Lhasa Apso Information


Easily recognized for its gorgeous cloak of hair that parts down the middle of the back from head to tail, the Lhasa Apso is a joyful, mischievous, and independent small breed. Popular around the world both in and out of the show ring, the Lhasa Apso is currently ranked as the 61st most registered dog breed in the United States according to the American Kennel Club. If you are considering welcoming a Lhasa Apso into your home, the following is a full breed description to determine whether this adventurous companion is right for you.

Lhasa Apso
Basic Info
NameLhasa Apso
Other Name Tibet, Tibet dog Yabusu, Lhasa, Tibet Lhasa lion dog
OriginTibetan Plateau, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
Size Type Small Dog Breeds
Breed Group Non-Sporting Breeds
Life Span 12 - 14 years
TemperamentSpirited, Steady, Devoted, Obedient, Alert,Energetic, Playful, Fearless, Friendly, Assertive, Intelligent, Lively
Height10 to 11 inches
Weight12 to 18 pounds
Colors Black, Golden, Sandy, Honey, Dark Grizzle, Brown
Puppy Price Average $500 - $600 USD

Lhasa Apso

Physical description

Body Type

As a small and hardy breed with a body that is slightly longer than tall, the Lhasa Apso has straight front legs and back legs that are abundantly covered with hair. The dogs have a medium-length muzzle, small dark brown eyes that are deep set, and pendant-shaped ears that hang beside the head with profuse feathering. While most tails are set high on the hindquarters and carried over the back in a screw, some Lhasa Apso dogs might have a kink at the end of their tail. The furry feet are extremely cat-like and have a rounded appearance. Male Lhasa Apso are typically between 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder height with a weight ranging from 13 to 15 pounds, but the females are slightly smaller at 9 to 10 inches and weighing between 12 to 14 pounds.


Although the breed standards for the Lhasa Apso indicate that any coat color is acceptable in show competitions, the most common colors are shades of gold, honey, black, cream, dark grizzle, grey, slate, brown, red, liver, white, and smoke. It is common for puppies in this breed to change colors as they begin to mature into adulthood. Lhasa Apsos can either be with or without darkened tips at the ends of their ears and beard.


The Lhasa Apso possesses a dense, double coat that consists of straight, long hairs covering the entire body, including the head and eyes, and often reaching to the floor when left natural. As a breed that sheds very little and is considered “hypo-allergenic,” many owners prefer to keep the dogs’ hair trimmed short into a “puppy cut” to be more manageable.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  No


While it is a personal choice whether owners want to trim or clip the long-haired dog, the Lhasa Apso is high-maintenance when it comes to their grooming needs. When kept in full coat, it is strongly recommended that owners brush the dog at least once each day from head to toe to prevent the occurrence of matting or tangling. Although having the coat groomed professionally every four to six weeks will keep the coat longer, owners should still brush the dogs at least once a week. Since the breed tends to tear, veterinarians suggest that the eyes and ears are cleaned meticulously multiple times each week. The feet should also be checked for any signs of matting or foreign debris through keeping the abundant hair on the feet clipped.


It is believed that the Lhasa Apso originated in the Himalayan Mountains in the Asian nation of Tibet as long ago as 800 BC. As one of the dog breeds most closely related to the ancestral gray wolves, the dogs primarily functioned as a household sentinel by guarding the homes of Tibetan aristocracy and Buddhist monasteries near the sacred city of Lhasa. Due to their environment in the mountains, the high altitude and harsh climate has shaped the breed to have a long coat, strong body structure, deep musculation, and general longevity. Fast forwarding to the early 20th century, a few Lhasa Apso were transported by military men from the Indian subcontinent to England, where the dogs became instantly referred to as “Lhasa Terrier.” By 1933, the first of the breed arrived in the United States as a gift from the 13th Dalai Lama Thubten Gyatso. Although the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1935 into the Terrier Group, it was transferred more fittingly to the Non-Sporting Group in 1959. Currently, there is great concern that the original Tibetan Lhasa Apsos need to be bred into the Western line to maintain the authenticity of the breed that has strong cultural symbolism.


Well-known for its assertive and intelligent manner, the Lhasa Apso is often described as being a tough character that is independent, stubborn, bold, eager, reserved, obedient, devoted, spirited, lively, and friendly. Responding well to motivational training with positive reinforcement, the dogs have a keen sense of hearing and often make excellent alert watchdogs. Since the breed sadly falls into Small Dog Syndrome with negative behaviors of separation anxiety, overprotection, jealousy, and anxiousness, it is important for the breed to be handled with firm and consistent pack leadership. Given that the dogs are very active indoors and can do without a yard, it is a suitable breed for apartment living. However, the mental stability of the Lhasa Apso depends on receiving plenty of mental and physical exercise with a daily walk.

Interesting Lhasa Apso Facts

  • As one of the longest lived breeds in the canine world, the Lhasa Apso has an average lifespan of 14 to 15 years, but many can live in good health into their early 20s.
  • Coupled with the belief that the dogs carried the reincarnated souls of the Dalai Lamas and other Tibetan holy men, the people of its native land believed that the Lhasa Apso was a good luck talisman that would bring owners great prosperity, peace, and health.
  • With its name meaning “bearded lion dog” in the Tibetan language, Lhasa Apsos are distinguished for their keen sense of hearing and rich sonorous bark that contradicts their small size.