A Kyi-Leo is a fairly new breed with a registered trademark sign affixed to its breed name. This is due to the fact that the Kyi-Leo is a copyrighted breed. This small dog has descended from Asian breeds. A Kyi-Leo resulted from the accidental mating of the Mediterranean Maltese and the Tibetan Lhasa Apso. The dogs were first bred in the San Francisco Bay Area of California in the 1950s. Breeding was continued until a breed distinct from its ancestors was fully developed in 1972. The breed name Kyi-Leo was given by Mrs. Harriet Linn, a breed enthusiast to acknowledge the forebears of this breed. Kyi is the Tibetan word for dog and Leo is for the Maltese that is also known as Maltese Lion Dog.

A Kyi-Leo is a small sturdy dog with a smooth gait. This breed has a well balanced temperament but what attracts people to this breed is the attractive appearance. The dog is small but it has a solid well boned and well muscled body. The long silky coat is the dog’s crowning glory. Black and white is the preferred coat colors although individuals with gold and white or silver grey and white coats are very attractive specimens as well.

Kyi-Leo popularity has spread. Kyi-Leo dogs have become one of the most sought after miniature breeds. The breed has become the choice of celebrities. Mariah Carey is known to own two Kyi-Leo dogs. This is a very active breed. These dogs are always raring to go especially if they will be with their favorite people. This affectionate dog always shows an eagerness to please its family. Potential owners of this breed though must be aware of the fact that this small dog would need more care and attention. This breed virtually has a “handle with care” sign on its forehead. Due to the small size, the dog cannot tolerate rough handling because of its delicate spine and fragile leg bones. Feeding would also be an issue for this breed. Because of the slight frame, the dog has the tendency to get overweight. Giving the dog meat and other human food should be avoided as this breed is prone to pancreatitis. A premium quality dog food which is high in protein will ensure the health of the pet. A Kyi-Leo is expected to live for about 12 to 14r years.


A Kyi-Leo is a very small dog. A newborn pup can easily fit on the palm of a human hand. This breed is only about 8 to 12 inches in height and weighs from 9 to 14 pounds. However, this tiny very energetic and playful dog has a lot of charm on its small but solid body. For its size, the dog is strongly boned and has a good muscle tone. Measured at the withers, a Kyi-Leo is a slightly longer than tall dog with a well balanced proportions. The head that has a medium length muzzle and a definite stop is well covered with long hair. The dog has a profuse beard and whiskers. The fall of hair on the head almost completely covers the large but not bulgy eyes. Medium to dark brown in color, the bright and alert eyes give the dog’s face an intelligent and a wide ranging expression. The eye rims as well as the nose are black. Drop ears are well covered with hair. Strong teeth meet in a level or scissor bite. Forelegs are straight and strong. Hind legs are straight and moderately angular. Both are well covered with hair. However, legs are rather fragile. Care must be taken in handling the dog. Similar to a Shih Tzu this breed can easily get injured by rough handling. Round feet has a good covering of hair between the toes. A Kyi-Leo is an agile breed with a quickness that is not unlike that of a cat’s. This breed is noted for its good front feet grip. The dog can easily grasp objects with its front paws. This breed’s long coat can be straight or slightly wavy. The snout and the short tail are both well covered with hair. The tail is usually curled and carried up when the dog is excited. This attractive silky coat takes about 3 to 4 years to grow to its full length that almost reach the floor. The hair tends to form a natural part along the spine. 99.9% of Kyi-Leo dogs have black and white coats. This coat coloring can change to silver grey and white when the dog matures. A gold and white coated Kyi-Leo would surely be an attractive breed that would command attention but a black and white color combination is preferred for this breed.


Active, playful, affectionate, intelligent, sweet and loving, intelligent and easy to train… these are the most desired makeup of a good companion dog. The Kyi-Leo is a through and through family companion. Not only does the dog have these traits, a Kyi-Leo is also known to have a keen sense of hearing and a good voice that will announce intruders. The dog loves to be cuddled, hugged and petted. The dog loves to play with the kids. However, this breed is not recommended for very small children especially those that love to pull the tail of the dog. The dog will not tolerate rough handling. The Kyi-Leo is the perfect apartment dog. This breed is already active indoors and would not really need a large yard to meet its exercise requirements. This dog can get along well with other dogs and other pets. What is most super with this breed is that it can be left alone for quite a while without turning into a destructive animal.


The dog’s silky long coat would need to be brushed regularly to prevent the formation of tangles. This breed is an average shedder and regular combing/brushing will remove dead hair. Line brushing is recommended as it will ensure that the thick long hair would be free from tangles. This dog would need regular teeth brushing as bad breath is common for this breed. 80% of dog above 3 years of age suffer from periodontal diseases. Eye cleaning must be done daily and ears must be cleaned every week. The dog adapts well to colder climate because of the thick long hair. However, proper care must be given to the dog in hotter climates. Cutting the hair shorter would be a good option to keep the dog cooler. A fresh supply of drinking water must always be made available for the dog.


Kyi-Leo… Kyi, pronounced as “ki” is a Tibetan word which means dog, Leo is the Latin word for Lion. Kyi-Leo was the name given to a breed of dog that was developed in the San Francisco Bay area, CA in the 1950s. A person hearing the breed name for the first time may think of a large ferocious dog. The word “leo” after all has a wild and vicious connotation. However, a Kyi-Leo is actually a small solid dog that belongs to the herding group. The Kyi-Leo is an all American breed although its forebears are of Asian origin. This breed resulted from the accidental crossing of a Maltese and a Lhasa Apso. A Maltese is a toy breed famed for its very attractive long silky hair. Lhasa Apso is another breed of small dog. This breed was developed by Buddhist monks in Tibet. The crossbreeding between these two breeds produced an attractive dog type that has the temperament for an ideal companion dog. This very attractive and people oriented breed quickly gained the interest of dog enthusiasts. Mrs. Harriet Linn is a notable enthusiast of this breed. In 1965, she acquired several dogs. More dogs were obtained in 1969 from a San Jose kennel. Serious breeding was started from these dogs. In 1972, the breed is already established and breeders have decided to work for its recognition. Breeders meet to formally decide on a name for the dogs. A breed standard for future breeding was also set during the meeting. The breed was given the name Kyi Leo, a name that was chosen by Mrs. Harriet Linn. The name recognizes the forebears of the breed. “Kyi”, a Tibetan word for dog was chosen to acknowledge the Lhasa Apso which was developed in Tibet. “Leo” is for the Maltese which is otherwise known as the Maltese Lion Dog. First breed in the ’50s, the breed was continuously developed to perfect the breed. In 1972, the breed is fully developed. The undershot bite of the Lhasa Apso and the fragility of the Maltese were eliminated from the Kyi-Leo. The breed has gained popularity and has spread throughout the United States. The breed is not recognized by major kennel clubs but it was accepted by the American Rare Breed Association as a legitimate breed. This fairly new addition to the canine world is a copyrighted breed.

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