Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso (lha-sah ap-so) is a non-sporting dog breed originating in Tibet. It was bred as an interior sentinel in the Buddhist monasteries, who alerted the monks to any intruders who entered. Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet and apso is a word in the Tibetan language meaning "bearded," so Lhasa Apso simply means "long-haired Tibetan dog". These can vary according to regions and types.

Male Lhasa Apsos should ideally be 10.75 inches at the withers and weigh about 14-18 pounds, 6–8 kg. The females are slightly smaller, and weigh between 12-14 pounds, 5–7 kg. The dog breed standard requires dark brown eyes and a black nose, although liver colored lhasas have a brown nose. The texture of the coat is heavy, straight, hard, neither woolly nor silky, and very dense. Colors include white, golden, rust and parti-colored with various shadings. Lhasas can be with or without dark tips at the end of ears and beard. The tail should be carried well over the dog's back. The dog breed standard currently used by the American Kennel Club was approved on July 11, 1978. Lhasas can change color as they get older, starting with a dark brown coat which gradually turns lighter.

A movement called the Tibetan Line Breeding Programme exists, to breed preseve the original Tibetan Lhasa Apso. This movement is based on the premise that after 60 years of Western breeding, the breed is losing key characteristics of their original Lhasa ancestors still living in Tibet and Bhutan.

Lhasa Apso Temperament

Having been bred as an indoor monastery sentinel dog by Tibetan Buddhist monks, Lhasa Apsos are alert with a keen sense of hearing with a rich, sonorous bark that belies their size. The ideal Lhasa temperament is to be wary of strangers while being loyal to those closest to them. They rank 68th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, being of fair working/obedience intelligence. Lhasa Apsos are independent as well as companion dogs who want to please their owners. Unique personality characteristics of Lhasa Apsos have gained them a reputation as being a very emotive dog breed that in some cases prove themselves to be completely fearless. They enjoy climbing hills and furniture, as well as burrowing into caves. Lhasa Apsos often show happiness by rubbing their head on their owners, rolling around, or sitting on their owner's feet.

A Lhasa Apso responds to exercise and discipline with a calm assertive energy. These dogs require socialization with dogs and other people early as puppies and throughout their lives. They require patience but in return can be quite comical, entertaining and caring companions. They aim to please their owners and enjoy training. While their personality belies their size, they need a home that is mindful that there is a small quiet dog in the house to prevent injury. They enjoy vantage points in the house where they can view all that is going on.

The Lhasa Apso is a loyal dog, who while not be a traditional lapdog, is a steadfast sweet, happy, active, assertive, adventurous little companion dog whose only desire is to be with and protect their owners.

If properly trained early as soon as they are a puppy, the Lhasa Apso will come to appreciate bathing, hair combing and clipping, but they generally do not enjoy bathing or swimming as this is not part of their breed traits.

The Lhasa Apso is a long-lived dog breed, with some living in good health into their early 20s. There are few health problems specific to the breed. Their vision may deteriorate with age but they are not sight-oriented dogs and they endure blindness with few noticeable changes in behavior. They should have some protective hair over their eyes. They have strong eyelashes that push this protective hair out of the way so they can see. Likewise, a Lhasa Apso should not be shaved as its hair insulates and protects its eyes and skin from the elements, such as the sun and acts to theromdynamically regulate their temperature. Also they can have some ear wax build up deep inside their ears.

Lhasa Apso Shedding

Like most mammals, all dogs slough off dander. Since dander and many other allergens become trapped in hair, and shed hairs are light enough to spend considerable time airborne indoors before settling to the floor to be removed during housecleaning (an activity which can, ironically, help them stay airborne), shedding of the coat is a typical way in which house-pets spread their allergens in a domestic environment.

Coming from the extremely cold weather of the Himalayas, the Apso has a double coat: only the undercoat, which is soft, will shed out once a year, the outer coat, consisting of coarse outer guard hairs, does not shed. Many owners do not show their dogs's full coat and tend to keep their Lhasa Apsos in a "puppy clip." This is controversial to those who know that the breed was born with their long coat to protect and insulate them from the elements. People with allergies can co-exist with the low-shedding breeds of dogs, including the Lhasa Apso, when they are properly cared for.

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