The Spunky Lhasa Apso

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Lhasa Apso
Weight: 13 — 15 lbs
Height: 10” — 11”
AKC Rank 2008: #54
Lifespan: 12—15 yrs
Group Non Sporting
Origin Tibet

Dog Breed Info - The Lhasa Apso

A Lhasa puppy takes the scenic route
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Breed Overview

Original function: Companion and watchdog. Today, Companion.

The Lhasa is an ancient breed bred and revered in the villages and monasteries of Tibet.

The first Lhasa's were seen in the Western world in 1930 with some of the first dogs arriving as gifts of the thirteenth Dali Lama. The breed was admitted into the AKC terrier group in 1935, but it was reassigned into the non-sporting group in 1959. The Lhasa quickly became a popular pet in America.



Slow to learn, but is trainable. Lhasa Apso can be quite independent and a bit stubborn. A suggestion is clicker training which works for all kind of dogs, especially the hard-to-train variety. Get one at your pet store or by mail order. They run around $3.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Lhasa? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Lhasa Apso puppies are fairly easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


The Lhasa Apso is a rugged character. He is independent, stubborn, and bold. Although he is always eager for a game or play, he will be happy as long as he is given exercise. He will also happily snooze with his owner. This makes the Apso an excellent small companion. It is somewhat reserved with strangers.

If you happen to get a Lhasa Apso with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

A Lhasa Apso and his "mama" getting ready to go jogging on a bright, sunny morning.
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Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Wary of other dogs. Picks his friends. Gets along with some.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Okay with most household pets. Again, the Lhasa Apso is a family dog

Friendly Toward Strangers

No. Keeps a distance with people he doesn’t know. The Lhasa Apso is a bit independent. He needs plenty of human companionship, but with people he knows.


Somewhat playful with family members. Lhasa Apso’s must know you before they loosen up.


Moderately affectionate. The Lhasa Apso will make a good companion.

This is a house pet above all else and needs to be with his family. He will show affection.

Good with children

Not very tolerant of young kids. Older children, 7 and up okay.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes. The Lhasa is a good choice for seniors. Easy to care for. As long as the Lhasa gets his walk and some play time, he's good to go. If longevity is an issue, find a Lhasa Apso Rescue group and get a dog 2 or 3 years old that is house trained and knows a few commands. That will make things a lot easier fore the senior.

Living environment

Apartment, farm, big city all OK.

Energy level

Moderate. 6 bars out of 10.

Exercise needs, daily

Low. A short walk or some play in the house or yard will do it.


Good. Always on the alert.

Guard dog

No. His bark might deter an intruder, but the Apso is not considered a guard dog.


No. The Lhasa does not shed. Bring on the allergies.


Brush and comb the long, heavy coat every other day to keep from getting tangled and matted. Consider seeing a groomer every few months for some professional; work in shaping and cutting.


Suggested Reading For The Lhasa Apso
Click on the cover photo for more book information.

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It is a very useful book for the dog owner and I keep it handy.


Lhasa Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Lhasa Apso puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Lhasa Apso Breeders with puppies for sale.

Lhasa Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a Lhasa and are looking for a Lhasa Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Lhasa Rescue - (Nationwide)Petfinder, as of this writing, is only listing around 600 Lhasa dogs available in the entire country. Check online for Lhasa Rescue groups and also kennels. See what your local newspaper ads have for rescue kennels too. I didn't realize how difficult Lhasa Rescue would be.
Adopt A Pet Based on the statement above, you may have trouble locating Lhasa adoptions and Lhasa Rescue groups. Good luck!

Dog Health Issues For The Lhasa Apso
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Lhasa by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur. There are weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position on the hind leg of the Lhasa Apso. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Brachycephalic syndrome—Difficulty breathing in dogs with a short face and head such as the English Bulldog, Pug etc. They have a soft, fleshy palate, narrowed nostrils and larynx. Dogs with this will snort, cough, have a low tolerance for exercise, possibly faint easily, especially in hot weather, and breath noisily. This puts a strain on the heart. There can exist a lack of coordination between trying to breathe and swallow. Gastrointestinal problems can follow. Heat stroke is highly possible so keep your dog COOL.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Atopic dermatitis's—Atopy. Hereditary. Shows at 1 to 3 years age. Skin allergy triggered by dust mites, pollen, poor quality foods and other garbage we put into the dog’s environment. Many breeds are prone to this. The dog will lick, rub, chew and scratch the infected areas. Allergens can also come from fleas, bacteria and yeast infections. See your vet. There are many treatments ranging from medicines, antihistamines, diets, bathing, cleansing the house of dust mites and so on.

  • Intervertebral disc disease—Biochemical changes in a young dog of certain breeds can cause at least one diseased or mineralized disc in the spine of the Lhasa Apso. A disc that is not functioning properly will cause pain, problems walking, stumbling, severe neck pain and even paralysis. The Dachshund has an 80% chance of having this problem. Treatments can go from non-invasive doses of anti-inflammatory steroids, muscle relaxants and bed-rest to surgery. Pain meds are also given as needed. Mess with the spine and you have a serious situation and it’s tough on the dog!

