With their long, sleek and silky-smooth coats, Lhasa apsos are the superstars of the dog world -- or at least of the show ring. But even rock-star pups develop health problems. If you're concerned your pooch has a condition, consult a qualified veterinarian. Your Lhasa apso will thank you.
A Lhasa apso pup's deep, dark-brown eyes have a lot of soul -- and also a tendency to develop problems. Some young pups develop prolapsed nicititans glands. Or, if that's too much of a mouthful, cherry eye. Lhasa apsos with cherry eye have weak connective tissue around a gland in their third eyelid. Because the tissue is weak, the gland becomes visible in the inner corner of the eye. Want to guess what it looks like? That's right, a red cherry. There's a link between cherry eye and another condition common to Lhasa apsos -- keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Save yourself a few syllables and just call it dry eye. Surgery is an option for both dry eye and cherry eye, but only a veterinarian can determine if that's your pet's best option.
They may be beautiful, but Lhasa apsos' showstopping coats contribute to the breed's tendency toward skin conditions. If their coats are long, they need frequent brushing and untangling to prevent mats and dandruff. The shorter "puppy cut" alleviates the grooming situation but also the distinctive Lhasa apso look. Whatever cut you choose, keep a close watch for signs of atopic dermatitis. It develops when doggies are young -- 1 to 3 years old -- and manifests as excessive scratching, flaky skin and sometimes lesions.
Diseases and Defects
Like many mini-pups -- aka, small dogs -- Lhasa apsos are prone to intervertebral disk disease. It causes spinal cord problems and slipped disks. "The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health" states that dogs with this disorder develop spine problems in their first months alive, and signs of herniated disks can become apparent when the pooch is as young as a year old. Congenital kidney problems can also be a concern, as can a congenital condition called lissencephaly. Put simply, the brain is smooth and the cerebral cortex thickened in these dogs. It gives them some abnormal behavioral traits and makes it difficult or impossible for them to learn any tricks, let alone new ones. A lissencephaly-afflicted pup may experience seizures, and they typically begin when the pup is between 10 and 12 months old.
Lhasa apsos young and old are vulnerable in hot, sticky weather because of the way their heads are shaped. That shape, as charming as it is, makes breathing difficult. And if you have a young, frisky pup who likes to run and jump, keep a close eye on his legs. Lhasa apsos sometimes develop luxating patellas. This means the patella, or kneecap, slips out of place.
- The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health; Scott Line and Cynthia M. Kahn
- Skin Diseases of the Dog and Cat; Tim Nuttall et al.
- ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs; Sheldon Gerstenfeld
- Veterinary Neuroanatomy and Clinical Neurology; Alexander De Lahunta and Eric Glass
- The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook; Betsy Brevitz