Located between India and China; the isolated region called Tibet (also referred to as “The Roof of the World”) sits on the largest and highest plateau on Earth. This plateau has an average elevation of 16,000 feet. Surrounded by the Kunlun and Himalayan Mountains on three sides and by China on the fourth, Tibet receives only 10 inches of rain annually. Tibet‘s climate varies little seasonally with temperatures ranging from 18 degrees Fahrenheit to 45 degrees Fahrenheit on average. The capital of Tibet is Lhasa which means “holy land“. Tibetans practice Buddhism also known as Lamaism. Tibet is also the birthplace of the Lhasa apso, its name comes from the capital city of Tibet, Lhasa.

It is not surprising that such a unique little dog comes from such a unique little place. The Lhasa apso is called "Abso Seng Kye" or "Bark Lion Sentinel Dog" in the sacred city of Lhasa. In the lamaseries and in the villages surrounding Lhasa, the Lhasa apso is raised as the sentinel of the home, watching for any stranger that might try to enter unnoticed.   The original Lhasa apso was 10-11 inches tall and weighed 13-15 lbs.  

The Lhasa apso breed was developed by the monks of Tibet in the solitude of their monasteries. Bred to provide an alarm for the monks should unwelcome visitors breach the sanctity of the monastery, the Lhasa apso's guardedness made him an indispensable pet. The monk's bred the Lhasa apso to be short and compact in stature with a well muscled body. This is a small but sturdy dog, covered from head to tail with a long, dense, hard coat that protected them in the harsh Tibetan climate. He is a guardian by nature, having an acute sense of hearing to assist him in guarding the temples and alerting his masters of anything irregular. His nature is independent and he approaches life in a calm and deliberate manner. Even the stance of a Lhasa apso is representative of a sturdy, well-built little dog. The Lhasa apso has weatherproof hair and is one of a few breeds that do not continuously shed (however, twice a year it will eliminate any undercoat that is unnecessary). Its hair will protect the eyes from wind and sun as well as insulating the Lhasa apso from harsh weather.

An often misrepresented fact about the Lhasa apso is that they were owned solely by the monks and the rich. The truth, in fact, is that Lhasas lived with a variety of different types of people in Tibet and were seen in the homes of the rich as well as the peasant people of this area. They were held in high esteem by all who were blessed with this wonderful little friend.

The Lhasa apso was often considered a holy dog and given as a gift to visitors. It was believed that a Lhasa apso was the bearer of good luck and prosperity and would bring these blessings upon the family.

The Lhasa apso was first introduced into England in 1901 and gained popularity immediately. Never before had the Lhasa apso been taken outside of its little Tibetan countryside. The Lhasa apso was recognized by the Kennel Club of England in 1902, although, at that time, was referred to as the Lhasa Terrier (an inappropriate description because a Lhasa Apso is not a burrower, hunting rodents or vermin).

The Lhasa apso was introduced to the United States sometime in the early 1930’s. In 1935 the Lhasa apso was recognized by the American Kennel Club but still listed as a Lhasa Terrier. In 1944 the American Kennel Club changed the name to the Lhasa Apso. In 1959 the Lhasa apso was finally removed from the terrier group and placed in the more appropriate non-sporting group where it has remained since. During the same year the American Lhasa Apso Club was also developed. They have been instrumental in preserving the breed and helping to keep the standard as close to the original as possible.

Lhasa apso: a vigorous, energetic, personable, intelligent, little dog with more heart than the average dog. They are courageous, and totally devoted to their family. The Lhasa apso can live in an apartment or on a 300 acre ranch. It also can befriend a child with asthma that may never experience the joy of owning a pet. Lhasa apsos are intelligent and require a firm but gentle master. Lhasa apsos do prefer living by their own rules but are extremely sensitive and enjoy pleasing their masters. Praise will go much farther than force or tough verbal correction as a Lhasa apso can become stubborn if to much authority is applied. Seldom a pet, rather a companion-often a clown but never a fool! The Lhasa Apso has a wonderful temperment. Lhasa's are so intelligent that they can tell when you are home just by the sound of your car door shutting. If you are not feeling well your Lhasa Apso is always there to comfort you and is just happy being by your side. Their nature is that they aim to please. Lhasa Apso's are wonderful dogs for the obedience ring. 

