The Lhasa Apso thinks he’s a large dog, a very large dog. Bred for hundreds of years to be a royal watchdog, the modern Lhasa approaches life the way his forebears did: he is a loyal guardian of home and family.
The Lhasa’s protective nature can surprise those unfamiliar with him, given his small size and long, flowing coat. He certainly doesn’t appear fierce.
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But when it comes to protecting his own, the Lhasa is fierce, though never unusually aggressive. He’s naturally suspicious of strangers — an excellent trait for a palace guard — and he takes his job as protector seriously.
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The lionhearted Lhasa’s devotion also means he enjoys sharing life with his family. He’s intelligent, independent (a watchdog must think on his own), and mischievous.
If you are considering a Lhasa — and many find his looks irresistible — you must consider this breed’s protective nature. Early socialization and training are absolutely critical to a Lhasa’s success as a family member, so that he can properly direct his natural tendency toward wariness. The time invested in training him, however, is well worth your effort in terms of the loyalty, joy, and companionship that this long-lived, hardy little dog provides.
The Lhasa likes doing his own thing, which means his goal in life is not necessarily to please you. In this he differs from such breeds as the biddable Labrador Retriever. While the Lhasa can be trained successfully, he is not always the most obedient dog in the class.
But those who know and love the Lhasa praise his smarts and unique ability to reason. He can even tend toward manipulation, so consistency is key in training the Lhasa pup (just as it is with raising children). If you don’t take charge, your Lhasa will certainly try.
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Few pups are cuter than the Lhasa puppy, with his sparking eyes and fluffy coat. These little ones are curious and full of energy, and they love to play. The Lhasa matures slowly and remains puppyish until he’s three years old. New owners need to keep this in mind when training Lhasa puppies, or they can become frustrated with the Lhasa’s refusal to take lessons too seriously. Housetraining can be difficult; crate training is recommended.
Now, about that Lhasa coat — it’s splendid: long, thick, and beautiful. It’s also a chore to keep in good condition. Daily brushing and combing are necessary to keep it free of tangles. Frequent bathing is necessary, too, to keep the Lhasa smelling sweet. Some owners opt to trim the coat short, or trim the hair around the face. If you are considering a Lhasa, know that you’ll be doing a lot of grooming, or that you’ll be on a first-name basis with a professional groomer.
What about children and the Lhasa? Be aware that the breed is known for being impatient with the normal clumsiness associated with children; he’ll nip. He tends to bond with adults more than with youngsters, but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Older children, or young children who are exceptionally gentle with dogs, can live happily with the Lhasa. If you are seeking a 100 percent “kid dog,” the Lhasa is probably not a good choice.
The average Lhasa lives a long time: 12 to 15 years is not uncommon, and some live 17 to 20 years.
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