Lhasa apsos generally have few health problems. This may be due to their origin in the mountainous country of Tibet. The dogs were bred as herding dogs and watch dogs. There are some health issues as a lhasa apso owner or prospective lhasa apso owner you should know.
The long luxurious coat is the hallmark of the lhasa apso. The coat is actually made up of two layers: a coarse outer coat and a downy inner coat. In order to avoid matting, it is necessary to brush the coat regularly. It is important to train your lhasa apso to enjoy or tolerate the attention when being brushed. Many owners who decide not to show their dogs opt to have the hair clipped short in a puppy cut. The short hair is easier to care for on a routine basis.
With the long hair it is also important to keep the mats from forming on the feet. It is very easy for twigs, tiny stones and other debris to become entangled in the hair. This can lead to damage of the footpads.
As with any dog it is important to check for fleas and other parasites such as ticks. With the long hair it is easy for fleas and ticks to attach themselves to the skin of the lhasa apso. Heartworm protection is also an important part of caring for your lhasa apso.
If you are choosing a lhasa apso as a pet, you may want to consider choosing a lhasa with a narrow rear. Dog standards for showing lhasa apsos have preferred a wider rear. Unfortunately this desire for a wider rear also has lead to an increase in knee and hip problems.
The diagram here (look under General) shows the problems, which can happen with the wider rear. This will lead to gait and arthritic problems as the dog ages. For one of our lhasa apsos, it meant finding a canine orthopedic surgeon, starting the dog on glucosamine chondritin and injections for the pain in the lhasa apso’s knees. This was no an inexpensive process as the treatment extended over many years.
One other problem which is seen in lhasa apsos is dry eye. This is usually a hereditary condition where the tear duct does not produce enough tears. Sometimes surgery to open the tear duct helps. Often eye drops must be given to the dogs to replace the tears. Without treatment the condition can lead to blindness.
Family history of hip dysplasia is also important to check. A reputable breeder will know the history of the dog and will also guarantee against genetic problems. The hip dysplasia involves inflammation, swelling and pain. If your lhasa apso starts limping seeking medical attention. Many times surgical intervention can prevent further problems.
The most infrequent seen major health problem in lhasa apsos is kidney diseases (check under Kidney). At this time there are studies being done to determine exactly causes the disease. The best prevention seems to be careful selection of breeders.
Knowing the possible health problems can help you evaluate the lhasa apso you choose for your family. Choose a reputable breeder and follow the recommendation of your veterinarian. Your lhasa apso can be a great family companion.