Some people believe the Lhasa Apso is a “nasty” breed? Definitely not in my experience. So where did the reputation come from? I have some theories…
When the breed became popular back in the 70’s and 80’s, the puppy mill breeders jumped quickly on the bandwagon, purchasing and breeding Lhasas with no other goal than to produce puppies, sell them quickly, and make money. There were no thoughtful considerations regarding structure, health, or temperament prior to a breeding. The flood of cute fluffy puppies into pet shops, purchased by people attracted to their appearance with little knowledge (because, to be honest, very little information about the Lhasa had been published “back then”) about the breed itself, did indeed result in Lhasas with quite nasty dispositions. The breed’s reputation has been suffering ever since.
People who purchase a Lhasa puppy need to know that Lhasas are smart, independent, (some might say “stubborn”) dignified, and easily offended. Their sense of right and fair play requires an approach to training that avoids yelling and physical punishment. By that I don’t just mean “don’t hit;” obviously you should not hit any dog. I also mean things like shaking the dog or jerking on his lead. Lhasas think highly of themselves and most are eager to please their people. They respond well to treats and praise and training games that are fun, upbeat, and intellectually stimulating.
Grooming is part of a Lhasa’s life, so a large part of early training involves training the dog to be groomed. Although many people prefer to keep their Lhasas shaved or in a puppy clip of some sort, early training is still needed because those Lhasas will be visiting the groomer and need to know how to behave so they will be welcomed at the grooming shop. I honestly believe that one reason the “nasty” adjective became linked with the Lhasa is the fault of owners who “routinely” take their matted-to-the-hide Lhasas to the groomer maybe twice a year. Those dogs don’t behave well because they have not been trained to be groomed. The poor groomer has to face a dirty, matted, scared dog who associates being at the grooming shop with getting hurt. Growling and snapping does occur. I blame the owners for ignoring the dogs’ needs and putting them in a situation for which they are totally unprepared to cope.
And, yes, there are Lhasas that are just plain nasty to the core, just like there are nasty individuals of any other breed, and just like there are nasty people of all ages from all walks of life and all ethnic groups. In my opinion, we should not label an entire group as bad because some of its members are rotten. That goes for dogs as well as people!
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