Diet, Exercise & Healthy Weight

Know Where You Are
Using a digital scale you can weigh yourself and then weigh again while holding your dog to get the dog's weight.  While this is good to know, before talking diets, it's also good to know if your dog is underweight, healthy or overweight.  To know how much to feed and exercise a dog you'll first want to know if they should be maintaining, losing or gaining weight for their current age and weight.  One quick way to tell is by using what is known as the "knuckle test".  

The Knuckle Test   

In general, feeling your pet's ribs is a good way to gauge their weight.  Basically, feeling to see how much meat or fat is on the bone and knowing how to interpret what you feel.  To do this you'll want to feel your dog's ribs.  From the top of your dog, run your fingers over the ribs about where the body begins to curve downward (slightly away from the backbone).  Now make a loose fist and feel the bones on your hand.  Run your fingers over the back of your hand, then over your knuckles, then over the back of your fingers near the knuckles.  Notice how the bones feel under the flesh of your hand and compare this to how they feel on your dog. 


If your dog's ribs feel like the bones in the back part of your hand (as in nothing is really felt much) then your dog is likely overweight.  If it feels more like your knuckles, then they're probably underweight.  If it feels similar to the backs of your fingers, meaning you can feel each rib, but there is some padding around them, then your pet is probably at the right weight.  

Which does your dog feel most like?

Know Where You Want To Be
For a true to type Lhasa Apso the ideal weight of an adult male is between 13 - 18 lb., and for a female it's between 11 - 15 lb.  The Lhasa Apso should have a slight taper to the back end of the dog as well, but not much.   A canine nutritionist or your Veterinarian can advise if your dog is at a healthy weight as well.  

You should never put a dog on a calorie restrictive diet without Veterinary advice.  A single pound to you may not be significant but to a 15 lb. dog it's a big deal.  Just as it is with humans, a quick gain or loss of weight is not healthy and should be done slowly, over time. 

Know How To Get There 
Diet and exercise are the only healthy ways to adjust weight, as it is with every living mammal.   Finding a balanced diet, with the nutritional adequacy for your dog's size and activity level is all that matters.  

Did you know? 
Did you know there is no requirement that pet food products have premarket approval by the FDA?  The FDA regulation states that it need only to be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances and be truthfully labeled.  The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) develops the standards by which Animal Nutritionist live by (in the USA) and by which State rules are developed concerning what may be sold in your state.  However, the AAFCO does not regulate, test, approve or certify pet foods in any way either.   

What all of this means is that it's up to you to know what is in your dog's food and to read the label.  There are strict guidelines on labeling in the US.  The label on each bag is the single most important factor in determining what your dog is eating and how much is required. 

Calories - How Much Do I Feed My Lhasa Apso?
A good daily calorie intake for a 15lb. adult Lhasa that lives inside your home, receives light daily exercise, is spayed or neutered, and is in a fit body condition is about 400 calories. 

**For puppies add approx. another 50 or as much as 100 more

To gain or lose you would adjust up or down no more than 10% (40 calories in the above example) for a 1 month period before re-evaluating.  We recommend contacting your Veterinarian for the best advice!

Note:   When training a dog (where you may be treating often), be sure to never treat more than 10% of their daily calorie allowance.

There are many calculators available online to help you as well.  The Pet Nutrition Calculator will also help you in determe whether your dog is in a fit body condition or needs to adjust.  

BJ's Raw Feeding Calculator is found at 
Another Basic Pet Nutrition Calculator is available at

There is a lot to consider when determining how much your Lhasa should weigh as well as evaluating body condition.  We recommend speaking to your Vet for the best advice.


Dogs need to be walked

Exercise - They need it and we do too!
Less than 20% of dog owners walk their canine friends dailyBizarre, right?  Even more strange sounding is a proposed law in Germany which may require dogs to be walked twice a day, for at least an hour each.  While it's not yet a law, it's looking like it will be and you can read more about it here.  

Now a 4 month old Lhasa is not going to take two one-hour walks a day.  But your dog does need to be exercised.  A great thing about Lhasas is that they will exercise themselves if you forget to.  Ever heard of the zoomies?  It's a thing!  This is why they make good apartment dwellers too, but you should try to walk your dog each day.   

The above is a 3 month old Lhasa running off his pent up energy!  This was before we began our daily walks, as he was not too cooperative with a leash at first.  If your dog zooms around the house like this every day, it is likely a sign they require more exercise.  It's ok to let them run it off in this manner, also.  Many Lhasa Apso owners are unable to take a daily walk themselves and this dog will simply exercise themselves in this case.

A good rule of thumb for exercising:  A new pup should be given about 5 minutes per month of age (Ex. 5 months x 5 min. = 25 min. exercise) until they're about 6 months old.  At 6 mo. they can withstand gradual increases to match your activity level.  If you're a runner, don't expect your 6 mo. puppy to run for miles right away.  Just as you needed conditioning, so do their muscles.  A Lhasa will have no problem telling you when he's had enough.  Your clue will be the sudden belly flop that says "I'm done"! 

The exercise requirement for a Lhasa is about 20 minutes per day.   This doesn't have to be all in one walk and it doesn't always have to be a brisk walk; just walk!  Please, do not exercise your dog in the middle of a hot summer day or expect them to walk on hot pavement. 

And if you can't get out with them, then make sure your dog has plenty of room to exercise themselves.  There are great machines you can buy too that will toss a tennis ball which your dog can retrieve and drop back into the machine, to have it thrown again.  Some of these automatic ball launchers can be loaded with treats also, to make the exercise even more rewarding.

  • Train your dog to walk beside you (on your left) and to not pull (use a leash).
  • Be aware of hot pavement and paws.  If you can't stand it for 5 seconds it's too hot.
  • Water and shade are a dog's best friend on longer walks. 
  • Dogs with darker coats heat up faster. 
  • Keep a close eye on excessive panting. 
  • Avoid retractable leashes
  • Bag your dogs poop.  It's not just good neighbor but environmentally safe neighborhood practice.
  • Wear something reflective if walking in evenings.