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Lhasa Apso

Life span: 12-14 Years

Height: 10 – 12 inches (male), 10 – 11 inches (female)

Weight: 12 – 18 lbs. (male), 11 – 15 lbs. (female)

Known for its long coat of hair which is parted down the middle, the Lhasa Apso is a non-sporting breed that finds its origins in Tibet. It was originally used in Buddhist Monasteries as a guard dog to warn monks of intruders, however, it has since become a prominent player in the world of show dogs. The Apso is a playful and alert breed, but it does have a mischievous side, so it does require some monitoring.

This breed may be small, but it is ferocious. They are born to be guardians, which can lead them to be possessive over objects and wary of strangers. They will warn you of anyone within their territory without hesitating, but this means they are not a quiet breed.

Physical Characteristics

Their ears are small and flop down, with a medium sized tail that curls over their back. The eyes are brown with a black nose. When kept long, their coat is straight and heavy. If kept short, their hair might have a slight wave, however, always dense. Coat colors include black, grey, silver, red, brown, light brown, cream colored and white.

History

Originating in the mountains of Tibet, this breed was created by Buddhist monks to be sentinels for temples and monasteries. Although their exact ancestry is unknown, many believe it includes the Tibetan Terriers, or northern breeds. However, in a study, it was revealed that their DNA is similar to wolf-like ancestors, leading to the belief that they might have been developed from a mountain wolf. For many years they were bred only by monks and protected from the outside due to their ability to recognize if a person was friendly or not, to withstand cold temperatures and their unique hearing. The Dalai Lama did give them as gifts to Imperial visitors, or dignitaries, even though they were never sold. It is believed that the dogs that were given as gifts might have contributed to the creation of some Chinese dogs, such as the Shih-Tzu. It was not until 1933 that the dogs were brought into the United States as a gift for Mr. and Mrs. Suydam Cutting in New Jersey. This lead to the creation of the Lhasa Apso breed in the United States, and in 1935 they were recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Personality

This loving breed can be both funny and serious at the same time. Although they love fooling around and being playful, they take guarding their families very seriously. However, this often leads to them getting attached and being overprotective of objects, which at times can make them mildly aggressive. Due to this, they are not the ideal fit for a family with young children, as this breed is not tolerant with them. They are extremely loving with their families, but will be wary of strangers, often even aggressive if they are not properly socialized when young. They are not quiet dogs and will not hesitate to let you know when someone is within their territory.

Health

Although generally healthy, this breed may suffer from:

  • Allergies that produce the same symptoms you see in humans, and depending on the cause, different treatments can be used.
  • Cherry Eye, in which the gland from the third eyelid extends and looks like a cherry in the corner of your dog’s eye, which can be surgically removed.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, or dry eye, is caused by an autoimmune reaction to the tear glands that causes lack of tears, and can lead to blindness.
  • Luxating Patella, in which the kneecaps may dislocate or move from its proper place.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), in which the dogs may become night blind at first and progressively lose their day eyesight as well.
  • Renal Dysplasia, which can be a genetic or developmental disease which causes the kidneys to be irregularly shaped and small. Symptoms include the puppy being excessively thirsty and small, and it may lead to renal failure.
  • Sebaceous adenitis (SA), a genetic condition that can be confused for Hypothyroidism, allergies, etc. This causes the sebaceous glands (which produce a fatty secretion to help the skin stay hydrated) to become inflamed and eventually destroyed. Its symptoms include: hair loss, scaly and dried skin, secondary skin infections, thickened skin, unpleasant odor, etc. These symptoms are shown in dogs up to five years old.

Care

This breed can have their hair cut short or leaving it long and only trimming it. If their coats are kept short they should be brushed regularly, bathing them in between grooming. If kept long, they should be bathed every two weeks, brushing their coats in between baths.Their skin is sensitive, so be sure to rinse the shampoo completely out of them. Their nails should be trimmed regularly, as well as their teeth brushed and ears checked for any dirt to prevent infections. They are pretty energetic, but tend to tire themselves out by running in the house. However, they should be taken on daily walks as well. Training can be quite difficult, given that they are stubborn and need plenty of mental stimulation. If bored, they will most likely do as they please, and ignore your commands. Short and varied training sessions with positive reinforcement and determination are the best way to train this breed.

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