1. Describe the Lhasa personality?
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.
2. When should I bring my Lhasa home?
Lhasa puppies are much slower maturing than many other breeds. On average, puppies learn important social skills, such as bite restraint, from playing with their mother and littermates between six and eight weeks old. However, some Lhasas still don’t have teeth at eight weeks and they can’t learn bite restraint until they get their teeth. Depending on how much housetraining and socialization the breeder is doing, Lhasa puppies adjust best to their new homes and families sometime after ten weeks old.
3. How do you housetrain a Lhasa Apso?
Lhasa Apsos housetrain the fastest if they are put on a regular schedule and kept in a pen or a crate when unsupervised. By eight weeks old, breeders should be helping puppies choose an appropriate spot to eliminate. At twelve weeks old, most puppies should be capable of holding themselves overnight.
When a puppy is first brought home, take it outdoors to a selected spot and praise the puppy for sniffing there. Every time the puppy is taken outside, bring it to the same spot and praise profusely when it eliminates there. Do not play with the puppy outside until he goes to his spot and at least sniffs around. Also, keep the spot cleaned up. Inside the house, the new puppy should be let out to play no longer than 20 minutes at a time before either being taken outside to its spot or being returned to the pen or crate. As the puppy gets older and its muscles develop, it will become more reliable and the free time can be gradually lengthened.
Typically, Lhasas do not go to the door and "ask" to go out, even after they are fully house-trained. This is very different from most breeds of dogs. Rather, in typical Lhasa fashion, they expect their owners to ask them if they need to go out, or to simply be let outside from time to time, often enough to avoid "accidents."
4. What is the best way to train a Lhasa Apso?
Puppy kindergarten and/or basic obedience training, always using positive training techniques, is recommended for all youngsters. Lhasas require firmness, fairness, and consistency in training. Positive rewards work far better than harsh discipline. In fact, the breed should never be disciplined harshly, as a Lhasa may show resentment if it deems the punishment unfair. Instead, the rather independent and willful nature of Lhasa Apsos requires patient understanding combined with gentle correction. Most Lhasas will do just about anything for food treats. But, because they are smart, they are easily bored with rote obedience work. Training sessions should be kept short and exercises varied to maintain the Lhasa's attention. Above all, have fun and keep your sense of humor.
Like all dogs, Lhasas have the capability of learning hundreds of words. Understanding this, refrain from over using the word "No." Take the time to teach your Lhasa the right words for the behavior you want to reinforce, as well as for the activities you want to discourage. It is important to establish good communication with your dog early on.
5. Are Lhasas good with children?
As a general rule, Lhasas tend to attach themselves to the adults in the family rather than to the children. Because children smell differently from adults, some dogs can become confused about where the kids fit into the family "pack." Furthermore, small dogs of all breeds tend to be cautious, and sometimes fearful of pre-schoolers because they are unsteady on their feet, move quickly, and do unexpected things. Experienced breeders generally have a good idea which puppy in a litter will do best in a family environment with children. Lhasa puppies that are raised with children, and where the interaction is closely supervised, can become successfully integrated into the family.
All play between a Lhasa puppy and young children should be guided by the responsible adult to prevent problems. Chasing, teasing, and tug-of-war games encourage a puppy to bite. Instead, hide and seek or fetch will help young kids and puppies learn to trust each other. For more information, read Child-proofing Your Dog by Brian Kilcommons.
6. How much exercise do Lhasas need?
Lhasas can be very content living indoors. Unlike many larger breeds, they usually do not need regular exercise to reduce nervous energy. However, even those Lhasas that have their own fenced yards enjoy spending time with their owners on a 15 or 20 minutes walk a couple times per week.
7. How much grooming do Lhasas need?
The hair on a Lhasa Apso grows all the time. As a result, all Lhasas require some sort of regular grooming regimen, even if the coat is kept short. Puppies should be brushed and combed about three times per week so that they become accustomed to being groomed. Lhasas that will be professionally groomed should start visiting the beauty parlor while they are still babies, so they can become accustomed to the noise and activity.
Never wait until your dog is matted to take it to the groomer's. Not only is that irresponsible behavior for any Lhasa owner, it is not fair to the dog. Long, de-matting sessions are very uncomfortable for the animal. Lhasa owners must commit to a regular grooming schedule in order to comfortably maintain their dog. This includes Lhasas, which have short haircuts. The timing between sessions will vary considerably, depending upon whether the dog is cut down, or in full show coat, but whatever the schedule, it should be kept "religiously."
Full-length coats on adult Lhasas can usually be maintained by regular brushing and combing. Never brush the coat dry. Always use some kind of conditioning spray prior to brushing. Depending upon the coat texture, Lhasas in full coat may need to be brushed two to three times per week. Lhasas with hard textured coats, however, can usually be maintained on a once-a-week basis. Full-coated adult dogs should generally be bathed every one to two weeks. Puppies and adult Lhasas with short haircuts can usually go longer than that, but, as a general rule, should probably be bathed at least every two to three weeks. Responsible breeders will provide detailed instructions on grooming and coat care when you pick up your puppy.
8. Can my Lhasa be left at home alone while I’m at work?
Yes. Lhasas generally do very well in households where they are left alone while the owners go to work. Perhaps it is their independent nature, but very few Lhasas suffer from separation anxiety. Be sure not to fuss over your Lhasa before you leave for work and don’t make a big deal when you get home. Make sure your Lhasa is in a safe environment, preferably a large crate or pen, while unsupervised. A smart Lhasa can think up all sorts of amazing mischief to keep himself busy when you are not at home.
Additionally, in case of an emergency such as a fire or an earthquake, for example, it is important that the owner or rescue crews can locate the animal quickly, without further risking human life to search for the dog. Keeping the dog penned or crated can facilitate its rescue much more effectively. Since it is most likely that the animal will spend much of its time sleeping while its owner is away from home anyway, it just makes good sense to keep it penned or crated for its own protection.
9. Do Lhasas bark a lot?
For hundreds of years Lhasa Apsos were bred to be interior watchdogs in the palace of the Dalai Lama and in the homes of other dignitaries in Tibet. This is their heritage. As a result, Lhasas are very discriminating in their hearing, and are often used as hearing-assisted dogs for the deaf. As Lhasas mature, and with the assistance of their owners, they learn to distinguish between normal, day-to-day sounds and those noises which are out of the ordinary. Therefore, unlike many other breeds of dogs, Lhasas tend to bark only when there is a legitimate reason to do so. It is typical that the Lhasa does not join in when it hears other dogs in the neighborhood barking.
10. Do Lhasas suffer from any hereditary diseases?
In general, the Lhasa is a healthy and hardy breed. The most serious hereditary disease in the breed is renal dysplasia, an often-fatal kidney ailment. Responsible breeders do not sell puppies with symptoms of kidney problems, specifically excessive water drinking and excessive urination. However, sometimes symptoms don’t occur until a puppy is older. Be sure that you receive a written health guarantee from your puppy’s breeder. While other health problems such as hip dysplasia are not common, they are more likely to crop up in litters bred by "backyard breeders." To be sure a breeder is reputable - ask for references.
11. Are Lhasas suitable for people with allergies or asthma?
Many people with allergies have a difficult time being around dogs because of the dog's saliva, coat oil, hair, etc. However, many people with allergies and even some asthmatics can live with Lhasas because this breed does not shed like shorthaired breeds. Regular grooming is essential for the Lhasa living in an allergic household. It is recommended that potential owners with these medical conditions check with their doctors first, prior to bringing any dog, even a Lhasa, into their homes.