Lhasa Apso.jpg
Breed Group Group 12: Companion and Toy Breeds
Sub-group 12-B: Asian Breeds
Origin Country Tibet/China
Weight Males: 13-18 pounds. Females: 13-18 pounds.
Height Males: 10-12 inches. Females: 9-11 inches.
Other Name(s) Abso SEng Kye, Tibetan Apso
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD
meet the...

Lhasa Apso

Breed Group Group 12: Companion and Toy Breeds
Sub-group 12-B: Asian Breeds
Origin Country Tibet/China
Weight Males: 13-18 pounds. Females: 13-18 pounds.
Height Males: 10-12 inches. Females: 9-11 inches.
Other Name(s) Abso SEng Kye, Tibetan Apso
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Origins

The Lhasa Apso is one of the oldest breeds in the world. Named after the sacred city of Lhasa, the breed originated 8000 years ago in Tibet, serving as watchdogs in Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan homes. The dogs were talented sentinels thanks to their excellent hearing, keen ability to sense a threat, and sharp alarming bark.

Lhasa Apsos were thought to be the living representations of the Tibetan Snow Lion, the mythical guardian of Tibet. There is an old saying in Tibet: “When the snow lion stays in the mountains, it is a lion, but when it comes down to the valley, it becomes a dog.” The Tibetan name for the breed is Apso Seng-Kyi, which loosely translates to “hairy lion dog.” However, it wasn’t until the seventh century CE that the little dogs were specifically developed to appear as lion-like as possible.

Tibetans did not buy or sell Lhasas—these precious dogs could only be received or given as gifts. These little dogs were gifted to dignitaries and leaders all around the world, including China. Therefore, the first Lhasa Apso to come to the United States was likely a gift from the 13th Dalai Lama.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Somewhat mesaticephalic skull-type, moderate in size, and in proportion to the rest of the body. The topskull is neither broad, nor overly narrow, but of sufficient width, and not much wider than the corner of the eyes. It should be just slightly arched, never domed or apple-headed, but also not completely flat. The head is sufficiently padded with muscle to give the face substance, but it is not heavily muscled or chiseled. It is clean-cut, without excess skin or wrinkle.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and medium to dark brown in color. Self-colored eyes of lighter shades are not incorrect. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never rounded or bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Moderately large in size in comparison to the head, set just below the plane of the skull, with the inner edge of the base equal to or slightly above eye level. The ears are drop or pendant in type.
Muzzle: The muzzle is full and broad. The plane, or bridge of the muzzle, is straight. Upper and lower jaws are well-developed, approximately equal in length, have good bone substance, and never appear snipy or weak. It should neither appear short and brachycephalic like that of the Shih Tzu, nor long and equal to skull length like that of many terriers. The jaws are strongly developed, especially that of the lower jaw, which is well-developed and may protrude ever so slightly, giving the Lhasa a slight “pouty-lipped” expression. However, the lower jaw should not protrude beyond the break of the lips when the mouth is closed.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black (preferred), or self-colored according to the coat. The nostrils are well-opened.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage, strongly muscled, and well-arched. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows. The chest is well-developed with slightly prominent prosternum.
Body: Compact, solid, and of good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads. A very slight (almost imperceptible) outward orientation of the forefeet is permissible.
Tail: Set high on the croup. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The tail is carried well over the back in a curl or curve when the dog is in motion—in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level—but never tucked. The tail is of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down.
Movement: Spry, effortless, and efficient. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The Lhasa Apso is known for a friendly, yet assertive demeanor. They are excellent companions and very good watchdogs, with their watchful reign and alerting bark. They can be rather aloof with strangers, and less than tolerant with unruly or rude children. Being developed for a watchdog and companion for thousands of years required the Lhasa Apso to cultivate a sense of ownership for his territory and family. This trait can still be found in the breed today, so special care needs to be taken to property train and socialize the Lhasa Apso to prevent him from developing possession, territorial, and intra-specific (dog-dog) aggression issues. A well-socialized, well-trained Lhasa Apso is a wonderful family dog that can develop the uncanny ability to determine friend from foe. They are intelligent and devoted companions. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
Click Here to View Full Standard

Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 12: Companion and Toy Breeds

Proportions: Rather rectangular, with length of the body, measured from the point of the forechest to the point of the rump being greater than the height at the withers. The ideal body height (withers to ground) is approximately 70 percent the body length (prosternum to rump). The body is well-put together, with sturdy substance and medium bone.

