Lhasa Apso - Breed Introduction
Also known as the Lhasa, the Lhasa Apso is a hardy dog with an excellent sense of hearing. This makes it a great watchdog, while a companion dog wonderful with children.
The Lhasa Apso should measure about 10 to 11 inches (25 to 28 cm) at the shoulder. The females may be slightly smaller. They should weight between 13 to 15 pounds (5.9 to 6.8 kg).
History of the Breed
Also known as the Lhassa Terrier, the breed originated in Tibet. It took its name from the sacred city of Lhasa. Recently DNA analysis has proven that the Lhasa Apso is one of the fourteen most ancient breeds of dogs.
High up in the Tibetan moutains, the Lhasas had to evolve with a heavy coat that could withstand temperatures frequently dropping below freezing. A dog up in the Tibetan mountain ranges had to be able to survive without sufficient insulation. The owners rarely groomed their Lhasas, allowing the coat to naturally “braid” and matt, giving it an even denser coat for the harsh weather.
It was bred as a sentinel for the monasteries up in the Tibetan mountains, not only alerting them to strangers approaching but any wild animals that could come into the compound. Their rich sonorous bark gives them the nickname “singers” as the tenor in their bark belies their size. People hear them and think a much bigger dog is behind the door or gate.
The heavy coat of Lhasas can also be explained by the geographical features of Tibet: the temperature frequently drops below freezing thus making it hard for a dog to survive without sufficient insulation. Lhasas were rarely groomed by their owners thus allowing the breed to adapt to the harsh weather.
The first Lhasa Apso imported into another country was during 1901 by Mrs. A. McLaren Morrison. She brought the Lhasa Apso to the UK where it was registered as an official breed in The Kennel Club in 1902. The breed finally made its way over to the United States during the early 1930s. It was accepted by the American Kennel club in 1935 as a member of the Terrier group, and then in 1959 transferred to the Non-sporting Group.
Color and Coat
According to the breed standard, the Lhasa Apso would have hair that cascades from its had over its eyes, and have a dark beard and mustache. Its coat is heavy and straight, but neither woolly nor silky. It should have good length and be very dense. The ears should be well feathered, as well as the tail.
Typical colors of the Lhasa Apso is honey, sand, slate and black brindle. There must be dark tips to the ears and beard.
Personality and Temperament
The Lhasa Apso is a friendly dog. It truly emotes happiness, and is a joyful personality. However, the watchdog bred for centuries, still comes through and this makes him wary of strangers. They are alert and “on watch” at all times…even when resting or at play.
They are great companion dogs, love children and will make sure no one comes to your door or in your house without being announced. Although small, they have massive amounts of pent up energy that will explode out causing them to run about, wanting to be chased and play. While fearless, they will emote their true feelings – love and loyalty – to those he shares the household with.
When a Lhasa Apso enters the show ring, the judge is looking at the overall body shape: its length should be longer than the height at the withers. While small, the Lhasa Apso should be well ribbed with well developed forequarters and hindquarters.
The overall look of the Lhasa Apso is one of “feathers”. On its face, its ears, its tail, its legs, its body. The coat is designed for the wet, and for the cold. No other dog has a coat similar to the Lhasa Apso’s, and makes it stand out in the show ring.
The Lhasa Apso’s head is large for a small dog. Its covered by heavy furnishings that fall over the eyes, in addition to long whiskers, a beard and moustache. It’s eyes re dark brown, and though not large, still are prominent in its gentle face. The ears are pendulous and heavily feathered, carrying the long ropes of hair down from the face.
The legs are straight, and covered with long furnishings. Its feet are round and catlike with pads to protect its feet from the cold, wet and hard surfaces of the mountains. They also are covered with feathering, with tufts between the pads.
It’s tail should be well feathered, and carried over the back in a “screw” formation.
Typical Health Concerns
The Lhasa is a particularly healthy dog, however, there are two health concerns.
As in many small breeds of dogs, the Lhasa is prone to Patellar Luxation. This can be corrected with surgery.
The disease that Lhasa breeders are working with UC Davis in Californaia veterinary researchers is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). This causes total blindness, and the percentage of Lhasa’s with the disease has increased rapidly during the past few years.
The Lhasa’s coat can get tangled very easily. To detangle the coat, use a coat conditioner or oil on it, then comb it out until it’s not matted. To keep your Lhasa from getting matted, brush him at least once a week!
Before bathing your Lhasa, comb him. Then suds him up with a mild shampoo, rinse once, then once with a tablespoon of white vinegar in the water to remove any soap residue. Next blot him dry...don’t rub as that can cause tangles! Then use a blow dryer on medium heat to get him thoroughly dried.
Another issue Lhasa owners deal with is the long eyefall. You can either braid the hair and pin it up, use a barrette to pin it back or up in a “tail”, or rubberbands.
Average Life Span
A long-living breed, the Lhasa Apso can live up to 20 years. The average life span is 15 to 18 years.