Shih Tzu vs Lhasa Apso

Shih Tzu vs Lhasa Apso – All That You Need to Know!

Shih Tzus and Lhasa Apsos are majestic looking dogs that come with a thick coat of hair. This distinct physical characteristic makes it difficult to differentiate between the two. If you’re someone who wants to know the tiny differences that exist between them, keep reading to find out which of these 2 breeds would be better suited to your family.

Weight And Size

An average Shih Tzu weighs between 4 to 7.2 kilograms with a height range of 20 to 28 cm. On the other hand, Lhasa Apsos weigh between 5 to 8 kilograms with a height range of 25 to 28 cm.


Shih Tzus are small and compact toy dogs that have a distinctive coat of luscious hair. They’re regal and with extremely proportionate bodies. You will notice that their tails stand tall and are plum and silky. They are available in a wide variety of colors with five marking choices. Shih Tzus that have a white blaze on the forehead or come with a white tip on the tail is more expensive than the others.

If you’ve come across dogs with long hair that hides their face and legs, you’ve most probably seen a Lhasa Apso. These small-sized royal creatures are companion dogs with oval-shaped eyes and a heavy coat that is indicative of its Tibetan heritage. Their coats are thick and heavy to keep them safe from extreme cold. You will be shocked to know that Lhasas are available in 8 standard colors and 5 alternative colors! Additionally, you can register for different marking choices too. An interesting fact is that they are born with dark-colored hair which becomes lighter in a span of 6 to 14 months.


One look at the Shih Tzu and you will be unable to resist its charm. These dogs have a personality that’s bigger than they look. They might appear snobbish at first sight, but their behavior is highly appealing. They are loyal, attention-seeking, outgoing, and get along even with small children. Additionally, these dogs are intelligent and value companionship, following their owners wherever they go. Consequently, it is said that Shih Tzus have the ability to make friends under any circumstances, even with strangers!

Lhasa Apsos has quite a contrary and complex personality. They are fierce, independent and fearless dogs who can also be cheerful, energetic and mischievous. Don’t let their tiny body fool you, because they make great guard dogs as they can be aloof and alert while barking louder than you can imagine. Furthermore, Lhasa Apsos are taking the wellbeing of their family seriously, which is a bonus. Another plus point is that they are long living dogs which have a higher life expectancy than most dogs.


Shih Tzus get half their appeal from their gorgeous coat. However, it requires high maintenance, which shouldn’t really be a surprise. The coat of a Shih Tzu needs to be brushed daily with wire brush that’s high quality. It’s essential that you keep the hair on the top of its head trimmed or in a small bun to prevent it from irritating the dog’s eyes. Like other dogs, you need to clean its eyes with a damp cloth regularly and give it a bath at least once every three weeks, depending on its lifestyle. Think this is too much to do? We’ve got you covered. Shih Tzus can also look regal with shorter hair called a “puppy cut/trim” that you can get done from a professional groomer.

The best part about a Lhasa is that like a Shih Tzu, you can choose if you want to keep its hair long or short. As expected, long hair takes more effort to maintain. Subsequently, Lhasas with long hair needs to be brushed regularly and bathed at least once every two weeks. Additionally, products like shampoos, conditioners, and finishing sprays need to be used to keep its coat luscious, clean, and free from mats. However, don’t forget to rinse thoroughly to avoid product residue from remaining in the hair. Similarly, Lhasas with short hair, also called “puppy cut”, need to be trimmed regularly. Grooming has to be done using the right tools, so if you are an amateur, going to a professional at the start is a safe choice.

Monthly Maintenance

The monthly maintenance for a Shih Tzu will cost you anywhere between Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 depending on the quality of food you provide and the grooming services you indulge in. Vaccinations and vet fees at the beginning will cost between INR 5,000 to Rs 11,000 after which regular checkups will not exceed Rs 1000 to Rs 2000. However, this depends on where you live, as veterinarian costs in cities might be higher.

The monthly maintenance of keeping a Lhasa Apso can fall anywhere between Rs 1000 to Rs 7000 depending on the grooming services you engage in and the quality of the feed. Vaccinations costs would include the initial deworming and health checks, which could vary depending on the vet you choose and the city you live in.

See also: Popular Dog Breeds

Diet And Nutrition

A young Shih Tzu requires to be fed at least 4 to 6 times a day because of their fast metabolisms. Once an adult, these dogs need to be fed at least 3 times in the day. Dry kibble is best for these dogs which can be mixed with low sodium broth or other wet foods. The meals have to be high quality, whether home prepped or commercially bought, and should be given after your vet’s approval. Avoid foods that have coloring and additives as they might cause digestive and other skin problems. Some Shih Tzus are also prone to turning obese. In such scenarios, it’s important you keep a close watch on their calorie intake.

Lhasa puppies eat food 3 to 4 times a day, which reduces to 2 times a day as they cross the 12-month mark. These adorable dogs require food that’s both high-quality and rich in protein like chicken, fish, lamb, peas, lentils, and fat that can be found in chicken fat or fish oil. Additionally, depending on your dog’s tolerance, it is essential to get the approval of your vet before you introduce new foods to their diets. Keep them away from grains though, especially wheat, because they are notorious for causing allergies in most Lhasas. Additionally, avoid food that has a high amount of artificial colorants and preservatives. Food can be given dry or it can be moistened, depending on how your pooch prefers.


The biggest difference you can find between a Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apsos is the amount of exercise they require. Shih Tzus hardly require any exercise. Since they weren’t bred to be hunters but companions, they enjoy staying indoors. Consequently, indoor exercise and playtime with their owners are enough to keep them satisfied. You can take them for short walks daily, which they will also enjoy.

Compared to the Shih Tzu, the Lhasa is an agile and energetic dog that values physical activity. They love running and jumping around and can do so by themselves. You can take them for runs and brisk walks every day while also indulging in playtime. Because of their intelligence and need for both physical and mental stimulation, many Lhasas are trained as therapy dogs.


Shih Tzus are extremely complex to train because they are smart dogs that know how to get themselves out of doing something. In other words, the process can be difficult for some as these dogs can charm their way into doing what they please! Like other dogs, Shih Tzus require early socialization to help them become well-mannered and avoid behavioral problems. Additionally, while training, never use harsh tones or punishment as it is counterproductive. Instead, praise and positive reinforcers work best, after all, they are companion dogs! However, you need to be firm, patient, and persistent.

Lhasa Apsos on the other hand can be trained much easier because they are highly intelligent and love pleasing people. But because of their childlike nature, they get bored easily so you will have to use new and interesting methods to stimulate them. Additionally, their headstrong and stubborn personalities can interfere with training. You might want to try obedience training with socialization in their early years to reduce their chances of developing aggression in the future.


A very distinct difference between the two dogs is the difference in the physical activity they require and their temperament. While Shih Tzus love companionship and can hardly be called a guard dog, Lhasa Apso can be both compassionate and protective when the need arises. It’s important to know what suits you best and then study the differences and unique characteristics of these dogs before you decide to add one to your family.

To know more about these two breeds, read these detailed articles on Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso.

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