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Lhasa Apsos: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Lhasa Apso temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Lhasa Apso dog breed

Lhasa Apso Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

Lhasa Apso Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014

Too many people buy a Lhasa Apso puppy based on his brash and comical antics, envisioning a cuddly lapdog.

In truth, the adult Lhasa Apso is one of the hardiest, toughest, and strongest willed of all the small breeds. It is said that "when a Lhasa Apso looks in the mirror, he sees a lion."

Though he can certainly be playful, the adult Lhasa carries himself with regal dignity. Rather calm and deliberate in nature, he makes a mannerly house dog IF you can establish a relationship of mutual respect -- i.e., admiring his independent character while consistently enforcing your rules so that he respects you as well.

The AKC Standard, showing great restraint, calls the Lhasa Apso "chary with strangers." Indeed he is. With his acute senses, keen observation skills, and distrust of anything new or different, Lhasas take their watchdog responsibilities seriously -- some individuals are not just "all bark" and may be very willing to bite if pushed. Lhasa Apsos need early socialization with people to ensure that they don't become too sharp.

With other animals, the Lhasa can be bossy and jealous.

Very smart, but also dominant and manipulative, the Lhasa Apso is a challenge to train. They cannot be forced to do anything, nor will they meekly accept harshness or teasing. Training methods that emphasize food and praise will be met with much more cooperation. Housebreaking may take a while.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is small, but substantial and sturdy -- not a "sissy" dog at all
  • Has a long coat (can be clipped short, if desired) that comes in many colors and patterns
  • Is one of the "strongest-minded" of all small breeds
  • Can be playful, yet also carries himself with dignity and is rather calm and deliberate in nature
  • Makes a mannerly house dog
  • Doesn't need a lot of exercise
  • Is very loyal to his own family and makes a keen watchdog

A Lhasa Apso may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Suspiciousness toward strangers
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
  • Lots of brushing and combing (or regularly clipping the coat short)
  • Slowness to housebreak
  • Quickness to retaliate against firm corrections or teasing

A Lhasa Apso may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy


More traits and characteristics of the Lhasa Apso

If I was considering a Lhasa Apso, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Suspiciousness. Without careful socialization, Lhasa Apsos may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to biting.

  2. The strong temperament. Lhasa Apsos have an independent mind of their own and are definitely not pushovers to raise and train. They can be manipulative, and many are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. To teach your Lhasa Apso to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Lhasa Apso Training Page discusses the program you need.


    Lhasa Apso dog breed

  3. Defensive reactions. If you need to physically chastise a Lhasa Apso, and you go beyond what THEY believe is a fair correction, they are more likely than other breeds to growl or snap. As an obedience instructor, I'm always extra careful when putting my hands on any Lhasa for a correction.

    I do NOT recommend Lhasa Apsos for small children. Many Lhasa will not tolerate any nonsense from little life forms whom they consider to be below themselves in importance. Many Lhasas are quick to react to teasing, and even to the normal clumsiness that comes with small children (accidental squeezing of their ears or pulling of hair or stepping on their paw). Many Lhasas are possessive of their food and toys and will defend these from all comers, including children.

  4. All the grooming. Without frequent brushing, the long hair becomes a matted mess. If you can't commit to the brushing, you have to commit to frequent trimming to keep the coat short, neat, and healthy. Personally, I think clipped Lhasas look great -- like perpetual puppies! (see the photo at the very top of the page)

  5. Housebreaking problems. Expect four to six months of consistent crate training before you see results.



book cover To learn more about training Lhasa Apsos to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book,
Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Lhasa Apso the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.

Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.



book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Lhasa Apso puppy. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.


If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Lhasa Apso might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.


book cover Once you have your Lhasa Apso home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.

My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.

Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.



Please consider adopting an ADULT Lhasa Apso...

When you're acquiring a Lhasa Apso PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.

But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Lhasa Apsos who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.

Adopting a Dog From a Dog Breed Rescue Group

Adopting a Dog From the Animal Shelter

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