Home » Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu: 8 Key Differences Explained

Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu: 8 Key Differences Explained

by Tea Cup shih Tzu

Are you ready to meet two ancient breeds that are as cute as they come? Say hello to the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu, two small dog breeds with fascinating histories. Originating from Tibet and China respectively, these adorable animals have been cherished companions for centuries. Known for their luxurious long coats, these pups were once lapdogs of royalty. Regular grooming is a must to maintain their stunning appearance. So if you love animals and have a look at history, these breeds are perfect for you!

The Lhasa Apso, sometimes called the “little lion,” is a small dog breed that hails from the mountains of Tibet. Meanwhile, the Shih Tzu, also a small dog breed, has its roots in China’s imperial palaces. Both small dogs make wonderful companion animals and are adored by dog lovers worldwide. They are perfect for laps and small homes, making them ideal pups for those living in limited spaces.

So, if you’re looking for little dogs with big personalities and impressive coat games, get ready to dive into the captivating world of Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus! These ancient breed pups make wonderful companion dogs.

Differences between Lhasa Apso & Shih Tzu: Breed Characteristics

Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus are both adorable little dogs, known for being great companion animals. However, they have distinct breed characteristics that set them apart. Let’s explore the unique traits of these pups.

Independent Nature vs Friendly and Outgoing Personality

One noticeable difference between Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus is their temperament. Lhasa Apsos, a breed of little dogs, tend to have a more independent nature compared to the friendly and outgoing personality of Shih Tzus. While both breeds can be affectionate towards their owners, Lhasa Apsos often display an air of self-reliance and may not seek constant attention or affection. However, they still make great companions for those who love pup animals.

Coat Length and Texture

Another key distinction lies in their coats. The Lhasa Apso, an ancient breed of small dog, boasts a longer and thicker coat compared to the Shih Tzu. This luxurious double coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and keep it looking its best. On the other hand, while Shih Tzus, also known as small breeds, also have long hair, it tends to be slightly shorter than that of their Lhasa Apso counterparts. Both breeds make excellent companion animals.

Facial Features: Muzzle Shape and Snout Pronouncement

There are notable differences between these two companion animal breeds as well. Shih Tzus, known for their endearing “smushed” appearance, typically have a shorter muzzle and a flatter face. In contrast, Lhasa Apsos have a more pronounced snout which adds to their distinctive look. Both breeds require training to ensure they are well-behaved companions. The Shih Tzu’s white coat is a distinguishing feature.

Size Comparison

While both the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu fall into the small breed category, there is a slight difference in size between them. On average, Lhasa Apsos tend to weigh slightly more than Shih Tzus. However, this disparity is minimal, and both companion animals generally range between 10 to 18 pounds in weight.

Key Similarities: Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu

Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus are two popular dog breeds that share several key similarities. From their toy group classification to their similar life expectancies, these breeds have much in common. Both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus require regular grooming due to their long coats and are known for being good with children, making them excellent family pets.

Toy Group Classification

Both the Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu belong to the toy group category of dogs. This classification is based on their small size and companionable nature. Toy breeds are typically bred for companionship rather than specific working purposes like herding or hunting. Due to their compact size, these breeds are well-suited for apartment living or households with limited space.

Similar Life Expectancies

Both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus have similar average life expectancies ranging from 12 to 15 years. This means that owners can enjoy many years of companionship with either breed. However, it’s important to note that individual health factors and proper care can influence a dog’s lifespan.

Regular Grooming Requirements

One striking similarity between Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus is their long coat, which requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and free from mats or tangles. Both breeds have hair that grows continuously rather than shedding like most other dogs. This means that frequent brushing is necessary to prevent matting and maintain the coat’s appearance.

Professional grooming appointments every few weeks may be required for both breeds to trim the hair around their eyes, ears, paws, and sanitary areas. The distinct appearance of these dogs relies heavily on proper grooming practices.

Good with Children

Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them excellent choices for families with children. These breeds have a gentle temperament and are generally patient with kids. However, it’s important to supervise interactions between dogs and young children to ensure safety for both parties.

Both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus thrive on human companionship and enjoy being part of the family unit. Their small size also makes them suitable for households with younger children who may not be able to handle larger dog breeds.

Physical Differences: How to Tell Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu Apart

Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus may appear similar at first glance, but upon closer inspection, there are distinct physical differences that can help you differentiate between these two adorable dog breeds.

Tail Differences

One of the key dissimilarities lies in their tails. The tail of a Lhasa Apso curls over its back, creating an elegant arc that adds to its regal appearance. On the other hand, the tail of a Shih Tzu hangs down straight or may have a slight upward curl at the end. This variation in tail shape is an easy way to distinguish between the two breeds.

