It sure isn’t an easy choice between the Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu dog breeds!
Both of these dogs are super cute and wonderfully smart, which makes your decision even harder!
We have prepared this focused article outlining the major Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu differences and similarities.
We hope it helps you identify which dog is the better fit for your lifestyle!
Read on now to discover vital facts and information to help you choose between the Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu!
Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu – which pet to choose!
So now let’s take a look at the Lhasa Apso dog and the Shih Tzu dog each in turn.
We’ll compare their size, coat, temperament, training, smarts and health!
What is the difference between Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu dogs?
Just to look at these two dog breeds side by side, you might be forgiven if you have trouble telling the two apart!
They both sport long, luxurious, show-stopping coats, are both super-cute and petite and both have winning personalities and truly ancient histories.
For example, the Lhasa Apso can trace its origins back to the ancient mountainous region of Tibet.
This tiny pup was used to guard monasteries and temples from invaders.
The Shih Tzu, a name which means “Lion Dog,” was bred to sit in the laps of Chinese emperors.
Go back far enough and you will discover the Shih Tzu also has Tibetan ancestry.
Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu size
Both the Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu are petite pups!
The Lhasa Apso will weigh in at 12 to 18 pounds and stand 10 to 11 inches tall when fully grown.
The Shih Tzu will weigh between 9 and 16 pounds as an adult dog and stand 9.5 to 10 inches tall.
Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu shedding and grooming
Since both the Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu are breeds known for their showy, long, silky coats.
This is one area where these two breeds are quite similar!
This also means your grooming chores will be similar regardless of which dog you choose.
Shih Tzus and Lhasa Apsos are often touted as “hypoallergenic” dogs, but this isn’t precisely accurate.
Rather, while both dogs will shed continuously, you probably will not see much actual shed hair.
It will get caught up in the dog’s long coat.
Both the Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu will need regular grooming.
Grooming prevents the coat from tangling and matting even if you opt for the popular short “puppy cut.”
You may also want to take your pup to a professional groomer for help with grooming chores.
Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu temperament
The Lhasa Apso’s origins as a sentinel and guard dog can make this dog breed intensely loyal to family.
Yet be aloof with people they don’t know.
The Shih Tzu is quite affectionate and playful.
This is a dog that knows how to work “cuteness” to the max to get what they want!
Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu training
The Lhasa Apso’s smarts can make training this dog a bit of a challenge.
They can be stubborn and tend to dig in their heels once they’ve decided training should be over for the day.
However, this dog can learn any skill or trick you want to teach – provided they decide they want to!
The Shih Tzu’s long lineage as a lap charmer will work in your favor during training as long as you use positive motivation.
These dogs can have short attention spans and may want to nip or play when they should be learning.
Your challenge will be to stay firm in the face of such cute displays to make sure your pup grows up with healthy, acceptable behaviors.
Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu intelligence
Both the Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu are very smart dogs!
Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu exercise needs
This is one area where these two dog breeds can be very different!
The Lhasa Apso is actually quite a high energy, athletic dog that loves to run and jump and play.
Once past puppyhood, the Shih Tzu’s favorite exertion is to move from one warm lap to the next.
Health Problems: Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu
Both the Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu breeds can be prone to certain heritable (genetically transmitted) health issues.
It is smart to learn all you can about potential health issues for any puppy or adult dog you are interested in bringing into your family!
If you work with a breeder, ask to see written proof that parent dogs have been tested and cleared of any known genetic health issues before being bred.
For rescue pups, it can be wise to have your own veterinarian examine and test the dog for genetic health concerns before you make that commitment.
Lhasa Apso health problems and testing
Major health issues that can arise in the Lhasa Apso dog include:
- patellar luxation,
- eye issues,
- bladder stones and
- kidney problems.
Lhasa Apso dogs are brachycephalic, which means they have a shortened muzzle and flat face.
This can cause breathing, respiratory and dental issues.
They can also be born with a rare blood disease called haemophilia b.
These issues can be more or less severe from dog to dog, making breeder pre-screening a vital component of choosing a puppy.
Lhasa Apso puppies have an estimated average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
Shih Tzu health problems and testing
Shih Tzu dogs have the same flat face and muzzle that can cause:
- brachycephalic airway syndrome,
- breathing, eye and dental issues of varying severity.
Shih Tzu puppies have an estimated average lifespan of 10 to 18 years.
Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu which is the best pet for me?
We hope you have found this focused article about the Lhasa Apso Shih Tzu differences to be a helpful guide as you choose your next canine bestie! Let us know which you chose in the comments below.
