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Lhasa Apso: The Ultimate Guide

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The Lhasa Apso is a gorgeous breed of dog with really long fur, and interestingly, they originated in Tibet. They are known to be loyal family companions and even though they are small, they are both sturdy and independent dogs that are easy to get along with. We can understand why all of these things would draw you towards this breed.

However, if you are thinking about getting a Lhasa Apso dog, there are some things that you will need to know first. It is really important to be aware of both the good and bad things that come with owning a Lhasa Apso, so you can be as prepared as possible for life with this breed. 

Lhaso apso

There is so much to learn, and it can be difficult to find all of the information that you need, which is why we have created this ultimate guide to Lhasa Apso dogs. This will help you find out everything you need to know about this breed in one place, rather than spending hours trying to find all the right information online. 

Lhasa Apso Key Facts

Before we get on with telling you everything there is to know about Lhasa Apso dogs, it is important to consider a few things. We are going to explain some key facts about Lhasa Apsos below that you should probably know before we get started. 

Average Lifespan

On average, Lhasa Apso dogs will live for between 12 and 14 years. However, many of these dogs have been known to live into their late teens, and the oldest recorded Lhasa Apso dog lived to the age of 29 years old.

So, what we do know about this breed is that they are going to be with you for a long time, so you will need to be prepared to be their companion for at least 12 years, but maybe even double this.

Minimum Exercise (Per Day)

The Lhasa Apso is a dog breed that does not have large amounts of energy that they need to burn off, which is why they will suffice with around 15 to 20 minutes of exercise per day.

You should also know that these dogs can get bored easily due to their intelligence, so they will need just as much mental stimulation as physical. These dogs are also quite stubborn; if they decide that the walk is over, you can be sure it is.

Coat Length

Their coat is known for touching the floor, so it is very long. The texture of the coat is heavy, straight, hard, and dense. It is neight wooly nor silky, and it can come in a wide variety of colors including black, white, red, and gold with various shadings.

Minimum Cost (Per Month)

You can expect your Lhasa Apso to cost you a minimum of $80 per month after you have paid for things like food, insurance, treats, toys, grooming, essential items, and more.

They can cost quite a lot compared to some other breeds of dog, but you can sometimes lower these costs if you are strict with your budget. However, this monthly cost estimate can be even higher if you are purchasing high-quality food and treats.


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 a long beard.


This dog breed is classified as small in size, making them the perfect dog for those looking for a smaller breed.

Average height

Male Lhasa Apso dogs stand tall at between 10 and 11 inches high, but females are slightly smaller than this.

Average weight

Male Lhasa Apso dogs will weigh between 13 and 15 pounds, but the females are known to weigh slightly less than this.


The Lhasa Apso is quite interesting when it comes to their personalities. Some of the main things that you will note is that they are happy, mischievous, and playful.

However, they are also regal, independent, and fierce. They take their job guarding their homes and families very seriously, but they also take some time to grow up. They remain in the puppy stage of behavior for slightly longer than other dogs.

The Lhasa Apso is small in size, but they are far from fragile. This strong and sturdy breed likes to be the ‘top dog’. They aren’t the most active of dogs and are much more content living indoors.

Unlike many other breeds, they do not need vigorous activity to reduce nervous energy, but they enjoy and benefit from short walks and play sessions.

 This dog is one that loves to be close to their family, and it is highly likely that they will follow you from room to room or sit in your lap when you are relaxing. However, due to their independent nature, they also do alright in their own company. Their temperament can be affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization.

The temperament of a puppy should be curious and playful, while willing to approach people and be held by them. When you are choosing a puppy, you should look for the middle when it comes to personality. Don’t choose the hyperactive one or the one that is hiding in the corner, find the one that is in between.

Apartment Living

Lhasa Apso dogs have proven to be great pets when it comes to apartment living as they are small in size and great at adapting to new environments. So, if you live in an apartment but are desperate for a furry companion, this could be the right breed for you.

Good for Novice Owners

Lhasa Apsos can be great for first time dog owners as long as you have done your research when it comes to training and grooming them. These are two of the most challenging things to deal with when you own a Lhasa Apso, but as long as you are prepared and armed with information, you should get on just fine.

Sensitivity Level

These dogs have been known to be sensitive from time to time, but this is not always the case. You should always avoid telling them off harshly with these dogs, as they don’t typically respond well to this.

Tolerates Being Alone

Lhasa Apso dogs are very independent at times and they enjoy being in their own company. This is why they tolerate being alone quite well. They do not suffer from separation anxiety when they are left alone like some other dog breeds do.

Tolerates Cold Weather

Lhasa Apso dogs are used to being in cold weather due to their history, and due to this, they tolerate cold weather well.

Tolerates Hot Weather

Just like with cold weather, these dogs are built to live in hot weather, so they tolerate it well. 

Affectionate With Family

Lhasa Apso dogs are known for being affectionate as they are loyal and loving companions within the household. You will probably find that they show this affection through trying to get your attention, putting their head in your lap, snuggling up next to you, and more.

Is A Lhasa Apso Kid-Friendly?

These dogs can do well with children, but any children should never be left alone with them, just like with any other dog breed. As well as this, your dog should be socialized with children from a very young age as this will allow you the opportunity to teach them how to behave around children.

