The Lhasa Apso is a small companion dog first developed in Tibet. Its lion-like appearance and bold personality make it a lovable addition to many families today.
Not generally thought of as a great athlete, the Lhasa Apso does have well-developed thighs and quarters, a long body, and a strong loin and haunch. Its coat, which can be seen in a variety of cuts and colors, is coarse, heavy, straight, and long. Its darker tipped whiskers and beard, meanwhile, lend a stately, almost lion-like appearance to the dog. Many Lhasa Apsos also have a slight under bite.
Despite its appearance, the Lhasa Apso is a tough dog -- bold, independent, stubborn and reserved towards strangers. The dog, however, is lovable towards its owner and makes for a great companion.
The Lhasa Apso's long coat requires combing and brushing every other day. It loves short walks and outdoor play sessions, but should not be kept outside.
The Lhasa Apso, which has an average lifespan of approximately 12 to 14 years, is susceptible to major health conditions like patellar luxation and minor aliments like progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), distichiasis, renal cortical hypoplasia, and entropion. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hip, knee, and eye exams on the dog.
Although the Lhasa Apso’s exact origin is unknown, it is believed to be an ancient dog breed. Once considered an integral part of Tibetan monasteries and villages, the Lhasa Apso was thought to incorporate the souls of reincarnated Buddhist Lamas after their death. The Lhasa Apso also functioned as a monastery watchdog, alerting monks of incoming visitors, and was thus named Abso Seng Kye or "Bark Lion Sentinel Dog." Some theorize the breed may have derived its Western name, Lhasa Apso, because of its goat-like coat and from the corrupted form of the Tibetan word rapso, which means goat.
When it was first introduced to England, the breed was referred to as the Lhasa Terrier, though it was not a real terrier. The original American Lhasa Apsos arrived in 1930, a gift from Thubten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama, to C. Suydam Cutting, a wealthy American naturalist. In 1935, the Lhasa Apso was put under the American Kennel Club Terrier Group, but in 1959, it was transferred to the Non-Sporting Group. Today, the breed is a popular pet and show dog; a Lhasa Apso, Homero del Alcazar, even became World Champion at the World Dog Show in 2005.