot.

BODY

Neck – Moderate in length, blending smoothly into the shoulders. Body – Rectangular when viewed in profile, with the length from point of shoulder to point of buttocks being longer than the height at withers. Chest of good depth extending to or slightly below the elbow. Prosternum well developed. Well ribbed up with the ribs extending well back towards hindquarters, strong loin, well-developed quarters and thighs. Topline – level from withers to croup, whether standing or moving. Tail – Well feathered and set sufficiently high to enable the tail to be carried well over the back in a curl lying to the side; there may be a kink at the end. Low carriage of stern is a serious fault. This means that when the Lhasa is moving, the tail is carried well over the back. A dropped tail while standing is not to be penalized.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – Well laid back. Elbows close to the body. Shoulder blade and upper arm are ideally equal in length (i.e., length from point of withers to point of shoulder and point of shoulder to point of elbow should be equal.) Viewed from the front, the rib cage is oval in shape. Legs – Heavily furnished with hair. The legs are straight from elbow to pastern. The vertical distance from the withers to the elbow equals the distance from the elbows to the ground.
Pasterns – Strong, perpendicular. Dew claws – may be removed. Feet – Well feathered/heavily furnished, should be round and catlike, with good pads. The hair may be trimmed for neatness.

HINDQUARTERS

Well-developed rear assembly. Angulation of hindquarters should be in balance with forequarters to provide equal reach and drive. Legs – Heavily furnished with hair. Hocks – Well let down, set slightly behind the point of buttocks, perpendicular to the ground and turn neither in nor out. Feet – Same as forefeet.

COAT

Double coated, heavy, straight, hard, dense, not woolly or silky, of good length. Color: All colors equally acceptable.

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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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