- White, J.A., 2009, Your Shih Tzu & Your Veterinarian, The American Shih Tzu Club
- Drastura, J., 2018, Lhasa Health,The American Lhasa Apso Club
- Godfrey, D., BVetMed FRCVS, et al, 2011, Shih Tzu: Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome, United Federation for Animal Welfare
- Buckland, E., BSc, PhD, et al, 2016, Lhasa Apso: Haemophilia-B, United Federation for Animal Welfare
- Joris, V., 2018, History of Shih Tzu, North Star Shih Tzu Rescue
- Marley, C., 2018, History of the Lhasa Apso, Kai-Lha-Sha Lhasa Apsos Kennel.
I have 3 lhasa apsos, I love the breed. If you look up the shih tzu it originates from 2 breeds the lhasa apso and the pekingese. So it is not an original breed it came from 2 . The lhasa apso originates back 100’s of years. They were originally only given as gifts. Wonderful breed love them.
L. Langston says
My 13 yr old Maltese crossed the Rainbow Bridge and I adopted a rescue. “Murphy” was advertised as a Maltese mix. However, after having a DNA test, results were Shih Tzu (40-60%), Lhasa (10-25%), Maltese (10-25%), Silky Terrier (10-25%)..he definitely has the Shih-Lasa qualities and traits. His appearance is white with pink body & ears, like the Maltese. He hunts like a terrier!! He is loving, entertaining, energetic, and in his terrible 2’s! Ordering another DNA test kits to compare the first……
I have a shih Apso. He is such a finicky eater. He doesn’t like anything. I make his food but he won’t eat canned food either. Doesn’t like beef, chicken, walks away from his dinner dish every night, eventually going back and eating it but not with any pleasure. He turns down most treats too. Anyone else have this problem?
Sally Tucker says
We are feeding our newly-acquired rescue Lhasa Ollie’s dog food, which is prepared, frozen, then shipped to us. He practially dances when it’s supper time, and lets us know when the time is near…
Check it out… We’ll bet your pup will LOVE it!
Hi Sally! Where I can get it? My 3- month Shih Tzu puppy like no food I offer her.
Thank u & merry Christmas from Germany
I have two Biewer Terriers and one Yorkie/either shih tzu or lhasa mix. The yorkie mix is a great eater but the two biewers will starve themselves rather than eat something they don’t like. They sound just like your dog, it’s frustrating they might eat something one day and act like it’s the greatest and the next day they won’t look at it much less eat it. Sooo finicky! I have tried more foods than anyone can imagine and ended up giving them to the shelters every time, I even tried ollie’s and another fresh frozen food off the internet and they absolutely hated it. If you happen to find something that works please reply to this, it would be a miracle if there was something that they like consistently.
Mine is finally eating HILLS Digestive Care ID chicken & vegetable stew. I mix with boiled chicken No skin.
Foods with grain we’re giving him stomach problems .
I read Tibetan LhasaApso’s don’t do well with grains.
Chicken & rice. He’s gobbling down. I serve it to him warm on a plate. Wet food mixed and topped with shredded chicken thigh & or breast meat.
1/2 can wet food to one thigh. No skin.
I am trying to get him to eat dry of the same Hills ID .
He was on dry as a pup when I got him, ( a brand that had grains)
But he was always in pain after eating from gas build up.
As a treat to chew to keep him off my head trying to kiss me .I just bought YAK chews.
So far he seems to enjoy.
Lasts forever, so he’s not ingesting very much.
Only second day.
It took me a long time to find something he didn’t turn his nose up to.
I have 4 bags dry sitting here. Different varities …..wet food I tried one of everything.
Hills prescription diet Digestive Care ID from my vet
Also the dry. Is what he is enjoying now.
They are stubborn.
Once he had taste of people food ( Thanks giving Turkey)
That was it. He made his mind up he was never going to eat dog food again.
I will try slowly to put less & less chicken meat.
But I’m just happy he’s eating.
With no stomach problems.
No more barfing up bile middle if the night from upset empty stomach.
Also vet recommended probiotics. I have powder form I mix with water ..( Advanced GI)
You can sprinkle on food 1/8th tsp.
But I have to mix with water and squirt down his throat with syringe. ( needleless).
My Murphy is 9 months old now. Black/ tan/ cream 12 lbs
Della Meister says
I had both a Ahasa and a Shih Tzu are both beautiful and loving dogs as mentioned earlier the Shih Tzu was a spinoff from the Lhasa Mated with a Pekingese they also forgot to mention the shape of the heads the Shih Tzu head is more pointed and the Lhasa head is more flat I prefer the ShIh Tzu because I have one now that I love very very much she is my special dog We all have a special dog that stays above the rest for the rest of our lives
Actually the Lhasa is more pointed and the Shih tzu is flatter .The Shih tzu is a cross between Lhasa apso and pekinese
Shih tzu is more expensive, almost double priced. How not to be cheated while buying shih tzu? How do we identify a shih tzu over lhasa while procuring a shihtzu?
