Shih Apso

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
fast facts

About Shih Apso

15-20 lb
9-11 inches
12-15 years
Not Applicable
Best Suited For
seniors, singles, families with kids and other pets, apartment dwellers, first-time dog owners
stubborn, energetic, playful, affectionate
Comparable Breeds
Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso
Shih Apso Basics

The loving little Shih Apso just loves being the center of attention and brings together the feisty spirit of the Shih Tzu and the cautious, aloof nature of the Lhasa Apso for a wonderful family pet who enjoys being involved in all activities. Because of his need for human interaction, this little guy can suffer from separation anxiety if left on his own for long periods of time.

The loving Shih Apso brings together the feisty Shih Tzu and the aloof little Lhasa Apso for a fun companion dog.


While both the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa Apso date back to ancient Tibet, the Shih Apso himself is a relatively recent addition to the dog world; likely 30 to 40 years to when breeders began crossing pure-bred dogs to create pups that were free of the health issues that impacted their pure-bred parents. These pooches are also often bred to be gentler, smaller and hypo-allergenic.


Because he is not a pure-bred dog, the Shih Apso does not qualify to join the American Kennel Club (AKC) however both parent breeds are members. The Lhasa Apso was admitted to their “non-sporting” group in 1935 while the Shih Tzu joined AKC’s “toy” group in 1969.


The Shih Apso will need a top-quality kibble that is specifically designed for his age, size and activity level. Similar to the Lhasa Apso side of his family, he may require a diet rich in protein and with a minimum 14% fat level to support that heavy coat however this little dog can be prone to obesity, so speak with your vet regarding the ideal blend. Because he can inherit joint issues later in life, weight maintenance is important so plan to feed him 2 to 3 smaller meals each day versus free-feeding and avoid foods with fillers that may cause him to overeat to feel full.

The sweet Shih Apso thrives on human interaction and loves nothing more than to be held and cuddled.


The Shih Apso comes from two stubborn breeds so patience will be needed when training this little dog. The Shih Tzu in particular can be a challenge to house-train so it’s important you begin the process at a young age. Early socialization will help this feisty dog learn to play nice with kids and other animals and taking a firm, consistent, rewards-based approach with lots of praise and attention for a job well done will go a long way in getting the results you want.


The Shih Apso can weigh between 15 and 20 pounds once fully grown.


This sweet little dog thrives on human interaction and loves nothing more than to be held and cuddled. As a result, he bonds quickly, can become jealous of others he feels are monopolizing your time and ultimately suffer from separation anxiety if left on his own for long periods of time. He does have a curious side with a stubborn, independent streak that makes him a fun family pet and a wonderful, animated companion animal for seniors. Because he can be aloof with strangers, he’s a great watchdog when needed but isn’t considered “yappy” so is a great fit for apartments.

Common Health Problems

The Shih Apso is a generally healthy little dog however its important to be aware of you’re your new pup could inherit down the line from his parent breeds. With the Shih Apso, that can include joint issues including patellar luxation and hip dysplasia, kidney problems and bladder stones.

Life Expectancy

The Shih Apso is a healthy little dog with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.

Exercise Requirements

No surprise that the Shih Apso is a lively little dog who will need to burn off energy. Because of his small size, a couple of short daily walks and some interactive playtime should be sufficient to meet his physical needs. Visits to the off-leash park are a great way for him to socialize and help deliver the mental stimulation needed to tackle his highly curious nature.

The loyal Shih Apso thrives on human companionship and can suffer from separation anxiety.

Recognized Clubs

This little dog goes by many names including Lhasa Tzu, Lhasa-Tzu, Lhasatzu, Shihapso, Shih-Apso and while the Shih Apso doesn’t qualify to be a member of the American Kennel Club (AKC) because of his mixed breed lineage he is recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club (ACHC), the Dog Registry of America, Inc. (DRA), the Designer Breed Registry (DBR), the Designer Dogs Kennel Club (DDKC) and the International Designer Canine Registry (IDCR).


Your Shih Apso will have a long, silky (sometimes rough) coat and in spite of being a low- to moderate-shedder, he will require daily brushing to keep it free from matts and tangles – particularly around his face. Regular visits to a professional groomer will help keep him looking his best. Both parent breeds are considered hypo-allergenic and while that isn’t an absolute for this dog, he is a good pick for those suffering from allergies. As with all small dogs, brushing teeth will help prevent periodontal disease and weekly inspection and cleaning of ears can hel avoid infection.


Your wee Shih Apso pup comes from 2 stubborn breeds so expect him to be a handful as he grows. To ensure he knows how to play nice with new faces and animals, plan to socialize him from an early age and because house-training will be a challenge, start young and exercise patience.

Photo credit: BIGANDT.COM/Shutterstock; Kaigifts/Shutterstock; kong act/Shutterstock

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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