Lhasa Apso vs. Shih Tzu

The Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu are both small dogs originating from Tibet and China respectively. They are both known for their long, silky hair and friendly, affectionate personalities, but there are several differences.

Lhasa Apso dogs are independent, hardy and can be standoffish with strangers. They are known to be a bit more stubborn, which might require a patient and firm owner during training.

On the other hand, Shih Tzus are generally more outgoing and loving, blending in well with families and other pets. They are easier to train but require a lot of grooming due to their hair.

In terms of health, both breeds are prone to certain breed-specific issues. The Lhasa Apso can suffer from eye issues and skin problems, while the Shih Tzu often has breathing problems due to its shorter nose.

Remember, individual personalities and health can differ greatly within a same breed. Meeting a potential pet before deciding is always the best course of action!

Last Updated on September 20, 2023

*. The Lhasa Apso history and the Shih Tzu have closely related histories, which is why their appearances are so similar.

They are very different in temperament. The Lhasa Apso is unpredictable and the Shih Tzu is happy-go-lucky, although a little spoilt. The exercise requirements of the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu are different. They need more energy while the Shih Tzu is more relaxed.

They are both cute and loving dogs who will make great pets if they are loved and cared for. Continue reading to learn more about these small Asian breeds of dog.

Lhasa Apso vs. Shih Tzu

Breed History

The Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu are ancient breeds that originate from Tibetan and Chinese lands, and throughout history, their journeys have been intertwined with one another.

Lhasa Apso

The Lhasa Apso was first documented in 800 B.C., and he is named after the holy city of Lhasa in Tibet. It was believed that he was a sacred creature that would guard monks, their monasteries, and it was believed that his soul would enter the Lhasa Apso after a monk died.

They were kept secret and could not leave the country without being gifted .by the Dalai Lama. Since the late 16th Century, many pairings of the Lhasa Apso were gifted to Chinese emperors

The 13th Dalai Lama gifted a pair of Lhasa Apsos to America in 1933, and they were the foundation stock of almost all Lhasa Apsos in America today. Shortly after, the first Lhasa Apso was registered by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1935, and while they are still a rare breed today, they make a wonderful family pet. In 2019, he is ranked as the 71st most popular dog breed in America.

Shih Tzu

The history of the Shih Tzu is more mysterious than that of the Lhasa Apsos and less well-documented than that of the Lhasa Apsos. It is believed that the Shih Tzu was born as a result of crossbreeding a Lhasa Apso with a Pekingnese, and it remains unknown as to whether he was created in either Tibet or in China.

He has been immortalized on numerous paintings and carvings throughout history, regardless of his origin. This suggests that he is a treasured dog who has lived among royalty and the rich.

Breed fanciers first took the Shih Tzu to America in the mid-20th Century, and he was first recognized by the AKC in 1969. He is a more popular breed than the Lhasa Apso who, in 2019, has been ranked as the 20th most popular dog breed in America.


The Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu are very similar-looking pooches, so don’t be too harsh on yourself if you cannot tell them apart. It is easiest to tell the difference by looking at their sizes. The male Lhasa Apso will measure 10 to 11 inches in height, from paw to shoulder, compared to the slightly shorter Shih Tzu, who measures 9 to 10 1/2 inches.

The Lhasa Apso weighs between 12 and 18 pounds, whereas the Shih Tzu measures between 9 and 16 pounds. Although they may not be very different, this is often the best way to distinguish them. Because the Shih Tzu is the smaller of the two, he is in the toy group. The Lhasa Apso, on the other hand, is too large for this group so he is in the non-sporting category.

They have similar coats. Their long, luxurious hair falls to the ground, which is why they both share their signature feature HTML1. Their coats look slightly different if you take a closer look. The Lhasa Apso often has a visible hair line along his spine. His fur is also often tipped with dark fur at his ears. The Shih Tzu has a slightly waver coat, while the Lhasa Apso doesn’t.

The Lhasa Apso’s muzzle is longer, which leads to a narrower skull and slightly smaller eyes than the Shih Tzu. The Shih Tzu’s head is more rounded than the Lhasa Apsos.

These slight differences can be difficult to spot if they have their long, traditional coats. This is because it is hard to see their features. They are very similar in appearance and it is rare that prospective owners can choose between them.


Their temperament is usually the deciding factor among the two breeds. The ‘bearded lion dog is the Lhasa Apso, and for good reason. The monks used them as guard dogs when they were threatened by an intruder in their monastery. They are a surprisingly loud barking dog and were chosen by the monks to be their protectors. They have maintained this trait to this day. It is what makes them different from the Shih Tzu.

The Lhasa Apso is reserved with strangers. He will not tolerate strangers entering his yard. However, the Shih Tzu will let out a few barks out of excitement. The Lhasa Apso is the best choice if you’re looking for a small dog .