Ears Variation

Another noticeable distinction can be found in their ears. The ears of a Lhasa Apso hang down close to its head, framing its face with soft fur. In contrast, the ears of a Shih Tzu stand up straighter or flop forward slightly. This difference in ear position gives each breed a unique expression and contributes to their overall appearance.

Size Comparison

While Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus share similar size characteristics, there are subtle variations between them. Generally speaking, Lhasa Apsos tend to be slightly larger than Shih Tzus. However, this difference is not easily noticeable unless you directly compare them side by side. Both breeds fall within the small dog category and boast compact frames covered in long flowing coats.

When examining these physical attributes alone, it may seem challenging to differentiate between Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus without prior knowledge or experience with both breeds. However, when considering all aspects together – including their tails’ shape and position as well as their ear placement – it becomes easier to tell them apart.

It’s important to note that while physical differences exist between these two breeds, they also share many similarities. Both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus have luxurious double coats that require regular grooming to maintain their appearance and prevent matting. Both breeds are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them excellent companions for families and individuals alike.

Health and Care Tips: Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu

Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus are adorable small dog breeds that require special attention. Both breeds are prone to certain health issues, so it’s essential to be aware of these concerns and take necessary precautions.

Eye Problems

One common health issue shared by Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus is eye problems. Both breeds are susceptible to conditions like cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Regular eye check-ups with a veterinarian are crucial to detect any early signs of these ailments. If left untreated, these eye problems can lead to vision impairment or even blindness.

Dental Care

Due to their small mouths and crowded teeth, dental care is of utmost importance for both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus. Neglecting their oral hygiene can result in gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. To maintain good dental health:

  1. Brush their teeth regularly using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste.
  2. Provide them with appropriate chew toys that promote healthy teeth.
  3. Schedule professional dental cleanings as recommended by your veterinarian.

By prioritizing dental care, you can ensure your furry friends have strong teeth and fresh breath.

Exercise Requirements

Regular exercise is vital for both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus to keep them physically fit and mentally stimulated. These breeds may be small in size, but they still need daily activities to prevent obesity-related issues such as joint problems or heart disease.

Engage your dogs in the following exercises:

  • Daily walks: Take them for short walks at least twice a day.
  • Interactive playtime: Engage them in games like fetch or hide-and-seek indoors or outdoors.
  • Mental stimulation: Use puzzle toys or teach them new tricks to keep their minds active.

Remember, each dog’s exercise needs may vary, so consult with your veterinarian to determine a suitable exercise routine for your furry companions.

Temperature Sensitivity

Both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus can be sensitive to heat due to their flat faces and long coats. It is crucial to keep them in a cool environment, especially during hot weather. Here are some tips:

  • Provide access to shade and fresh water at all times.
  • Avoid taking them out for walks during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Trim their fur if necessary but avoid shaving it completely as it offers protection from the sun.

By taking these precautions, you can help prevent heatstroke or other heat-related issues in your beloved pets.

Behavior Contrasts: Understanding Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu Personalities

Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus may both be small, adorable companion dogs, but their personalities can differ significantly.

Reserved vs Outgoing Nature

Lhasa Apsos tend to be more reserved and aloof compared to the outgoing nature of Shih Tzus. While Shih Tzus are known for their sociable disposition and eagerness to make friends, Lhasa Apsos may take a bit longer to warm up to strangers. Their complex personality often makes them cautious in unfamiliar situations. On the other hand, Shih Tzus thrive on social interactions and enjoy being the center of attention. They have a natural charm that draws people towards them.

Preferences for Environment

Another contrasting aspect of their personalities lies in their preferences for different environments. Shih Tzus typically enjoy a bustling atmosphere where they can engage with various family members or even strangers. They relish in activities that involve interaction and playfulness. Conversely, Lhasa Apsos lean towards a quieter environment where they can find solace and tranquility. These independent dogs appreciate having some alone time without constant stimulation.

Stubborn Streaks Requiring Tailored Training

Both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus possess a stubborn streak that can sometimes pose challenges during training sessions. However, it is essential to tailor training methods accordingly for each breed’s distinct personality traits. Positive reinforcement techniques work wonders with both breeds as they respond well to praise, treats, and rewards. With consistency and patience, you can overcome any training hurdles presented by these lovable companions.

