8-12 lbs
San Francisco, CA

The Kyi-Leo is a newly developed breed of dog that was just recently recognized as it’s own breed by the American Rare Breed Association. Inspired by an accidental cross between a Lhasa Apso and a Maltese dog in the 1950s, Harriet Linn began developing the breed in the late 1960s, and by 1972 was given the formalized name of Kyi-Leo. These little dogs tend to be both lively, friendly, and engaging without being prone to separation anxiety or destructive behaviors. Like their parent breeds, they have a coat of long flowing hair rather than fur which requires a great deal of grooming but is considered hypoallergenic due to its low shedding nature.

purpose Purpose
history Date of Origin
ancestry Ancestry
Lhasa Apso and Maltese

Kyi-Leo Health

Average Size
Male Kyi-Leo size stats
Height: 9-12 inches Weight: 8-12 lbs
Female Kyi-Leo size stats
Height: 9-12 inches Weight: 8-12 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Pancreatitis
  • Spinal Issues
Minor Concerns
  • Patellar Luxation
Occasional Diagnoses
  • Obesity
  • Brachycephalic Syndrome
Occasional Tests
  • Blood and Urine Tests
  • X-rays or other radiographic imaging

Kyi-Leo Breed History

When an accidental mating between a Maltese dog and a Lhasa Apso occurred in California in the 1950’s, it resulted in an adorable and good-natured little animal that was considered hypoallergenic due to its low-shedding coat. The mix caught the attention of a woman by the name of Harriet Linn who acquired several of these little dogs between the years of 1965 and 1969 in order to start breeding them in earnest. In 1972 owners and breeders came together to formalize the breed and gave the companionable canines a name to honor both of their foundation breeds. The Kyi in Kyi-Leo is the Tibetan word for dog, a nod to the heritage of the Lhasa Apso, a small dog that was originally bred by Buddhist monks as a watchdog for their monasteries and prized for their keen hearing and good judgment. Leo is the Latin word for Lion alluding to one of the oldest and most commonly heard nicknames for the Maltese breed dog, the Maltese Lion Dog. While the Kyi-Leo and the Lhatese, the hybrid recognized by the Designer Breed Registry, share common ancestry, the Lhatese may still have one or both parents that are full-blooded Lhasa-Apso or Maltese, but the Kyi-Leo has been recognized as it’s own breed by the American Rare Breed Association and can only be the progeny of two registered Kyi-Leo dogs. Interestingly, the breed name of Kyi-Leo has been trademarked by the Kyi-Leo Club in Concord, CA since 1995 with a description listed as “breeding pure-bred dogs.”

Kyi-Leo Breed Appearance

While these dogs are tiny in size they are typically well-muscled with solid bones making them rather sturdy for their stature, although they can still be prone to injury to the legs or back if dropped or if they attempt too ambitious a jump. They are longer than they are tall with small rounded skulls and straight, medium-length muzzles. Their conspicuous round black eyes are both gentle and alert and their well-furnished medium-length ears hang down like pendants to the sides of their heads. They have the same long silky coat of their parent breeds, most frequently in white with black patches and markings, although some may have apricot, brown, and even tri-color markings instead, and their feathered tails curl up over their backs. If left untrimmed the hair may hang down over the face area, obscuring the dog’s eyes, but it rarely grows so long that it drags along the ground. 

Eye Color Possibilities
brown Kyi-Leo eyes
Nose Color Possibilities
black Kyi-Leo nose
brown Kyi-Leo nose
Coat Color Possibilities
pied Kyi-Leo coat
black Kyi-Leo coat
silver Kyi-Leo coat
white Kyi-Leo coat
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
coat density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
coat texture
Kyi-Leo wavy coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Kyi-Leo Breed Maintenance

Like both of its parent breeds the Kyi-Leo has a long silky coat of hair rather than fur, making it a good choice for most allergy sufferers, but the coat does require a great deal of grooming to keep it clean and tangle-free. The coat of the Kyi-Leo is particularly prone to tangling and typically requires a long brushing session on a daily basis to prevent matting. Many Kyi-Leo owners either learn how to trim their dog’s hair or they opt to take their dog to the groomer on a regular basis, usually every six to eight weeks. While trimmed Kyi-Leo dogs still require daily grooming, it is a much simpler affair than when their coat is longer. As with all small dogs, the teeth will need to be brushed several times a week.

Brushes for Kyi-Leo
Pin Brush
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
fur daily fur weekly fur monthly
Kyi-Leo requires daily brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Kyi-Leo Temperament

Kyi-Leo dogs are typically very lively dogs that are devoted to their family and sociable with other animals, but due to their Lhasa Apso heritage, they can be a little suspicious of strangers. This can typically be remedied by ensuring that your little dog gets plenty of socialization, preferably at an early age. They are typically very gentle and have been described as difficult to provoke; in temperament, they can be quite suitable as companions for respectful older children, but due to their small size and somewhat fragile backs and legs all interactions with smaller or rowdier children should be closely supervised. They are usually active and playful around the home, sometimes to the point of clownishness, and while they tend to seek out attention when you are there, they don’t have any tendencies towards separation anxiety. They tend to take instruction well and have a great deal of patience, although a few individuals may show some obstinance during training, particularly when it comes to house training.

Kyi-Leo Activity Requirements

While these diminutive canines are quite lively and energetic, they don’t typically require a large time commitment when it comes to their exercise needs. While all dogs are happier with a little time outdoors each day, indoor games can play a large part in the daily activity of a Kyi-Leo, and they don’t mind a reasonable amount of alone time. They make excellent companions in smaller spaces like apartment homes and due to their acute hearing and alert nature they make admirable watchdogs as well. Along with traditional walks and rousing games of indoor fetch, this breed would be well suited to competitive obedience and agility training. 

Activity Level
low activity medium activity high activity
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
6 miles
walk mileage
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes
activity minutes

Kyi-Leo Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
1 cups
cup per day cost
Daily Cost
$0.70 - $1.00
food bowls daily cost
Monthly Cost
$20.00 - $30.00
food bag monthly cost

Kyi-Leo Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Kyi-Leo size stats at six months
Height: 9.5 inches Weight: 7.5 lbs
Female Kyi-Leo size stats at six months
Height: 9.5 inches Weight: 7.5 lbs
12 Months
Male Kyi-Leo size stats at 12 months
Height: 10.5 inches Weight: 10.0 lbs
Female Kyi-Leo size stats at 12 months
Height: 10.5 inches Weight: 10.0 lbs
18 Months
Male Kyi-Leo size stats at 18 months
Height: 10.5 inches Weight: 10.0 lbs
Female Kyi-Leo size stats at 18 months
Height: 10.5 inches Weight: 10.0 lbs

Kyi-Leo Owner Experiences

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