One of several breeds originating from Tibet, the Lhasa Apso is perhaps one of the most distinctive. The Lhasa Apso is also known as the “lion dog”, a reference to its astonishing coat. This breed has long enjoyed a status as a regal breed, with the dogs used as gifts for important visitors. Perhaps because of its exclusive nature, it was only recently that the Lhasa Apso was found outside Tibet. Records show that the breed was introduced to Europe in the early 18th century, but the breed only became available to Australia in the mid 20th century.

Lhasa Apso: the lion dog

This breed’s nickname is impressively apt, as the Lhasa Apso is covered in long fur. This fur grows to a great length all over the dog, and even areas where in most breeds fur is typically short, such as between the toes and on the ears, the fur grows to a long length. The length of this fur is made even more pronounced by the dog’s small stature.

This thick coat probably helped protect the breed against the harsh Tibetan winters by helping to insulate against cold temperatures and harsh winds. However, the coat does not simply keep out the cold: it helps to keep the breed cool during the summer months, too. If left uncut, the Lhasa Apso’s coat will eventually reach the ground, and despite the breed’s long protective eyelashes will also cover the eyes.

Lhasa Apsos are found in several colours ranging from white through to sand, brown, slate, and black. The breed is small and compact, and is usually less than 30 centimetres in height.

Looking after a Lhasa Apso

As may well be evident, caring for a Lhasa Apso can be a time-consuming endeavour. However, the amount of time required by the grooming regimen depends on whether the dog is kept in full coat, or whether it is clipped. Caring for young dogs is a substantial challenge, as clipping is not recommended until the dogs are at least nine months old.

Young dogs must thus be bathed on a weekly basis, and must be groomed at least daily to discourage knotting and tangling. While the need for grooming decreases with age, as the coat becomes harder and less liable to knot, weekly grooming is essential. Even clipped dogs need to have their coats regularly tended to. In particular, the hair around the eyes and feet should be trimmed, and the ears should be kept tidy.

Bathing a Lhasa Apso can be time-consuming, too. The breed’s long fur takes a significant amount of time to dry. If not dried using a hairdryer, the skin may remain damp. Special care should be taken to move hair away from the dog’s face when bathing.

Are Lhasa Apsos family dogs?
Lhasa Apsos are quite gentle in temperament, although they can be aloof. Their build and luxurious coat makes them difficult to take for a walk, and they tend to be fairly inactive by nature. Because of this they can be prone to becoming overweight, so owners should ensure that their dogs adhere to a strict diet.

Lhasas, although friendly enough, don’t typically fare well with younger, highly active children. In addition, the time needed to care for a Lhasa means that they’re not the best choice for the elderly or for those who spend a good deal of time away from home.