The Lhasa Apso is originally from the remote mountains of Tibet – particularly near the sacred city of Lhasa – where they were bred as sentinels and companions for temples and Buddhist monasteries, with special efforts taken to fix a type closely resembling a lion in color and shape. The breed’s keen intelligence, sharp bark, acute hearing and innate ability to distinguish friend from foe made them perfectly suited to these tasks. The origin of the Lhasa Apso is not clear. Some experts suggest that the smallest puppies of the larger Tibetan Terrier sheepdogs, whose legs were too short to make them effective flock herders, were given to the monks and became foundation stock for the breed. Others say that this is complete conjecture. The word “apso,” which is not Tibetan but rather Mongolian, suggests a northern component to the breed.