Exploring the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu: Similarities, Differences, and Characteristics

May 17, 2023
Annette Thompson

The Lhasa apso and Shih tzu are two small breeds of dog that have similar origins yet look and behave differently.

Both breeds can make excellent pets, but it is essential to understand their differences to choose the ideal companion for your home.

This article explores the differences between these two popular dog breeds lhasa apso and shih tzu including their physical appearance, temperament, health issues, grooming requirements, and lifespan.

By understanding each breed’s unique characteristics, prospective owners can determine which breed best suits their lifestyle.

differences between lhasa apso and shih tzu


With long, flowing coats, the two canine breeds present a strikingly different visual aesthetic.
The Lhasa Apso is a small dog that stands between 10-11 inches tall and weighs 12 to 18 pounds. They have a thick double coat with a long topcoat and a wooly undercoat and come in black, white, red, and gray colors.

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On the other hand, the Shih Tzu is slightly larger than the Lhasa Apso, with an adult standing 11-12 inches tall and weighing 9-16 pounds. The coat of the Shih Tzu is also longer than its counterpart’s but has less texture due to its silky nature.

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In terms of a size difference  between shih tzu and lhasa apso, while both are considered small dogs when compared to others, such as Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds, there is still an apparent distinction between them, with the Shih Tzu being slightly more significant than the Lhasa Apso.
Additionally, their coat textures are entirely different, which adds further complexity when distinguishing them from each other visually.

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The colors for both breeds can vary widely depending on who bred them; for example, some leases may look like teddy bears due to their light fur color, while others can appear more dramatic because of their darker hue paired with lighter accents in specific areas like paws or face area around eyes.
Similarly, for Shih Tzus, no particular color defines this breed as these dogs come in various shades, including black & white combinations or all solid colored ones like reds or grays.

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It’s evident then that despite sharing specific characteristics such as medium-length hair coats with similar grooming needs, these two breeds differ significantly in appearance — whether it be size differences or varied coat textures — making it easy to tell them apart while walking through your neighborhood park!


The temperament of two breeds is one of the most important factors to consider when deciding which breed suits a person. The Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu are intelligent, affectionate, and loyal, although they each have unique personalities.

When looking at these two breeds in terms of their temperaments, there are several key differences to consider:

  • Socialization needs – The Lhasa Apso tends to be more independent than the Shih Tzu and will require less social interaction to be content. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu tends to be more clingy and needs frequent attention from its owner.
  • Training challenges – The Lhasa Apso can often be stubborn during training sessions and may need coaxing to focus on tasks. In comparison, the Shih Tzu has an easier time learning commands but can become bored quickly if not given enough challenges.
  • Playfulness – Both breeds enjoy playing with toys, but the Lhasa Apso prefers interactive games such as fetch, while the Shih Tzu enjoys more solo activities like chewing on a bone or snuggling up for a nap.
  • Energy levels – The Lhasa Apso typically has higher energy levels than the Shih Tzu and will need regular exercise and mental stimulation to remain happy and healthy. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu’s lower energy levels make them ideal for those who prefer calmer dogs that don’t require as much activity.

When choosing between these two breeds, it is essential to carefully consider each dog’s temperament and lifestyle preferences to ensure you select a pet that will fit into your family dynamic perfectly.

With careful research into both breeds’ temperaments, it should be easy for prospective pet owners to pick out their ideal companion animal!


Comparing the two breeds in terms of health, there are a few notable distinctions to consider. The Lhasa Apso requires regular exercise and has moderate energy levels, while the Shih Tzu is a less active breed with lower energy requirements. Both dogs are generally healthy and long-lived if well cared for, but they may be prone to specific genetic issues such as luxating patella or hip dysplasia.

The Lhasa Apso typically lives between 12 and 15 years; however, some have been known to live up to 18 years with proper care. To stay healthy, this breed needs daily walks and occasional playtime activities. Those who fail to provide it with sufficient exercise risk developing behavioral problems such as aggression or destructive chewing habits. It is also vital for them to receive regular check-ups from a veterinarian to detect any potential health issues as soon as possible.

The Shih Tzu usually lives between 10 and 15 years when given adequate care and nutrition. This breed does not require much exercise but should still get daily walks and playtime activities to stay mentally stimulated. As with the Lhasa Apso, early detection of any medical issues is essential for its wellness; therefore, regular vet visits should be scheduled to ensure optimal health over time.

Both breeds need routine vaccinations against common canine diseases and flea prevention treatments when necessary; preventive measures can help reduce their chances of getting sick or suffering from severe illnesses later in life.

lhasa apso and shih tzus have strong constitutions that can lead them towards long lifespans if given proper care throughout their lives.

Grooming Requirements

Both breeds require regular grooming to ensure their coats stay healthy and tang-free. Grooming care for both the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu include:

  • Brushing/combing: This should be done regularly to prevent mats, avoid tangles, and keep the coat clean.
  • Bathing: An occasional bath is recommended to help remove dirt and debris from the coat.
  • Trimming: Clipping or trimming the fur may be necessary to maintain a neat appearance.
  • Nail trimming: Keeping nails trimmed will help avoid painful ingrown nails or other issues that can cause discomfort for your pet.

