Lhasa Apso

Table of Contents

The Lhasa Apso is a small, robust dog breed with a rich history as a sentinel in Tibetan monasteries. These dogs are recognized for their long, flowing coats, available in shades like honey, sand, and smoke. They typically stand about 10 to 11 inches tall and weigh between 12 to 18 pounds. The breed is distinguished by its alertness and keen auditory senses.

This breed is known for its spirited and independent personality. Lhasa Apsos are intelligent and affectionate with their families but can be reserved around strangers. They are also known for their assertive demeanor, often seeming larger than their actual size. These dogs have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years but require regular veterinary check-ups for conditions like hip dysplasia. Their luxurious coats demand frequent grooming to maintain their appearance and health. The Lhasa Apso is an ideal companion for those who appreciate a dog with a strong character and who can commit to their grooming needs.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 15 years


Extr Small

Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

The Lhasa Apso breed is best suited for individuals or families looking for a small, independent, and alert companion. They thrive in environments where they receive regular grooming and attention. Their loyal and sometimes protective nature makes them excellent watchdogs. However, due to their independent streak, they are better suited for owners who can provide consistent training and socialization.

Lhasa Apsos are generally good with children and other pets, but their interaction should be supervised, especially with younger kids. This breed’s moderate energy level and size make them well-suited for apartment living, provided they get daily exercise. They are ideal for those who appreciate a dog with a distinct personality and are willing to invest time in grooming and health care.

Lhasa Apso Traits

Breed Characteristics

The Lhasa Apso is a small, hardy breed with a long, flowing coat, known for its keen alertness and strong-willed personality. They typically exhibit loyalty and independence, requiring regular grooming, and are well-suited for apartment living due to their moderate energy levels.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

The Lhasa Apso boasts a distinctive appearance with its long, flowing coat that comes in a variety of colors like honey, black, white, and slate. They are small in stature, standing about 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder, and have a sturdy build with dark, expressive eyes and a heavily feathered tail that curls over their back.

1. Ears
Pendant, heavily feathered, hanging close to the head.
2. Eyes
Dark brown, small, front-facing with a keen, alert expression.
3. Nose
Black, well-defined.
4. Height
Approximately 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder.
5. Coat Length
Long, straight, dense, with a heavy outer coat and a softer undercoat.
6. Coat Color
A wide range, including honey, sand, white, black, slate, and parti-color.
7. Tail
Heavily feathered, carried well over the back in a curl.
8. Weight
Typically between 12 to 18 pounds.

Lhasa Apso Temperament

The Lhasa Apso is known for its confident and sometimes aloof temperament, exhibiting a unique blend of playful mischievousness and dignified composure. This breed is fiercely loyal to its family, often forming a strong bond with a particular family member. Their history as sentinel dogs in Tibetan monasteries contributes to their alert and watchful nature, making them excellent watchdogs. Despite their small size, they possess a bold personality, often showing a sense of independence and wariness of strangers, which can be managed with proper socialization.

In terms of behavior and interaction, Lhasa Apsos are intelligent and can be quite willful, which may pose a challenge during training. They respond best to positive reinforcement techniques and require patience and consistency from their owners. These dogs are known for their playful and affectionate nature within the family but can be reserved in unfamiliar situations.

They are generally good with children and other pets, but early socialization is important to ensure they are well-adjusted. The Lhasa Apso’s temperament makes them a suitable pet for families and individuals alike, especially for those who appreciate a small dog with a big personality and the time to invest in their training and socialization needs.

How to Care for a Lhasa Apso

Caring for a Lhasa Apso involves regular grooming to maintain their long coat, including daily brushing and frequent professional trimming. They require moderate exercise, consistent training, and socialization, along with routine veterinary check-ups to monitor their health. Proper care also includes a balanced diet and plenty of affection, as they thrive on companionship.

Caring for a Lhasa Apso’s coat involves daily brushing with a quality pin brush and metal comb to prevent mats and tangles, especially in areas like behind the ears and under the arms. Regular baths every two to three weeks with a dog-specific shampoo are essential, along with thorough drying and brushing. Additionally, maintaining their nails, ears, and dental hygiene is crucial for their overall health and comfort.