Head

General Appearance: Somewhat mesaticephalic skull-type, moderate in size, and in proportion to the rest of the body. The topskull is neither broad, nor overly narrow, but of sufficient width, and not much wider than the corner of the eyes. It should be just slightly arched, never domed or apple-headed, but also not completely flat. The head is sufficiently padded with muscle to give the face substance, but it is not heavily muscled or chiseled. It is clean-cut, without excess skin or wrinkle.
Expression: The expression is regal, self-composed, and watchful.
Stop: The stop is moderate.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is 2:1, with the topskull being equal to or just longer than the muzzle.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis is parallel or may be slightly convergent.
Muzzle: The muzzle is full and broad. The plane, or bridge of the muzzle, is straight. Upper and lower jaws are well-developed, approximately equal in length, have good bone substance, and never appear snipy or weak. It should neither appear short and brachycephalic like that of the Shih Tzu, nor long and equal to skull length like that of many terriers. The jaws are strongly developed, especially that of the lower jaw, which is well-developed and may protrude ever so slightly, giving the Lhasa a slight “pouty-lipped” expression. However, the lower jaw should not protrude beyond the break of the lips when the mouth is closed.
Lips or Flews: Lips are clean and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black (preferred), or self-colored according to the coat. The nostrils are well-opened.
Cheeks: The cheeks are smoothly muscled with some padding. They are not chiseled or coarse.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level, scissor, or reverse-scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Missing or broken teeth as a result of routine work is not to be penalized. Teeth should be completely concealed when the mouth is closed.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and medium to dark brown in color. Self-colored eyes of lighter shades are not incorrect. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never rounded or bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Moderately large in size in comparison to the head, set just below the plane of the skull, with the inner edge of the base equal to or slightly above eye level. The ears are drop or pendant in type.

Body and Tail

General Description: Compact, solid, and of good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage, strongly muscled, and well-arched. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep, broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows. The chest is well-developed with slightly prominent prosternum.
Topline: Straight and level from withers to croup. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut, flat, and level. The back is never short, swayed, or roached.
Croup: May be flat and level with the back, or gently sloped.
Underline: Slight tuck up present or the underline may run parallel to the topline. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, and oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set high on the croup. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The tail is carried well over the back in a curl or curve when the dog is in motion—in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level—but never tucked. The tail is of a medium length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The point of the elbows is approximately half the dog’s height at the withers.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle, of moderate bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are equal in length, strong, sturdy, of moderate bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round, compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads. A very slight (almost imperceptible) outward orientation of the forefeet is permissible.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: Heavy, dense, hard straight, long outer coat, soft, moderate undercoat. Furnishings heavy on head, falling over eyes, with long beard and heavily furnished forequarters, hindquarters, and neck. Never silky, rough, or woolly.
Coat Color or Pattern: CKC recognizes two color varieties of the Lhasa Apso breed: the standard color and non-standard color variety.
Standard coat color variety: Golden, sandy, honey, grizzle, slate, smoke, grey, black, white, and brown; all with or without white (parti), white with all listed colors or patterns.
Non-standard coat color variety: Any coat color, pattern, or combination not listed above.

Movement

Spry, effortless, and efficient. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The Lhasa Apso is known for a friendly, yet assertive demeanor. They are excellent companions and very good watchdogs, with their watchful reign and alerting bark. They can be rather aloof with strangers, and less than tolerant with unruly or rude children. Being developed for a watchdog and companion for thousands of years required the Lhasa Apso to cultivate a sense of ownership for his territory and family. This trait can still be found in the breed today, so special care needs to be taken to property train and socialize the Lhasa Apso to prevent him from developing possession, territorial, and intra-specific (dog-dog) aggression issues. A well-socialized, well-trained Lhasa Apso is a wonderful family dog that can develop the uncanny ability to determine friend from foe. They are intelligent and devoted companions. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.