When it comes to caring for these two breeds, there are some differences in their needs. The Lhasa Apso has a long, thick coat that requires more frequent brushing than its Shih Tzu counterpart, whose fur is lighter and not as dense. Additionally, the Lhasa Apso typically needs less regular bathing than what is ideal for the Shih Tzu due to its oilier skin type that helps protect against dirt buildup on its coat.

Regarding exercise needs, both breeds are relatively low-energy dogs with short bursts of activity throughout the day; however, they do need daily walks or playtime to stay healthy in both body and mind.

Regarding diet habits, either breed should get high-quality food that meets their nutritional needs; this could come from commercially prepared kibble or home-cooked meals explicitly designed for them.

Grooming requirements vary between these two breeds, but with proper attention given to each one’s needs, owners can expect healthy-looking coats with minimal effort and time invested into routine maintenance tasks such as brushing, bathing, trimming, and nail clipping.


Examining the lifespans of these two breeds reveals some differences in their longevity. Generally, the Lhasa Apso is expected to live between 12 and 15 years, while a Shih Tzu can live as long as 16 years or more. These variations are likely due to several factors, including socialization and exercise levels.

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The time spent with people and other animals by either breed will significantly impact their life expectancy. Socializing frequently helps increase activity levels and encourages positive behavior, which can help dogs stay healthy for extended periods.

The Lhasa Apso is an independent breed that does not require constant attention from its owners; however, it needs regular mental stimulation and physical exercise for optimal health and well-being. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu is a highly social dog that loves spending time with owners and other pets alike, so they need more active lives than the former breed to reach their maximum lifespan potential.

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Another factor that affects the life expectancy of both breeds is how much exercise they get daily. Activity levels vary significantly between individuals, but generally speaking, Lhasa Apsos should be taken for daily walks or play sessions lasting at least 30 minutes each day. In contrast, Shih Tzus need less intense activities such as strolls or occasional trips outdoors away from home (e.g., parks).
Additionally, keeping up with regular grooming sessions is essential since this will help improve skin and coat conditions, which can lead to fewer health problems down the line.

lhasa apso and shih tzu require regular care to maintain optimum health throughout their lives; however, thanks to proper maintenance techniques such as consistent socialization practices and good exercise routines along with specialized veterinary check-ups at least once every year, pet parents can extend their furry companion’s lifespan significantly beyond what would otherwise be expected without these measures in place.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Lhasa Apso and a Shih Tzu?

The temperament and coat care requirements of two popular dog breeds, the Lhasa apso and the Shih Tzu, differ significantly.

The Lhasa apso is an independent breed with a strong-willed nature, while the shih tzu is more affectionate and laid-back.

In terms of coat care, the lhasa apso needs to be brushed every day to prevent tangles and mats, while the shih tzu needs less frequent brushing due to its shorter coat.

When choosing between these breeds, it is essential to consider their respective temperaments and grooming needs to find one that best suits your lifestyle.

How much exercise do Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu need?

Exercise is essential to any dog’s life, regardless of breed.

Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu are no exception. Depending on the individual animal, both breeds typically require moderate exercise intensity with daily walks and occasional outdoor playtime.

Alongside physical exercise, it is essential to ensure that they receive adequate socialization; these breeds thrive in stimulating environments where they can feel secure and confident.

These dogs should remain happy and healthy for many years with appropriate exercise.

Are Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu good with children?

Pets are commonly considered a great addition to any family, particularly those with children. However, when it comes to picking the right pet for your family, it is essential to consider their training needs, health concerns, and suitability for living with children.

Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu have been long-time favorites due to their affectionate natures and intelligence. Though they may be small, these breeds require just as much care and attention as their larger canine counterparts. With proper training and socialization, both species can make excellent companions for children of all ages.

What is the difference in price between a Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu?

The cost of owning a Lhasa apso or Shih tzu can vary widely depending on the source.

Shelter costs may be substantially lower than purchasing from a breeder. However, some breeders may offer discounted fees for puppies and other animals.

Compared to many other famous dog breeds, Lhasa apso and Shih Tzu tend to have slightly higher costs associated with purchase prices, veterinarian visits, and grooming services due to their long coats.

How much time does it take to groom a Lhasa Apso or Shih Tzu?

Grooming a small dog with a long coat, such as a Lhasa apso or shih tzu, can be time-consuming. According to experts in the field of grooming tips and coat care, these dogs should receive regular brushing and combing at least once weekly to prevent matting and reduce shedding.

Additionally, owners should plan on taking their pets for professional grooming services every few months to ensure that their coats remain healthy and free of tangles.

Proper maintenance makes it possible to keep these breeds looking beautiful while saving time and effort.


The Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu are small companion dogs with long hair and similar temperaments. However, they do differ in a few ways.

The Lhasa Apso has a double coat of fur that requires frequent grooming, while the Shih Tzu’s skin is more resilient and can be groomed less often. Both breeds require regular exercise and can live up to 10-15 years if properly cared for.

When deciding between lhasa apso and shih tzu, potential owners should consider their lifestyle as well as the temperament of each species. While some may argue that one breed is better, there is no clear-cut answer since both breeds have different needs and personalities depending on individual circumstances.

Ultimately, it comes down to what best suits an owner’s lifestyle and preferences when deciding which breeds a great choice.

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