About The Breed

The Lhasa Apso breed originates from Tibet, where they served as watchdogs of the monastery grounds and they're well known for being very respected dogs.

The Lhasa Apso, commonly known as the 'lion dog', is considered an ancient breed due to being domesticated as early as 800 B.C.  Believed to be a majestic breed bringing good luck and prosperity, they were only seen in the homes of royalty or in the monasteries kept by monks.  As a watch dog with a keen sense of hearing, they are particularly useful for alerting residents of suspicious activities or noises.  

The breed was introduced to the United States when two Lhasa Apsos were given as gifts to Suydam Cutting, a famous naturalist and world traveler, by the 13th Dalai Lama (Thubten Gyatso) in 1933.   By 1935 the American Kennel Club had officially accepted the breed into their registries and later, in 1959, recategorized them as a non-sporting breed, where they remain today.


  • The Lhasa Apso is a loyal dog dedicated to protecting its family. It is best suited for families who will train their dog and supervise with young children.  It is not an aggressive dog, but is a security dog and may seem aloof with strangers. 
  • It should be remembered at all times that the Lhasa Apso was bred as a watch dog. Although they are affectionate with people who they know and trust. Their sharp alarming bark can become a nuisance if the dog is not trained as to when it's appropriate.   Watch dog is not the same as guard dog or attack dog.  While they may put themselves between you and an attacker, they are not aggressive by nature.
  • Because of its independent nature, the Lhasa is suitable for people that are not at home a lot.   This does not mean you can leave your dog home alone all day.  While they will easily entertain themselves, you will still need to exercise your dog. 
  • Grooming of your Lhasa Apso is a daily requirement to prevent tangling and matting of its fur.  Even with a shorter puppy cut you should brush daily.  Expect to bathe your Lhasa every other week with a long coat or visit the groomer every 4-5 weeks for a puppy cut. 
  •  The Lhasa Apso were domesticated and actively bred as long ago as 800 BC, which makes them nearly 3000 years old and one of the oldest recognized breeds in the world
  • Tibetan Buddhists believe in reincarnation, and they believe that in the stages of reincarnation, a dog comes right before a human.  According to their religion, the souls of Lamas (or priests) are frequently reborn as Lhasa Apsos, just before they are reborn again as humans.   The Lhasa's keen memory and high level of intelligence is supportive traits of this belief. 
  •  Many people buy a Lhasa Apso puppy based on his brash and comical antics, envisioning a cuddly lapdog. This couldn't be farther from the truth, as the Lhasa Apso is one of the hardiest, toughest, and strongest-willed of all the small breeds.



It is said that "When a Lhasa Apso looks in the mirror, he sees a lion."  Don't be surprised if your youthful Lhasa puts large dogs in their place, as he does not see himself as small.  You must be consistent and firm with well enforced rules to gain his respect and remain dominant yourself!

"One time I wrestled a giraffe to the ground.."

The Lhasa Apso is a watch dog.  These dogs may be small but they make great security dogs. Lhasa's are easily trained and will happily join activities that we normally associate with larger dog breeds. 

As intelligent as they are, they will often prove to be incredibly willful and sometimes, they may even refuse to train simply due to boredom.  The Lhasa Apso is a breed which requires a strong and very kind leader. A good Lhasa Apso owner needs to know how to act towards their Lhasa.  They may be small and cute, but they are very wise and will easily manipulate owners who do not have experience training this breed. 


The Lhasa Apso are long-lived dogs, routinely going into their late teens. The record holder is a breed champion who lived to be 29!  The average life expectancy of a Lhasa Apso is 12-16 years. 


Weight Range: 

Male: 13-18 lbs. 
Female: 12-15 lbs. 

Height at Withers (shoulder): 

Male: 10-11 in. 
Female: 9-10 in. 


Rectangular body, floppy ears naturally resting close to the cheek, medium muzzle. Almond shaped eyes, black nose, level or slightly undershot bite.  Overall well balanced, with a feathered, high set tail carried over the back in a curl or corkscrew laying over the back and to the side.  Due to the breed standard requiring a black nose, liver Lhasas are not able to be show dogs but still make exceptional companions. 


Exercise Requirements: 20 minutes per day is adequate. 
Energy Level: Average. Regular exercise with an occasional missed day is okay and the Lhasa is a sturdy dog which can endure more physical exercise or may race around an apartment to run off energy on their own.. 
Grooming Frequency:  3-4 times a week brushing is normal.  A long show coat should be bathed every other week with daily brushing.  A puppy cut is a shorter 2-3" coat which is often the choice of pet owners. 
Training:  High intelligence causes easy boredom (sometimes deemed as stubborn) with repetitive drill.  Switch it up often and keep training sessions shorter and more frequent for impressive results.  Lhasa's learn easily; just be consistent. 
Shedding:  Infrequently sheds hair.  The dense double-coat requires thorough rinsing and brushing to prevent matting. 
Social/Attention Needs: Moderate.  As they can be aloof with others, it is good to socialize Lhasas with other dogs and people early.  As independent dogs they have no problem being alone and will entertain themselves while you're out. 

Group:  Non-Sporting Group but does very well with agility training also. 

Alert and sensitive to their surroundings, Lhasas are usually gay and assertive but may be chary/aloof with strangers. Their regal attitude gives them an air of seriousness. The breed is extremely intelligent, charming and very loyal. 


A good breeder strives to preserve the breed standard through every breeding with a very selective processes.  The Lhasa Apso is generally a robust, healthy dog. The most serious health problem in the breed is hereditary kidney dysfunction, which can be present in mild to severe form.  Kai-Ara Lhasa Apsos is aware of this and does not allow affected individuals in our breeding programs. Other conditions we eliminate from our stock and you should inquire about regardless of where you purchase your puppy are dry eye, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), hip dysplasia, luxating patellas (knees that pop out of position) and cherry eye.  You can learn more about these Health Concerns here.