The Lhasa Apso temperament is unique: joyful, mischievous and clown-like, as well as regal, dignified and aloof. Because of their expressive facial features, owners often remark on their "human-like" qualities and sensitivity to human feelings, claiming their dogs "can almost talk." Probably no two Lhasa personalities are exactly alike.
A very independent breed, the Lhasa's goal in life is not necessarily to please its master. This is very different from most breeds of dogs. While Lhasas can be trained successfully in obedience using the right methods for this breed, they are not, by nature, an obedient breed. Lhasas are very intelligent with the ability to reason, and can even be somewhat manipulative. Therefore, consistency is a crucial element in their training, much as it is with raising children. If a Lhasa owner does not establish him or her self as the "leader of the pack," then it is almost guaranteed that the Lhasa will assume that role!
Lhasa puppies are very busy, full of energy and curiosity, becoming calmer and dignified, yet still playful, as adults. A slow maturing breed, Lhasas do not reach their prime until well into their third or fourth year. New owners need to keep this in mind when house training Lhasa puppies. Because Lhasas live longer than many other dogs, particularly the larger breeds, they develop more slowly. Lhasas age gracefully, however, keeping a youthful appearance and attitude well into their teens. The average lifespan of the breed is 12 to 15 years old, although many have lived to be 17 or 18, and some even beyond 20.
Bred as indoor watchdogs for hundreds of years, Lhasa Apsos are often suspicious of strangers. Lhasas are guardians of their domain, but are usually less protective away from home. Early socialization is critical to a Lhasa’s success as a family member, in order to overcome the breed's natural tendency toward wariness of strangers. The time invested in training this long-lived breed, however, will be well worth effort in terms of the loyalty, joy, and long term companionship that this hardy little dog from Tibet will provide throughout its lifetime.