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Kyi-Leo® Dog

Cadillac, the Kyi-Leo at about 10 months old

Cadillac the Kyi-Leo® at about 10 months old

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The Kyi-Leo® Dog is a small but solid dog. It is well boned for its size with good muscle tone. Light on his feet and very quick. The tail curls over the back when the dog is alert. The eyes are dark and the nose is black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The forelegs are long and straight. The coat is long and thick, and either hangs straight or is slightly wavy. There is a natural part that tends to form along the spine. Its coat may take up to 3 or 4 years to grow to full length. About 99% of Kyi-Leo® Dogs are black and white, and they occasionally change to silver/grey and white. The head is completely covered with long hair. It has a profuse beard and whiskers.


The Kyi-Leo® Dog is known for its liveliness and catlike quickness. It is said to be able to grasp objects with its front paws. Alert, playful, gentle and people-oriented, it bonds closely with its immediate family. Good with children if the humans are the dog’s 100% pack leader. Children need to be taught how to be kind to the dog, but also how to display leadership toward the dog. The Kyi-Leo® is good with other dogs as well as non-canine pets. This little dog is full of voice and energy, making a good watchdog. The breed is extremely affectionate and is always eager to please. Socialize it with people and noises at an early age to avoid it being wary of strangers. This breed needs gentle, firm obedience training. Make sure you are this dog's firm, confident, consistent pack leader to avoid Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behavior problems, which include stubbornness. Always remember, dogs are canines, not humans. Be sure to meet their natural instincts as animals.

Height, Weight

Height:  8 - 12 inches (20 - 30 cm) Preferred height is 9 - 11 inches (23 - 28 cm)
Weight:  9 - 14 pounds (4 - 6 kg)

Health Problems

Possibly prone to slipped patella, but this has not been proven. A joint disorder that may require surgery. 

Living Conditions

The Kyi-Leo® Dog is good for apartment life. It is very active indoors and will do okay without a yard, but would be better with at least a small yard to run and play in.


The Kyi-Leo® needs a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of its exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill its primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. Your dog will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off-lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard.

Life Expectancy

About 12-14 years.


Frequent combing and brushing of the long, silky, thick coat is necessary to avoid matting. The coat will require brushing and a little trimming, but no clipping is involved. This breed is an average shedder.


This breed's history began in the 1950s with the accidental mating of a Lhasa Apso and a Maltese in San Francisco, CA, USA. Line breeding continued in San Jose, California, for the next 20 years, where Harriet Linn was responsible for choosing the name and setting the standard. The "breed" was established in 1972. “Kyi” means “dog” in Tibetan, and “Leo” means “lion” in Latin. The breed is recognized by the American Rare Breed Association. An annual newsletter is sent out, held in conjunction with the Specialty Show, to all owners and interested parties. The sponsors hold an annual picnic called the "Kyi-Leo® Dog Get Together" for Kyi-Leo® Dog lovers to meet one another and talk about their favorite little breed! The hybrid dog called the Lhatese or American Lamalese, which is a Lhasa Apso and a Maltese mix, is not considered part of the Kyi-Leo® breed and is not accepted into the Kyi-Leo® Club.





CKC = Continental Kennel Club
NKC = National Kennel Club
ARBA = American Rare Breed Association
APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.

KLC = Kyi-Leo® Club
DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.

Kyi-Leo® Dog



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