Lhasa Apso as a Good Watch Dog or a Guard Dog

A common question pondering all Lhasa owners, which is if Lhasa Apso as a Good Watch Dog or a Guard Dog? But before we check this, lets read a little about Lhasa as a dog breed. One of the most beautiful, unique, and glamorous breeds in existence today is the Lhasa Apso. Originated from Tibet, the Lhasa is believed to have been in existence from 800 BC. The name ‘Lhasa Apso’ has a historical beginning.

The first name came from Potala, near the sacred city of Lhasa. But, the origin of the second name is cloudy. Some say that the name is a mispronunciation of the name ‘rapso’ meaning ‘goat-like’. Others however feel that name is taken from the term “Abso Seng kye” meaning ‘Barking Lion Sentinel Dog’.

A full-grown Lhasa stands between 10-12 inches and weighs between 12-15 pounds. According to local history, it is believed that the Lamas (the Tibetan Buddhist priests or monks) turn into Lhasa’s if they fail to attain Nirvana. Tibetans believe these Lhasa’s to be sacred living beings with spiritual powers. They were considered to bring good luck to their owners but were very hard to buy.

The Lhasa Apso was first introduced to the USA in 1933, when Thubten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama gifted C. Suydam Cutting. Because these breeds were bred in harsh Himalayan climatic conditions, they are quite hardy and long living. They are specially known for their beautiful and unique looking coat. The distinguishing feature of this breed include the eyes, coat and tail. When parted in the middle the Lhasa’s beautiful cloak of hair drapes over each side of the body from head to tail.

General Temperament of Lhasa Apsos

Despite their cuddly and cute appearance, the Lhasa Apso do not share temperaments similar to that of another Tibetan dog. Their primitive history and Tibetans’ general usage of Apsos for guarding and herding gives this breed a remarkably strong and independent nature.

The Lhasa’s possesses a high perceptive intelligence and typically notices everything in its environment and then decides in its own time if it’s safe. They are confident and strong-minded and do not easily bend to other’s will. And these deep-rooted tendencies are often displayed in the form of guarding possessions, or challenging bigger dogs or objecting to being handled by strangers. They love to be perched on high to watch over their domain.

The term that is always used by breed standards to identify a Lhasa Apso is ‘gay and assertive but chary of strangers’ which implies although calm by nature, they are still chary (suspicious) of strangers and are guardians within their domain.

The protective instincts of Lhasa Apso are strong enough to protect them from any harm. Also, Lhasa do not change their loyalties easily. They are the biggest in spirit and can be considered as the bravest among the small dog breeds. Their such qualities along with loud barking abilities make these dogs one of the best watchdogs in the toy breed.

Difference between a Guard dog and Watch dog?

Lhasa Apso

When the question comes to the fact of whether watchdogs or guard dogs are best to protect your place, they both do it perfectly but with their specialties. Using the terms synonymously is almost like saying that your receptionist in your doorkeeper works the same as your security guard.

Therefore, to make the understanding easier, watchdogs are not ferocious. Their only function is to alert their owner about an impending unusual threat detected. Hyper reactive dogs are not good as a watchdog but suit guard dogs or attack dogs. The perfect breed of watchdog should be intelligent and capable enough to determine whether the threat is real or fake.

It should not harm the innocence but alert the people about the incoming risks. Irrespective of their size, watchdogs generally have a loud barking capacity and they continuously monitor the movement of the suspicious person while circling their owner to ensure their safety. On the contrary, a guard dog is also capable of barking to alert its owner but is also quite capable of attacking and restraining the intruder from getting into the house. They initially try to restrain the threat from entering the house by only barking and scaring them. However, in case, it does not work, they move to plan B, which is, at times, attacking. 

Since watchdogs do not bite, they do not need excessive training. However, guard dogs have strong senses and, therefore, they need proper training to be able to determine whether it is a friend or a foe. If otherwise, the damage caused can be really serious. 

Do Lhasa make good guard dogs or watch dogs?

Lhasa Apso dog breed

Yes, Lhasa apso makes great watch dogs. Though they are small but they should not be mistaken as they have serious watchdog capabilities. The Lhasa Apso is also known for its loyal and protective personality. They are generally gentle and assertive, but wary of strangers or new people. This temperament can be traced back to Lhasa’s Tibetan heritage where they were not just kept as pets but more importantly as protectors and watchers for their homes and castles.

However, if you are looking for a dog that can protect your area and attack an incoming intruder like German Shepherd or Rottweiler or Doberman, the Lhasa Apso is not the ideal choice for you.

This is what an owner has to say about their pet Lhasa:

The Lhasa’s are very sensitive to their environment, highly watchful and intelligent. They are guardians specially within their domain.

Since the long hair of the breed does closely resemble the mane of the lion, and the strong protective instinct, they truly resemble like little lions and are excellent watchdogs and guardians. The Lhasa Apso has an incredible sense of hearing and a loud sharp bark which makes it a perfect burglar alarm. Whilst they are persistent barkers, they will bark to alert you till they perceive something as threat to you or your family. They will also not leave the stranger and continuously monitor their movements unless they get a signal from their owners

Occasionally the Lhasa Apso is seen to be an aloof breed, but this is largely due to their protective nature. They will stay aware and attentive in strange situations to protect their owners.

How can you train Lhasa Apso to be a good watch/guard dog?

The Lhasa Apsos are the toughest and strong-willed dogs. They are quite naughty by nature, and this makes their training hard. They are quite anxious and suspicious about strangers.

The following guidelines may help in easy training of Lhasa Apsos:

  • If you are planning to get home a Lhasa then bring it when it is 60-90 days old. The sooner the better.
  • Make sure you slowly socialize your Lhasa with new people and surroundings. This reduces their anxiety and makes them understand their surroundings better.
  • Always choose pup training centers to train your Lhasa than home training, there they get a chance to adjust with other dogs
  • In training centers, they have a chance to get accustomed to new and challenging tasks and this makes them grow into better dogs.
  • They love to play and so you can socialize with them easily by using games like tug of war, hide and seek, etc.
  • They are very independent and take decisions on their own quickly, so early training makes them disciplined and intelligent.
  • They are quick learners and can easily understand and learn things faster.
  • Small treats may always win their hearts and make them listen to you.
  • Persistence and patience help you to train your Lhasa into a wonderful companion.


The Lhasa’s Apsos are the cutest lap dogs and are most popular now. They love human companionship and always cuddle with their owners. They need a lot of grooming and maintenance as they have thick double-layered fur.  A Lhasa showers you with love and care once you win its trust. They are quite amicable and suitable as pets for children.

FAQs about Lhasa Apso

Q. Are hot humid climates good for Lhasa?

Lhasa Apso does not do well in hot humid climates. They can live in warmer climates if they have access to cool air from AC.  

Q. Are Lhasa Apsos good pets?

Lhasa Apsos are not very athletic dogs; they are good companions and love their families. They are quick-witted and intelligent dogs. They are good pets as they are charming, affectionate, and form strong bonds with their owners.

Q. Does Lhasa Apsos bite?

Lhasa Apsos are good biters and this can be avoided by training them from a very early age. By giving them chew toys, and treats and by proper guidance the Lhasa can be easily trained and made good obedient dogs.

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