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Equally adorable pups in a small package, the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu might as well be cousins! After all, both have naturally long hair, large round eyes, and a smile that’s almost ever-present. What are the differences between these two to easily tell them apart?

The Lhasa Apso is just a smidge heavier on average than the Shih Tzu, tipping the scale at 18 lbs while the latter is only at about 16 lbs. But in terms of lifespan, the Shih Tzu reaches a ripe old age of 18 years – about 3 years longer than the Lhasa. In terms of popularity, Shih Tzu is currently on the AKC’s 20th place while Lhasa Apso trails behind by placing at 71st.

Whether you’re looking into owning either dog breed, or you simply are curious about these frequently confused breeds, this Lhasa Apso vs Shih Tzu side by side comparison is for you! Find out just how different and unique these two lovable breeds are.

11. Breed History And Origins

Both dog breeds have a long history that goes way back. The Lhasa Apso hailed from Tibet and were reliable guardians of the Buddhist monasteries’ inner sanctuaries. And this was more than a thousand years ago!

As for the Shih Tzu, this breed is a cross between the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso. From Tibet to China, they were beloved dogs by the Chinese emperors and members of the nobility. Because of their compact size, Shih Tzus were the favorite lap dogs of the royalty.

10. Appearance: Coat Type

Endowed with long coats, Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu do look quite similar at a glance. But although they both have floor-length coats, the texture differs.

Lhasa Apsos have straighter and heavier hair that is often parted right in the middle. Their facial hair is also thick and abundant while their tails are feathery. Shih Tzus, on the other hand, have double coats that are luxurious, smooth, and flowing. Their tails are curled over the back.

9. Appearance: Coat Colors

Both breeds come in a variety of coat colors. The Lhasa Apso coat color varies in shades of red, and white, tan and black, or gold and white.

Shih Tzus come in more colors. Among the few are silver and white, solid black, red and white, gold and white, solid liver, black mask gold, and liver and white.

8. Appearance: Height

While both are small dogs, one is slightly taller than the other. The Lhasa Apso has an average height of 10 inches or sometimes nearly a foot tall.

On the other hand, the Shih Tzu is a little bit shorter than the Lhasa. Most Shih Tzus stand about 9.5 inches at the shoulder. Very rarely do they grow over 11 inches at the withers.

SPOTLIGHT: Check out your dog’s weight at with our very own puppy weight chart right here.

7. Health Issue: Kidney Dysfunction

Unfortunately, kidney dysfunction is a disease that wreaks havoc to both the Lhasa Apso’s and Shih Tzu’s health. Lhasa Apsos are predisposed to a type of kidney disease called glomerulonephropathy, where the kidneys tend to leak protein because of damage.

With Shih Tzus, renal dysplasia is a common problem, which can affect these dogs even at an early age. Among the symptoms of this disease are excessive thirst, poor appetite, frequent urination, and vomiting.

6. Price

Another difference between the Lhasa Apso and the Shih Tzu is the price point. This is affected by their popularity rating; thus, the less popular the dog, the cheaper it is.

Lhasa Apso has a lower price tag since it ranks lower than the Shih Tzu in terms of popularity. The average price for this breed is at around $600 while Shih Tzus are more expensive at $800 or higher.

5. Temperament: Friendliness

With their gentle demeanor, Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus are among the most popular family dogs. However, the Lhasa Apso is more suited in a household with older children because of their poor reaction to ear or tail pulling and rough handling.

Shih Tzus, on the other hand, are more patient dogs. They love to please others – children and adults alike. They are also quite outgoing and will love to play and spend time with their family.

4. Temperament: Barkers

If you prefer a quiet dog, the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu are not exactly your best bet. They are barkers by nature because of their background as protectors.

But the Lhasa Apso barks more frequently because of their ancestry as monastery sentinels. They are always ready to bark at strangers while Shih Tzus can be easily trained not to bark so much. Proper training and socialization definitely come a long way for these breeds.

SPOTLIGHT: Check out your dog’s weight at with our very own puppy weight chart right here.

3. Popularity

As mentioned earlier, the Lhasa Apso trails a bit behind the Shih Tzu in terms of popularity. As of 2020, both breeds belong in the top 100 of the American Kennel Club’s most popular dog breeds.

However, the Lhasa Apso is quite further away, ranking at 71st, while the Shih Tzu is at the 20th place. But both are certainly amazing dogs that are eager to please and easy to love!

2. Lifespan

For the most part, these two breeds are healthy pups that can live up to a decade. They do have some genetic ailments, which can shorten their lifespan.

A generally healthy Lhasa Apso can live up to 15 years. But when well taken care of and treated well, the Shih Tzu can reach a ripe old age of 18 years.

1. Appearance: Weight

When placed side by side, it is easy to spot which one of these two dogs is heavier than the other. The Lhasa Apso typically weighs 12 to 18 lbs while the Shih Tzu is a bit lighter, weighing at 9 to 16 lbs.

Because of their smaller build, the Shih Tzu belongs to the Toy Group of dogs while the Lhasa Apso is a non-sporting dog. This is one way to tell them apart – among the other differences we have just included on this list!

Related Questions

Do Shih Tzus Get Along With Lhasa Apsos? Shih Tzus are very social dogs that easily get along with other canines. They love company and enjoy socializing, so they should do well with Lhasa Apsos. Early socialization and proper introduction are a must to help them get along just fine.

What Is A Shih Tzu Lhasa Apso Mix Called? A Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso mix is called a Shih Apso. Other names for this hybrid pooch include Lhasatzu, Lhasa Tzu, or Shihapso.

Should I Get A Shih Tzu Or Lhasa Apso? Both are great dogs and your choice depends on your preference in terms of the dog’s personality. Lhasa Apsos are more independent by nature, and they are better with adults or older children. Shih Tzus, on the other hand, are very social dogs that love company. They get along well with kids and other household pets.

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