Description & History

The Tibetan Apso, now known as the Lhasa Apso, is an ancient breed and a native of Tibet. At one time it was called the Lhasa Terrier. It was once thought to be a smaller and shorter-legged version of the Tibetan Terrier. The ancestors of the breed are Tibetan Terriers and possibly Tibetan Spaniels.

The breed, which was bred in the monasteries of Tibet, was meant to represent the lion and therefore to provide protection for Buddha. They were referred to as "lion dogs", as they guarded the interior of the royal houses and monasteries against intruders.

Tibet was inaccessible to outsiders for many centuries and those who visited the country were not made welcome. It was because of this that the Lhasa Apso, like other small breeds from the East, was not generally known in the western world until the twentieth century.

The Lhasa's lamas and the nobility - breeders of these dogs - rarely allowed them to leave the country. This also contributed to the breed being little known outside its own territory.

The religion in Tibet is Buddhism which prohibits the sale of live animals. No Lhasa Apsos were ever sold, but some male dogs were occasionally given to visiting dignitaries, mostly Chinese, as gifts. Eventually a few dogs did leave Tibet as they were given to foreign diplomats and high ranking personnel on service in India.

The Lhasa Apso was first introduced to England in 1928 and was recognised by the British Kennel Club in 1933.

Rosamund Walters.



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