Lhasa Apso Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits

Considered "easy keepers," affectionate and a good companion, the Lhasa Apso was bred as a guard dog and therefore can be aloof, stubborn and demonstrate a sharp, loud bark.

Lhasa Apso at a glance
The Lhasa Apso Dog Breed

The Lhasa Apsos are long-lived dogs, routinely going into their late teens. The record holder is a breed champion who lived to 29 years of age.


Weight Range:

Male: 13-15 lbs.
Female: 13-15 lbs.

Height at Withers:

Male: 11 in.

Female: 9 in.


Long back, floppy ears (naturally)


Exercise Requirements: 20 minutes/day
Energy Level: Average
Longevity Range: 12-14 yrs.
Tendency to Drool: Low
Tendency to Snore: Low
Tendency to Bark: High
Tendency to Dig: Low
Social/Attention Needs: Moderate

Bred For:

Guarding inside the home, companion


Length: Long
Characteristics: Straight
Colors: All colors accepted
Overall Grooming Needs: High

Club Recognition:

AKC Classification: Non-sporting
UKC Classification: Companion Dog
Prevalence: Common

Lhasa Apsos are fairly small dogs, ranging in height from 9 to 11 inches and weigh from 13 to 18 pounds (six to eight kilograms).

They are longer than they are tall with the tail carried curled up over the back and the head held proudly up. When these dogs are in full show coat, the different ends may look the same!

The head appears round with all the hair and the ears hanging down in graceful folds of long hair. The coat is one of the distinguishing features of the Lhasa Apso—long and flowing, heavy and dense. On the face, the eyes may be hidden by a long fall of hair and there is a long beard as well. The muzzle is slightly shortened, leading to an undershot bite.

Virtually all colors are acceptable, but the most popular are the leonine shades of wheaten, honey or golden with black on the tips of the ears, tail and beard hair. Black, grizzle, slate, white and even parti-colors may be seen.


It should be remembered at all times that the Lhasa Apso was bred as a guard dog as well as a companion dog. These dogs can be aloof with strangers, although they are affectionate with people who they know and trust. The sharp alarm bark can become a nuisance if the dog is not guided as to when it is appropriate.

Lhasa Apsos are dogs that do best with a fair amount of socialization and plenty of human company. They are not always good with other dogs, so they should be socialized to dogs and other pets as well as people right from puppy hood. Some Lhasa Apsos have a suspicious nature and can be snippy. At home with family and friends, however, they are lively and can be almost silly.

Living With:

Lhasa Apsos are "easy keepers;" too many treats or not enough exercise can easily lead to obesity. Luckily because of their small size, a regular walk two or three times a day is adequate. Lhasa Apsos are intelligent dogs, but they are a bit stubborn and independent, so training is a must. A firm but patient hand works best.

Lhasa Apsos should be well socialized to both people and other animals, including other dogs, in puppy hood. They are excellent watchdogs with a sharp, loud alarm bark. Lhasa Apsos can do well with children, but they should be supervised and exposed to them early on. These are notoriously long-lived dogs, routinely going into their late teens. The record holder is a breed champion who lived to 29 years of age!


The Lhasa Apso is an ancient breed, developed in Tibet from the Tibetan terrier and similar herding-type Tibetan dogs. The conversion of Tibet to Buddhism in the 7th century AD established the Lhasa Apso as a definitive breed. Buddha is said to have had power over lions, and the Lhasa Apso with its full coat, full head of hair and leonine colors was referred to as "the lion dog."

Lamas (Tibetan priests) are reputed to be reincarnated as Lhasa Apsos if they do not reach Nirvana. The Dalai Lamas not only kept Lhasa Apsos as pets, but also used them as gifts for honored guests. Lhasa Apsos sent to China were used in the development of the Shih Tzu and Pekingese breeds. Lhasa Apsos not only served as pets and companions but also as guard dogs because of their alert nature and their sharp bark.

When the Lhasa Apso first reached Europe and North America, confusion resulted in interbreeding with the Shih Tzu and possibly Tibetan terrier. By 1930 however, the breeds were being separated and distinguishing standards written up.

Grooming can be time-consuming if you keep a Lhasa Apso in full show coat. Careful brushing is needed to remove debris and prevent the development of matts. Many pet guardians have their Lhasa Apso clipped short twice a year for easier care. Lhasa Apsos do look nice clipped, and they run wildly about as if free of the weight of their hair right after a grooming!