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Shih Apso (Lhasa Apso & Shih Tzu Mix) Info, Pictures, Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Shih Apso (Lhasa Apso & Shih Tzu Mix)

Height: 9 – 12 inches
Weight: 12 – 18 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Colors: Black, fawn, gray, tan, white
Suitable for: Families who can be with him for most of the day, those seeking a true lapdog
Temperament: Loving with his family, suspicious of strangers, needy, stubborn

The Shih Apso is the beautiful mix of the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa Apso. His parents are some of the oldest dog breeds in the world, but he is a new mixed pooch that is proving very popular on the designer doggy scene.

He is a small-sized dog, but he has a lot of sass to make up for his little stature! He is a typical lapdog who loves to be the apple of his master’s eye and can get very jealous of people getting too close to his family. Affectionate with his clan, standoffish with strangers, he is a proud pooch who has a fun and bouncy character when he is not lazing away the afternoon.

The Shih Apso is a great option for those families who cannot decide between the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa Apso – why choose between the two breeds when you could have the best of both worlds rolled into one?

In this guide, we are going to walk you through everything you need to know before you make your final decision about welcoming this beautiful boy into your life. So, let us jump straight into what he is all about.

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Shih Apso Puppies


Like all dogs, there are certain things that you need to know about the Shih Apso before you buy him. He is fluffy and cute, but he is not everyone’s cup of tea and he is not suited to every family. So, it is important to do your Shih Apso homework!

Many little dogs suffer from what is known as ‘small dog syndrome’. This is where little dogs display aggressive behaviors such as snarling and lunging towards other dogs, guarding their master or being possessive of their favorite spot on the sofa. But because he is a small dog, many owners think that it is harmless behavior, and therefore, he is allowed to get away with it. Unfortunately, the Shih Apso is an overly protective dog by nature, and this combined with his owners brushing these behaviors off, means that he can become a very spoiled dog. Top tip from us, by ensuring that he is not allowed to get away with these behaviors means he should understand that he is not top dog.

The Shih Apso does not like to be left alone for long periods. He is likely to suffer from separation anxiety, and so he needs to be placed with a family that will not leave him alone for too long. When bored or anxious, he can surprisingly create a lot of havoc in the home, so do not underestimate his neediness. He should be placed with a family that can spend most of their day with him because if not, he will become very lonely and unhappy.

Although he is a very intelligent pooch, he rarely likes to use it, and he is more independent (read: stubborn). It is important to note here that if you want a totally obedient dog then this breed is not the one for you. The Shih Apso does as he pleases! Treats will encourage him and consistent and persistent training will help, but you will be running on Shih Apso time zones with this guy.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Shih Apso

1. The Shih Apso’s parents are amongst the oldest dog breeds in the world.

It is believed that his Lhasa Apso parent originates from 800 BC, and although the Shih Tzus origins are less documented, he has appeared on many ancient paintings and carvings. The phrase ‘respect your elders’ comes into mind here.

2. He goes by a lot of other names.

Like many CIA agents, the Shih Apso goes by a lot of other names. Such as the Lhasa Tzu, Shihapso, the Lhasatzu, or the Shipso. Whatever you call this secretive pooch, he is adorably awesome.

3. The Shih Apso has an impressive mustache.

His combined Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso genes have come together to create a mighty canine mustache. With bushy hair around his muzzle you can style him a terrific ‘tache that will turn heads for sure. If he is not brave enough for this, you could just opt for a tidier teddy bear cut.

The parent breeds of Shih Apso
The parent breeds of Shih Apso: Left – Shih-Tzu (Eli S, Shutterstock) | Right – Lhasa Apso (robertos0621, Shutterstock)

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Shih Apso 🧠

So, you now know about the Shih Apso’s main deal breakers, but what else is there to know?

For starters, this guy loves a cuddle (or three or four!) He likes to live the life of Riley and you will mainly find him either on the sofa or in bed (with his eye mask on, of course!) This pampered pooch will paw at you until you give him enough attention, so you need to expect a very needy pooch. Some people love this trait, and some find it annoying, but however you feel about it, this guy will be your new shadow.

Pups that crave human companionship also tend to be seriously loving, and the Shih Apso is one of the most ardent canine lovers around. Full of love and adoration for his family, if it is a cuddly, caring, and downright soppy pooch that you are seeking, look no further than the Shih Apso!

He also loves to snuggle up to the smaller members of the family and his innate protectiveness will find him sitting on their lap making sure that they come to no harm. His Lhasa Apso parents were not chosen to protect the Tibetan temples for nothing! He is very unlikely to become overprotective towards those in the family unit but remember if you notice any of the ‘little dog syndrome’ behaviors correct him straight away.

This protectiveness will also extend to the gate, and he makes a wonderful little watchdog. So, you might want to warn your guests of the little lion dog that roams your estate. Again, never aggressive, he will just want to alert you to incoming visitors or someone knocking at the door. This is something to think about if you live in an apartment or somewhere with noise restrictions.

Despite being small and stubborn, he is very intelligent. If he is not so stubborn, you will find an eager-to-learn pooch who wants to perform all the circus tricks.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

The Shih Apso is great for families who can spend a lot of time with him. If you are at work all day or always traveling, then this breed is not for you. Thankfully, he is small enough to fit into your handbag or charming enough to sit in your shopping cart when at your local store, so he will not accept any excuses for being left at home.

He gets on great with children, just be sure to teach them how to handle dogs properly, and that no matter how cute and fluffy he is, he is not to be treated like a teddy bear. Particularly, if the Shih Apso is on the smaller side, he can be accidentally injured by children who do not know how to treat dogs. The Shih Apso makes a great hot water bottle for kids, adults, and grandparents alike.

