Bred by Buddhist monks in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet around 2,000 years ago, many consider the Lhasa Apso to be one of the 14 ancient dog breeds, with some records indicating an existence from 800 BC. Deriving its name from the sacred city of Lhasa, the Lhasa Apso was primarily bred as a dependable guardian dog, widely owned by figures of the nobility to watch monasteries and temples, protecting them from thieves and vandals. Believed to bring good luck, the Lhasa Apso was often presented as a gift to visiting rulers or honoured guests, something which increased the breed's prevalence outside its homeland. Officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1935.
Known as 'the bearded lion' in native Tibet, the Lhasa Apso boasts a striking appearance. Low to the ground, the Lhasa Apso has short legs, heavily feathered pendant ears, dark inseted eyes and a high-set tail held over the back. The coat is typically long and dense, often reaching to the floor, and is common in colour variations of gold, cream, smoke, slate, dark-grizzle, brown, black and white, although any colour is permissible in this breed. It is not uncommon for a Lhasa Apso to have a kink in its tail. Contrary to popular belief, the Lhasa Apso is not 'non-allergenic' as, whilst its coat sheds little, its skin or 'dander' sheds a lot.
While most small breeds are prone to displaying negative behaviours such as stubbornness, disobedience and aggression - behaviours that are often put down to 'Small Dog Syndrome,' these can easily be avoided by socialising your dog from puppyhood, showing firm leadership and consistently training your dog in obedience and manners. When trained, the Lhasa Apso has the potential to be a spirited, energetic and affectionate companion dog, devoted to its master and family. On average, an adult Lhasa Apso will weigh 6-7 kg, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years, although it is not uncommon for this breed to live into its 20s.
Generally very healthy and resilient, the Lhasa Apso is prone to no serious medical conditions. Health problems identified in the breed do, however, include various optical disorders ranging from juvenile cataracts to progressive retinal atrophy, as well as orthopedic complaints commonly seen across breeds.