Lhasa Apso dog

7 things to know about the Lhasa Apso temperament

Uncover the distinctive temperament of Lhasa Apsos. Known for their independence, stubbornness, bossiness, and affection, these dogs pack a big personality in a small package. Dive into our guide to understand the seven key traits that make this breed truly unique.

The Lhasa Apso, a breed known for its playful personality and unwavering loyalty, is a small dog with a big personality. This breed’s temperament is as unique as its heritage, with traits that are both endearing and challenging. Here are seven key traits that define the Lhasa Apso temperament.

1. Independence is their middle name

Lhasa Apsos are known for their strong-willed, independent minds. This trait can make training a bit of a challenge, but with persistence and patience, you can certainly get through to them.

Their free spirit is endearing, but it also means they have a mind of their own. If they don’t like what you’re suggesting, they simply won’t do it. Treats might work as a temporary solution, but remember, they’ll only work as long as your Lhasa Apso allows it to.

2. Stubbornness is part of their charm

Lhasa Apsos are known for their stubborn streak. If something isn’t their idea, they probably won’t be interested. They have a unique way of asserting their independence, like choosing to sit outside their bed even when it’s more comfortable inside.

But don’t worry, they’ll move back in when they’re ready – on their own terms, of course!

3. They like to be the boss

Lhasa Apsos can be bossy and demanding. They like to think they’re in charge, and without firm and consistent training, they might challenge you for leadership.

This trait can be a challenge if you introduce another dog into your home. Early socialisation with other dogs and children is crucial for this breed.

4. They can be short-tempered

Lhasa Apsos are small but fierce. They won’t hesitate to snap if they feel they’ve been unfairly punished. Be vigilant around small children, especially if your Lhasa Apso isn’t well socialised.

Training is key to preventing ‘small dog syndrome’, a type of aggression that can develop due to lack of socialisation.

5. They’re friendly but suspicious

Lhasa Apsos are warm and friendly with people they know well, but they can be suspicious of strangers. This trait is a remnant of their watch dog heritage.

A well-socialised and trained Lhasa Apso will initially respond to strangers with suspicion, but they’ll quickly let their guard down once they recognise friendly intentions.

6. They’re affectionate with their circle of trust

Lhasa Apsos are very loving and affectionate with people they trust. They take their watch dog duties seriously and will be protective of their family. Once you’re in their circle of trust, a Lhasa Apso will shower you with love and affection.

7. They can be fun and silly

Even a Lhasa Apso needs some downtime from watch dog duties. They are highly comical and can bring joy and laughter to any household.

In conclusion

The Lhasa Apso temperament can be summed up as strong-willed, independent, and good-natured. Early socialisation and training are crucial for this breed, which is more stubborn than many other dogs. Be patient and persistent, and you’ll be rewarded with a wonderfully fun and loyal companion.


James is a social media manager, dog owner and enthusiast.


  • we have a toy poodle that is a year young than our Lhasa Apso and periodically the Lhasa Apso snaps at the poodle and attacks him, especially if he has secured higher ground on the couch and the little poodle wants in. Today he attacked him right at my feet and would not let him go. Then when we separated them he went into throwing up and shaking, sneezing, and very restless. a Half an hour later he is back to loving self. We are totally perplexed.

    Coach Frank Fulton

  • This Lhasa is a pure gift. He is very serious in protecting me. Loves children and old people. No idea what i would do without him.

  • I have2 lhasos, 5 months old. They’re littermates. Nothing I have read tells what to do when one of my pups misbehave. You say harshness doesn’t work, but what, besides threats, does work? Does confinement for a bit have an impact?

    • Hi Diane. I bet they’re keeping you nice and busy! In terms of correction, one of the key things is that dogs largely live ‘in the moment’ and won’t understand punishments that go beyond the incident itself. You could certainly correct your pups by sternly saying ‘No’ or clapping especially loudly, but you must do this as the behaviour is happening. If you were to enforce a punishment after the fact (which many of us have done!), it’s likely your puppy will just be very confused. To really reinforce your disapproval, keep using the same cue every time the behaviour happens and do it until they stop. You could even provide a small treat whilst you are initially teaching these cues to your puppy. For those reasons, we’d recommend not using confinement unless you need to specifically separate your two dogs to stop them fighting too aggressively.

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