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Lha-Cocker (Lhasa Apso & American Cocker Spaniel Mix): Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

lha-cocker outside

Height: 10–14 inches
Weight: 13–25 pounds
Lifespan: 14–17 years
Colors: Brindle, black, sable, brown, fawn, red, cream
Suitable for: Apartment dwellers, those looking for a low-shedding dog
Temperament: Good-natured, fun-loving, intelligent, eager to please, snappy

Sometimes mixing two dogs gives unpredictable results, and sometimes the mix looks exactly like you thought it would. The Lha-Cocker definitely falls into the latter category, as it looks like an even mix of both of its parent breeds, the Lhasa Apso and the American Cocker Spaniel.

The Lha-Cocker is a small dog, but that doesn’t mean it’s content to live its entire life sitting on your lap. These pups love to play, and they’ll spend all day chasing a ball or tugging on a rope toy. Even so, their exercise needs aren’t especially daunting.

Lha-Cockers are a relatively new designer breed, having been around for less than 20 years, so you’re forgiven for not knowing much about them. If you’d like to learn more, though, just keep reading.

Divider 1Lha-Cocker Puppies


Lha-Cocker puppies are extremely small and equally adorable, and they don’t get much bigger as they age. These are tiny dogs, perfect for carrying around in a bag or on a small pillow.

Don’t expect them to be okay with being pampered all the time, though. These mutts love to play, so they won’t be satisfied with a sedentary lifestyle. That doesn’t mean that they need a ton of exercise, though, so seniors can easily handle owning one—you just have to be young at heart.

In addition to physical stimulation, you’ll need to commit quite a bit of time to groom these dogs. They’re not low-maintenance but fortunately, they tolerate brushing well.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Lha-Cocker

1. These dogs can be temperamental.

If you want a dog that’s always happy and playful, then you should adopt a Golden Retriever. Lha-Cockers, on the other hand, will offer you the entire spectrum of possible emotions. It can be like living with a tiny, adorable teenager.

That’s not to say that they’re always in a bad mood, though. They just don’t need constant attention and affection. When they want it, they can be as fun to be around as any other dog; when they don’t, though, you should probably give them their space.

2. They’re surprisingly good guard dogs.

No, they won’t actually save your stuff from any intruders, but they’re one of the best breeds for alerting you to the fact that an intruder is near.

They have a loud, distinct bark, and they’re not afraid to deploy it if they feel something is amiss. They’re also fearless, which can be a bad thing, as they’re not nearly as big as they think they are.

3. They’re surprisingly good swimmers.

These dogs are just full of surprises. You wouldn’t think they’d be able to swim well, given their stubby little legs and delicate hairstyles, but they can doggy paddle with the best of them.

That doesn’t mean you can just toss them in the lake without a life jacket, but it does make swimming a viable form of exercise. It works especially well for these dogs because it’s low-impact, so it won’t put much stress on their delicate frames.

Parent Breeds of the Lha-Cocker
Photo Credit: (L) Jumpstory | (R) Lenkadan, Shutterstock

Divider 3

Temperament & Intelligence of the Lha-Cocker 🧠

The Lha-Cocker’s intelligence can be a mixed bag. Cocker Spaniels are among the smartest of dog breeds, coming in at 20th on a commonly-used ranking of breed intelligence. That’s higher than Australian Shepherds or Siberian Huskies, two breeds that are generally known for their brains.

The Lhasa Apso, on the other hand, brings the Lha-Cocker’s overall ranking down. Lhasa Apsos rank 68th on that scale, behind Great Danes and Chihuahuas—two breeds that are definitely not known for being Rhodes Scholars.

Usually, though, Lha-Cockers are smart enough to get the job done. They can pick up on commands quickly, although they have a bit of a stubborn streak. Also, for some reason, housebreaking these dogs seems to be more challenging than with other breeds. Temperamentally, they’re a mixed bag as well. When they’re in a good mood, you won’t find a more playful or affectionate dog. They love to be around their families, and they’ll play any games you have handy.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Whether Lha-Cockers are good for families depends in large part on the family.

They’re not ideal for families with very small children. That’s true for the dog’s sake as well as the children’s. Little kids aren’t likely to recognize when these dogs want to be left alone, so they’re likely to get nipped a time or two. Also, these dogs are too delicate for the kind of rough play that very small children often favor.

If you have older kids who know how to behave around dogs, though, they can make fantastic family pets. Their occasionally standoffish personality makes them a good choice for households that don’t want to be constantly pestered for affection.

When they’re in a good mood, they’re fun for the entire household. You can take turns playing tug-of-war or take the dog for a walk as a family. They also love to cuddle up and watch TV, so they’re not constantly demanding stimulation.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Lha-Cockers are generally accepting of other dogs, and for the most part, they’ll appreciate having a playmate around. But like so many other things with this breed, it depends on the dog’s mood at the time. They may enjoy running around and chasing the other dog one moment, only to snap at them the next.

As a result, you should monitor them around the other dog at all times, and it’s probably best if you don’t pair them with another dog that’s prone to aggression.

