The Lhasa Apso, also known as the Tibetan Apso, the Apso Seng Kyi (Tibetan), the Bearded Lion Dog, the Hairy Lion Dog, the Talisman Dog, the Shantung Terrier, the Sheng Trou, the Apso and the Lhasa, originated in the isolated reaches of the Himalayan Mountains and has remained largely unchanged in type and temperament for thousands of years. The name “Lhasa” undoubtedly refers to the capital of Tibet. The term “apso,” which is Mongolian, may mean “goatlike,” in reference to the breed’s long, coarse coat. This sturdy little dog was bred as a watch dog, to guard Buddhist monasteries and homes of Tibetan nobility. The Lhasa Apso was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935, as a member of its Non-Sporting Group.
The Lhasa is perhaps best known for his unique appearance: his long cloak of hair, necessary in the harsh climate of his homeland, is parted in the middle and drapes down each side of an elongated body from head to tail. His feathered, up-curled tail is carried in a screw over the back and lies off to one side, and he characteristically has hair falling well over his eyes, with an accompanying moustache and prominent beard. The Lhasa Apso was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935, as a member of its Non-Sporting Group.
Lhasa Apsos can vary quite a bit in size, but dogs typically stand about 10 or 11 inches at the withers, with bitches being slightly smaller. The average Lhasa Apso weighs 12 to 18 pounds. Their cascading coat is heavy, straight, hard, dense, neither woolly nor silky and of good length. It requires daily grooming to prevent matting and tangling. To simplify the grooming process, many owners prefer to keep their Lhasa in a shorter clipped “puppy cut” rather than in full show coat. Potential owners should note that this breed’s hair grows continuously. Lhasas come in colors ranging from blonde to black. Occasionally, a purebred Apso bitch may produce smooth-coated puppies, which are called Prapsos, when bred to males of particular lines. Careful breeding has gone a long way to eliminating these “surprise packages.”