History: The Lhasa Apso originated more than 800 years ago in Tibet, where they were owned by monks and cherished as carriers of good luck. They participated in religious ceremonies and guarded the monasteries, thus acquired the name of "Tibetan Temple Dog". In their native land, they are also called the Abso Seng Kye "Barking Lion Sentinel Dog". It's keen sense of hearing and intelligence uniquely qualified it for this role. They were never sold, but were often given, in pairs, as gifts by the Dalia Lama to visiting nobles and dignitaries. The Lhasa was first introduced to England in the 1920's. In 1933, the Dalai Lama gave some Lhasas to a friend from America, C. Suydam Cutting. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1935 and approved by the AKC July 11, 1978.
Description: The Lhasa has a long, heavy double coat, draping over his entire body to the floor. These dogs have a type of fur; not hair, which is heavily feathered over the pendant ears, legs, and eyes. The eyes are hidden under the thick falls of hair over the head. It has a tail curled up over the back and a heavy outer coat that protects it against extreme cold or heat. Its long hair is straight and very dense. The dogs also sports a beard and mustache. The eyes are dark and the nose black. The body is longer than tall. Any color is acceptable, often with dark tips to the ears and beard. About 10 or 11 inches at the shoulder and around 12 to 18 pounds they are lap dog size. A Lhasa in proper weight and condition will be in good hard flesh, well muscled and neither too fat or too thin.
Personality: Lhasas make great family pets. They are very happy-go-lucky dogs, with a lot of hardiness and stamina. Lhasas are intelligent, yet love to play the clown. Their temperament is gay and assertive, and are steadfastly loyal. True to their past as a sentry dog, they tend to be wary of strangers. They can take a little time to warm up to a new person. These dogs pick and choose their own friends. They make great watch dogs due to their acute hearing, but are not nervous, yappy barkers. They just like to bark at noises, even if no one else can hear them. They are rather calm and deliberate, although cautious of strangers, a direct reflection of their long-standing heritage of seclusion in Tibet.
The Lhasa Apso exhibits a regal attitude when looking his best; often a clown, but never a fool. The Lhasa Apso temperament is unique. Their rather independent and stubborn nature requires patient understanding, and they resists harsh or strict discipline.
The Lhasa Apso is a big dog personality in a small package. They view themselves as big and important. It is said "when a Lhasa looks in the mirror he sees a lion." Maybe this is where they get the name 'Little Lion Dog.' Based on their strong willed personality, inappropriate behavior in a puppy should be corrected, immediately, so it may reduce the likelihood of becoming a problem as an adult.
Training: This breed is one that does not respond to physical or verbal "punishments". If you use that type of approach with them, the problem you are attempting to solve, will more than likely get worse. You must deal with them in a gentle but firm manner. Keep in mind though, that most Lhasas will never make good obedience dogs. They can learn new things when they are older, also, as I found out. When I first got Cali she did not understand a word of English. It took me awhile before I realized to speak to her in Spanish. So now she is bilingual.
Grooming: The dense coat of the Lhasa Apso requires regular brushing and bathing. On average, a bath every 7 to 14 days with several brushings in-between is enough to maintain either a full length or clipped coat. If kept clipped, visits to a professional groomer every 6 to 8 weeks will be necessary as well. Using a small amount of conditioner and water in a spray bottle will make brushing easier and help cut down on static. The use of dog shampoos and conditioners will help in maintaining proper pH for the skin and reduce dryness. It is necessary to blow dry the coat after a bath. The basic tools needed to grooming the Lhasa include a pin brush, slicker brush, a comb with fine and medium teeth, toenail clippers and a pair of scissors and a hair dryer. Care must also be taken to clean the ears and to trim hair on the pads of the feet.
Independence: Needs people a lot. They dislike being alone. So make sure you leave a TV on or some kind of sound when you leave. Cali loves cartoons.
Health: They are prone to kidney problems, skin conditions and eye problems. The eyes tend to tear, and should be cleaned regularly.
Dominance: They will test the boundaries, yet so do our children.
Other Pets: Some say they are not generally trustworthy with other pets.
Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs.
Exercise: Lhasa Apsos are fine without a yard and make great apartment or condo dogs. However, they should be walked daily. Moderate exercise needed.
Longevity: Average 12 to 18 years and more is not uncommon.
Talents: Incredible hearing; being a watchdog; or being a clown. The Lhasa is said to have the uncanny ability to predict avalanches. The breed can tolerate very high altitudes.
Notes: The Lhasa Apso does have a tendency to nip or bite when under extremely stressful situations.
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