Photo by Asra Valorshon

Lhasa Apso - Breed Profile:

Origin: Tibet
Colors: Any
Size: Small
Type of Owner: Novice
Exercise: Moderate
Grooming: Extensive
Trainability: Somewhat difficult to train
Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs
Dominance: Moderate
Noise: Likes to bark

Physical characteristics

The Lhasa Apso is a small sturdy dog with a beautiful coat draping over its entire body to the floor. The body is slightly longer than tall, with a level topline. The shoulders and thighs are well-developed. The muzzle is medium length. The skull is flat, with a moderate stop. The teeth should meet in a level or slightly undershot bite. The dark brown eyes are medium size, they are neither too prominent nor sunk. The nose is black. The pendent ears are heavily feathered. The tail is carried over the back in a screw.
The Lhasa Apso weighs about 16 pounds. The height is 9 to 11 inches.


The Lhasa Apso is spirited, devoted and lively. The breed was used as an indoor watchdog for hundreds of years, so it tends to be suspicious of strangers. Therefore, proper early socialization is very important. These dogs do better with older considerate children as they don't tolerate teasing and rough play. Intelligent, this breed responds best to motivational training. The owner should become a good pack leader and set clear rules, discipline, and hierarchy because the Lhasa Apso may be dominant and wilful with meek people. This can result in various behaviour problems (separation anxiety, aggression, guarding and snappish behaviour, etc). Daily walks and moderate exercise are necessary for the dog to stay happy. A well-balanced Lhasa Apso is very affectionate, friendly, and obedient.

Coat and grooming

The long coat is heavy, straight, and hard; neither silky nor woolly. It is very thick and comes in any colour. The Lhasa Apso often has dark tips on the ears and beard. The front and back legs are heavily feathered. Extensive grooming is necessary to keep the hair in good condition and to prevent matting. Some owners, however, prefer to keep the coat short for easier grooming.
Photo by mama miia


Prone to kidney problems, skin conditions and eye problems. The eyes tend to tear, so they should be cleaned regularly. The lifespan is surprisingly long: it averages 15 years but some dogs can live up to 18 years and even more.

Other interesting facts

The Lhasa Apso was originated in the Himalayan Mountains hundreds of years ago. It was mainly used as a household sentinel, guarding homes of Tibetan nobility and Buddhist monasteries near the sacred city of Lhasa. The breed was brought to the USA in 1933.