What’s So Special About The Lhaso Apso Personality?

Lhasa Apso Personality

The Lhasa Apso personality is unique and prized by those who love the breed. Although the personality of every individual within the breed differs, most have the following characteristics to one extent or another.

Lhasa Apso Personality – Independent/Stubborn: Cat owners will understand a Lhasa personality, since Lhasas have a cat-like tendency to be rather independent and sometimes stubborn. When you ask them to “come,” they often take their own sweet time about it or look at you, very regally, as if to say, “Who? Me? Come to you? Whatever for?”

Understanding the Lhasa Apso Personality

Lhasa Apso Personality – Sensitive: Lhasas hate strict discipline and are best trained using a reward system. If you correct a Lhasa harshly, expect some future retaliation! However, high praise and rewards (especially yummy treats) yield great results.

Lhasa Apso Personality – Devoted: A Lhasa is loyal to those he loves and to those who love him in return. When we have placed adult Lhasas in pet homes, they have easily transferred that loyalty to their new owners. The same is true for our show dogs who have left us for brief periods for a sojourn with professional handlers. Lhasas grow to love those they are with, who feed and care for and love them in return. Lhasas are devoted to family and home and, although content to be with and play with all family members, will often chose one “favorite” family member.

Understanding the Lhasa Apso Personality

Lhasa Apso Personality – Playful, Frisky, Fun-Loving, Clownish, Spirited, Happy: You get the picture! Most Lhasas love life and have an exuberant attitude that shows it. Many have a sense of humor and you’d swear they were grinning after pulling one of their little pranks! Some are “rough and tumble” types, and many Lhasa owners enjoy training these dogs for agility and rally competitions. Other Lhasas tend to be more regal and expect to be waited on hand and foot. Most retain their exuberance and happy attitude to the end of their lives, their spirit hampered only by the ravages of time on their bodies.

Understanding the Lhasa Apso Personality

Lhasa Apso Personality – Alert: Remember, the breed was originally bred to be an interior sentinel. They have keen hearing and will bark when they think an alert is necessary. Some even bark when there seems to be nothing to bark about. Lhasas are vocal, but not yappy, dogs.

Understanding the Lhasa Apso Personality

Understanding the Lhasa Apso Personality

The breed is hardy and independent; dignified and aloof; inquisitive and intelligent; active and interested in the world around them.

Lhasa Apso Personality – Suspicious of Strangers: Again, their heritage calls for them to be suspicious. The descriptor “chary” in the Standard refers to the Lhasa’s aloofness around strangers. Lhasas like to size up a stranger before accepting him/her as a friend. They do not like people who come on too strong when they first meet. The proper way to greet a Lhasa is to let him come to you. Do not swoop down upon him, no matter how cute or cuddly he seems. Your welcome will not be appreciated! (Of course, some Lhasas have not read the Standard and have never met a stranger!) If you visit the home of a Lhasa owner, and the Lhasa seems shy and reluctant to greet you, ignore him. Chat with the owner, hold a friendly hand out to the dog when he approaches to check you out. He’ll let you know when he is ready for a pat on the head.

Understanding the Lhasa Apso Personality

Understanding the Lhasa Apso Personality

Lhasa Apso Personality – Smart: Lhasas are thinkers and planners. (I’ve had Lhasas that are smart enough not to show how smart they are!) Lhasas remember people, places, and events. They understand what you say to them. If they could talk, they would carry on quite a conversation!

Lhasa Apso Personality – Independent: Lhasas do not need constant companionship. Yes, they enjoy being with their people, but they are also happy to entertain themselves. They love toys and “chew” bones. They appreciate walks and exercise outside but, unless you happen to own one that is “high energy,” they do not need a great deal of exercise.

Lhasa Apso Personality – Superior: Most Lhasas know they come from an ancient heritage where they were highly prized. They know they are special, and they expect you to know it too! They may present a regal or aloof attitude.

Not Lap Dogs! While their cute expressive faces and lovely coats tend to make people think Lhasas are lap dogs, their looks are deceiving. Those who expect their Lhasa to sit on a pillow and look pretty are in for a surprise. The breed is hardy and independent; dignified and aloof; inquisitive and intelligent; active and interested in the world around them. Most prefer being with you rather than being held (for long periods of time) by you. They want to be your companions and they certainly enjoy their share of hugs and cuddles, but make no mistake; the Lhasa Apso is not an ornament or a lap dog and should not be treated as such.

Featured image by AKC.

  • Joyce Johanson (Joyslyn’s Lhasa Apsos ROM) has owned, loved, bred, and exhibited Lhasa Apsos since 1973. Joyce earned the Register of Merit Breeder Award from the American Lhasa Apso Club (ALAC) in 1985 and is an AKC Breeder of Merit. She has owned, bred, or co-bred over 80 champions to date, including Best in Specialty winners, All-Breed Group winners, and NOHS Best in Show and top-placing winners. Joyce is a member of NAIA and OHA, one All-Breed club, the Greater Milwaukee Lhasa Apso Club, and the Twin Cities Lhasa Apso Club. She has served on the ALAC Board of Directors, as either a Director or an Officer, from 1984 to the present. She currently chairs ALAC’s Membership, Handbook, and Judges’ Education Committees and was a former chair of ALAC’s Breeder Education Committee and Nomination Committee. She is also a member of the Breeder Education and Breed Standard Committees. She is the proud recipient of ALAC’s Member of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards.

  • Show Comments

  • Judith Laffoon

    So proud to call Joyce a valued friend. I have four (4) of her Lhasa Apsos. One, Raven, is a finished Champion. Her litter sister, Whisper, was the first of Joyce’s Lhasas to become a “Desert Lhasa.” I now have two of Raven’s great-grandsons as members of the family, Gusto Spitz (4) and Lippy Maverick Jones (1).

    I have had Lhasa Apsos since 1988. This breed is so very special to me, and the descriptions/attributes Joyce has included in this article I can apply to to all of the Lhasas in my life. Some exhibit more “Lhasa” traits that others.

    Great article by a great breeder of Lhasa Apsos!

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