Lhasa Apso- What you should know about this playful talisman dog

The Lhasa Apso is a non-sporting breed that originated from Tibet where he was used as a sentinel for the monasteries.

He could alert the monks in case there were any intruders.

However, today his role has changed to more of a family and companion dog other than a watchdog.

This dog is often confused for his cousin the Tibetan Terrier and the Shih Tzu.

Lhasa Apso is the dog breed with the longest lifespan and once you get him you are going to be with him for a long time.

Buying or adopting any dog is not a decision that should be taken lightly because once the dog is home, you are going to have him for several years.

Knowing what a dog needs and being ready for them are the best to avoid having so many abandoned pooches.

That is why we, as Mydogsinfo, prepared this Lhasa Apso breed guide so that you can have an idea of what this canine entails.

We are going to cover all the important aspects of this dog breed that you need to know before deciding to get him. From his looks, his personality, and how you can best take care of him.

So, let us get right into it. 
Bearded Lion dog

About the Lhasa Apso dog

First thing first, Lhasa Apso is pronounced as “LAA-SUH” Apso. Lhasa is a Tibetan capital while also means “dog.”

The Lhasa Apso is the true definition of a “ball of fluff” as he looks more like a moving carpet. He is an extremely adorable and cute dog that you would love having around you.

This is a very popular dog breed mainly because of his personality.

These dogs may be small but they tend to see themselves as large dogs and we get to see why the monks used them as sentinels.

But where did this dog come from? 

Origin and history of the Lhasa Apso

One of the most interesting things to note about this dog breed is that he is more than 1000 years old. This makes him a truly ancient breed.

Originating from Tibet, this dog could be used as an indoor watchdog for the monasteries and could alert the monks by any chance there was an intruder.

He is was a highly prized dog in the Lhasa city.

How he was originally developed seems to be lost in history but it is believed that they are Descendents of the Tibetan Terrier.

However, recent studies on this dog’s DNA has shown that he is closely related to his wolf-like ancestors. This had led some into believing that he was bred from a variety of a mountain wolf.

What we are sure of that over years of living in the Himalayas this dog has developed an ability to withstand cold and a keen hearing sense.

These small but mighty dogs were never sold.

Now you may be wondering how they found their way from the Himalayas and Tibet to the outside world.

This was thanks to the Dalai Lamas that would present them as a gift whenever they visited an imperial family or when they were visited by dignitaries.

The 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas were responsible for taking these dogs to the US where they made their first appearance in 1933.

This dog melted the hearts of dog lovers in the US and all over Europe where they easily found welcoming homes.

Breed recognition and pedigree

This breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1935 and put under the Terrier group which was later changed to the Non-sporting group.

In the UK Lhasa Apso is registered under the Utility group.

Fact: In the past, most dog lovers in Europe would refer to small dog breeds as Terriers.

This is why when the Lhasa Apso was first taken to the UK in the early 1900s, people referred to him as “Lhasa Terrier.”

Tibetan Apso

Pros and cons of Lhasa Apsos


 This dog is suited for people that often suffer from dog-related allergies.

 He is a highly intelligent dog.

 These dogs are super playful and very affectionate.


 These dogs sometimes bark in excess.

 They may not be the best first choice for homes that have small children.

 Lhasa Apsos have long and thick coats that require lots of grooming.

General Characteristics and appearance of Lhasas

Lhasa summary table
Height 10 to 11 inches
Weight Females can be between 11 to 15 pounds while males could range between 13–18 pounds
Lifespan 12 to 15 years
Breed Type Non-sporting
Purpose companion dog
Suitable For Is suitable for older families and adult homes
Grooming requirements moderate
Color Variations Part-color, slate, white, honey, tan, black, gold, red, dark gray, silver, blue, gray and liver

Breed standards do not accept black and tan and grizzled color combinations.

Health concerns Patellar Luxation, Intervertebral disc disease, and cherry eye
Temperament Fearless, Obedient, Assertive, Lively, Steady, Devoted, Energetic, Intelligent, Friendly, Alert, Spirited, Playful
Other names Talisman dog, Tibetan Apso, Bearded Lion Dog, Hairy Lion, Lhasa, Shantung Terrier, Apso or Apso Seng Kyi

Size of the Bearded Lion dog

The Bearded Lion dog is a small dog breed.

These dogs have a height of between 10 to 11 inches and weigh anywhere between 13 to 18 pounds for the males and 11 to 15 pounds for the females.

The physical appearance of the Tibetan Apso

Lhasa Apso Look more like Shih Tzus or Maltese Terriers, but you can easily differentiate them by their longer snouts and dark and deep-set eyes.

These dogs have feathered ears that hang down like pendants.

This dog has a black nose with a short to medium muzzles. He also has fur on his face that hides his small dark-brown alert eyes.

Talisman dog

Lhasa Apso Coat appearance and shedding

This dog has a long, straight, and this coat that hangs down, often reaching the ground and even covering their faces.

The coat should neither be silky nor woolly and come in a variety of colors that include the following;

Black White Liver
Honey Tan Gold
Gray Dark-gray Red

Some can have a grizzled or black and tan color combination which is not accepted according to the breed standards.

The Bearded Lion dog is a low shedding pooch that is considered to be hypoallergenic.

They are known to trigger fewer allergies in allergy sufferers because the protein that triggers allergies is less prevalent in these dogs.

And although they do not shed much, they still shed and will require grooming to keep the shedding levels even lower.