I’ve had both types of dogs. When I had my Lhasa people would always say he was the cutest Shih Tzu they had ever seen! Then I would tell them he was a Lhasa Apso. My Lhasas’ face was not as flat as my Shih Tzus. He was more calm than my Shih Tzu. Both tend to have an independent streak. And both loved to roam outside. My Shih Tzus name is Kiki but I call her Houdini as she can escape any fence! Lhasas are slightly larger dogs. Mine was 15 ibs, but he was a runt of the litter. Kiki is 12 lbs. They are both great dogs, but need a lot of grooming. I do all my own grooming and keep hair short.
So what are the differences, again? Size…anything else?
(And 狮子 just means “lion.” Lion dog would be shi quan (or shih ch’uan), or xi shi quan (Western lion dog).
Ron Vass says
We have had two Lhasa Apso’s, the first was a thoroughbred we bought from a breeder and was such a lovely character. The second was a bit of runt of the litter rescue dog which was 6 months old. He was a bit unpredictable and did bite strangers if they stuck their hand out occasionally. Most unlike normal Lhasa Apsos.
You didn’t mention that the Shih Tzu is derived from the Lhasa Apso and Pekinese. So the Lhasa Apso is the most ancient of the two.
Della Meister says
Yes the Shih Tzu came from the Lhasa they took the smallest Lhasa Mated them with the Pekingese And came up with the name Shih Tzu
Joseph Griswold says
I appreciate the information you’ve provide….I think I will stick with a Shih Tzu because my Reggie, who is now gone, was the love of my life after having dogs all my life….I’ve been fortunate to get animals that all lived a full life…Reggie was healthy as a horse at 16 but so many problems with his eyes, he was blind and one eye had to finally be removed, I just didn’t want him to suffer anymore….I couldn’t keep him for me, I had to do what was best for him
We have had 3 Lhasas and 1 Shi tzu. Our female Lhasa had a longer nose than the males and we were told by the breeder that she was an example of how they were trying to breed in healthier traits, so they wouldn’t have the problems associated with a shortened muzzle…I don’t know how true that is. All 4 dogs have been our little angels…they are so loving, so loyal, so entertaining….our lives would not be nearly as joyful without them! Your descriptions of them were spot on!
Its confirmed Maggie is a Lasa Apso !!! Thanx
Sally Emley says
We have one who is half and half. Her temperament is also half and half. Some days she is a Shih Tzu and some days a Lhasa. She also looks like both. Her appearance depends upon grooming. Our Lhasas had coats which naturally parted down the middle of their backs. The Lhasa muzzles appeared to be just slightly longer. Barely discernible.
Linda Johnston says
Lhasas do NOT have a shortened nose. The first time we took ours to the vet he remarked that it was nice to see a dog with a “nose” since he saw mostly Shih-tzus. Also our Lhasa sleeps a lot and is not hyper. Perhaps that differs from dog to dog.
They are strong willed, but willing to learn if you show you are the Alpha. Not in a mean way, just consistent in training.
Becca Westphal says
I agree. My Lhasa Teddy had a longer nose also. Longer than my Shihtzu Frazer’s nose. He was also a little bigger. Teddy pranced when he ran. Both were a hoot and the sweetest little goofballs, very loyal and playful. When Frazer passed we mourned this playful loving little guy a long time. When the time was right we got another Shihtzu puppy Cooper. Teddy was great with him. They both made wonderful companions to us and each other.
My Fathers Lhasa was such a hoot. Intelligent little bugger. There jaw will also lock, so I would curl my fingers and he would clamp right over them, but never hard. We would roughhouse with him and he never would hurt or break the skin. When it came time to stop playing. We simply said settle, He would stop and look at us. Then belly flopped on the floor. An they spot scummy people a mile away too.
I got a “shih Tzu” puppy with out papers from a rural area in GA this summer in June. The puppy she said is a shih Tzu but he looks more like the puppy in the top of this article on the right side. he is so cute and we just love him, I was wondering if I posted a photo, if you guys could tell me if you think he is a shih Tzu or Lhasa. Everyone always says how “big” he is when I say shih Tzu, and his hair parts down his back. I keep him cut pretty short because we live in FL, His hair was wiry at first, but all of that fur is gone and he is so soft. Since I don’t have papers for him, I am not sure what he really is, but I do know he so cute and we love him! his BFF with my 10 yr old Weimaraner
Kathryn C Smith says
Sounds like you have a Lhasa Apso. I would love another one and live east of Atlanta. Where did you get yours?
Tammy Craig says
Thank you for the info. I have a chocolate Shih Tzu and a brindle Lhasa Apso. This confirms some pbservations.