The Lhasa Apso: A Small Dog With a Big Personality

by Donella Crigger | December 17th, 2015 | Dogs, Spotlight

lhasa puppyA small dog with a big personality – that’s how I’d describe the Lhasa Apso. These little dogs are not your typical lap dog. They take their jobs as protectors very seriously, despite their small stature. If you’re looking for a breed that is small, independent, bold and beautiful, take a look at the Lhasa Apso.

Physical Appearance

The Lhasa Apso is a small dog, growing to about 11 inches tall and weighing only 12-18 pounds, on average. They have a beautiful coat that parts down the middle of the back and extends down to their feet, in many cases. This coat is heavy, straight and hard. It can be difficult to maintain, and many owners of Lhasa Apsos (at least, the ones who don’t plan to put them in shows) tend to keep the dog’s hair short. The coat can come in many different colors, including white, gold, black and red. The standard eye color for the breed is dark brown, and the nose should be black.


The Lhasa breed is prone to ear infections and skin irritations, so taking care of the long coat is important. If you do not have the time to dedicate to frequent grooming, keep the dog’s hair short in a “puppy cut.” The good news is that the Lhasa does not shed much. Once a year, it sheds the undercoat, but the long guard hairs (the outer coat) typically does not shed.


Lhasas have a bark that’s much bigger than their size. They are incredibly alert, noticing even the smallest noises. They are typically wary of strangers, but fiercely loyal to their family. Socialization is key to ensuring that they are not aggressive to visitors and children. They make good companion dogs, but Lhasa Apsos are not necessarily people pleasers. They are independent, active and energetic throughout their adult years.

Health Concerns

As mentioned earlier, the Lhasa Apso is prone to skin conditions, so regular bathing and grooming with products that are sensitive to their skin is important. The breed is prone to developing diseases of the eye, too, including cherry eye, progressive retinal atrophy and dry eye. The health concerns are few compared to other breeds. Lhasas tend to live a long life of around 14 years.

Overall, the Lhasa Apso makes a wonderful family pet. If you have young children, it is important that the kids give the dog some space as they can become irritable with constant attention. However, their long lifespan and protective nature make them ideal dogs for active families with older children.

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