Are Lhasa Apsos Good Family Dogs?

Cream-colored Lhasa Apso puppy wearing a red harness.

Lhasa Apsos are adorable, small, and low shedding, which ticks off a lot of the typical requirements in a family dog for many people.

However, this unique breed isn’t like the average lap dog.

Are Lhasa Apsos good family dogs? Lhasa Apsos are best for families without children or with older children. They are ideal in families that will enjoy their company without making demands for obedience and who appreciate their watchdog qualities.

If you are considering a Lhasa Apso for your family, this is what you need to know about what this unique breed can offer and why they aren’t right for every family. 

Why the Lhasa Apso Might Be a Good Family Dog

Size and Coat

In today’s busy, largely urban lifestyles, many of us are looking for family dogs that are on the smaller size and have coats that don’t shed.

The Lhasa Apso fits those characteristics, which puts him on the list of small dogs with hair that many families are considering.

The Lhasa Apso has straight hair that comes in a variety of colors, and the appearance is very appealing.

This dog strikes a good balance between nobility and adorableness that appeals to lots of people.

Independence

You’re probably already busy managing your family. You don’t want meeting your dog’s needs for engagement and entertainment to be an extremely time-consuming part of your day.

The Lhasa Apso is generally happy enough to play with people when they’re in the mood.

If they feel like playing and you don’t have time, they will usually be happy to occupy themselves playing with toys or running around your house or apartment.

These are not dogs who need to be by your side every second, and they aren’t prone to separation anxiety.

If you want a dog who will be a fun companion when you have time in the mornings and evenings but who won’t pester you all day, this might be the right breed for you.

Good Watchdog

Most of us don’t want a dog who will actually take on an assailant, but it’s nice to know that you have a dog who will let you know if someone is sneaking into your house.

The Lhasa Apso has been a watch dog for thousands of years and is very good at it. 

Lhasa Apsos tend to naturally seek out high positions by windows where they can see intruders coming.

They have a keen sense of the wind and the smells that are carried on it to help them perceive whether someone is around.

If you’d like to be alerted to intruders or you want a good watchdog for your RV, boat, or apartment, the Lhasa Apso can be a great compromise between an efficient alert dog and a companion that is easy to keep in your home.

Smart

The Lhasa Apso is not particularly trainable, but that does not mean that these aren’t intelligent dogs (read this to discover why).

Lhasa Apsos love to learn, and they have a lot of fun figuring out requests when they are properly motivated.

Furthermore, Lhasa Apsos are intuitive and have a keen sense of their surroundings. 

They can adapt well to a busy household, provided they are given safe places to perch and stay away from all of the activity.

Their intelligence means that they may be able to keep themselves out of trouble in your busy lives better than some other breeds.

Why the Lhasa Apso Might Not Be a Good Family Dog 

The Lhasa Apso and Children

Naturally, kids adore the Lhasa Apso, with his long and lush coat, small size, and adorable face.

However, the Lhasa Apso may not be as thrilled about children.

Unlike many other small, adorable breeds, the Lhasa Apso was never bred to be a family dog. 

As a sentinel of Tibetan monasteries and palaces, this dog’s job was to patrol and station themselves to give the alert if necessary.

These were not places where children were likely to be found, and if there were children about, they were probably discouraged from interacting with the alert dogs.

If you are looking for a natural pick for kids, this is probably not the breed for you.

However, this doesn’t mean that kids and Lhasa Apsos can’t get along well under the right circumstances. 

A responsible breeder should inquire extensively about your children’s ages, the environment in your household, and any plans you have to have more children.

In general, this is a breed better suited to older children. 

Lhasa Apso and Kids – How to Make It Work

If you are going to have them around children, it is essential that they are able to easily move away from the child and that you keep children from chasing or bothering them.

Young children probably shouldn’t be allowed to interact with them at all. Children shouldn’t be with the Lhasa Apso until they are old enough to behave predictably.

This is a strong-willed breed who won’t hesitate to assert themselves if they feel harassed.

This can even be true with adults interacting with them, and it will certainly be true for children. 

It is up to you to monitor your Lhasa Apso and his interactions with children.

Here are a few things to encourage positive relationships if you want to have a Lhasa Apso with children:

Hide-and-Seek

Hide-and-seek is a great way to encourage the bond between a puppy and children.

In the beginning, it should always be the children who hide and the puppy who finds them.

As time goes on and your Lhasa Apso gains confidence and understanding, you can teach your Lhasa Apso a command for him to go hide, making the game doubly fun.

Fetch 

Lhasa Apsos are not natural retrievers, but they can learn to enjoy games of fetch very much.

A good way to encourage fetch is to reward your puppy with a treat when he brings the toy back. This is an excellent activity for children and puppies to do together.

Training 

Children often have an attention span very similar to a Lhasa Apso’s, so training sessions are likely to be broken up into about the right lengths to keep your dog entertained and engaged.

You may find that your children have a lot of success training your Lhasa Apso to do all kinds of things.

Not Prone to Obedience

Lhasa Apsos do not exist to please you, and you’ll soon find that while they are very able to learn easily when it suits them, they are very difficult to motivate when they don’t want to behave.

These are playful, boisterous dogs who will keep you laughing, and when they feel like learning new tricks they can be very engaged and rapid learners. 

However, it is very difficult to force a Lhasa Apso to do anything, and while you may be able to train your dog on his terms, altering behavior is an entirely different story.

This can make them challenging family dogs, as it can be very hard to deter them from behavior you don’t want them to engage in, especially if it is more rewarding than whatever you have to offer. 

These are dogs who may persist in stealing the children’s toys, finding their way onto counters to steal food, etc.

In a busy household, this lack of obedience can be very frustrating. If you try to force your dog or become stern, he is likely to be even more stubborn.

Tend to Bark

The Lhasa Apso has been an alert dog for thousands of years, so you are unlikely to be able to rid your puppy of the desire to bark at whatever he perceives to be intruders.

This can be very frustrating, especially if you would like to be able to have your children go down for naps or sleep through the night without being woken just because someone walked past your house.

It can be nearly impossible to train your Lhasa Apso not to bark at intruders, so if a dog who can learn to be silent on command is an important characteristic for you, this may not be the breed for you.