Color & Coat Changes

There are standard colors and markings to consider when a Lhasa Apso puppy is registered.  Only one color and one marking choice is allowed for each Lhasa Apso registered. 

Dolly Parton once wrote a song about a "Coat of Many Colors" and much the same as she sang, we hope your puppy will bring you good luck and happiness, but it may be 6 months before you begin to see what color your dog will be!  This is because the Lhasa Apso coat changes color, and usually will lighten considerably.  

In the above picture for instance, the brown puppies will likely all be a very light cream color as adult.  Not always, but usually, you can push against the grain of the hair and check the color closest to the skin in order to get a better idea of the color your dog will become.

Standard Colors

  • Black - solid black, check feet and at base of tail; there should be no red, gold or cream but they may have white markings.  If golden hairs are on the dog it is a black & tan
  • Black & Tan - may appear solid black but beneath the tail or above the eyes, cheeks, chest, you may see tan (not white).
  • White - solid white
  • Cream - almost white to very light shades of cream
  • Golden - pale gold to wheat or straw color
  • Red Gold - dark apricot to light red or dark gold
  • Red - solid red with possible darker shading of red
  • Grizzle - a mixture of black and red hairs or bluish-gray mix with black and white, brindle or striped which will become gray when the dog matures.

Also note, when it comes to noses you will see the breed standard mentions a black nose.  The liver color which holds a pale brown skin pigment, is still a beautiful dog, but unable to be shown as it is not recognized in the AKC standards for the breed.  You will notice the brown leather on the nose and usually around the eyes on this dog.


Black mask with tips

  • Parti-color - a pattern of two colors on a coat; white and another color usually proportioned equally
  • White markings - white which is present on a colored coat and can usually be found on the chest, muzzle, tip of the tail, blaze (streak high up on the nose to tip of skull)
  • Black tips - a face which is not black but presence of black at the ends of the hair elsewhere on the dog; dark shading which gives a ripple effect when seen on long hair when moving
  • Black mask with tips - dark shading or black on the face, with points tipped on ears and tail, etc.
  • Sable - a coat of gold, cream or reddish colors with black or dark on the tips of the hair only
  • Brindle - darker hairs appearing to give a striped or very spotted look on light color coats; not just tips but full hair colored

Example Of Color Change

Notice in the above example where the dog has a reddish brown color around his eyes at 8 weeks of age, yet has become mostly white around the eyes just 12 weeks later.  If you have chosen a brown puppy then it is extremely likely this dog will become more golden or cream colored as an adult.  True blacks where the hair is black all the way to the skin, will usually stay black.  Check the tummy of a black for spotting and if present you'll know this dog will lighten some as well.  Not all Lhasa Apsos will change color but most will do so to some degree.

Be Ready For A Coat Change

Coat change is not the same as color change!  While not all Lhasa Apsos will experience a color change, all will go through a coat change between the ages of 8 and 15 months.

This is where your puppy loses it's puppy coat which is replaced by the more coarsely textured, adult coat.  You may hear the term he's "blowing his coat" and this does not mean blowing a coat dry but instead means blowing out (or losing) the old coat.  You may begin to think your dog is shedding because suddenly hair is being lost.  You may notice mats beginning to form quickly; in days or in just hours it seems!  Your puppy is shedding it's baby coat and the coat is maturing.  This is the only time a Lhasa Apso will shed, as the breed is not generally a shedding dog.  Shedding at any other time is a cause of concern.

The problem with this coat change is that the hairs are loosened and become trapped in the undercoat and cause matting to occur quickly.  You will need to be prepared to groom daily during this time!  You should be combing your dog daily anyway but during this time if you are not, you will soon be clipping down your dog, as it will quickly become a mess.  Mats left unattended are painful and will rub against your dog's skin causing a burn, much like a rug burn which can lead to hot spots, which can then become infected or worse.  

This transition will require additional diligence on your part but you will be rewarded with a coat that is much easier to maintain. 

The adult coat will be coarse, hard to the touch, never soft and more like human hair but thick, with each strand being felt when rubbed between fingers.

The adult coat should feel coarse and hard to touch