  • Renal cortical hypoplasia—Kidney failure coming from a number of causes ranging from hereditary to ingesting automotive antifreeze and also bacterial infections. Once the kidneys become affected, there is no cure for the Lhasa Apso. There remains a shortage of functioning tissue in the kidneys to cleanse the body. Waste builds in the blood and the toxins cause vomiting, depression, lack of appetite and death. Same happens if the dog eats a little rat poison, as one of mine did.

  • Renal dysplasia—Disease of the kidney. Improper function of the kidney. If you own a Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso or other breed prone to this, check twice a year with your vet for kidney function or.... sooner if you observe any unusual symptoms such as... increased drinking, increased or decreased urination, very little color to the urine, depression, loss of appetite, bad odor in breath plus any other unusual behaviors. See vet immediately!

  • Tracheal collapse—The tracheal (air pipe) rings, made of cartilage, can become weak and “collapse” as a dog ages, reducing the air supply to the lungs by failing to keep the trachea open wide. This is most likely to be a problem during excitement or exercise when more air is needed in the lungs. This only affects small dogs, and particularly small, obese dogs. Treatment depends on the severity and ranges from diet to medicine to surgery.

  • Valvular heart disease—Usually older dogs. A progressive disease. Heart valves thicken and degenerate. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, reluctance to exercise, fainting, excessive coughing, no appetite, constant fatigue. See vet immediately for treatment program!

  • Hydrocephalus—An excess of spinal fluid builds up in the brain caused by an obstruction in the fluid pathway in the Lhasa Apso. Congenital Hydrocephalus is moist common and occurs shortly after birth. A number of things can cause it. Adult dogs can get it from tumors or infections in the brain. Some neurological signs are seizures, loss of coordination, unusual behavior, walking in circles, and blindness. Doctors have various tests to detect this disorder so don’t fool with it if you suspect something is wrong.

  • Atopic dermatitis's—Hereditary. Atopy. Hereditary. Shows at 1 to 3 years age. Skin allergy triggered by dust mites, pollen, poor quality foods and other garbage we put into the dog’s environment. Many breeds are prone to this. The dog will lick, rub, and chew the infected areas. She'll be scratching excessively. Allergens can also come from fleas, bacteria and yeast infections. See your vet. There are many treatments ranging from medicines, antihistamines, diets, bathing, cleansing the house of dust mites and so on.

  • Urolithiasis—Excessive crystals (stones or bladder or kidney stones) can form in the urinary tract or kidney, bladder or urethra, blocking the flow of urine. The crystals or stones irritate the lining of the urinary tract. They cause blood in the urine and pain and in severe cases make urination impossible. Symptoms are frequent urination, urinating in odd places, blood in urine, dribbling, depression, weakness, straining, pain, vomiting and loss of appetite. Dogs can be treated by diet, medications and surgery, depending on the dog, severity and other circumstances of the individual case.

  • Von Willebrand"s Disease—A deficiency in clotting factor in the blood. The affected dog does not properly utilize the blood-platelets for blood-clotting. Thus, the dog is prone to excessive bleeding if in an accident or surgery

  • Sebaceous adenitis—Mostly a cosmetic disorder, affecting appearance and not the dog’s health. Sebaceous glands help prevent dry skin and they become inflamed and die off. Some breeds have dry, scaly skin and patches of hair loss on top of the head, neck and back of the Samoyed, Std. Poodle and Akita. Severely affected dogs have areas of thick skin and extensive hair loss with a musty or rancid odor plus secondary skin infections. In short-coated breeds like the Vizsla, there is a moth-eaten look about the dog’s coat with some scaling to the trunk, head and ears. Treatments include an anti-seborrheic shampoo and fatty-acid dietetic supplements as well as a special topical spray and certain oral supplements. Recovery is very slow. See your vet.

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca—(Keratitis) A fancy way of saying “dry eye.” Inadequate tear flow causes painful eye infections of a chronic nature. Causes vary from distemper to certain medications to removing the third eyelid tear gland.. Often treated with cyclosporine drops. or an ointment called cyclosporine topical therapy.

  • Pyloric stenosis—Hereditary. A narrowing of the opening into the small intestine. The dog will vomit food and water after eating. Usually seen in puppies. Generally a problem for the breeder. Found in most often in Lhasa Apso's, Boston Terriers, other small breeds.

  • Perianal gland fistulas—Abnormal openings around the dog's anal area. These openings quickly get badly infected and are painful. The dog may “scoot” on his rear end and a foul odor may be omitted. This is a SERIOUS disease. Early detection and treatment is vital.

Other problems could occur with your Lhasa Apso. If you notice any problems with your pet, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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