Your responsibility as a potential purchaser of a Lhasa Apso is to educate yourself about the breed. Ask lots of questions when you call or visit any breeder. Take your time in deciding if a Lhasa Apso is the right dog for you and your family.  Know what you are geting yourself into before you purchase a Lhasa.   Sometimes that little ball of hair can be overwhelming when they grow up and now you are needing to
groom your Lhasa Apso.

The American Lhasa Apso Club is opposed to cross-breeding of dogs and is particularly opposed to the deliberate crossing of Lhasa Apsos with any other breed.  Crossbreeds are a deliberate attempt to mislead the public with the idea that there is an advantage to these designer dogs. Crossbred dogs are prone to all of the genetic diseases of both breeds and offer none of the advantages that owning a purebred dog has to offer. 

Recommended Reading

The Complete Lhasa Apso
     by Norman and Carolyn Herbel
           Foreword by Keke Blumberg

 Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso is a small, hardy breed with a beautiful cloak of hair that parts down their back from head to tail. Their temperament is unique: joyful and mischievous, dignified and aloof. An independent breed, the Lhasa's goal in life is not necessarily to please their master. Popular in the show ring, the breed also excels at activities that provide constant challenges, such as agility.

Lhasas come in many colors from light blonde to black. Black tippings on ears and face are also common.

A Look Back
The Lhasa Apso originated hundreds of years ago in the isolated reaches of the Himalayan Mountains. It functioned primarily as a household sentinel, guarding homes of Tibetan nobility and Buddhist monasteries, particularly in or near the sacred city of Lhasa. In 1933, C. Suydam Cutting introduced the first Lhasas to the U.S. gifts from the 13th Dalai Lama.

Right Breed for You?
Bred as indoor watchdogs for hundreds of years, Lhasas can be suspicious of strangers, so early socialization is critical. They thrive living with adults or families with older children, and enjoy regular walks. A long-coated breed, they also require frequent grooming. Many pet owners enjoy keeping their Lhasa in the shorter "puppy cut."

Fast Facts
Country of Origin: Tibet
AKC Group: Non-Sporting Group
UKC Group:
Mexican Group:
Use today: Companion
Life Span: 12 to 14 years
Color: Any color or combination of colors with or without dark tips to ears and beard.
Coat: Heavy and straight. Long, dense coat.
Grooming: Weekly brushing to keep the long coat free of mats and tangles. Pet Lhasa's can be given a shorter, more manageable puppy clip.
Size: Small Dog Breed
Height: 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 12 to 18 pounds

The Lhasa Apso, originating in the lonely and isolated reaches of the Himalayan mountains, reflects its Tibetan heritage in many characteristic ways. These sturdy little mountain dogs, relatively unchanged over the years, are fastidious by nature and are natural watchdogs. They are seldom pets but companions, often clowns but never fools. In Tibet, the Lhasa's primary function was originally that of a watchdog inside the palace, where its intelligence, acute hearing and natural instinct for identifying friend from stranger made it uniquely suited for this role, which it now performs in any size home. The breed is calm and deliberate, although suspicious of strangers. Extremely devoted to family, Lhasas do not change loyalties easily and are less protective away from their home environment. They tend to be one-person dogs and are best suited to homes with older children that will handle them carefully. Slow to mature, they do not reach their prime for three to four years. They age gracefully and keep their youthful look and attitude well into their teens. Their independent and stubborn nature requires patient understanding, and resists harsh or strict discipline. The Lhasa Apso exhibits a regal attitude when looking its best.