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Lhasa Apso

 Photo of Lhasa Apso
Photo: courtesy of Bruce Watson

Lhasa Apso Books

Group: Utility - Breed Standard


It is believed that the breed originated from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet (hence the name) around 800 BC. These dogs were raised by the aristocratic part of the Tibetan society and by Tibetan monks in the monasteries. They were very valuable both spiritually and materialistically. To be presented with a Lhasa Apso was to be blessed with good fortune.

Lhasa Apsos have adopted an incentive to be wary of strangers from their owners, who, due to the geographical location of Tibet, were also cautious of outsiders. The heavy coat of Lhasas can also be explained by the geographical features of Tibet: the temperature frequently drops below freezing thus making it hard for a dog to survive without sufficient insulation. Lhasas were rarely groomed by their owners thus allowing the breed to adapt to the harsh weather.

In 1901 Mrs. A. McLaren Morrison brought the Lhasa Apso to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland where it was registered as an official breed in The Kennel Club in 1902.


Lhasas should have dark brown eyes with black pigmentation on eye rims and a black nose. They have a hard straight outer coat with soft undercoat (depending upon weather conditions) which comes in a variety of different colors. The tail should curl up over the back.


They are very affectionate but can also be very possessive, independent and bossy little dogs. They are excellent with children as long as the child does not appear as a rival (e.g. throwing stones, etc.). These dogs do not like to be surprised or peeved. Lhasa Apsos tend to be alert and have a keen sense of hearing with a rich, sonorous bark that belies their size (some are known as "singers"). They are bright and outgoing, but some tend toward wariness of strangers (not as many as one would tend to think). Wariness does not mean unwarranted aggressiveness but having a discerning attitude towards strangers; people approaching the dog simply need to show that they are a friend. However, many Lhasas are quite friendly from the first introduction. If not properly socialized, some may become aggressive or overly shy toward strangers. Lhasas also have a very good memory and will hold grudges and often show dislike to the same people throughout their life if treated wrongly by them at a young age.


They are very stubborn dogs and are not as easily trained as perhaps a labrador or collie. If they do not want to do something there is no way you will manage to force them. They will do what they want, when they want. They are one man dogs and extremely loyal to their owners... though some might say the owner is in fact owned by the Lhaso Apso! See our books on training

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Last link added: 28 Nov, 2006