The Lhasa Apso dog breed is a small, yet exotic-looking breed belonging to the Non-sporting Group. In spite of their small stature, these dogs have a big personality. They make great family pets because of their affection and attachment to the family. But they are wary of strangers and act as a good guard dogs. Lhasa Apso dogs are meant for indoor living, and make ideal pets for people who have limited space.
The Lhasa Apso dog breed traces its origins to the Himalayan country of Tibet. They are thought to have evolved around 4000 years ago from a type of mountain wolf from the area, but the clear records of their domestication dates back to 800BC.
These dogs were used as watchdogs because of their keen sense of hearing and sharp bark that served to warn the household of intruders. They were highly valued in the Lhasa city, particularly by Buddhist monks who used them along with Tibetan Mastiffs to guard the entrance of their monasteries. They were aptly called Apso Seng Kyi, which literally means the “Bearded Lion Dog.”
Lhaso Apso dogs were also considered sacred because of the Buddhist belief that the souls of the lamas passed into their bodies and waited until they reincarnated. These dogs were never sold, and were only offered as special gifts. A few of these dogs reached England in the beginning of the 20th century through English military men who returned home after serving in the Indian subcontinent. They were referred to as LhasaTerriers.
These dogs first came to the United States with Mr. C. Suydam Cutting who was gifted a pair by the 13th Dalai Lama Thubten Gyatso. The breed was recognized by AKC in 1935. There are some concerns regarding this breed as the stock in the U.S. has come to have noticeable differences from the original Tibetan stock over the years. This could be due to breeding in isolation and away from the unique climatic conditions of its country of origin. Also, the Chinese occupation of Tibet has resulted in several of these dogs being killed in their homeland.
The Lhaso Apso dog breed typically measures 10 to 11 inches at the withers. Their weight may range from 12 to 18 pounds, the females being lighter than males. The dog is covered in long hair from head to tail. They have a double coat that consists of a soft undercoat that is shed, but the dense overcoat of straight hair is not.
The coat colors range from various shades of cream and gold to red, liver and black, with or without some white. In many dogs, the hair on the ears and around the mouth may be darker than the rest of the body. The folded ears lie underneath a cascade of long hair and the plumy tail is carried on the back.
Lhaso Apso dogs are affectionate and loyal to their family, and often show it by rubbing their head on people or sitting on their feet. They also run and roll around when happy. They are considered a little difficult to housetrain, but make excellent guard dogs nevertheless.
These dogs are known to have an independent nature that borders on stubbornness. They tolerate other household animals to some extent, but do not get along very well with other dogs. Early socialization is necessary to make these dogs amiable in the company of others. They also need training to rein in their aggressive behavior towards strangers.
Grooming and exercise
The long coat of the Lhaso Apso dog breed requires a thorough brushing on alternate days, and probably every day during the shedding season.
Lhaso Apso dogs are indoor dogs through and through since they were always kept as companion dogs and watchdogs within the household of their owners. This makes these dogs an ideal choice for apartment dwellers. However, they do need a fair amount of daily exercise.
They will exercise themselves to some extend by running around inside the house, but it should be supplemented by brisk walks and some games in the open to keep the dog happy and healthy.
Common health issues of Lhasa Apso dog breed
Being of ancient origin, the Lhasa Apso dog breed is generally free of serious health problems. However, eye problems such as entropion, distichiasis, renal cortical hypoplasia and progressive retinal atrophy are common in this breed. Hip and elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation may occasionally occur. This breed is particularly prone to a skin disorder called sebaceous adenitis. The average life expectancy of these dogs is 12 to 14 years, but many healthy dogs live as long as 20 years.