Breed Category: Non-Sporting
Country of Origin: Tibet
Average Size: 25-30 cm (at the withers)
Average Weight: 4-8 kg
Average Life Span: 14-16 years
Grooming Requirements: High
Exercise Requirements: Low



The Lhasa Apso originated in the Asian region of Tibet thousands of years ago, so it is one of world’s oldest domesticated breeds. Though its appearance may not suggest it today, it originally descended from small wolves. Records suggest the breed came into being approximately 4,000 years ago. Its primary purpose in ancient days was to serve as a guard dog in Tibetan monasteries. This breed has a distinctive bark that made it a primitive alarm system of sorts, alerting monks to possible intruders.

Bred for its keen sense of hearing, the Lhasa Apso was highly prized in its native Tibet. Lhasa is the name of a Tibetan city and the word Apso is associated with long hair and a beard, which is how the breed got its name. It was not until the early-to-mid 20th century that this breed was introduced to other parts of the world such as Australia and the United States. Though the breed is still thought to be an alert guard dog, it is now most commonly kept as a companion dog throughout the world.


As is fitting for the cold Tibetan mountains, the Lhasa Apso has long, straight hair that is very dense and thick in texture. It has a coarse outer coat and a soft, fluffy undercoat. As a result, frequent grooming is necessary to discourage matting. Another popular option is to keep the breed groomed in a short cut. Despite its high maintenance in terms of grooming, the Lhasa Apso does not shed a great deal and makes a wise choice for those with allergy problems.

This breed has a long, full tail that is carried high, curling onto the dog’s back. It has fluffy ears, a brown or black nose and dark, very wide-set eyes.

The Lhasa Apso is a small breed that averages 4-8 kg in weight and 25-30 cm in height. The colouring of this breed is predominantly white or cream, though a mixture of other colours such as brown, red, gray and black are also commonplace. Combinations of these various colours may also be seen.


This breed is naturally protective and is apprehensive of strangers, which is a result of its history as a guard dog. Though it can be socialised with proper training, this breed is naturally distrustful. To prevent it from becoming overly aggressive or wary of new people and animals, obedience training and early exposure are essential. The Lhasa Apso is naturally protective of its loved ones and is known to get along well with children and other dogs.

The Lhasa Apso is well-suited for flat life because it is small in size and does not have high exercise needs. This breed is, however, prone to loud, sharp barking, so it is important to discourage this behaviour or give it plenty of space to do so without disturbing neighbours. Regular walks and playtime indoors will meet the exercise needs of this breed.

Though the Lhasa Apso is independent, it does prefer the company of its owner. It provides humourous, friendly and affectionate companionship and may experience sudden bursts of energy.


The Lhasa Apso is prone to vision problems such as blindness and retinal atrophy. It is also susceptible to kidney problems and a genetic skin disorder called sebaceous adenitis.

The average lifespan of a Lhasa Apso is 14-16 years, though it is not terribly uncommon for a healthy dog to reach 20 years of age.

Lhasa Apso Organisations in Australia
Lhasa Apso Club of NSW

Lhasa Apso Organisations in the UK
The American Lhasa Apso Club

Lhasa Apso Organisations in the US
American Kennel Club – Lhasa Apso
The Lhasa Apso Information Source

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