Shih Tzu vs. Lhasa Apso: Traits of Breeds

Shih Tzu vs. Lhasa Apso: They look so similar but are actually 2 different breeds of dogs. Theу have fascinating histories going back thousands of years. The Lhasa Apso was bred in the monasteries of Tibet, and the Shih Tzu was a favorite of the imperial family in China. Dogs of these breeds are the best companions and were not bred to guard the house or the owner. They are created to be best friends. The main similarity is their friendliness, but dogs have different temperaments and behaviors like people.

Difference Lhasa Apso vs. Shih Tzu

Lovely, friendly, devoted friends—this is how the owners describe their pets. These are related breeds, so they are very similar in appearance. However, the temperaments of these pets are actually different. Read on to find out the main differences and character traits.

Comparison of breeds

  • Both breeds have Asian roots, friendly temperament, and long hair. They are similar in character and appearance, but each breed has its own characteristics.
  • The main difference between Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso is temperament. Shih Tzus are calmer and less active, rarely nervous. They cope worse with loneliness, and like spending time with their families. These dogs are also smart, so you can train them without big problems. The Lhasa Apso is independent and more active, requiring less rest. They may become nervous if their daily regime is disturbed.
  • These breeds usually live for about 15 years. However, the Lhasa Apso requires more frequent visits to the veterinarian to stay healthy. They are prone to hereditary health problems (such as kidney dysplasia). While dogs of another breed do not often require visits to the veterinary clinic, you should check them for diseases such as allergies and ear infections.

How to tell the difference?

lhasa apso puppyThe difference is not obvious for those who only choose a furry friend. Below I will tell you how to distinguish these wonderful dog breeds according to various criteria.


You can differentiate dogs of these breeds in appearance, although they are amazingly similar. If you’re looking for dogs that look like a Shih Tzu, then the Lhasa Apso is the obvious answer. But dogs of this breed, although similar to Shih Tzu, have a longer nose, narrow skull, and smaller eyes. Shih Tzus have large and round eyes and a broader skull. While they have a variety of coat colors, Lhasa Apso is usually brown, white, or black. The coat of the Lhasa Apso is the same length but coarser than that of the other breed.


Although Shih Tzu sizes are small, this dog has strong muscles. The weight of an adult animal is from 9 to 16 pounds, and the height is from 8 to 11 inches.

How big does a Lhasa Apso get? These pets are similar in size to Shih Tzu. However, they grow a little taller, from 10 to 11 inches, and usually weigh more (12-18 pounds).


If you are willing to devote a lot of time and attention to your dog, then the Shih Tzu will be your best friend. This pet’s calm nature and lively mind are its distinctive character traits. Lhasa Apso has a more independent character, it is easier to tolerate the owner’s absence nearby, but at the same time, it is a more playful and active animal.

FAQ on Shih Tzu or Lhasa Apso

puppies Shih TzuShih Tzu and Lhasa Apso have interesting features and the breed’s history. Read on for short answers to the most popular questions about these dog breeds.

Is Lhasa Apso hypoallergenic?

Although dogs of this breed have a long coat, they are considered non-shedding. Compared to many other breeds, they rarely drool. This breed would be an excellent option for people who dream of a little friend but suffer from allergies.

Why are Shih Tzus so stubborn?

Throughout the breed’s history, this pet has never been a guard dog but rather a companion one. About a thousand years ago, they were revered as “holy dogs.” Therefore, stubbornness may be partly an innate characteristic of temperament. But education and training are still the main factors. Establishing a hierarchy for the dog as early as possible is necessary.

What two dogs make a Shih Tzu?

The modern breed is the descendant of dogs from Tibet, which were brought as a gift to the Chinese emperors and were called “little lions.” It is believed that later these dogs were crossed with Pugs and Pekingese. There is also an opinion that the Lhasa Аpso was the progenitor of the Shih Tzu.

Both Breeds Are Great

Lhasa ApsoIf you dream of a small decorative pet that will make friends with your family, any of these dogs will be great happiness for you. Both of them get along well with children and other animals. But when picking a breed, consider its temperament’s peculiarities, so you can better adapt to each other. After all, as you know, the dog should be similar to the owner.

Also Read About Shih Tzu

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Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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