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Lhasa Apso dog breed

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Lhasa Apso dog breed information and advice

Looking at their appearance, you may be surprised to find out that the Lhasa Apso dog breed was originally bred for Tibetan monks as an indoor guard dog. Not so much nowadays, now their diminutive stature and fluffy appearance are more for the creature comforts of the couch than a monastery.

If you’ve had your eye on a Lhasa Apso for a while, or you’re looking for a little more information before welcoming one into your home, you’ve come to the right place. Our breed guide contains the facts you need to know, including Lhasa Apso lifespan and temperament.

Lhasa Apso facts

Lhasa Apso
Lifespan 12 - 14 years
How much £1000 - £1200
Size 22 - 28 cm
Weight 5.4 - 8.2 kg
Colours golden, sandy, honey, dark grizzle, slate, smoke, parti-colour, black, white or brown
Grooming daily brushing
Temperament obedient, intelligent, fearless, independent
Exercise 30 minutes daily

Lhasa Apso insurance

Not matter what age your Lhasa Apso is, it’s important that they're covered by dog insurance. Health problems can happen at any age, by an injury or illness and you’ll want to make sure your Lhasa Apso has the right cover for them. Pet insurance helps you cover the cost of vet consultations, medication and surgery. So, no matter the situation, you can provide the health care that your dog needs.

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance

Sainsbury’s Bank Pet Insurance can protect your Lhasa Apso puppy as young as 8 weeks old. We also cover older dogs if you take out insurance before their 8th birthday. Once you have cover in place, we’ll insure them for their entire life - as long as you renew your policy year after year.

How to care for a Lhasa Apso

Caring for a Lhasa Apso dog means focusing on some key areas like their diet, grooming, exercise and training to keep them happy and healthy.

Feeding and nutrition

Feed Lhasa Apso puppies small amounts around 3-4 times a day, remember, they only have small tummies. As they grow up, you can reduce the number of times and increase the portion sizes as per guidelines on the dog food packaging.

You’ll need to keep an eye on your Lhasa Apso’s weight. Sometimes it can be difficult to see their weight if they have a long coat, so weigh them regularly. Grooming is an ideal time to feel your dog’s shape and check if they are putting weight on. It helps to measure their food and keep the treats to a minimum for when training and for when they’re extra-special good dogs only.


Lhasa Apso breeds have a long, dense coat that requires regular grooming. If this becomes too much to maintain, you can book them into the groomers and have their hair cut short so that it’s easier to manage. Even then, they do require a lot of maintenance – there will be weekly grooming requirements.

The length and thickness of their coat means that it can become matted easily. You’ll need to brush your dog daily to remove any tangles and prevent the coat from becoming matted. Pay close attention to the ears, cleaning them when needed, to prevent ear infections.

Try to bath your dog every 2-4 weeks to keep their coat clean and easier to groom. Most Lhasa Apso dogs enjoy bath time, especially if they have been bathed from a young age. When drying your dog, make sure you dry in downward strokes and not in a circular motion, as this will cause the fur to mat. Blow-drying your dog will make the drying process easier and ensure that they are fully dry – and extra fluffy. If your dog is left wet, it will get cold which could lead to an illness. Your dog may be scared of the blow dryer to start with, but with praise and time, your dog will learn not to fear it.

Your dog’s nails will need trimming every 2-3 weeks to stop them from overgrowing and cause pain or an infection. You’ll also need to clean the tear stains and their ears regularly to prevent any infections. Make sure your dog’s fur is kept out of its eyes either by tying it back or keeping it trimmed.


Their small size means that their exercise demands are minimal. You should walk Lhasa Apso dogs for 30 minutes a day, or you can split it into two 15 minutes walks. They love playing fetch, which is an ideal way to get some additional exercise

Make sure your dog always has toys to play with; they are a smart breed and will get bored easily if they have nothing to do.


Training your Lhasa Apso pup may be difficult. They’re obedient but they can also have a stubborn side. Luckily, they love toys, so use them as a reward for good behaviour. Praise your dog whenever it completes a command and remember that the more you practice the quicker they’ll learn.