Daily Brushing and Coat Maintenance

Grooming a Lhasa Apso starts with daily brushing, which is crucial for maintaining their long, luxurious coat. Use a high-quality pin brush and a metal comb to gently detangle and smooth out the coat. Begin at the ends of the hair and carefully work your way to the skin, ensuring you don’t tug or pull, which can cause discomfort. Focus on areas that are prone to matting, like behind the ears, under the arms, and the chest area. Regular brushing not only keeps the coat in good condition but also allows you to check for any signs of skin issues or parasites.

Bathing and Coat Care

Bathing your Lhasa Apso every two to three weeks is generally recommended, though this may vary depending on their activity level and environment. Select a high-quality dog shampoo formulated for long-haired breeds to ensure their coat and skin remain healthy. Thoroughly rinse the coat to remove all traces of shampoo, as residue can lead to skin irritation. After bathing, gently towel-dry your dog and use a blow dryer on a low, warm setting to dry their coat completely, brushing gently as you dry to prevent tangles from forming.

Nail Trimming and General Hygiene

Regular nail trimming is vital to keep your Lhasa Apso comfortable and prevent overgrowth, which can cause pain and walking difficulties. If you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. Additionally, keep their ears clean and dry to prevent infections, paying attention to any signs of redness or unpleasant odor. Oral hygiene is also important; brush their teeth several times a week to prevent tartar buildup and maintain overall dental health. Remember, grooming is not just about appearance; it’s an essential part of keeping your Lhasa Apso healthy and comfortable.

Training a Lhasa Apso requires patience and positive reinforcement, focusing on short, engaging sessions to maintain their interest. Consistent socialization and obedience training from an early age are crucial, along with addressing any stubborn or independent behaviors calmly and assertively.

Establishing a Training Routine

Training a Lhasa Apso requires patience and consistency, as they are an intelligent but independent breed. Start training early, ideally during puppyhood, to establish good habits and social behaviors. Use positive reinforcement methods, such as treats, praise, and play, to encourage desired behaviors. Short, engaging training sessions several times a day are more effective than longer, less frequent ones. Lhasa Apsos can get bored easily, so keeping training sessions fun and varied is key to maintaining their interest and cooperation.

Socialization and Obedience

Socialization is crucial for a Lhasa Apso to develop a well-rounded temperament. Expose them to various people, environments, sounds, and experiences from a young age. This exposure helps them become more adaptable and less fearful or aggressive in new situations. Basic obedience training, teaching commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, and ‘heel’, is also important. This not only reinforces your role as the leader but also ensures their safety in different environments. Consistent reinforcement of these commands helps inculcate discipline and can make them more manageable in public spaces.

Addressing Behavioral Challenges

Lhasa Apsos may display stubborn or independent behaviors, which can be a challenge during training. It’s important to establish yourself as a calm, assertive leader. Never use harsh discipline, as it can lead to fear and aggression. Instead, redirect undesirable behaviors towards more acceptable actions. If you encounter persistent behavioral issues, consider enrolling in a professional training class or seeking advice from a canine behaviorist. Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Patience and persistence are key in training your Lhasa Apso.

For a Lhasa Apso’s diet and nutrition, provide a balanced diet tailored to their small breed needs, with controlled portions to prevent obesity. Ensure access to clean water, and consult a veterinarian for specific dietary requirements or sensitivities. Regular feeding times and a mix of high-quality commercial or vet-approved homemade meals are recommended.

Understanding Dietary Needs of Lhasa Apsos

  • Balanced Diet: Ensure a well-balanced diet that includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Portion Control: Monitor portion sizes to prevent obesity, as Lhasa Apsos can be prone to weight gain.
  • Age-Specific Nutrition: Adapt the diet to their life stage – puppy, adult, senior – as nutritional needs change.

Choosing the Right Food

  • High-Quality Commercial Food: Opt for premium dog foods specifically formulated for small breeds.
  • Homemade Meals: If choosing homemade meals, consult a veterinarian for a balanced recipe.
  • Avoid Harmful Foods: Steer clear of foods toxic to dogs like chocolate, grapes, onions, and excessive salt.

Special Dietary Considerations

  • Allergies and Sensitivities: Be aware of any food allergies or sensitivities; common allergens include beef, dairy, and wheat.
  • Health-Related Diets: For dogs with specific health issues, like kidney problems, consult a vet for a tailored diet plan.
  • Regular Veterinary Checkups: Regular vet visits can help identify and manage any dietary or health concerns.

