The Lhasa Apso was only bred in Tibet, by the holy men and the nobles, for at least two thousand years. They were used as watchdogs in the temples and monasteries. The people of Tibet greatly respected these little dogs, as they believed they were the reincarnations of the Holy Lamas. They were never sold or bought but given as gifts, and it was considered a great honour to receive one. The Lhasa was first seen in Britain in the 1920’s and introduced to America in the 1930’s where it was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1935. It is reported to be rare in its native Tibet. Tibetan monks, who found time between work, prayer and meditation to guide the development of several breeds of dogs, , like most otherworldly states, can be thought to occupy a position in the higher realms of the universe, then Tibet might well be the penultimate stop on the journey to nirvana. Sometimes called “The Roof of the World,” Tibet is a devoutly Buddhist country located on a soaring plateau with an average elevation of 16,000 feet.
Living with a Lhasa
The Lhasa Apso is tough and independent breed that expects to live by its own rules. As loving and affectionate as the Lhasa can be, it has a mind of its own. There are few breeds that surpass the Lhasa for devotion and companionship, if it receives the affection and firm hand it needs. Otherwise, the Lhasa is fully capable of testing your patience and endurance to their limits. If there is a breed of dog that needs to understand it cannot do just as it pleases, it is, indeed, the Lhasa. With those it loves, the Lhasa Apso can be a riotous clown or an extremely sensitive and caring friend. Its innate wariness of strangers keeps the Lhasa at home on constant sentinel duty, but this tendency should not be allowed to manifest itself in aggression. Early and continual socialization is a must for every Lhasa. Lhasa’s, not surprisingly, like heights. They are excellent jumpers, and one should never be surprised to find a Lhasa perched on the lounge chair or a bed. Lhasa’s are also fond of caves and will create their own under the coffee table or footstool. They will stay laid by your feet or on an available lap for sometime.
Happily, the Lhasa can provide its owner with companionship for many years because it generally lives well into its teens. Typical longevity of the dog is 15-18 years; it has been known to survive longer. Owners should not be deceived, however, by the Lhasa’s size and glamorized Western appearance into believing this is a delicate creature in need of indulgence. One only has to consider the breed’s origin and history to understand that this dog is as sturdy and resilient as the Tibetan people.
The Lhasa Apso is a loyal, trustful and intelligent dog, they can be obstinate. They do get along well with children and other dogs. As a breed they can be independent and are wary of strangers. The Lhasa needs to be trained from an early age. With patience and consistency they can become relatively obedient. They are quite sensitive and do not respond well to raised voices; plus can become withdrawn and depressed if subjected to excessively loud voices. They must not be overly spoiled, as they may develop behavioural problems.
Finally, don’t be put off by the Lhasa’s which-end’s-the-front hairdo. Nature never intended the Lhasa to look the way it does in the show ring, and you shouldn’t either if so desired. Periodic trips to the groomer’s for a pet clip will keep the Lhasa’s coat manageable while still allowing the dog to look like a real Lhasa. Nevertheless, at least a thrice weekly brushing sessions are a regular part of owning a Lhasa.