As for cats and other small pets, Lha-Cockers generally tolerate them well enough. There may be a bit of competition for lap space, but for the most part, any squabbles will be few and far between.

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning a Lha-Cocker

Given how rare these dogs are, you might be at a loss when it comes to actually caring for one. Fortunately, they don’t have any special requirements, but we’ve put together information for you on how to best raise a Lha-Cocker.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

You need to be careful about what you feed these dogs, as well as how much. Obesity is horrible for them, especially given their frail skeletal structure. Picking a proper kibble is absolutely critical. Look for something high in protein and low in simple carbs; you want an ingredients list that has real meat as the first ingredient and absolutely no wheat, soy, or corn to be found.

These dogs can be prone to skin and eye conditions, and omega fatty acids can help with both. Any food that has ingredients like fish oil, flaxseed, or actual fish will be loaded with omegas and is worth considering. You may be tempted to give your Lha-Cocker wet food as well. That’s fine, but be sparing with it, as wet food is incredibly calorie-dense. Don’t feed them a wet diet exclusively either, as dry kibble is good for their teeth.

Be judicious about dispensing treats. It’s okay to reward your pup, especially during training, but don’t overdo it. It doesn’t take much to add a pound or two to a Lha-Cocker’s waistline, and that’s all it takes to cause serious damage.

Exercise 🐕

These dogs are fairly energetic, so you’ll have to give them sufficient exercise every day to avoid behavioral problems. Fortunately, their tiny little legs limit how much exercise they can handle before getting tuckered out, so you won’t have to spend an entire afternoon playing fetch. About 30 minutes of moderate activity should be plenty, and a long walk is often enough to do the trick.

These pups love to swim, so that’s always a good way to burn off excess energy. They also do well in agility training; just be careful with the jumps, as they can put a great deal of stress on their fragile frames.

It’s important to tax their minds as much as their bodies. You can do this with obedience work or by giving them a puzzle toy to figure out. Playing games of hide-and-seek also works well; just hide treats or kibble around the house for them to sniff out.

lha-cocker walking outside
Photo Credit: otsphoto, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

Smaller dogs like Lha-Cockers are often less likely to be well-trained, as their owners seem to think that since they can’t do serious damage, there’s little reason to spend the time on obedience work.

That’s a mistake with these pups, though. They can be snappy and aggressive, especially when they’re in a bad mood. While it’s true they won’t kill anyone, they can still cause harm, especially to small children. That’s why it’s imperative to train and socialize them from day one. They need to be taught how to behave in polite company, so you won’t have to worry about how they’ll react when a little kid wanders over.

Lha-Cockers can be stubborn, though, so it helps to have a firm hand and experience training dogs. The most important thing is to not let them win, as they’ll walk all over you if given the opportunity. However, that doesn’t mean you should be harsh with them; quite the opposite, actually, as they respond best to positive reinforcement.

They can be challenging to housebreak for some reason, and they’re also prone to resource guarding (they’re especially protective of whichever lap they happen to be sitting in). As a result, you should pay special attention to those problematic behaviors while training them.

Grooming ✂️

Lha-Cockers don’t shed much and may even be hypoallergenic, depending on which parent breed they favor. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that they’re low-maintenance dogs, however, as their grooming needs are extensive.

You have to brush them daily. That’s not so much to remove fur but to prevent tangling and matting, both of which are big problems with these dogs. You’ll also likely want a standing appointment with a groomer to give your pooch a haircut.

They’ll need periodic baths—every other month or so should be enough. You may need to use a special shampoo, as they have sensitive skin. Their nails should be trimmed as needed and their teeth brushed regularly. You also need to clean their ears out every week to minimize the risk of infection.

Health and Conditions ❤️

These mutts are fairly healthy, with few serious conditions to be worried about. They also have extremely long lifespans, and it’s not unusual for them to live over 15 years.

However, there are a few issues you should be aware of.

Minor Conditions
  • Ear infections
  • Entropion
  • Ectropion
  • Keratoconjunctivitis
  • Keratopathy syndrome
  • Seborrhea
  • Dermatitis
  • Dry eye
Serious Conditions
  • Patellar luxation
  • Retinal dysplasia
  • Spinal issues

Divider 5Male vs Female

There’s little difference between the two genders in Lha-Cockers. Males are a tiny bit bigger, though the difference is often as little as an inch in height and a pound or two in weight.

They’re similar in terms of personality too, although females can be a bit moodier and more territorial. Those issues can be mitigated with proper training, as well as timely spaying or neutering.

Divider 3Final Thoughts

If you want a lap dog that’s extremely fun-loving but has a strong independent streak, the Lha-Cocker may be perfect for you. These dogs can be as fun as any other breed, but they bring a host of other emotions to the table as well. They’re excellent pets for older families, but those with small children may want to adopt a dog that’s more accepting of kids. Also, be prepared for their incredibly demanding grooming requirements.

Overall, the Lha-Cocker is a fun but challenging companion to own and one that will reward your patience many times over. Perhaps the best thing about them is how long they live, which gives you plenty of time to master the art of owning one.

Featured Photo Credit: Bianca Grueneberg, Shutterstock

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