The Lhasa has a long, heavy double coat, draping over his entire body to the floor. The hair falls thickly over the head, pendant ears, and eyes. The dog also sports a beard and mustache. The eyes are dark and the nose black. The flat skull has a moderate stop. The teeth should form a level or undershot bite. The body is longer than tall, with a level topline. The feathered tail is carried over the back. Any color is acceptable, often with dark tips on the ears and beard.
The Lhasa Apso originated in the ancient country of Tibet, where these charming little dogs were kept by monks and nobles, and cherished as carriers of good luck. Today's Lhasa may have been a result of breeding Tibetan Terriers down in size. The dogs participated in religious ceremonies and guarded the monasteries. They were never sold, but were often given as gifts. In their native land, the breed is called the Abso Seng Kye ("Barking Lion Sentinel Dog"). The Lhasa is said to have the uncanny ability to predict avalanches. The breed can tolerate very high altitudes. The Lhasa was first introduced to England in the 1920s. In 1933, the Dalai Lama gave some Lhasas to a friend in America, C. Suydam Cutting, who based his "Hamilton" line on these dogs. When Shih Tzus first came to the United States, several were accidentally classified as Lhasas and were bred into existing Lhasa lines. Cutting's Hamilton dogs were untainted by this intrusion, and even today, breeders boast of "pure Hamilton lines." The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1935.
Spirited, devoted, and lively. Confident and hardy. Loving with his master and wary of strangers. Some are willful; some are very obedient to the master. Not tolerant of teasing or rough children. Responds best to motivational training. Should have a fairly dominant master. Some fight with other dogs in the home. Dislikes being alone. Can be snappish if surprised or peeved.