Critter Culture
The Lhasa Apso: A Big Dog in a Small Body

The Lhasa Apso: A Big Dog in a Small Body

Critter Culture Staff



Lhasa apsos once guarded palaces and monasteries in the mountains of Tibet. They're independent, loyal, and can adapt to many conditions, but proper training is necessary, so they know who's in charge. This is a big dog in a little body — Lhasa apsos have no idea of their small stature. They're typically 9 to 11 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 12 and 15 pounds.


The Lhasa apso is a watchdog at heart

Lhasa Apso dog lying in the grass of a garden

Lhasa apsos were bred to be royal watchdogs for hundreds of years, and they have maintained a lot of that responsibility. They're effective watchdogs that take their job very seriously. Their small stature and adorable looks hide their protective nature, which can be a surprise to people unfamiliar with the breed. They're suspicious of strangers but are not usually aggressive.


Training your Lhasa apso

training independent traits Jupiterimages / Getty Images

Lhasa apsos make great companions, but effective training is essential. They're regal protective watchdogs at heart, so training them to use these traits appropriately is important. This independent breed likes to do its own thing, adding an extra challenge to their training. However, it's well worth the effort as a properly trained Lhasa apso rewards you with a lifetime of companionship and joy.


Lhasa apso keep their playful puppy spirit

lhasa apso running on a small way in the garden

The Lhasa apso has an interesting personality. They're regal, independent, devoted watchdogs, but they're also mischievous and playful. Lhasa apsos mature slowly; they don't lose their puppy spirit until they're close to 3 years old, which can make training a little more challenging because they don't really take it seriously.


They are happy being indoors

lhasa apso dog lying down inside

Lhasa apsos are not a particularly active breed, and they do just fine spending most of their time indoors. Unlike most dogs, Lhasa apsos don't need a lot of exercise to burn off energy. A few short walks and play sessions are enough for this breed. They're also independent enough to leave them home alone without having to worry about separation anxiety.


The Lhasa's lifespan

long lifespan healthy Fran Montes / Getty Images

Although there are a few health issues to watch out for, Lhasa apsos typically live for 12 to 15 years, though some live as long as 20. Some of the conditions to look out for are cherry eye, dislocated knee caps, allergies, skin conditions, dry eyes, progressive retinal atrophy, and kidney dysplasia.


They are great apartment dogs

White Lhasa Apso dog portrait

Because they don't need a lot of exercise, Lhasa apsos make great apartment dogs, as long as they get a few shorts walks every day. They don't have a lot of pent-up energy, which means they won't run about the house or bounce off the furniture all day. That said, they would do well with a small yard to run around in, too.


Grooming your Lhasa

long coats grooming f8grapher / Getty Images

Typically, Lhasa apsos have long, straight, dense coats. They come in a wide range of colors, including white, slate, white, and black. Keeping their coat looking good requires a lot of care. Daily brushing is necessary, and they need a bath once or twice a month. Some owners who don't want to deal with this much grooming have their Lhasa apsos hair clipped short, which is much easier to care for.


This isn't a good breed for small children

small young children Cleiton Gomes Nascimento Batista / Getty Images

Lhasa apsos do just fine with older children who understand their personalities and temperaments, but a home with young kids is not a good match for this independent dog. They're not very tolerant of rowdy, loud behaviors normal for small children and will nip if they get too close.


They do okay with other pets, but proper socialization is important

pets socialization friends William Rodrigues dos Santos / Getty Images

As far as other pets go, Lhasa apsos get along well with other dogs, particularly when they grow up together. They do like to be in charge and will often assume a leadership role. Lhasa apsos have no problem getting involved in hiking or other activities normally associated with bigger dogs because they think they are one.


They can be sneaky

intelligent manipulative reason suefeldberg / Getty Images

Because of their long history as a watchdog, Lhasa apsos have an inherent intelligence and the ability to reason. These characteristics, combined with their independent streak, mean that they will often try to outsmart or manipulate their owners. You need to take charge with a Lhasa apso, or they will try to run the house.



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