Dog Breeds 101: Lhasa Apso

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Dog Breeds 101 – Lhasa Apso
Photo – Wikipedia – lic. under CC 3.0

The lovely and dignified Lhasa Apso was bred to serve as an alarm dog for Buddhist monks in Tibet. The breed’s name means “bark lion sentinel dog”, referring to its job and its lion-like appearance. These dogs can grow up to 11 inches at the withers and can weigh anywhere between 12 to 18 pounds. The breed has an average life span of 12 to 15 years, making it one of the longest living dog breeds. This breed sports a long and straight coat that requires and extensive amount of grooming. The dogs come in a variety of colors but the most common are black, white and a combination of red and gold. [1][2]

Lhasa Apsos are trustworthy and take their job as sentinels very seriously. According to Lhasa owners, these dogs are thinkers and they study situations thoroughly before accepting them. Their size and moderate activity requirements make them suitable to any home, including small apartments. They should still be given exercise – a brief walk or a short play session inside the house is good enough. [1]

The breed comes from the mountains of Tibet particularly near the sacred city of Lhasa. The dogs were used as sentinels for Buddhist temples and monasteries and they were bred there for centuries without any outside influence. They were also given as gifts to Imperial families of China as token of peace, prosperity and good fortune. Those Lhasas were incorporated into the bloodline of other small Chinese breeds, contributing to the formation and development of the Shih Tzu and Pekingese. [3]


These dogs are highly intelligent, has a sharp bark and an acute sense of hearing. Truly, they were perfect guard dogs and today, they still serve that purpose. Their sharp sense of hearing also makes them great service dogs for the deaf. DNA analysis identified the Lhasa Apso as one of the most ancient dog breeds. [2]

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