When training your dog, start with house training. When your dog has learnt to go to the toilet on command in the correct area, it will be easier to teach them other commands. Many breeders start puppy toilet training before the puppies go to their new homes, giving you a good starting point. Training classes are a great way to learn tips and support when training your dog.

Lhasa Apso Temperament and behaviour

They are alert and will bark at unfamiliar sights and sounds, that’s the Tibetan guard dog in them. This unfortunately does mean that Lhasa Apso bark a lot, but this can be kept under control through training.

But despite having the qualities of a guard dog, they have a friendly and playful personality. Lhasa Apso dogs have gentle temperament making them great companions for children but beware that they will be protective of their owners. Early socialisation will be important, so they can get used to being around strangers.

Common health problems

Lhasa Apso dogs are a relatively healthy breed, but there are some health issues that you should be aware of. They are brachycephalic, which means that they have a short nose and flattened face. Brachycephalic dogs can suffer from problems involving their breathing, eyes, skin, birthing and spine/musculoskeletal issues.

Having the right dog insurance for your Lhasa Apso can give you that peace of mind that health issues are covered whenever they happen. Below are the main conditions to keep an eye out for.

Generalised progressive retinal atrophy (GPRA)

GPRA is a group of inherited eye diseases that slowly causes blindness. This can take months or years to happen. Early signs of this condition are poor vision in dim lighting, and reluctance to go outside when it’s dark. Their pupils may be dilated or an increase in eye shine may be seen.

This condition normally affects dogs that are 3-8 years old, there’s no treatment for this condition and if your dog has this they will sadly go blind. But with your help, love and affection, your dog will adapt to their blindness and live a happy life.

Atopic dermatitis

This skin disease is caused by a genetic tendency to develop an allergy to environmental allergens like dust mites, pollens, moulds and dietary proteins. The immune system reacts to the irritants causing inflammation that leads to itchiness. Affected dogs will rub, lick, chew, scratch or bite themselves to relieve the itch. There are many ways to control this condition that include medication, vaccines, injections and changes to diet.

Is a Lhasa Apso dog right for you?

This breed is well suited if you’re looking for a playful, loving and gentle addition to your family.

How long do Lhasa Apso dogs live?

Lhasa Apsos have a life expectancy of 12-14 years. Their diet, exercise, grooming and training can all have an impact on their health and therefore affect their lifespan. With regular vet visits and the right dog insurance, your Lhasa Apso can live a healthy, happy life.

Do Lhasa Apso dogs shed?

You may think that they’re heavy shedders considering how much hair they have. They actually shed very little or not at all. They’re similar to humans in the fact that their hair continues to grow, rather than shedding like other dogs coats do. They’re not fully hypoallergenic, no dog is, but the lack of shedding means fewer irritants for allergy sufferers.

How much should a Lhasa Apso weigh?

An adult Lhasa Apso should weigh between 5.4-8.2 kg. Your dog’s diet and exercise will affect its weight, so it’s important to weigh their daily food and make sure they’re exercised for at least 30 minutes a day. Check the dog food packaging for nutritional content to make sure that it isn’t too high in fat or sugar.

Why do Lhasa Apsos shake?

If your dog keeps shaking you should take them to the vet to get them checked. There could be an underlying health problem causing them to do so. Idiopathic tremors, also known as shaker dog disease, are common in small white dog breeds. It’s an inflammatory brain disease that requires medication to manage the condition.

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Vetstream ltd (online) Lhasa Apso. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Bagley R M (online) Idiopathic tremors of adult dogs. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Brooks E, William D L & Gould D (online) Retina: generalized progressive retinal atrophy. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Vetstream Ltd (online) Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) Owner Factsheet. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Godfrey D, Marsella R & Squires R (online) Skin: atopy. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

Vetstream Ltd (online) Atopy Owner Factsheet. In: Vetlexicon Canis. Vetstream Ltd, UK. Website: opens in new window

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