It also means that they will be familiar with them, so your dog won’t be caught by surprise with something they have never seen before. 

Dog Friendly

Lhasa Apso dogs can be quite stubborn at times, and they don’t always do well with other dogs. The best way to try and ensure that they react positively around dogs is to socialize them when they are puppies. Although they might not always be accepting of all other dogs.

Friendly Toward Strangers

These dogs are naturally wary of strangers. They are likely to make friends with strangers eventually, but  not until they are sure that an individual poses no threat. They are excellent watchdogs for this reason.

Health And Grooming

Lhaso apso

Now that you are aware of the temperament and personality of the Lhasa Apso breed, it is worth being aware of any potential health conditions that they could develop and their personal grooming requirements. We are going to tell you what you need to know about this below.


Lhasa Apso dogs do not shed, but they do have very long coats. This is why lots of owners choose to cut their dog’s coats, so that grooming and maintenance of the coat will not be as challenging. However, others prefer to keep their coats long, which is great if you are able to keep on top of their grooming needs.


It is completely normal for your Lhasa Apso dog to drool, especially if they are doing so in anticipation of food. They might also drool more when they are either excited or stressed, and females may drool more when they are in heat.


Keeping on top of regular grooming for your Lhasa Apso dog can be a challenge in itself. Daily brushing will be required, and they will also need to be bathed every 2 to 4 weeks.

Many owners will hire a professional groomer to do this work for them, but you can do it yourself with the right knowledge. This is why it is also not uncommon for owners to keep their dog’s coat clipped short, to make grooming easier.

You will also need to brush their teeth at least 2 or 3 times a week in order to remove a build up of tartar and any bad bacteria. Daily brushing is even better for preventing things like gum disease and bad breath.

This dog’s nails will need to be trimmed once or twice a month if they are not wearing down naturally. This should only be done by someone who knows exactly what they are doing. Contact a vet or groomer for help with this.

Finally, their ears will need to be checked on a weekly basis for redness or a bad smell, as these are signs of an infection.

When checking your dog’s ears, be sure to wipe them out with a cotton ball that has been dampened with a gentle and pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Do not insert anything into the ear canal.

General Health

Generally, these dogs can be quite healthy. However, due to their genetics, there are some health conditions that they can be predisposed to, making their risk of developing certain conditions higher.

Common Health Problems

Some of the most common health conditions for Lhasa Apso dogs to develop are:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Juvenile renal disease
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  •  Eye problems like progressive retinal atrophy

Potential For Weight Gain

Lhasa Apso dogs typically won’t gain too much weight, but it is possible if they are being overfed, or if you are giving them too many scraps after dinner. So, it is something that you should be mindful of.


Lhasa Apsos are eager to please their owners and are very intelligent. They can learn almost anything that a trainer makes interesting enough for them to master on their own terms.

They do not get on well with repetitive training, so you will need to keep things new, exciting, and interesting when you are training them. Try not to stay on the same topic for too long. It is also really important to ensure that your dog is properly socialized with new people, animals, and environments from a young age.


These dogs are known for being very intelligent, which is useful when it comes to training your new dog. They will be able to learn lots of different behaviors and tricks and it shouldn’t take them too long to pick up new things.

Potential to bite

This is a breed that does have the potential to bite, but this is something that can be trained out of them when they are young. However, it can still happen in certain situations, like if your dog feels threatened.

Tendency To Bark Or Howl

While these dogs don’t bark a lot, they will bark if they feel threatened or if they need to alert you of something. Their bark is loud and sharp, intending to alarm.

History Of The Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso dog originated in Tibet and got their name from the holy city of Lhasa. For thousands of years, the Lhasa was specifically bred exclusively by nobility and monks in monasteries, and their purpose was to act as an inside guard and protector. They are known in their homeland as Abso Seng Kye, which translates as “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog.”

The Lhasa Apso has a thick protective coat, and their native climate is one of intense cold and extreme heat. The earliest recorded history of the dog goes back to 800 B.C., and these dogs were actually considered good luck. However, it was almost impossible to get your hands on one as they were watchdogs in temples and monasteries which made them sacred. 

It was actually thought that when an owner of one of these dogs died, the human soul would enter the body of his Lhasa Apso. These dogs were also forbidden from leaving the country, except from when they were given as gifts by the Dalai Lama.

From the beginning of the Manchu Dynasty in 1583 until as recently as 1908, the Dalai Lama sent Lhasa Apsos as sacred gifts to the Emperor of China and members of the Imperial family. These dogs were always given in pairs, and were thought to bring good luck and prosperity with them.

Some of the first Lhasa Apsos to enter the United States directly were given as gifts by the 13th Dalai Lama in 1933 to Suydam Cutting, who was a world traveler and naturalist. He owned Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, New Jersey, and the two gift dogs became the foundation stock for his kennel. The Lhasa Apso breed was eventually accepted as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1935.


The average price of a Lhasa Apso puppy is between $1500 and $2500. However, you can sometimes expect to pay upwards of $3000 from some breeders.

Lhasa Apso Fun Facts

  • This is an ancient breed of dog
  • Their name comes from the Tibetan Capital
  • Their Tibetan name means “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog”
  • They are considered to be a sacred part of the reincarnation process

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.