Meet the Lhasa


The Lhasa Apso, as the oldest breed of dog in the world, was originally bred as a guardian and a companion. They originated in Tibet, high in the Himalaya mountains, one of the harshest environments in the world, and are very hardy, sturdy, agile little dogs. They are well behaved indoors and require very little exercise outdoors. They are watchful and quick to alert you to the presence of strangers, with a surprisingly loud bark. A Lhasa Apso sounds twice as big as he is!

Some quick facts about the breed:

Weight: 13-20 lbs

Height: 10-11 inches at the shoulder

Good watchdog, family friendly, generally quiet, gentle, eats less than a large dog, requires grooming

Does not shed


They experience a one time shed out, known as a coat change. The puppy coat will die and fall out, and needs to be brushed out, or it will tangle in the remaining coat and mat. This happens somewhere between 6-14 months old, but may be sooner or later depending on the dog. In spite of his luxurious coat the Lhasa only needs two grooming sessions per week if kept in full coat.


You may have heard that Lhasas are bad with children; this is simply not true. Most Lhasas love children. No child should ever be left unsupervised with any breed of dog, but the Lhasa will actively seek out children to play with or curl up next to for a nap.

The Lhasa can fit into almost any family, whether you are one, have kids, stay home a lot, or travel most of the time. The only home a Lhasa doesn't work well in is one where he is left alone much of the time. Lhasa's are independent dogs, but they love to be around their people. The beauty of this is the Lhasa's small size makes him easy to travel with, and he loves to travel with his owner.

In Tibet the Lhasa Apso is know as Apso Seng Kyi, meaning "bark lion sentinel dog", a job title they can still claim today. The Lhasa loves to follow his owner around everywhere, and guard them from danger.

Lhasas have a nearly human intelligence, as the result of living so closely with humans for thousands of years. They have a sense of humor, but don't tolerate teasing.

The Lhasa Apso has no inherent genetic disease, but poor breeding by a few bad breeders has produced dogs that don't follow the Lhasa standard, i.e. they are not hardy.

Lhasas are classified as a non-sporting breed, but don't tell them that! These little dogs will give anything a try!


The earliest standard we have is one written in 1901, by  Mr. Lionel Jacobs M.I.C.E., Government Official in the Punjab,  an organizer of the Northern India Kennel Club.  This standard was used to judge the breed as early as 1904 in India.  In his remarks on the breed, published in THE DOG OWNERS ANNUAL for 1901, he states ; 

"The Tibetan, Bhutan or Lassa Terrier, is now usually allowed to be a distinct breed, and perhaps of all others it merits the distinction. . . . There are Tibetan Terriers as large as Russian Poodles, and have others almost as small as Maltese. A few would appear to have Terrier instincts, but many have the habits of the large dog of Tibet. The Lassa Terrier has now (i.e.:1900) found a foothold in India and is bred there, though not in considerable numbers. At one time it was only to be obtained in its purity at Lhasa, and the breed was once, it is said, jealously guarded by the Bhuddist priests. But, traders finding a demand among the dog loving public of India, contrived to convey specimens to Leh and Kashmir, westward, and to Darjeeling, eastward."

Mr. Jacobs' standard was the only one used to judge the breed in England and in India from 1907 to 1934.  The first English champion of the breed was Ch. Rupso, imported from Shigatse (in Tibet) in 1907, gaining his English championship in 1908. It was the only one used to judge the breed in England and in India from 1907 to 1934.  The first English champion of the breed was Ch. Rupso, imported from Shigatse (in Tibet) in 1907, gaining his English championship in 1908.

1901 India

Size.  About 10 in. or 11 in. height at shoulder for dogs, and 9 in. or 10 in. for bitches.

Head.  Distinctly Terrierlike. Skull narrow, falling away behind the eyes in a marked degree, not quite flat, but not domed or apple shaped. Fore face of fair length, strong in front of the eyes, the nose, large, prominent and pointed, not depressed; a square muzzle is objectionable. The stop, size for size, about that of a Skye Terrier.

Mouth.  Quite level, but of the two a slightly overshot mouth is preferable to an undershot one. The teeth are somewhat smaller than would be expected in a Terrier of the size. In this respect, the breed seems to suffer to an extraordinary degree from cankered teeth. I have never yet seen an imported specimen with a sound mouth.

Ears.  Set on low, and carried close to the cheeks, similar to the ears of a dropeared Skye. Eyes.  Neither very large and full nor very small and sunk, dark brown in colour.

Legs and Feet.  The fore legs should be straight. In all short legged breeds there is a tendency to crookedness, but the straighter the legs the better. There should be good bone. Owing to the heavy coat the legs look, and should look, very heavy in bone, but in reality, the bone is not heavy. It should be round and of good strength right down to the toes, the less ankle the better. The hocks should be particularly well let down. Feet should be round and catlike, with good pads.

Body.  There is a tendency in England to look for a level top and a short back. All the best specimens have a slight arch at the loin and the back should not be too short; it should be considerably longer than the height at the withers. The dog should be well ribbed up, with a strong loin and well developed quarters and thighs.

Coat.  Should be heavy, of good length and very dense. There should be a strong growth on the skull, falling on both sides. The legs should be well clothed right down to the toes. On the body, the hair should not reach to the ground, as in a show Yorkshire; there should be a certain amount of daylight. In general appearance the hair should convey the idea of being much harder to the eye than it is to the touch. It should look hard, straight and strong, when to the touch it is soft, but not silky. The hair should be straight with no tendency to curl.

Colour. Black, dark grizzle, slate, sandy, or an admixture of these colours with white.

Stern.  Should be carried well over the back after the manner of the tail of the Chow. All Tibetan dogs carry their tails in this way, and a low carriage of stern is a sign of impure blood.

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