A native of Tibet, the Lhasa apso was called the barking lion sentinel dog in his home country. Generations later, the little Lhasa remains a good watchdog and loyal companion. While the well-groomed Lhasa may look like a frou-frou dog, he's actually a pretty tough pup.
Buying a Puppy
When seeking a Lhasa apso puppy, buy only from a reputable breeder. Good breeders don't breed animals with poor genetic histories. They know their dogs' bloodlines well before deciding to breed a particular male and female. A well-bred dog should experience fewer, if any, hereditary ailments and has the potential to live longer than a poorly bred canine. The American Lhasa Apso Club has a strong code of ethics for breeders. It outlines how dogs should be bred, kept and sold.
You can expect to have a healthy Lhasa apso live for as many as 12 to 15 years. In the canine world, small dogs generally have longer lifespans than large ones. Mixed-breed dogs tend to live longer than purebred dogs because of hybrid vigor, a theory that contends mixed-breed animals are inherently healthier because they don't suffer from the genetic illnesses affecting purebreds.
As with any purebred dog, Lhasas may suffer from certain genetic diseases -- all the more reason to buy from a responsible breeder. Lhasas are prone to hip dysplasia, a condition in which the hip joint is malformed, leading to lameness and arthritis. He may have luxating patellas, or slipped kneecaps, which in serious cases require surgical correction. Eye issues include glaucoma, dry eyes and progressive retinal atrophy, which eventually renders the dog blind. Malformed kidneys may lead to juvenile renal disease, or kidney failure in the young dog.
Of course you want your Lhasa to live as long as possible. While nobody gets a guarantee in life, there are simple steps that create better longevity odds. Take your dog to the vet at least annually for checkups. Keep him current on vaccinations and heartworm preventative. Since Lhasas require a great deal of grooming, use this time to also check on the condition of his skin. Feed him a high-quality dog food, avoid table scraps, and don't let him get fat.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.