The Shih Tzu is extremely friendly with anyone who will pay him attention, and boy does he love to be the center of attention! He was raised in luxurious Chinese palaces, and he still expects the royal treatment.

*) He loves to be stroked by his master and will happily accept strangers into his home without fear. The Shih Tzu is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a friendly fur ,.

Despite their personality differences, with their immediate family, they are very affectionate and loving canines who will shower you with love. They can be gentle and tolerant with children and make wonderful family pets.


The exercise requirements of the Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso are different. The Lhasa Apso is a medium energy dog who requires around 30 minutes of exercise a day, whereas the Shih Tzu is a very low energy dog who will require a few short walks around the block for a leg stretch and a toilet break.

They will use your living space as an exercise room throughout the day, and they will also enjoy the occasional stroll in the backyard .

The Shih Tzu will happily sleep on his laps, with the occasional leg stretch pushing him off to the next lap. The Lhasa Apso, being the more energetic and livelier pup, will need a bit more mental stimulation in between exercise sessions, so interactive games with his family or giving him treat-filled puzzle toys is advised.


The Lhasa Apso has a somewhat complex personality, and as such his training is also more complex, and as such he is not an ideal dog for a first-time owner. He can be described as a teenager. He is playful, energetic and capable of tantrums and moodiness. His unpredictable temperament is what often makes it difficult to train him. However, the key to success is consistency and persistence in your training sessions. Don’t give up! His guarding tendencies need to be addressed, and the best way to tackle this is through early socialization with as many strangers and dogs of all shapes and sizes.

If your dog exhibits any unruly behavior that you are unable to correct, it is a good idea to enroll him in obedience classes. Once you understand his complicated personality, he will be a wonderful family pet.

The Shih Tzu is easier to train ,. Despite occasional tantrums, he is generally more relaxed than the Lhasa Apso. It is important that he socializes early to make sure he is comfortable with larger dogs. positive reinforcement methods are recommended for any dog. He’s a much better puppy for first-time owners than the Lhasa Apso.


Neither breed is recommended to be tested for health issues, especially according to national breed clubs. However, both are predisposed to the following health problems:

Eye Health – Both suffer from eye problems such as ‘Cherry Eye, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Keratitis.

Renal dysplasia – This is a genetic condition of the kidneys that causes discomfort and pain in the pup.

Patellar Luxation – essentially this is when the kneecap becomes dislocated, and again causes pain when walking.

In addition to the above, Lhasa Apso also has Sebaceous Adenitis ,, which can cause severe skin conditions that can result in a range of infections. They will feel pain and have an unpleasant odor.

The Shih Tzu is predisposed to Portosystemic liver shunts, whereby the kidney does not effectively cleanse his blood as it should.

Generally speaking, the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa are healthy dogs that live a long life expectancy. The Lhasa Apso lives a shorter lifespan than the Shih Tzu.


The Lhasa Apso will eat around 1 1/2 cups of food a day, whereas the Shih Tzu will eat slightly less at 1 cup of food a day. Both are fond of treats so make sure you monitor them as they can quickly gain weight.


A Lhasa Apso or a Shih Tzu who will be entered into conformation shows should keep their traditional long silky locks, and it is these locks that cause them both to be exceptionally needy in the grooming department. To prevent tangles from developing, he should be brushed daily. To keep his hair clean and fresh, he should be washed and shampooed every two weeks.

If you prefer a less complicated coat, also known as a ‘puppy, but don’t mind showing him off in a show, you can just cut it all off. Their grooming will be much easier than for small dogs and will take less time.

Many canines believe that the Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso are hypoallergenic. However, this is a myth . They shed their undercoat hairs, which can get caught in the long, thick outer coat. They are not hypoallergenic .dogs.

If you are seeking a hypoallergenic pup, then the Maltese or a Malti-poo is similarly sized and he is better suited for those with allergies.

Puppy Prices

The prices of Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu are very similar due to their differences in size. The average price of a Lhasa Apso starts from $600, whereas the average price of a Shih Tzu starts from $800.

*The Lhasa Apso will be slightly more expensive due to his popularity. You can expect to pay more if you are looking for a particular look or a dog that comes from an award-winning family.

If you are certain that these guys would fit in with your lifestyle then the American Lhasa Apso Club lists reputable breeders state by state, and the American Shih Tzu Club also lists reputable breeders state by state, and both of these websites are invaluable for information on their respective breeds.

Final Thoughts

Although the Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso are closely related, their personalities are quite different. They have different training needs, temperaments, and exercise requirements. It is usually quite easy for families to decide between the two.

*The Lhasa Apso is best suited for a family that can manage his complex personality, guarding tendencies and active lifestyle. The Shih Tzu prefers a quieter family that is willing to give him lots of attention, while the Shih Tzu will prefer a calmer home. They are equally affectionate and loving, no matter who you choose.

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