Personality traits and temperament of the Talisman dog

Lhasa Apsos may be small, but what they lack in body size they make up in their large personalities.

Some prefer to refer to this dog as “imperious” while others call him “regal” or “noble” to describe him.

This is a clownish dog that can perform some mischief just to get your attention.

These dogs are highly alert and have a keen sense of hearing which makes them ideal watchdogs.

However, they can be wary of strangers which some even showing some aggressive tendencies towards them, and therefore socialization is key for them to have an even temperament.

This dog forms a solid bond with those that are close to him and are loyal to them.

You also need to note that these dogs bark, which is naturally ingrained into them. However, they bark a lot when something is suspicious or when they see an intruder.

Training this trait out of this dog is nearly impossible.


Family compatibility of the Talisman Dog

The Bearded Lion dog is a cheerful and super playful dog that makes a great family dog.

However, this is for adult homes and homes that have older children. They tend to be moody and intolerant towards small children’s antics and will nip.

You should consider this if you have small children and consider a more children-friendly dog breed like the Goldendoodle.

Traits Rating
exercise needs
Ease of care

Frequently asked questions

Does the Lhasa Apso bark a lot?

Most dogs use barking as a means to communicate with you. Lhasa Apso has strong watchdog instincts that could make them bark a lot when they see something suspicious. They also tend to bark a lot when they are bored or when they are left alone for long periods.

Is the Lhasa Apso aggressive? 

Lhasa Apso is aloof to strangers and if he is not socialized from an early age he may show some signs of aggression towards them.

Lhasa Apso puppies

On average, a Lhasa Apso mum can carry about 6 puppies but some have been known to carry up to 8 puppies.

These puppies take about 12 months to reach full maturity while some can take up to 18 months to reach their full size. A Lhasa Apso puppy can retain his puppy-like tendencies and playfulness until he is 3 years old.

The puppy growth chart will help you get a better understanding of the Lhasa Apso growth with age.

Note: This is only an estimate. 

Age Male Weight (pounds) Female Weight (pounds)
3 months 9 8
6 months 12 10
12 months 13 11
18 months 16 13

The average cost of a Lhasa Apso puppy is between $500 to $1000. However, the price could be higher for superior pedigree and top-line puppies.

Checking some rescue and dog shelters should also be a top priority for you to get a Bearded Lion Dog.


Shantung Terrier grooming

Although Shantung terriers do not shed much this does not always translate to having low grooming needs.

The coat of a Lhasa Apso is prone to matting and tangling and for that reason, he will need to be brushed regularly to get rid of them. Brushing the coat also helps to minimize the already moderate shredding.

You should invest in a pin comb and a gentle slicker brush to help you with this. Also, before brushing the coat use a detangling spray to make the removal of those tangles easier.

Your veterinarian can help you choose the best detangler for you.

It also helps to trim the fur keeping the coat at a manageable size.

Bathing this dog should only be done when it is necessary and not more than once a month.

You also need to clean the ears and eyes making sure that no infections are formed. The toenails should also be trimmed and the teeth brushed for dental hygiene.

Lhasa Apso exercise needs

This canine does not need a tremendous amount of exercise to keep him physically stimulated.

He is a medium energy dog that will only need about 30 minutes of physical and mental stimulation a day.

You can take him for two daily walks, even play with him indoors and other fun activities. However, when you are taking him for walks you should always carry a leash on a harness to prevent him from going astray when he sees something more interesting than you.

Learn how you can leash train your Lhasa Apso by visiting this leash training guide.


Feeding a Talisman dog

Feeding this dog should be pretty straightforward because he is not a picky eater.

He should be fed on a high meat-based protein diet with little to not filers which can upset the dog’s stomach.

The amount of food that you give him will be affected by various factors that include the following;

  • The size of the pooch
  • Age of the pooch
  • How active the pooch is.

Generally, these canines need around 20 calories for every pound that they weigh, and considering the average weight of a Lhasa Apso, this should be about 600 calories.

Daily calories Cups of Kibble Per Day:
500 to 600 1.5

You should discuss any dietary changes that you may have in mind with your veterinarian.

Also, frequently monitor the dog’s weight to make sure that he does not get obese and avoid free-feeding him.

Training a Bearded Lion Dog

Lhasa Apso is an intelligent dog that is very trainable, however, this does not translate to being easy to train.

Bearded Lion dogs can have a stubborn streak and a strong-willed nature that can make them difficult to train.

You need to be dedicated and persistent with training for you to achieve the best results.

Positive reinforcement and reward-based training can help condition your doggo to behave in the best way possible. Once you have mastered what he likes and knows how to keep him interested in what you are teaching him, he will be able to learn new tricks and commands with ease.

You should never use any form of aversive training methods as it only does more harm.

Socializing him at an early age will also make him know how to interact with other animals and people removing any aggressive tendencies.

White lhasa apso

Health problems with the Lhasa dog

Unfortunately, although this dog is pretty healthy, he may also be susceptible to some health problems.

The most common health conditions with this doggie are;

  • Patellar luxation
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • cherry eye

Breed summary

The Lhasa Apso is a playful, cheerful, and clownish dog that can make a wonderful pet for you as long as you are the right fit for him.

You will easily fall in love with this dog because of how adorable he is, but many may not be aware of his needs.

This is not a dog for everyone and before you get him you should make sure that you have all the information that you need to best care for him.

Was this article helpful for you?

Share your feedback and thoughts with us in the comment section below.

There you go, WOOF!

You may also like