Havanese vs. Lhasa Apso: Which Breed to Get?

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Havanese vs. Lhasa ApsoIf you’ve got a thing for small, adorable pooches, chances are that you’ve come across two similarly captivating breeds – the Havanese and the Lhasa Apso.

In this blog post, we take a deep dive into what you need to know about the two breeds, explore their characteristics and differences when it comes to temperament and maintenance, as well as give an honest, objective comparison to help you make your choice.

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Havanese vs. Lhasa Apso: A Detailed Comparison

There are some important differences to consider when making your decision between the two endearing breeds. First, let’s take a look at what makes these breeds…them.


The Havanese and the Lhasa Apso have vastly different origins and come from different parts of the world.


The Havanese is an old breed that is related to the Bichon family and came to be when Tenerife dogs made their way to Cuba alongside Spanish noblemen and farmers during the early 1500s. The Havanese was a breed that did not have a lot of outside influence in their development and soon became a family pet.

During the 18th century, Europeans who were vacationing in Havana, Cuba, discovered this new breed. This discovery led to the Havanese becoming a hit with British, French, and Spanish nobility. The Havanese made their way to the United States when Cubans fleeing Castro’s revolution brought the breed with them.

The handful of dogs brought at this time would go on to become the foundation of the Havanese that we know and love to this day.

Lhasa Apso

Meanwhile, the Lhasa Apso can trace its origins all the way back to 800 B.C.E and originates from Tibet. This ancient breed was named after the holy city of Lhasa and has many ties to the religion of Buddhism.

This breed developed in Tibet from the Tibetan terrier and other herding dogs. When Tibet converted to Buddhism during the 7th century, this helped solidify the Lhasa Apso as a definitive breed.

Buddha was said to have had power over lions, and the Lhasa Apso was commonly referred to as “the lion dog” due to the nature of its coat and coloring. Lamas, who were Tibetan priests, who did not reach Nirvana were said to reincarnate as Lhasa Apsos.

Many Dalai Lamas have kept Lhasa Apsos as pets and today, the Lhasa Apso remains firmly ingrained in our lives as ideal companion dogs.


The Havanese and the Lhasa Apso are quite similar in size but vary in some aspects.

The Havanese typically has a medium-length coat that can be either straight or wavy, while the Lhasa Apso commonly has a long and straight coat. Both breeds have high grooming requirements due to the nature of their coats and need regular grooming to maintain their beautiful, distinctive coats.

Both breeds also come in a variety of colors, with certain colors tending to be more popular. Lhasa Apsos tend to come in variations of tan, while Havanese come in gold, black, champagne, and white. There is a wide variety of coat colors and different combinations of colors available for you to choose from if you have a personal favorite.


Below is an overview of how large (or small…) these dogs can get:

Havanese Lhasa Apso
Weight Male: 8-13 lbs.

Female: 7-12 lbs.

Male: 13-15 lbs.

Female: 13-15 lbs.

Height Male: 11 in.

Female: 10 in.

Male: 11 in.

Female: 9 in.

Alongside the similarities and differences in size and coat, the Havanese and Lhasa Apso have different styles and shapes to them.

Havanese tend to have longer snouts, while Lhasa Apsos tend to have a more squished face which is typical of brachycephalic dog breeds.

There is a tendency for both breeds to have hair that somewhat covers their eyes, but that is more commonly seen in the Lhasa Apso. The long beard is a unique and identifying trait found in the Lhasa Apso breed, that is not as prominent in the Havanese.

Aging Profile

The Havanese and Lhasa Apso have around the same average lifespan, with the Havanese ranging from 10 to 15 years, and the Lhasa Apso from 12 to 14 years. A fun fact along with these: the longest living Lhasa Apso lived for 29 years!

Both breeds reach adulthood at similar time periods. Havanese reach adulthood around 6 to 8 months, while the Lhasa Apso reaches adulthood from 9 to 12 months. Regardless, both breeds usually reach full maturity within the first two years.

Like any dog, too many treats or not enough exercise can lead to obesity, which can shorten a dog’s lifespan.

It is important to give these two breeds somewhere from 20 to 40 minutes of exercise per day in order to keep them happy and healthy. If properly cared for, Havanese and Lhasa Apsos can live for a long time.


Bred as companion dogs, both of these breeds have similar temperaments, though they do vary in some ways. Havanese are very affectionate, happy, social, charming, and gentle dogs. Lhasa Apsos are similar but have a tendency to be characterized as alert, assertive, and protective.

Havanese are more the happy-go-lucky, love everyone type of dog while a Lhasa Apso might be more suspicious and will take more time to get used to a person.

Both breeds are extremely affectionate with their pack as the people they know and trust.


Training is an important requirement for any dog, but the ease or difficulty with that is highly associated with a breed’s intelligence. Havanese and Lhasa Apsos are typically categorized as breeds of average intelligence, with the Havanese being the more intelligent of the two.

Havanese enjoy learning tricks and are known to be highly trainable. On the other hand, Lhasa Apsos tend to be more stubborn and independent, which makes training them a tad more difficult.


Both the Havanese and Lhasa Apso require regular grooming to maintain their beautiful coats and prevent tangles and matting. In a separate article, I wrote more about the issue of Havanese hair matting. These two breeds require regular brushing to maintain their luscious coats, and haircuts occasionally to keep their ever-growing hair a manageable length.

With both breeds, but primarily the Lhasa Apso, their hair can grow long enough to cover their eyes, and may need a trim occasionally in order to allow them to see better and to prevent eye conditions.

Other Factors

Outside of the personalities and basic needs of each dog, there are various factors that are important to note when debating between a Havanese and Lhasa Apso, one of which is cost.

On average, a Lhasa Apso puppy can cost anywhere from $500 up to $1,200. A Havanese puppy usually costs around $1,000 to $1,500. Both breeds can occasionally run up to $2,500 if the puppy is from a “champion bloodline” with stellar genetics. In general, both breeds are easy to find and get when you are looking to adopt.

Your average lifestyle plays a large factor in which breed of dog you get. Havanese do not like being left home alone all day, and if your house is empty for the majority of the day, that breed may not be the right fit for you. In contrast, Lhasa Apsos are content with being left to their own devices for a while.

Lhasa Apsos are more likely to bark as well due to their guarding instincts, and without proper training, this can become a more annoying behavior. While both breeds need training, the Lhasa Apso is the more vocal of the two breeds.

Havanese vs. Lhasa Apso: Which Should You Get as a Pet?

Bred as companion dogs, both the Havanese and Lhasa Apso make excellent pets, but some households are better for each breed than others.

Havanese do not enjoy being left alone for long periods of time and require a large amount of social interaction. For those living alone or who are out and about most of the day, the Lhasa Apso would be better, as they do not mind being left alone as much compared to Havanese.

As far as Lhasa Apsos, they were bred as guard dogs, which causes them to have a more suspicious and snippy personality around those unfamiliar to them. Havanese make good family dogs and interact well with children and other pets as long as they have been properly socialized.

Like all dogs, both breeds require a decent amount of socialization from a young age in order to combat anxiety in the Havanese and the suspicious nature of the protective Lhasa Apso.


Both breeds make great companion animals and are known for their affectionate dispositions. Comparable in grooming, medical, and exercise needs, the one notable difference is the Lhasa Apso’s stubbornness vs. the Havanese’s genuine desire to please.

Ultimately, the best breed for you will depend on your lifestyle and personal preferences. However, both the Lhasa Apso and Havanese make wonderful pets that will bring years of joy to your home and life.

Considering Other Breeds Too?

Make sure to read how the Havanese compares with other breeds too:

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