One of the cutest looking dogs around is the Lhasa Apso. The puppies especially are just irresistible but before one decides to purchase a Lhasa just because the kids are begging for one, there are some things that should be known about this particular breed. Historically, Lhasa Apsos were kept by the monasteries and nobility in Tibet as indoor watch dogs. They would sleep by their masters and with their high intelligence plus keen sense of hearing, would warn of any intruders. Lhasa Apsos were never bought or sold in Tibet. Instead, the Dalai Lama sent Lhasa Apsos in pairs to the emperors of China as gifts. High ranking visitors to Tibet also received them as gifts.
They are also referred to as the little bark sentinel lion dogs since fully grown Lhasa Apsos could resemble small lions with all their hair. Lhasa Apso dogs can also behave very much like lions exhibiting no fear when confronted by strangers or even larger dogs. Despite its small size with adult females reaching 12 to 16 pounds and adult males ranging from 14 to 18 pounds, they are extremely hardy as well as rugged. Having existed in the extreme temperatures of Tibet for centuries, they are well suited for and actually enjoy romps in the snow. They are also long lived. Both of my Lhasa Apsos lived past the age of fifteen years. I have heard reports of others living even longer. In appearance, the Lhasa Apso is very similar to the Shih Tzu breed. The face of a Lhasa Apso is not as flat as that of the Shih Tzu. It is believed that the Chinese crossed the Lhasa Apso with the Pekinese which resulted in the Shih Tzu with its flatter face.
One thing that all prospective owners should definitely know is that having a fur ball like a Lhasa Apso will require lots of maintenance. The long hair of this breed requires constant care. If left unattended even for a few days, the Lhasa Apso hair will mat up in clumps that cannot be untangled. Their floppy ears are also prone to infections and their eyes can develop problems. If a prospective owner is not willing to make a commitment to the high maintenance of a Lhasa Apso, a shorter hair breed is recommended.
The Lhasa Apso is considered by some breeders to be more stubborn and difficult to train than other dogs. Do not let all that cuteness give you the wrong impression as they are the little lion dogs after all. This breed has been revered and highly regarded for centuries in Asia. The genetics may have resulted in some arrogance in them. One must be assertive in the proper training of the Lhasa Apso as this breed will test the new master. Lhasa Apsos are completely loyal and affectionate with their masters but many will not be fond of strangers no matter how obedient they are. This may be part of their watch dog tendency. One of my Lhasa Apsos was quite friendly with visitors but the other one wouldn’t even acknowledge their presence.
The breed may also not be appropriate with small children. Small children may get clumsy and accidentally poke Lhasas in the eyes or squeeze them too hard. Lhasas will not take this behavior lightly as they are not as patient with kids compared to say Labrador retrievers. Some Lhasas have been known to bite clumsy kids. Lhasa Apso dogs can be very good with children as long as they are treated with respect and care.
Despite these characteristics of the Lhasa Apso, they are excellent dogs to have as they can be one of the most loyal companions as long as it is recognized that they are high maintenance and may not be suitable for some families.
Clint Leung is a long time Lhasa Apso lover and owner of Free Spirit Gallery http://www.FreeSpiritGallery.ca , an online gallery specializing in Inuit Eskimo and Northwest Native American art including carvings, sculpture and prints. Free Spirit Gallery has numerous information resource articles with photos of authentic Inuit and Native Indian art as well as free eCards.