Feeding Schedule and Habits

  • Consistent Feeding Times: Establish a regular feeding schedule; twice a day is commonly recommended.
  • Avoid Overfeeding: Be cautious with treats and human food scraps, which can lead to overfeeding.
  • Hydration: Ensure constant access to fresh, clean water, especially if the diet includes dry food.

Lhasa Apsos require moderate daily exercise, such as short to moderate walks and indoor play, coupled with mental stimulation through training and puzzle toys. It’s important to monitor their activity to avoid overheating and joint strain, adapting their exercise routine as they age. Regular, consistent exercise helps maintain their physical and mental health.

Understanding Exercise Needs

  • Moderate Exercise Requirement: Lhasa Apsos require a moderate amount of exercise due to their size and energy level.
  • Daily Activity: Ensure they get daily physical activity to maintain their health and prevent obesity.

Types of Suitable Exercises

  • Daily Walks: Short to moderate walks twice a day are ideal for keeping them fit and stimulated.
  • Indoor Play: Engage them in indoor play activities, like fetch or hide-and-seek, especially during harsh weather.
  • Mental Stimulation: Include puzzle toys and training sessions to provide mental exercise.

Exercise Precautions

  • Weather Sensitivity: Be cautious during extreme weather; their long coat can make them prone to overheating.
  • Joint Health: Monitor their exercise to avoid strain on their joints, as they can be prone to issues like hip dysplasia.

Socialization Through Exercise

  • Dog Parks and Playdates: Encourage socialization through supervised visits to dog parks or playdates with other dogs.
  • Controlled Environments: Ensure interactions are in safe, controlled environments, especially for puppies or shy dogs.

Establishing a Routine

  • Consistency is Key: Establish a consistent exercise routine to help them understand and expect their daily activities.
  • Adapt to Age: Adjust the intensity and duration of exercise as they age, reducing strain on older dogs.

Health Monitoring

  • Regular Vet Check-ups: Regular veterinary check-ups can help monitor their physical condition and adapt exercise needs accordingly.
  • Watch for Signs of Fatigue: Be attentive to signs of over-exertion or discomfort during exercise, adjusting as necessary.

Lhasa Apsos flourish in environments where they are integral members of the household, receiving ample attention and companionship. While they adapt well to apartment living, they require sufficient space for daily activities and a comfortable area for rest. It’s important to provide a balanced mix of indoor relaxation and outdoor play, with regular walks and safe access to a secure yard or park for exercise.

These dogs are adaptable to various climates, but their long coats mean extra care is needed to protect them from extreme heat or cold. In warmer conditions, ensure they have a cool, shaded spot, and in colder weather, limit their exposure to severe cold. Stability and consistency in their routine, including set times for meals, walks, and play, help them feel secure and content. A calm, nurturing environment with gradual exposure to new experiences and social interactions is key to their well-rounded development.

Lhasa Apso Health

Lhasa Apsos are prone to certain health issues such as eye problems (like cherry eye and dry eye), hip dysplasia, and skin allergies. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and appropriate exercise are crucial for their health. It’s also important to maintain their dental and ear health through routine care and cleaning.

Common Health Issues in Lhasa Apsos

Lhasa Apsos, like many breeds, have certain health issues they are more prone to. Eye problems are common in this breed, including conditions like cherry eye, progressive retinal atrophy, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye). These conditions require attention and care to prevent further complications. Another health concern is hip dysplasia, a genetic condition that can lead to arthritis and mobility issues. Despite being more common in larger breeds, Lhasa Apsos can also be affected.

Dental and Ear Health

Dental health is a significant concern for Lhasa Apsos. They are prone to periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss and other health complications if not properly managed. Regular dental care, including brushing and professional cleanings, is essential. In addition to dental health, their floppy ears can trap moisture and debris, leading to ear infections. Regular cleaning and monitoring are important to maintain ear health and prevent infections.

Preventive Health Measures

To ensure the overall health and longevity of a Lhasa Apso, regular veterinary check-ups are essential. These check-ups can help in the early detection and management of potential health issues. Keeping up with vaccinations and parasite control is also vital. A well-balanced diet and regular exercise are crucial in maintaining their health, particularly to prevent obesity, which can exacerbate other health problems. For prospective owners, it’s advisable to seek breeders who conduct genetic health testing to reduce the risk of hereditary diseases.

