Fun Facts About the Lhasa Apso

Fun Facts About the Lhasa Apso

Author WDF Staff


We are obsessed with small lap dogs, and among our favorite ones is the adorable Lhasa Apso. We have the privilege of sharing an office with a Lhasa Apso owner that brings her dog to work every day. From the moment we saw her, we were charmed. The Lhasa Apso is an adorable little companion with just the best character you could imagine.

These dogs are friendly, playful, smart, but most of all, they love being close to their owners. That is at least what we could observe in the office. However, her owner says her tiny Lhasa is a fierce protector at home. She will let her know the moment something suspicious is going on. Naturally, we wanted to share our favorite Lhasa Apso fun facts.

1. Original name is “Abso Seng Kye

It is not hard to imagine why western civilizations wanted to adapt this breed’s original name. Abso Seng Kye is hard to pronounce, so these dogs were given the name Lhasa Apso. The “fun” part of this fact is that not many owners know Lhasa is Tibet’s capital. That part of the name is clear.

The second part of their name is a bit harder to decipher. The word “Apso” doesn’t actually mean anything, and there are two theories of how that part of the name came to be. The first theory says that “Apso” is just a misspelled “Abso,” which is a part of their original name. The second theory says “Apso” derives from the Tibetan word “rapso,” which means goat. Tibetan owners claim these dogs have goat-like features.

2. Origin

Lhasa Apso is a Tibetan dog breed; there is nothing new about that. However, many dog owners don’t know these dogs are nearly 3.000 years old. Different documents and artifacts are placing these dogs as early as 800 B.C. These dogs were bred exclusively in Buddhist monasteries, and they were somewhat hidden from the rest of the world.

lhasa apso dog show

The 3.000-year-old history would place Lhasa Apso in the company of other ancient dog breeds. There aren’t many breeds that can boast with such heritage. Only Basenji, Afghan Hounds, Akita Inu, Saluki, and a few other breeds are that old.

3. Gifts of Dalai Lama

The Lhasa Apso was bred exclusively in Buddhist monasteries, and foreigners couldn’t get their hands on these adorable little dogs. Lhasas were initially kept by Tibetans that lived on farms and in and around those monasteries.

The only way foreigners could get Lhasas is if they were given to them by none other than the Dalai Lama himself. There was a long-standing tradition where the Dalai Lama sent Lhasa Apso dogs as gifts to the Chinese emperors and their families. The first Lhasa that was given to westerners was a pair in 1933. The Dalai Lama gave them to C. Suydam Cutting, a well-known traveler and naturalist. He used the pair as the foundation for his Lhasa Apso kennel.

4. Small watchdogs

The Lhasa Apso might be a small dog, but they are brave watchdogs keenly aware of their surroundings. One owner told us, “even a fly can’t pass without my dog barking at it.” One of the reasons these dogs were effective watchdogs is because they worked in pairs with their larger partners.

A Buddhist monastery had these tiny dogs inside their monasteries. At the same time, the outside was guarded by much larger and scarier dogs - Tibetan Mastiffs. Tibetan Mastiffs and Lhasas made great guarding couples. Lhasa would alert their larger partners about incoming problems, and the powerful guardians would spring into action. These tiny dogs allowed Mastiffs to remain lazy and sleep until they were needed.

5. A part of reincarnation

A part of the Tibetan Buddhist religion is reincarnation. They believe that when a person dies, they reincarnate into a different living being. There are different reincarnation stages, and one of Buddhism’s fundamental beliefs is that the soul never disappears. The ultimate goal is to reach Nirvana, which is the Buddhist version of Christian heaven.

lhasa apso

Lhasa Apsos are sacred Tibetan dogs. They believe that reincarnating into a Lhasa Apso is the final step before a soul reincarnates into a human again. It was illegal to hurt these dogs, which is one reason they were impossible to get. Tibetans couldn’t be sure how these dogs would be treated outside of Tibet.

6. Lhasas live long and prosperous

Unfortunately, these dogs were not featured in Star Trek (as far as we know), but they are known to have long and healthy lives. It is not uncommon for a Lhasa to live in its late teens. In fact, the average lifespan of a Lhasa Apso is around 15 years. Another fun fact about these dogs is that the oldest ever Lhasa lived to be 29 years old.

Many dog owners hate the fact that dogs have such short lifespans. There is a famous quote by Agnes Sligh Turnbull - “Dogs live short lives; their only fault really.” We completely agree with her, and most dog owners do too. The good news is that Lhasas get to live long and relatively healthy lives, which means we get to spend more time with them. The important thing is to get a Lhasa that was well-bred and has a healthy pedigree.

Want to know more famous dog quotes? Check out this article - Famous dog quotes.

7. Famous owners

It isn’t a huge secret famous people love dogs. Most American presidents had dogs, and these lovely four-legged companions can be found all across famous homes. From politicians, singers, actors, athletes, and other famous personalities, there are many who love having the company of the best animal in the world.

One look at the charming Lhasa, and it is clear why so many celebrities love them. The list of famous Lhasa owners is very long. Some of the best-known names include Ellen DeGeneres, Gwen Stefani, Jane Lynch, Liberace, Elizabeth Taylor, and Kurt Vonnegut.

If you love these adorable, brave watchdogs, check out the complete Lhasa Apso breed profile.

World Dog Finder team

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