Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Little Lion Dog Marley-All About the Lhasa Apso

Marley my Lhasa

Lhasa Apso


The Lhasa Apso originated in
the area of Tibet over 4000 years ago as a small breed of mountain wolf. Referred to in Tibet as Apso Seng Kyi, which can be translated as "Bearded Lion Dog", the Lhasa's primary function was that of a household sentinel, guarding the homes of Tibetan nobility and Buddhist monasteries, particularly in or near the sacred city of Lhasa. The large Tibetan Mastiffs guarded the monasteries' entrances, but the keen hearing and sharp bark of the Lhasa Apso served to warn residents by acting like a burglar alarm if an intruder happened to get past the exterior guards.

“These little dogs are wonderfully agile, and intelligent; when used to gather a flock of sheep, the Tibetan would give a signal and the dogs would leap off up the mountainside...Often the mountainside would be like the side of a house, almost precipitous, but the dogs would leap from rock to rock, disappear down a gully and then reappear further up. If they misjudged the distance or size of the landing place, or if they slipped on the icy slopes, they would be killed—there was big, BIG drop below them.

“In their lives there was no room for mistakes, or less than perfect fitness— they were tremendously agile, jumping with cat-like precision and little apparent effort.”
--Early description from
The Tibetan Terrier,
by Angela Mulliner
Tibetan Lion

In 1933, C. Suydam Cutting introduced the first Lhasas to the U.S. gifts from the 13th Dalai Lama.
Recently, DNA Analysis has identified the Lhasa Apso as one of the 14 most ancient dog breeds, verifying that lap dogs and companion dogs were among the first dogs bred by humans.
 It was believed that the bodies of the Lhasa Apsos could be entered by souls of deceased lamas while they awaited reincarnation into a new body.

Certain characteristics which are part of the breed type evolved as a result of geographical and climatic environment - the high altitudes, the dry windy climate, the dusty terrain, the short hot summer and the long bitterly cold winter of the Himalaya region. Among these are head features, the coat, eye-fall, the musculation and body structure, the general hardness and longevity of the breed. 
Reincarnated Dali Lama?
In Tibetan art and literature, the Manjuri Buddha, the God of Learning is often in the company of a Lhasa Apso, which changes into a lion when danger threatens the Manjuri Buddha. Its role as a guardian was also based its excellent hearing, its terrific memories, and its superior ability to distinguish intimates from strangers. All this made the Buddhist monks value them as excellent watchdogs and guardians.
If you were not a Tibetan noble or holy man or you were an outsider, the only way own a Lhasa Apso was to receive one as a gift from the Dalai Lama. Because the Dalai Lamas saw the Lhasa Apsos as a sacred blessing and believed them to bring luck and good fortune to their owners, the Dalia Lamas began presenting the dogs to the Emperors of China, visiting diplomats, and other foreign dignitaries

The Lion Dog
Having been bred as an indoor monastery sentinel dog by Tibetan Buddhist monks, Lhasa Apsos are alert with a keen sense of hearing and a rich, sonorous bark that belies their size

In truth, the adult Lhasa Apso is one of the hardiest, toughest, and strongest willed of all the small breeds. It is said that "when a Lhasa Apso looks in the mirror, he sees a lion."

These dogs are good for apartment living. They are very active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
The AKC Standard, showing great restraint, calls the Lhasa Apso "chary with strangers."  With his acute senses, keen observation skills, and distrust of anything new or different, Lhasas take their watchdog responsibilities seriously.
  • Doesn't need a lot of exercise
  • Is very loyal to his own family and makes a keen watchdog 
  • Suspicious toward strangers 
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge  
  • Quickness to retaliate against firm corrections or teasing 
  • Barks a lot!
  • Stubborn
  • Independent
  • Low activity level, lazy
  • Requires a lot of grooming and maintenance


Sunday, March 4, 2012