In summary, while Lhasa Apsos are generally a long-lived and robust breed, attention to their specific health needs, including eye and dental care, as well as regular vet visits, is important for their well-being. Understanding these needs can help owners provide the best care for their Lhasa Apso.

Lhasa Apso Breed Comparison and Consideration

When comparing the Lhasa Apso to other breeds and considering if it’s the right choice, it’s important to understand their unique characteristics and how they might fit into your lifestyle. Here’s a comparison with other similar breeds and key considerations:

Comparison with Similar Breeds Lhasa Apso vs. Shih Tzu:

  • Size and Grooming: Both breeds are similar in size, but Lhasa Apsos often have more intensive grooming needs due to their longer coat.
  • Temperament: Lhasa Apsos tend to be more independent and alert compared to the often more affectionate and outgoing Shih Tzu.

Lhasa Apso vs. Maltese:

  • Coat Care: Both breeds have demanding grooming needs, but the Lhasa Apso’s coat is typically denser and longer.
  • Temperament: Maltese are generally more sociable and less reserved than Lhasa Apsos, who can be more aloof with strangers.

Lhasa Apso vs. Tibetan Terrier:

  • Size: Tibetan Terriers are generally larger than Lhasa Apsos.
  • Energy Levels: Both breeds have moderate energy levels, but Tibetan Terriers may require more exercise.

Considerations Before Choosing a Lhasa Apso

  • Exercise Needs: Ideal for owners who can provide moderate daily exercise and enjoy playful activities.
  • Living Environment: Adapts well to apartment living, provided they have space for indoor activities and regular walks.
  • Grooming Requirements: Commitment to daily grooming is essential due to their long coat.
  • Temperament: Best suited for those who appreciate an independent yet affectionate companion and are willing to invest time in socialization and training.

The Lhasa Apso is a charming and distinctive breed, perfect for those who value a small, independent, and alert dog. They thrive in environments where they can be close companions and receive the care and attention they need.


Despite their Tibetan heritage and thick coat, Lhasa Apsos should not be exposed to extreme cold for long periods. They are more of a house dog and prefer a comfortable indoor environment.

Generally, Lhasa Apsos can coexist peacefully with other pets if they are socialized early. However, they may display a dominant demeanor towards other dogs, so proper introductions and social training are important.

They need moderate exercise. Daily walks and play sessions are sufficient to keep them healthy and prevent boredom.

Yes, their coat requires regular maintenance, including daily brushing to prevent tangles and mats, and frequent professional grooming to keep it in good condition.


Lhasa Apsos can be quite vocal, especially when they perceive a threat, due to their history as sentinel dogs. Training can help manage excessive barking.

While they can be a good match for first-time owners, their independent and sometimes stubborn nature might pose a challenge. First-time owners should be prepared for consistent training and socialization.

Absolutely, their small size and moderate exercise needs make them well-suited for apartment living, as long as they receive regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Top Takeaways

The Lhasa Apso, originally bred as a sentinel dog in Tibetan monasteries, is a small but robust breed known for its distinctive long, flowing coat. Standing about 10 to 11 inches tall and weighing between 12 to 18 pounds, these dogs are characterized by their alert and independent nature. Their coat, one of their most striking features, requires regular and intensive grooming to maintain its beauty and health. This breed is known for its strong-willed personality, loyalty to family, and a certain wariness around strangers, making early socialization and consistent training important.

Health-wise, Lhasa Apsos generally have a long lifespan of 12 to 15 years but are prone to certain conditions like eye problems, hip dysplasia, and skin allergies. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for maintaining their overall health. In terms of their living environment, they are quite adaptable and can thrive in apartments, thanks to their moderate exercise needs and small size. However, they do best in environments where they can follow a consistent routine and are shielded from extreme weather conditions.

Training a Lhasa Apso can sometimes be challenging due to their independent streak, but they respond well to positive reinforcement methods. Patience and consistency are key in training, as is early socialization to ensure they grow into well-adjusted adults. They are well-suited for experienced owners who understand their grooming and socialization needs, but can also be a good match for first-time owners willing to commit to their care. Their moderate exercise needs make them less ideal for highly active lifestyles, but they are perfect companions for those seeking a small, loyal, and characterful dog.

Top Lhasa Apso Names

These are the top Lhasa Apso names as chosen by Pawstray pet parents!

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