Lhasa Apso Dog Breeds – History, Appearance, and Health 

Being a dog lover goes beyond cooing and smiling at a random dog on the street. Being a dog lover sometimes comes with the deep obligation to know everything there is to know about as many breeds of dogs as possible. We know this and we understand you. 

Hence, the purpose of this article is to explore some of the basic information about a Lhasa Apso dog. So, if you ever come across this lovely breed, you would know exactly what you are looking at. 

Brief History

Lhasa Apso dogs are said to have originated from Tibet. They were original used as an indoor guard dog; hence, they were confined indoors. This is unlike the Tibetan Mastiff that shares the same origin as our focus dog. Click here, to find other dog breeds with Tibetan history. For a long time, this dog breed was exclusively bred by monks and nobilities in the monasteries. They were thought to bring good luck, but buying one of them was nearly impossible. This is because they were considered sacred and it was a common belief that when the owner dies, the soul enters his Lhasa Aspo’s body.  

For this reason, the dogs weren’t taken out of Tibet unless on rare occasions where they were gifted out. And they were always given out in pairs. It is by this gifting act that the first set of Lhasa Apso entered the US. The 13th Dalai Lama gifted a naturalist and renowned world traveler named C. Suydam Cutting a pair of Lhasas in the year 1933. 

In the United States, Lhasa Apso was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1935 and was classified under the Non-Sporting Group in the year 1959. 

While in the United Kingdom, they are classified under the Utility Group. Some of the characteristics now attached to this breed evolved due to climatic and geographical environment. A unique set of the Lhasa Apso breed known as Gompa dogs exists among the fancy in the United States. The Gompa dogs are believed to be direct descendants from the Drepung monastery in the dog’s origin, Tibet.  

Why the Name Lhasa Apso? 

The name is due to the dog’s origin, as Lhasa happens to be Tibet’s capital city. Apso is a Tibetan word that some argue to mean “goatee” or “billy goat”. This name could be ascribed to the dog’s appearance. The word Apso has also been said to be has been used as a compound noun that means “bark-guard”. And this may be because the dog, as we have already mentioned was used originally as a guard dog. 


This dog breed is very healthy but they are susceptible to some diseases. Some of the common diseases to affect Lhasa dogs are: 

  • Sebaceous Adenitis – This is a hereditary skin disease. It is known to affect Standard Poodles and other dog breeds like the Lhasa Apso. 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy – This is a genetic disease and can lead to blindness if not properly attended to. Visit here: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/progressive-retinal-atrophy-in-dogs to learn more about this disease. A responsible dog breeder would have to take their dogs for a yearly check-up with a canine ophthalmologist to know whether their dogs have started developing this disease. A breeder must do this because this disease usually passes down to the dog’s offspring. 
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca – Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca can be otherwise called “dry eye syndrome”. This disease is due to a deficiency in tear production. A typical symptom of this disease is a yellow gooey discharge from the eyes, and so it could be wrongly mistaken as conjunctivitis. Artificial tears, medication, and even surgery are some of the methods to treat this condition. 
  • Cherry Eye – Cherry eye disease happens when a gland often called the third eyelid begins to swell up. The inner corner of the dog’s eye will then develop a red mass that looks like a cherry, hence the name. Any Lhasa that develops this health condition would have to go through surgery. 

The size of this breed has led many to consider it a “lap dog”. This is however not the case, Lhasas require walks, plays, and any other form of daily exercise to ensure they stay healthy both mentally and physically. 


A grown male Lhasa Apso typically weighs 6.5-8 kg and stands to about 10-11 inches. The females weigh slightly lesser at 5.5-6.5kg. Standard breeds have a black nose, and their eyes are usually a dark shade of brown. You can check this Holistapet Lhasa Apso information page to find out more about this dog breed. Their coat is heavy, hard, and straight, the texture is neither silky nor woolly and is often dense. 

This lovely dog breed comes in a wide range of exciting colors, from the more common brown to white, black, gold, and even red. Some Lhasas beards and ears may end in a black tip. 

Life Span

According to the UK vet clinic data; this breed has a lifespan of about fourteen years and four months. 


Lhasa Aspo is one beautiful dog breed that will have your heart bursting open with love. To understand the temperament of these wonderful creatures, you would need an understanding of their history. This is why this article gives a brief history of these beauties. 

The appearance of this breed is also one that is sure to make you fall in love, with their dense yet attractive coat, cute cuddly size, and exciting colors. 

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