Flickr: Llima Orosa
The Lhasa Apso, originating in Tibet, is a non-sporting dog breed. It originated over 4,000 years ago in Tibet as a small breed of mountain wolf. The Lhasa Apso is one of the oldest recognized breeds in the world as they were domesticated and actively bred perhaps as long ago as 800 BC. In Tibet it was referred to as Apso Seng Kyi, or “Bearded Lion Dog”, and its primary function was that of a household sentinel. It would guard the homes of Tibetan nobility, and Buddhist monasteries, particularly in or near the sacred city of Lhasa. The keen hearing and sharp bark of the dog acted to warn residents by acting like a burglar alarm should an intruder get past the exterior Tibetan Mastiffs that guarded the monasteries entrances. DNA analysis has identified the breed as one of the 14 most ancient dog breeds. This verifies that lap dogs and dogs of companionship were among the first dogs bred by humans.
The average weight for the male Lhasa Apso is between 14-18 pounds, and for the female is between 12-14 pounds. The height for the male dog is about 10.75 inches tall at the withers, and the female is slightly smaller. The head or skull of the Apso is narrow and falls away from behind the eyes in a marked degree. It should be not quite flat, but not domed or apple shaped either. It has a straight foreface of fair length. The nose is black. The length from the tip of the nose is to be roughly about 1/3 of the total length from the nose to the back of the skull. The eyes of the Apso are neither very large nor full, nor very sunk and small. They are dark brown in color. The ears are pendant and feathered heavily, and the tail should be well feathered and carried well over its back in a screw. The coat is straight, hard, and heavy of good length and very dense. It should not be woolly nor silky. It comes in a wide variety of colors including black, red, white, and gold with various shadings.
The Apso are alert with a keen sense of hearing due to its having been bred as a sentinel dog. It is wary of strangers, but is loyal to those closest to him. If not trained, they can be very aggressive towards strangers. This is an independent breed, as well as a companion dog who wants to please its owners. They often show their happiness by sunning and rolling around, sitting on their owner’s feet, or by rubbing their head on their owners. These dogs require early socialization, require patience and can be slow to housetrain. However, they can be quite entertaining, comical, caring companions. They enjoy training and aim to please their owners. They need a home that is mindful that a small dog resides there to prevent injury.
The average life span of this breed is between 12-14 years, many with good health lived into their early 20’s. Generally this breed is a healthy breed. Some common health problems that may arise with the Lhasa Apso include KCS (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca or “dry eye”), cherry eye, luxating patellas, renal dysplasia, and allergies.