Genetic Disorders Commonly Seen in the Lhasa Apso

Genetic Disorders Commonly Seen in the Lhasa Apso

Health & Safety

These charming little dogs are one of the oldest breeds on the planet and although some of them like the sound of their own voices a little too much, the Lhasa Apso is known to be a wonderful companion dog. Over the years, the breed has proved to be a very popular choice for people who live in towns and the countryside.

The average age for a Lhasa Apso is around 14 years of age. They are known to suffer from a few health issues, mainly relating to their prominent eyes.However, like many pedigrees, these nice natured little dogs are known to suffer from a few hereditary disorders too which existing and potential owners would need to be aware of.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy - PRA

Progressive Retinal Atrophy – PRA, is an eye disease where gradual loss of vision occurs and as such any dog diagnosed as suffering from the condition would need to undergo an annual eye test. This allows vets to monitor how the condition is progressing which in turn means they can recommend future therapies and treatments.

Renal Dysplasia

Renal Dysplasia is a congenital condition that affects a dog's kidneys and is frequently seen in the breed. The disorder is typically diagnosed in dogs under five years old after quite pronounced symptoms are noticed by owners. Once the condition has been diagnosed, supportive treatment is given as there is no cure for the disease. Dogs with Renal Dysplasia would need to have regular veterinary check-ups and should not be used for breeding purposes.

Haemophilia B

This condition is a blood clotting disorder where bleeding is not stemmed due to a deficiency of the coagulation factor IX. This can result in uncontrollable bleeding whether internal or external. Dogs with the bad"" gene should be neutered or spayed because even if females are only mildly affected by the ""bad gene"", they can transmit the disorder on to their puppies.

Other disorders which are frequently seen in the breed and for which there are no screening tests for either dams or sires, include the following:

  • Glaucoma -An extremely painful eye disorder which results in blindness
  • Sebaceous Adentitis -A skin disorder that affects how the sebaceous gland functions
  • Patellar Luxation -This is where the kneecap becomes dislocated
  • Atopic Dermatitis -A condition where dogs become hypersensitive to pollens as well as other protein particles which causes them to experience severe itching
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease -A very painful condition that affects a dog's spine causing weakness and in some cases paralysis
  • Atlanto Axial Subluxation -A condition that causes a partial dislocation of bones that are found in a dog's neck
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (Dry Eye) -A condition where the cornea in the eye becomes damaged by ulcers often associated with autoimmune disease
  • Cancer -Including perianal, intracutaneous, gland tumours, cornifying epithelioma
  • Prolapse of the nictitans gland (Cherry Eye) -This affects a dog's third eyelid flipping it outwards
  • Urolithiasis -A condition where stones form in a dog's urine
  • Hydrocephalus -This is a condition where water forms on a dog's brain
  • Cataracts -Clouding of the eye’s lens, which can lead to problems with vision​

Discussing Things with Breeders is Essential

It's really important to discuss any of the above disorders with a breeder if you are thinking about buying a puppy from them. A reputable breeder would be more than happy to show you the bloodlines of their breeding stock which includes dam and sires as well as grandparents and great grandparents of a litter of puppies. Having this kind of information will give you the peace of mind that puppies produced by the breeder are healthy and are less at risk of being affected by any of the common hereditary disorders mentioned above.

Early Diagnosis is a Must

As with any type of disease or disorder, the earlier it is diagnosed the better the prognosis usually would be. With this said some disorders would need to be treated on a ongoing basis because there is no known cure for them. This would mean regular scheduled trips to the vet so your dog can be thoroughly examined and their condition assessed.

Living and Managing Congenital Disorders

It really does depend on the disease and how severe it is as to how a vet would want to manage and treat it. The first thing they would want to do is make life as comfortable as possible for your dog before establishing a correct diagnosis and then recommending the best course of action when it comes to treatments and therapies.


The Lhasa Apso is one of the oldest breeds of dog on the planet and for centuries have given many people a lot of pleasure. Like the majority of pure bred dogs, they do tend to suffer from certain hereditary disorders which are worth knowing about because the earlier any symptoms of a condition are noticed and diagnosed, the better the outcome usually is for the dog. Reputable breeders only use dogs and bitches that are free of these conditions therefore reducing the chances of passing them on to their puppies which is why it's so important to only contact well established breeders if you are thinking about getting a Lhasa Apso puppy.




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