The Lhasa Apso, also known as the Abso Seng Kye (Barking Lion Sentinal Dog) is one of the four ancient breeds of dog indigenous to Tibet. For hundreds of years it has been connected with the monasteries of that country where its function was to serve as a companion to the monks and as an indoor guard alerting to any stranger that may have evaded the attentions of the Mastiffs which where stationed outside. The first part of the name comes from the city of Lhasa and the second is believed by some to be a corruption of rapso which translates as goat, a reference to similarity of the coat to that of the Tibetan goats. Lhasas were very much prized and respected as it was believed that the souls of dead priests entered into their bodies and only important visitors were honoured by being presented with a male dog as a mark of esteem. It was not until 1921 that Lhasa Apsos arrived in the West and they were recognized by the Kennel Club in 1933.
It is said that when a Lhasa looks in a mirror he sees a lion, which accurately sums up his personality. This small dog is no delicate lapdog. He is a robust, assertive dog full of cheerful confidence. He is very active and entertainingly playful and thrives on human company. While he may not submit to prolonged cuddles and fussing he hates to be alone and needs to be with his people as much as possible. If left lonely and deprived of affectionate interaction he will become miserable, depressed and probably destructive and noisy. His somewhat forceful character requires an owner prepared to provide firm, kind and consistent leadership which will earn trust, respect and a willingness to please. Given the background of the Lhasa it is unsurprising that he is an excellent watchdog. He has a natural distrust of strangers and this, plus his acute hearing and his apparent ability to distinguish welcome from unwelcome visitors, makes him a most useful home sentinel. The full coat is an impressive sight but does require a great commitment to grooming. The Lhasa Apso is a fine companion but is not recommended for those with very young children.
It is not essential that the Lhasa has a great deal of exercise as he is a busy dog who will almost fulfil his daily requirements by self-exercising around the house and garden. A good daily walk however will keep him not only physically fit but will serve to provide important mental stimulation by way of interesting sights and smells. For active owners he is an excellent companion happy to walk for miles over all types of terrain and he will play energetically for long periods with those prepared to indulge him.
Once affection and respect for his owner have been engendered the Lhasa is not a difficult dog to train. He is intelligent and strong-minded but very responsive to kindness, consistency and motivational training. If sessions are kept short, fun and rewarding he will do very well. Harsh physical or verbal discipline are likely to be met with resistance and will severely damage bonds of trust and loyalty. Early and continuous socialization is necessary to overcome any tendency for his natural wariness of strangers to develop into aggression. Accustoming him to various people, places, situations and other dogs will result in a confident, well-mannered companion to be proud of.
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
- patella luxation
- progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
- kidney disease
Some photographs of the Lhasa Apso...