Lhasa Apso dog

7 things to know about the Lhasa Apso temperament

The Lhasa Apso dog breed has a playful personality and temperament. They’re known to be fiercely independent and fearless, but they also have unwavering loyalty to their owners.

Lhasa dogs might be small in physical stature but the same cannot be said for their huge personality. Here are the seven things you need to know about the Lhasa Apso temperament.

1. They are independent minded

If there’s one thing that all Lhasa Apso dogs possess, it’s a strong willed independent mind. They are most certainly no pushover.

This makes training a Lhasa Apso particularly difficult and challenging. That’s not to say you can’t get through to them and give effective training, but it takes persistence.

Their free spirit is endearing but it also means that if they don’t like what you’re suggesting, they simply won’t do it.

Whilst bribing your Lhasa Apso with treats might sound like the solution, it will only work as long as they allow it to.

2. They can be very stubborn

Lhasa Apso dogs are stubborn and obstinate. If something isn’t their own idea, they probably won’t be interested.

On numerous occasions we’ve put our Lhasa Apso into her bed where it’s more comfortable. Immediately she gets up and sits directly outside the bed.

It’s her way of saying “Don’t make decisions for me”. Several minutes usually pass, and then she discretely moves herself back into the bed and curls into a ball.

That’s her way of saying “Yep, it was comfy… but I’ll move there on my own terms!”

3. They want to be boss

The Lhasa Apso dog can be bossy and demanding at times. The breed likes to think they are in charge and without firm and consistent training; they will challenge you for leadership of the pack.

This could be a problem if you introduce another dog into your home. It’s especially important for this breed that they are well socialised with other dogs and children in the first 12 weeks of being at home as a puppy.

4. They can be short tempered

Lhasa Apsos are small but fierce and they will snap if they feel they have been unfairly punished.

For this reason, you should be vigilant around small children, particularly if the Lhasa is not well socialised.

Training will be the key to preventing your Lhasa from developing a case of ‘small dog syndrome’, which is a type of aggression that develops through lack of socialisation with other dogs.

5. They’re friendly but suspicious

These little dogs will be the best of friends and they have a very warm personality. However they are suspicious of strangers.

Lhasa Apso dogs were originally bred as watch dogs, which is why their naturally suspicious nature is so embedded into their personality.

A well socialised and trained Lhasa Apso will still respond to strangers with suspicion, but they will very quickly let their guard down as soon as they recognise friendly intentions.

6. They are affectionate

Lhasa Apsos are very loving and affectionate with people they know well and trust.

They take their watch dog duties very seriously and for this reason they 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 has to have some downtime from watch dog duties. Just like everyone else, they do sometimes let their hair down!

Our experience of Lhasa Apso dogs is that they are highly comical and will bring joy and laughter to any household.

What is the Lhasa Apso temperament like?

If we summed up the temperament of a Lhasa Apso, we’d say they are strong-willed, independent but good natured.

It’s important that you socialise and train your Lhasa as soon as you bring them home, as the early puppy months are so important for developing their personalities.

This is especially vital for Lhasa Apso dogs which are certainly more stubborn than many other dogs.

Be patient and persistent, and you will be rewarded with a wonderfully fun and loyal companion.


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

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  • 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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