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10 Fun Facts About Lhasa Apsos

10 Fun Facts About Lhasa Apsos

Lhasa Apsos are known for their beards and long, flowy, and dense coats. You would probably recognize the unique look of a Lhasa Apso, but did you know that they also have a unique history? Learn more in these 10 fun facts about Lhasa Apsos!

1.They are a thousand-year-old breed.
You read that right! Lhasa Apsos are an ancient breed that’s existed since at least 800 A.D. They originated in Tibet and are one of the oldest recognized breeds in the world.

2.They lived with Buddhist monks.
These dogs lived in isolation for centuries with Tibetan Buddhists in the Himalayan Mountains. The monks used these dogs as companions and watchdogs, and they also gave them as gifts to leaders and nobility in Tibet, as well as foreign rulers.

3.Their Tibetan name means “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog.”
Lhasa's original Tibetan name is Abso Seng Kye, which means “Bark Lion Sentinel Dog” or “Bearded Lion Dog.” The Lhasa Apso’s Western name comes from the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

4.Lhasa Apsos guarded homes and dwellings.
Their primary function of these watchdogs was to be a household sentinel, guarding the homes and dwellings of Tibetan nobility and Buddhist monasteries. Lhasa Apsos used their keen hearing and sharp bark to alert their owners of intruders, while Mastiffs guarded the outside of the home.

5.They were believed to be part of the reincarnation process.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that the reincarnation stages include a dog coming before a human. According to The American Lhasa Apso Club, it was believed that the souls of deceased lamas or priests could enter bodies of the Lhasa Apsos while they awaited reincarnation into a new body.

6.They were considered highly prized gifts.
The Tibetans believed that Lhasa Apsos were symbols of good luck that brought health, prosperity, and peace to their owners. For this reason and the belief about reincarnation, Lhasa Apsos were highly regarded dogs and often given as gifts in Tibet. In fact, the only way a person could get one was as a gift because they weren’t often sold. The Dalai Lama gifted Lhasa Apsos to the emperor of China many centuries ago, where they were used in the development of the Shih Tzu and Pekingese breeds.

7.Lhasa Apsos were introduced to the U.S. in 1933.
The first Lhasa Apsos that came to the United States were gifts from the 13th Dalai Lama to Mr. and Mrs. C. Suydam Cutting of New Jersey. The Cuttings ended up receiving another pair of Lhasas from Tibet, and they went on to help establish the breed in the United States.

8.They were originally assigned to the Terrier Group.
The American Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1935. According to the American Lhasa Apso Club, these dogs were first known as the Lhasa Terrier and assigned to the Terrier Group. In 1956, they were assigned to the Non-Sporting Group.

9.Lhasas live long lives.
The average lifespan of a Lhasa is 12 to 15 years. However, many of these dogs can live into their late teens and sometimes even beyond 20. They are typically robust and healthy dogs. Some common health problems in this breed include hereditary kidney dysfunction, progressive retinal atrophy, dry eye, cherry eye, and hip dysplasia.

10. They are sometimes compared to a willful toddler.
Lhasa Apsos are confident, intelligent, and comical. They often have an independent mind and like to do things on their own terms. Because they were bred as a guard dog, they can sometimes be aloof and stubborn. Some people may describe them as willful and obstinate, which can make training them a little difficult.

Bonus fact: Lhasa Apsos are predisposed to developing kidney or bladder stones. These stones can cause a lot of discomfort and often end up in costly surgery. You can help minimize the chance of stone formation with Thomas Vet’s Cal Ox, which minimizes available oxalates, limits crystallization, and supports ideal urine pH and flow.


The materials and information provided on this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your veterinarian or other pet healthcare professional. Consult your own veterinarian if you have medical questions concerning diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medical attention.

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