Lhasa Apso Grooming

As you might expect by looking at a Lhasa Apso, they require medium to high maintenance; this difference comes in whether you decide to clip their characteristic flowing coat of leave it natural. It also stands to reason that you may be able to do this at home but many owners choose to take this breed to a groomer. If you are a do-it-yourself type owner we will provide you with some grooming basics. Those that plan on taking their pet to a professional will still find this page helpful since you will want to perform some in-home maintenance in between sessions to prevent mats, irritated skin, gum disease and eye infections. The major sections we will touch on include:

  • Bathing
  • Brushing
  • Clipping or Styling
  • Dental Care
  • Nail Care
  • Eye Care

Lhasa Apso Coat Care

Lhaso Apso grooming is certainly a large task if you choose to do it at home, specifically if you decide to leave the coat long. Most Lhasas with short clips can get away with a Pin Brush. Many owners choose to have their pet groomed professionally once a month but there are still aspects of coat care that need to be handled at home such as brushing. Lhasa Apso grooming tools and products you might find helpful include:

  • A canine clipper with appropriate length guards for the length of trim you wish to produce
  • Slicker Brush
  • Pin Brush
  • 2-in-1 Comb
  • Detangling Spray
  • Grooming Scissors


The following sections will provide details on coat care including how and when to brush, bathe, and some basic styling information.

Brushing

Brushing is probably the single most important part of grooming your long haired pet; you should definitely start this with your pet immediately. If you keep the coat clipped short a weekly brushing will do; you can use a pin brush or slicker brush for this length. Brushing a fully coated Lhasa, however, ideally requires daily brushing. The coat is long, hard and rough so breeders recommend brushing them in layers. A brief breakdown of this technique is below:

  • Usually, the dog lays on its side and you brush the entire coat in the opposite direction than how it naturally falls.
  • Divide a small layer of the hair and begin brushing it down in the correct direction.
  • Continue sectioning these small layers and brushing the correct direction until you reach the top of the back then do the same thing with the other side.

Note, the best brush for the natural Lhasa Apso is a slicker brush. You will also want a 2-in-1 comb that has both wide and narrow teeth. A spray to detangle the coat is also very helpful but you can always make you own by mixing some canine conditioner and water in a spray bottle. This is most useful when you encounter tangled hair-- you can give the whole coat a very light misting before brushing or you can wait until you encounter a mat and spray only the mat.

Getting Out Tangles

The Lhasa Apso's long, flowing coat can mat or tangle fairly easily--and as expected, a Lhasa Apso with matted fur isn't the most beautiful thing to behold! The best way to prevent tangles (which if left unchecked, develop into mats) is to brush your Lhasa's coat regularly--but if a hair snarl does develop, here are two ways of dealing with them:

  • Use your fingers. While it's more difficult, this is the preferred method, as it's less damaging to your Lhasa Apso's coat. Simply use your thumbs and forefingers to separate the tangled hairs, going strand by strand if necessary. For extra-stubborn snarls, use scissors to cut them in half (or even fourths) to start the untangling process.
  • Use a de-shedding tool. Some owners like to use a tool like a Furminator on Lhasa Apso coats to remove tangled or matted hair. The fine, sharp teeth cut out dead hairs, and can even cut out the entire tangle if necessary. The problem is that the tool will cut out healthy hairs along with the dead ones, leaving the coat looking uneven. Overall, using your fingers is the best method.

Bathing

This is a breed that may need more frequent baths; experts recommend a bath every 3-6 weeks, although it can be done as infrequently as every other month. Your bathing schedule depends upon the living environment and activity level of your pet. The best shampoo for Lhasa Apso dogs is simply a gentle canine shampoo or you can opt for a moisturizing canine shampoo, if desired. The most important restriction is never to use a human shampoo since it isn't pH formulated for dog skin.
Experienced groomers have special tips for bathing your Lhasa Apso and you can read them below:

  1. Brush and comb your pet thoroughly before bathing to remove any mats and tangles before putting them in water since this will make them much worse.
  2. Have 3 inches warm water already prepared in the tub, sink or whatever you plan to give the bath in. This avoids fear from the sound of rushing water.
  3. Do not rub the shampoo into the skin in circles, rather work it down the hair to avoid tangling.
  4. Shampoo is not the answer to how to clean the Lhasa Apso's eyes. You can shampoo the face but use a wet rag to clean the eye area.
  5. Rinse thoroughly, then rerinse the thick hair so no residue is left behind to irritate the skin.
  6. Towel dry them carefully with the same technique used for shampooing so as not to create tangles.
  7. Blow dry the coat, then brush through once more.

Other Care

Teeth - Lhasa Apso teeth are not among the best, in fact, the breed is prone to dental problems. Buildup of bacteria in the mouth can lead to cavities and gum disease which can eventually affect other organs-- even the heart! Get your puppy used to having their teeth brushed by rubbing your finger along the gumline daily. After puppy age you can purchase a finger brush or canine tooth brush, then add a drop of doggy toothpaste or a mix or baking soda and water. We recommend to clean the teeth once per week (at a MINIMUM); daily is best and, for a breed with bad teeth, we also recommend regular cleanings at your veterinarian's office.

Eyes - Lhaso Apsos are notorious for tear stains. They are prone to several eye diseases and often have tearing or discharge from the eye. Obviously, if the discharge is colored and gooey they may need a trip to the vet. To prevent staining you should keep a damp rag to wipe the face daily-- the longer you let the tear stains go unwiped the harder it will be to remove them. Some owners recommend special aloe wipes (or other eye specific formulations) that are gentle on the eyes.

Lhasa Apso Styling & Haircuts

Lhasa Apso haircuts, especially short haircuts, are fairly easy to do at home. The most common clipping style for the Lhasa Apso is the puppy cut. There are several variations of this depending upon what length clipper guard you decide to use so they can end up appearing anywhere from shaved to fluffy. Also, some owners choose leave the hair on the head and tail a little longer (including the ears) and this gives them more of a teddy bear appearance.

Lhasa Apso hairstyles for longer coated dogs are fairly simple. They are brushed so the hair falls along either side of the face and the same along the length of the back. Since the hair rarely sheds, they will need trimming to ends of the coat with grooming scissors-- there is no timeline for this and you can do so at your discretion.

Cute Lhasa Apso haircuts often require methods to keep the hair out of the eyes-- which are even cuter! Many owner use barrettes and bows to pull back the bangs while others opt to braid it. Although your Lhasa has strong lashes that are capable of allowing her to see, this is an extra cute way to make it easier.

A couple additional details:

  • Make sure to trim the paws (including underneath) as this breed is prone to having excesses of hair growing between the toes.

  • Grooming a Lhasa Apsos face can be done with scissors if you are nervous with the clippers-- but this is more difficult and requires a lot of shaping to the head. It is actually quite simple to clip the hanging hair on the ears, shave down the sides of the muzzle and above the eyes. Voila! The face is in excellent shape.