The Shih Apso does not need much exercise, so he is also a popular choice for the elderly who cannot offer their pets long walkies or intense exercise. As long as he gets his snuggle fix, this guy is easily pleased and a versatile dog in any home.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The Shih Apso, just as long as he is socialized well during his puppy training, is a polite dog who enjoys the company of other dogs. He would prefer the company of calmer dogs rather than boisterous ones, but he isn’t afraid to tell other canines to calm down.

He gets along with other pets, so he is a fantastic addition to a multi-pet household.

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Things to Know When Owning a Shih Apso:

In addition to the need Shih Apso’s need for company, there are a few other necessities that you need to be aware of before welcoming this guy into the family.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Shih Apso should be fed high-quality kibble that will provide him with everything that he needs to keep him happy and healthy. This includes named protein sources such as deboned turkey or chicken meal, healthy carbohydrates, a variety of vitamins and minerals, and fibrous ingredients to aid in healthy digestion. Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon oils and flaxseed will keep his brain functioning well and his skin, coat, and mustache nourished and shiny.

Dried kibbles are particularly important for smaller breeds who have compact teeth, as they will help to keep his teeth clean and prevent a buildup of plaque. Feed him between 2 and 3 meals a day and avoid free feeding as this guy is prone to munching too much if left to his own devices.

Because the Shih Apso is not particularly energetic, but loves to eat (a LOT!) you need to be sure that you do not feed him more energy than he needs otherwise you will soon find a porky pooch on your hands. Follow package instructions that will guide you regarding portion sizes.

Exercise 🐕

The Shih Apso is known for not needing too much exercise, which is why he is a favorite amongst the elderly and those with mobility difficulties. A few walks a day, totaling to around 20 minutes, for a leg stretch, sniff and toilet break will be plenty.

He will have a few crazy moments in the garden, but nothing too strenuous and this will be enough to tire him out ready for his next snooze. Invest in a few toys to keep his intelligent brain occupied, especially for those times when you do have to leave him alone in the house so that he does not turn his attention to your sofa.

Although he would really appreciate a garden for a quick runaround or to catch the sun rays, due to his low energy levels he is suited to apartment living.

Training 🦮

Yes, the Shih Apso is intelligent, but it is more than likely (I’d say almost 95% certain) that if he is not in the mood for training, he will not go along with your attempts to train him. This does not mean that he does not need to be trained, just try often, do not give in, and keep training sessions short and sweet so that he does not get bored. Edible treats are likely to be his favorite reward!

Since there is a high chance that the Shih Apso will suffer from separation anxiety, it is a great idea to crate train him as soon as you get him into the family home. Not only will this provide him with a safe space to retire to when he is tired or anxious, but it also allows you to rest easy, knowing that he cannot chew your sofa when you have to pop to the grocery store. Everyone is a winner!

Plenty of socialization is key and introduce your Shih Apso to as many animals as possible–big and small, calm and playful – so that he grows into a well-mannered pooch. Be sure to mix him with unfamiliar humans too as this will help to discourage the possessiveness of his family.

The Shih Apso might need daily grooming (we’ll discuss this next), so for this reason it is important to get him used to his grooming routine as a puppy. Ear cleaning, nail clipping, brushing, and bathing should all be introduced to him early on, and make it a very pleasant experience for him so that he becomes accustomed to it.


Grooming ✂️

The Shi Apso has a very fluffy and potentially long coat. Dependent on the type of cut, you may need to take him to the groomers every month or so to keep him looking fresh. If you opt for a long coat, you will need to brush him every day to remove dirt and prevent matting.

If you opt for a shorter teddy bear cut, you should brush him every other day, still to prevent matting, but he’ll collect much less dirt compared to longer locks. His coat can also be smooth or wavy, and this will also affect his grooming regime, with curlier canines needing more frequent grooming.

The Shih Apso will need bathing every 8 weeks with a specially-designed doggy shampoo that will not be too harsh on his sensitive skin. Clean his ears every week to prevent infections and brush his teeth at least twice a week with doggy toothpaste.

Because he is not an active pooch, you will have to trim his nails regularly, checking them once a week. As a general rule, if you can hear them tapping on the floor then they are too long. If you have never clipped his nails before or are uncertain, ask your vet or groomer to show you – it is quite easy once you are in the know!

Health and Conditions ❤️

The Shih Apso, like any other mixed breed’s health, tends to be more resilient compared to purebred dogs thanks to their genetic diversity. He is still susceptible to the common health concerns of both breeds, so be sure to make yourself aware of the common conditions.

Minor Conditions
  • Periodontal diseases
  • Ear infections
  • Eye conditions
  • Hernia
Serious Conditions
  • Patella Luxation
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Liver & Kidney problems
  • Bladder stones

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Male vs Female

There is not a great deal of difference between male and female Shih Apsos. Male Shih Apsos are usually larger than their female counterparts.

Male Shih Apsos can be a little more boisterous than female pups, and this might be a deciding factor for more active families or elderly couples seeking a very sedentary dog.

If you have a female Shih Apso that has not been spayed, you will need to consider how and when you will walk her in public (all the boys will be chasing her!), and this is particularly important if you have other male dogs in the family household. You will need to keep them separated unless you want more puppies.



The Shih Apso is a stubborn pooch, but he is seriously cute, loving and full of cheeky character, so he definitely makes up for it. If you are looking for a small diva dog who will look after his family, love them to the ends of the earth, and grace you with snuggles, then this guy ticks all the boxes.

He is not particularly energetic, but this is his appeal to many families and couples out there. He has fun outbursts throughout the day, and he does what he wants, when he wants. The Shih Apso time zone will be your new way of timekeeping, and as long as you can spend most of your time with him, he is worth it all and more!

Featured Image Credit: Dee Dalasio, Shutterstock

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