The Lhasa is a non-sporting, companion dog breed that originated in Tibet. It was bred as an interior sentinel in the Buddhist monasteries, to alert the monks to any intruders who entered. Lhasa Apso derives its name from the holy city of Lhasa. For several thousands of years, the Lhasa was bred exclusively by royal families, nobility and monks in monasteries to act an inside guard and protector. The Lhasa’s thick coat is an adaptation to intense cold and extreme heat of its native climate.
A Lhasa was considered sacred and believed to bring good luck. It was a watchdog in temples, monasteries, homes of nobility and the royal palace. In its native place, there is a belief that when an owner died, the human soul entered the body of his Lhasa Apso. Lhasas were not allowed to leave the country except when given as gifts by the Dalai Lama.
It wasn’t only until 1933 when the first Lhasas entered the United States as gifts given by the 13th Dalai Lama in to Charles Suydam Cutting, a noted world traveler, explorer, photographer, ethnologist and naturalist. Cutting owned Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, New Jersey, and the Lhasa pair became the foundation stock for his kennel.
The American Kennel Club accepted the Lhasa Apso as a breed in 1935.
How does a Lhasa Apso look like? The Lhasa Apso is a small, hardy dog. Males stand 10 to 11 inches high and weigh 13 to 15 pounds; following sexual dimorphism in animals, females are slightly smaller. The body length is longer than the height of the dog. The Dog Breed Info Center® gives the following general description of a Lhasa Apso dog:
The small, deep-set eyes are dark brown and the pendant ears are heavily feathered. The front legs are straight. The back legs are heavily covered in hair. The muzzle is medium in length. The teeth should meet in a level or slightly undershot bite. The feet are round and catlike with an abundance of hair. The tail is set high, well feathered and carried over the back in a screw. Some tails have a kink at the end. The dense, double coat is straight and long over the entire body, including over the head and eyes, reaching to the floor. Any color is acceptable in the show ring. Gold, cream and honey are the most popular, but the coat also comes in dark-grizzle, slate, smoke and multi-colors of brown, white and black. Puppy coats often change colors as the puppy grows. Owners often cut the dogs’ hair short in a puppy cut to make them easier to care for.
The personality of a Lhasa Apso is a special and interesting mix. It is considered a happy, mischievous, and playful dog. It is also majestic, independent and fierce. It takes its primary role of guarding its home and family seriously. The mental maturity of a Lhasa Apso may take a long time. Although Lhasa Apso can physically grow up to reach full size at one year of age, it will remain somewhat puppyish until old age. Thus, care and training for this breed needs long-time commitment and consistency. But if you are willing to go the long haul, the rewards will be great. The Lhasa is not a high-energy dog. This means it can be suitable to keep within a limited space, like an apartment or condominium and several short walks each day is enough for this dog.