Shih Apso Dog Breed

Shih Apso
  • Other names:
  • Lhasa Tzu

The Shih Apso is a small hybrid dog whose parent breeds, the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa Apso, were royally pampered purebreds in the Far East for several hundred years. They are irresistibly adorable little dogs who love to always be around their loved ones but who require a great amount of grooming, care and attention. While they are good for first-time families and even those with children, there is a lot of research you should do to make sure that you are ready for the responsibility that raising a Shih Apso requires.

Shih Apso Breed Details

Breed Specs
Hybrid12-14 yrs.9-12 in.12-18 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

Since the Shih Apso's parent breeds, the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa Apso, are categorized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as being in the Toy Group, these mixed-breed puppies are basically Toy dogs. These dogs are little more than lap candy that can somewhat serve as guard dogs when properly trained to not bark at everything that annoys them. They are great for first-time families — provided any young kids are taught to play and behave carefully with and around them — as well as for people seeking a close, devoted and manageable companion. While they tend to occupy themselves when not entirely alone (meaning you are in the same basic area or building), they can sometimes be a bit difficult to train.


  • Highly devoted
  • Extremely loyal
  • Socializes well
  • Low exercise requirements
  • Somewhat tolerant of cold
  • Great for small apartments
  • Good with kids provided kids are respectful
  • Can occupy himself so long as you are nearby
  • Loves to always be with his favorite family member
  • Gets along with other dogs so long as they are socialized early


  • Prone to obesity
  • Sheds significantly
  • May be moody at times
  • Low tolerance to heat
  • May not be hypoallergenic
  • Highly sensitive to touch
  • Somewhat difficult to train
  • Can be jealous of other dogs
  • Aloofness to people is possible
  • High-Maintenance grooming needs
  • Significant potential for a great many health problems
  • Can be uncommonly bold to the point of endangering herself
  • Has a fair tendency to roam if allowed off-lease or out-doors unsupervised
  • Brachycephaly dog, which practically guarantees many of the more severe health concerns
  • Due to brachycephaly, needs extra-special care and stylized lease and equipment for exercise

Shih Apso Breed Description

These are very adorable little dogs whose adorable mug will overwhelm you, but you do need to learn a lot about the parent breeds beforehand. Read up on the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu for a better understanding of temperament, appearance and what health issues your hybrid may face. Understanding that Shih Apsos come from two purebreds that for several centuries were little more than personal, ornamental alarm boxes is key to knowing why they need to be trained, socialized and cared for with a gentle, persistent and ever-calm demeanor.

Many dog breeders will hesitate to reveal that Shih Apsos are not the sharpest needle in the haystack, to put it lightly, but it should be understood that the parent breeds tend to be a little lacking in the brains department. Acknowledging this will help you to know that a copacetic training and exercise regimen is required for your Shih Apso — especially when house-training.

Despite the possible dearth of intelligence, Shih Apsos are sure to be devoted, friendly and, if socialized properly and gently, amicable with other dogs. (They have the potential to be jealous and / or aloof of other dogs and strangers.) They are great lapdogs and will most likely want to accompany you everywhere.

Exercise is an important part of any dog's life, and understanding the requirements and restrictions regarding a Shih Apso is part of the responsibility you should undertake. While these hybrid dogs are not particularly active or in need of a lot of exercise, they nevertheless need exercise and they should do so in a manner that doesn't further complicate their brachycephaly. Show your love for your dog by taking the time to understand her special needs, and she'll be around 12-14 years to love you back!

Shih Apso Size

The Lhasa Apso Shih Tzu mix size will certainly be small as both parent breeds are also small sized dogs. When mature, they get to be around 9 to 12 inches high and weigh from 12 to 18 pounds. Some may get a bit larger, of course, but that is not typical. If groomed properly, the large round head should be proportionate to the somewhat compact body.

Average Adult Height

9-12 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

12-18 lbs

Shih Apso Temperament

Some say that the parent breeds of the Shih Apso — the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa Apso — are not so much stubborn as, well, a wee bit less than smart. Furthermore, there are those who weigh in that the puppies produced when cross-breeding these two purebred dogs result in something that is even more distinctly not-so-sharp. Regardless of what you may hear, read or be told, these are very cute little companion dogs. They do indeed require a great amount of patience when it comes to training, but they will be happy to never leave your side.

Very early training, constant socialization in sundry environments (walking, dog parks, with friends) and an extremely calm attitude will help a lot in mitigating the possible shyness, aloofness and barking that this hybrid dog is prone to exhibit. All the same, there may remain some hostility toward strangers, but with time and on a case-by-case basis, they may become friendly with those whom you see frequently. It may take some work, but the Shih Apso temperament can be made very appreciable.

It's best to understand that these mixed breed dogs came from purebred dogs whose Far East lineages go back approximately 1,500 years or more. The two parent breeds have a collective history of being nothing more than little personal alarm systems that looked extremely adorable. Otherwise, they did nothing else but be looked after, waited on and heavily protected. While that is certainly not the case today, remnants of that demeanor remain, and it is most likely passed down, in part, to the Shih Apso hybrid.

Shih Apso Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Shih Apso dog breed.

Shih Apso
Silver Shih Apso

Living Requirements

Living with a Shih Apso requires a great amount of responsibility. They demand a lot of attention in different ways, can be prone to barking if not properly socialized and need to be carefully exercised even though they can entertain themselves so long as their loved ones are nearby.

Shih Apsos are great for apartment living and can be somewhat adaptable to larger places. They are curious within their confines but don't like to get far from their loved ones, although they are fine to roam within the house so long as you are there. Separation anxiety is a typical problem, so leaving them alone for long lengths of time is certainly not recommended. House-training is perhaps the other difficult aspect of their companionship along with health concerns.

Shih Apsos have double coats and are not hypoallergenic, and they are not recommended if you have dog allergies. They require a lot of grooming and cleaning up, daily brushing and related maintenance.

Shih Apso Health

Shih Apsos tend to have many health problems due to the parent breeds having a plethora of health concerns caused by their pushed-in faces and the brachycephaly that results: sinus, respiratory, heart, dental, eye and overheating are among the laundry list of ailments to anticipate. Aside from these issues, you should be prepared to deal with knee and other joint problems, ear and skin infections, and internal disorders with the liver, kidney and bladder. Exercise is another very serious aspect of having a Shih Apso as a companion. They can become overweight easily, but they cannot be exercised in a typical fashion or even with typical accessories such as collar leashes.

Due to the number and seriousness of the conditions that can affect a Shih Apso, it's practically mandatory that you not only get the results of all available health tests from a breeder (or shelter, or rescue organization), but that you take the time to learn about the parent breeds before adopting one of these overly adorable little hybrid dogs.

Kept healthy and exercised properly, your Shih Apso may live from 12 to 14 years.

  • Allergies
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Shih Apso Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Shih Apso as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Hybrid Club
  • Designer Breed Registry
  • Designer Dogs Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • International Designer Canine Registry