Addressing Separation Anxiety through Training

Separation anxiety can be an issue for both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus if not properly addressed through training and socialization. These breeds are known for their strong attachment to their human companions, and leaving them alone for extended periods can lead to anxiety-related behaviors such as excessive barking, destructive chewing, or even self-harm. To prevent or alleviate separation anxiety, it is crucial to gradually acclimate them to being alone and provide mental stimulation in the form of puzzle toys or interactive games.

Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu: Weight, Height, and Health Concerns

Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus are both small dog breeds with distinct characteristics. When comparing these two breeds, it’s important to consider their weight, height, and potential health concerns.


The weight of a dog can vary greatly depending on factors such as genetics, diet, and exercise. On average, adult Lhasa Apsos weigh between 12 to 18 pounds. In contrast, Shih Tzus typically weigh around 9 to 16 pounds. It’s worth noting that individual dogs may fall outside of these ranges.


In terms of height, both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus stand at approximately 10 inches tall at the shoulder. This measurement is an average for adult dogs of these breeds. However, it’s important to remember that there can be some variation in height within each breed.

Health Concerns

Every dog breed has its own set of potential health issues to be aware of. For Lhasa Apsos, common health concerns include hip dysplasia and kidney disease. Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop properly and can lead to discomfort or lameness in dogs. Kidney disease can affect the proper functioning of the kidneys and may require ongoing management.

On the other hand, Shih Tzus are prone to respiratory problems such as brachycephalic airway syndrome. This condition is more prevalent in flat-faced breeds like the Shih Tzu due to their unique facial structure. Brachycephalic airway syndrome can cause breathing difficulties and may require medical intervention if severe.

It’s essential for owners of both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus to be proactive about their pets’ health by scheduling regular check-ups with a veterinarian. Maintaining a balanced diet, providing regular exercise, and addressing any potential health concerns promptly can help ensure the well-being of these beloved companions.

Final Thoughts on Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu

In conclusion, when comparing Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu breeds, there are several key differences and similarities to consider. Understanding these distinctions can help you make an informed decision when choosing the right furry companion for your home.

Firstly, it is important to note the differences in breed characteristics between Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu. These include variations in size, coat texture, and temperament. While both breeds are known for their affectionate nature, the Lhasa Apso tends to be more independent and reserved compared to the outgoing Shih Tzu.

Despite their differences, there are also notable similarities between these two breeds. Both Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu share a similar origin in Tibet and possess long, flowing coats that require regular grooming. They are generally good with children and make excellent family pets.

There are subtle differences that can help distinguish between a Lhasa Apso and a Shih Tzu. Pay attention to factors such as head shape, muzzle length, and ear placement to accurately identify each breed.

In terms of health and care tips, both Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu require regular veterinary check-ups, proper nutrition, exercise routines tailored to their needs, as well as diligent dental care. Keeping an eye out for breed-specific health concerns like respiratory issues or eye problems is crucial for maintaining their well-being.

Understanding the contrasting personalities of these two breeds is essential for potential owners. While the Lhasa Apso may exhibit a more aloof demeanor at times, the Shih Tzu tends to be lively and friendly towards strangers. Consider your lifestyle preferences when deciding which breed’s behavior aligns better with your own personality.

Lastly, weight management should be considered alongside height measurements when comparing Lhasa Apso versus Shih Tzu. Both breeds are prone to weight gain, so monitoring their diet and providing regular exercise is crucial for their overall health.

In conclusion, whether you choose a Lhasa Apso or a Shih Tzu as your furry companion, both breeds offer unique qualities that can bring joy and companionship to your life. Consider your lifestyle, preferences, and the specific needs of each breed before making your decision.

Now that you have a better understanding of the differences and similarities between Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu breeds, it’s time to take the next step. Research reputable breeders or consider adopting from a rescue organization to find the perfect furry friend who will fit seamlessly into your family.


Which breed is more suitable for families with children?

Both Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu are generally good with children. However, the Shih Tzu’s outgoing nature may make them slightly more suitable for families with active kids.

Do Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus get along well with other pets?

Yes, both breeds can get along well with other pets if properly socialized from a young age.

Are Lhasa Apsos or Shih Tzus hypoallergenic?

While neither breed is truly hypoallergenic, both Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus have hair instead of fur which may be less likely to trigger allergies in some individuals.

How often do Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus require grooming?

Due to their long coats, both breeds require regular grooming sessions every 4-6 weeks to prevent matting and maintain coat health.

Can Lhasa Apsos or Shih Tzus be left alone for long periods?

Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus are both companion breeds that thrive on human interaction. They may experience separation anxiety if left alone for extended periods, so it’s best to provide them with company or arrange for a pet sitter when necessary.

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