The Lhasa Apso is a small breed of dog originally from Tibet. They were used as watchdogs inside Tibetan monasteries for over 1200 years, for which they are uniquely suited with keen intelligence, acute hearing, and instincts for identifying friends from strangers.
(Alternative name: Lhassa Terrier)
Lhasa Apso Appearance
They are generally 10 to 11 inches (25 to 28 cm) at the withers and weigh between 15 and 25 lbs (7 and 11 kg). Lhasas should have dark brown eyes with black pigmentation on eye rims and a black nose. They have a straight coat with soft undercoat (depending upon weather conditions) which comes in a variety of different colors. The tail should curl up over the back.
Lhasa Apso Temperament
Having been bred to be sentinel or watch dogs, Lhasa Apsos tend to be alert and have a keen sense of hearing with a rich, sonorous bark that belies their size. They are bright and outgoing, but some tend toward wariness of strangers. Wariness does not mean unwarranted aggressiveness but having a discerning attitude towards strangers; people approaching the dog simply need to show that they are a friend. However, many Lhasas are quite friendly from the first introduction. If not properly socialized, some may become aggressive or overly shy toward strangers. Lhasas also have a very good memory and will hold grudges and often show dislike to the same people throughout their life if treated wrongly by them at a young age.
They are very affectionate but can also be very possessive, independent and bossy little dogs.
Lhasa Apso History
It is believed that the breed originated from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet (hence the name) around 800 BC. These dogs were raised by the aristocratic part of the Tibetan society and were very valuable both spiritually and materialistically. To be presented with a Lhasa Apso was to be blessed with good fortune.
Lhasa Apsos have adopted an incentive to be wary of strangers from their owners, who, due to the geographical location of Tibet, were also cautious of outsiders. The heavy coat of Lhasas can also be explained by the geographical features of Tibet: the temperature frequently drops below freezing thus making it hard for a dog to survive without sufficient insulation. Lhasas were rarely groomed by their owners thus allowing the breed to adapt to the harsh weather.
In 1901 Mrs. A. McLaren Morrison brought the Lhasa Apso to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland where it was registered as an official breed in The Kennel Club in 1902.
World War I had a devastating effect on the breed. It has been reported that as few as 30 Lhasa Apsos may have existed in Tibet at that time.
The original American pair was a gift from Thubten Gyatso, 13th Dalai Lama to C. Suydam Cutting, arriving in the United States in the early 1930s. The American Kennel Club officially accepted the breed in 1935 in the Terrier group, and in 1959 transferred the breed to the Non-Sporting group.
Recently, DNA Analysis has identified the Lhasa Apso as one of the 14 most ancient dog breeds.
Apparently monks believe that Lhasas are reincarnated lions and as such hold them in high esteem. Golden Lhasas are said to house the souls of the Dalai Lamas. Lhasas tend to have a very long lifespan of 15-18 years. The oldest living dog in history was a Lhasa, documented 29 years of age in 1939.
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