The Lhasa Apso a small dog, longer than it is tall. Although the breed has never been used for purposes requiring great athleticism, the breed nonetheless has strong loin and well-developed quarters and thighs. The head is well covered with a good fall over the eyes, with whiskers and beard, imparting a dignified, almost lion-like look. The bite should be either level or slightly undershot. The coat is heavy, straight, long, and hard.
The origin of the Lhasa Apso has been long lost; it is an ancient breed bred and revered in the villages and monasteries of Tibet. The breed’s history is intertwined with Buddhist beliefs, including a belief in reincarnation. The souls of lamas were said to enter the sacred dogs’ bodies upon death, thus imparting an added reverence for these dogs. The dogs also performed the role of monastery watch dog, sounding the alert to visitors, thus giving rise to their native name of Abso Seng Kye (Bark Lion Sentinel Dog). It is likely that the breed’s western name of Lhasa Apso is derived from its native name, although some contend that it is a corruption of the Tibetan word rapso, meaning goat (in reference to its goat-like coat).When the breed first came to England, it was known as the Lhassa Terrier, although it is in no way a terrier. The first Lhasa Apsos were seen in the Western world around 1930, with some of the first dogs arriving as gifts of the thirteenth Dalai Lama. The breed was admitted into the AKC Terrier Group in 1935, but it was reassigned to the Non-Sporting Group in 1959. After a slow start, the Lhasa quickly outpaced its fellow Tibetan breeds to become a popular family pet.
Despite its lapdog appearance, the Lhasa is a tough character. The breed is independent, stubborn, and bold. Although eager for a romp or game, this dog will be happy as long as given exercise. The Lhasa will also happily nap beside his or her owner. These characteristics make the Lhasa an excellent small companion in adventure. Although somewhat reserved with strangers, the Lhasa is not an excessive barker.
The Lhasa is an active dog, but a relatively small size means energy needs can be met with short walks or vigorous play sessions in the yard, or even inside the home. The Lhasa makes a fine apartment dog. The long coat needs brushing and combing every other day, always misting the coat first. Bathing every week or two will help prevent mats.