History of the Lhasa Apso Breed
Two thousand years ago, it is said, the Lhasa apso took the first part of its name from the holy city of Lhasa in Tibet. The second part of its name came from rapso, the Tibetan word for goat due to the resemblance of the breed’s coat to that of the goats kept by Tibetan herders. This is the holy goat theory of its name. An opposing theory maintains that the Lhasa apso's role as a watchdog in sacred places prompted ancient Tibetans to refer to it as "bark lion sentinel dog," or, apso seng kye, from which we derive its Westernized name. Dog, goat or lion, the Lhasa apso has an astonishing pedigree. Bred only among Tibet's nobility for millennia, it guarded palaces, temples and monasteries. Tibetans believed that the departing soul of a holy man, or lama, would take up residence in his favored four-legged guardian and companion. This revered dog was a long time coming to the West. In the early twentieth century, Tibet looked towards Britain and the global community for support in its ongoing struggle with its large neighbor, China. By the 1920s, Lhasa apsos had begun to appear in England as gifts of Tibet's head of state, the Dalai Lama. By the 1930s, the breed had reached America, and by 1935, it was registered with the AKC, who mistakenly placed it in the terrier group. The Lhasa apso is not a terrier, and in 1959, the AKC transferred it to a nonsporting group. The Lhasa apso has proceeded to become a popular show dog and pet in the West.
Size and Appearance of the Lhasa Apso Breed
The Lhasa apso's body is strong and long, not square. It should develop a powerful loin and quarters. The muzzle, longer than wide, is looked over by small, dark eyes set well into the head. Ears and tail are feathered, with the tail carried over the back. Around the dog's neck is a distinctive, copious ruff, giving it the lion-like appearance referred to by the Tibetans. On the head, the coat flows well over the eyes and into a bushy beard and whiskers. The overall effect is reminiscent of the Old English sheepdog. The double coat is straight, hard and so long that it touches the ground. The Lhasa apso displays a variety of colors, including gold, cream, honey, shades of grey, and multicolor concoctions of white, brown and black.
Lhasa Apso Temperament
This is a bold dog in lapdog size. Its bark is loud enough to come from a much larger animal. Loyal to its companions and suspicious of strangers, the Lhasa apso is a great watchdog. It is also gentle, intelligent, friendly, lively, assertive and tough. Its independent streak can become disobedience if good training is neglected. The Lhasa apso thrives on togetherness and play, yet dislikes being roughhoused by children. It may quarrel with any other dog in the home. Its acute hearing and persistent bark make it too noisy for some. The Lhasa apso likes to travel. It is a born companion, at home and away.
Lhasa Apso Recommended Maintenance
The Lhasa Apso needs daily brushing to keep the long outer coat from tangling and the thick inner coat from matting. Feet should also be examined for matting. The eyes and ears require vigilant grooming. Shedding is average. Some owners clip their dogs to reduce maintenance. The Lhasa apso is rambunctious indoors and loves games, by which its exercise needs may be largely met. To keep the dog in good health and spirits, however, regular outdoor excursions are recommended, especially where the dog may run free. This breed is not suited for an outdoor life; even a yard is unnecessary. The Lhasa apso is an excellent apartment dog.
Lhasa Apso Health
* Life span: 12 - 14 years
* Major concerns: none
* Minor concerns: patellar luxation, entropion, distichiasis, PRA, renal cortical hypoplasia
* Occasionally seen: CHD, urolithiasis, vWD
* Suggested tests: knee, eye