Maltese vs. Lhasa Apso: Which Breed to Get?

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Maltese vs. Lhasa ApsoAre you trying to decide whether a Maltese or a Lhasa Apso is best for your household? These pups share some similarities, but they do have important differences that make them more suitable for some individuals.

In the sections below, we’ll discuss some of the most important features of each breed, so you can decide which one is suitable for your family.

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Maltese vs. Lhasa Apso: A Detailed Comparison

Let’s start by comparing the two breeds side by side.


The Maltese belongs to the Barbichon family and is native to Malta, as its name suggests. This breed’s history is not very clear, but some believe that the Greeks and Romans in ancient times loved this small pup. It has always been treated as a luxury lap dog, apart from the Dark Ages when Maltese nearly went extinct.

This is when the initial breed was mixed with toy Chinese dog breeds, such as the Pekingese and the Shih Tzu. Finally, the Maltese was recognized by the AKC in 1888, and it has been gaining and maintaining popularity ever since.

Lhasa Apso comes with a very long history, too. It can be traced back to 800 BC in Tibet, where they were bred to watch over Buddhist monasteries in the Himalayan mountains. Over the centuries, Lhasa Apsos remained popular with monks, being considered very highly-priced gifts.

In fact, it’s a common belief among locals that priests are reborn as Lhasa Apsos just before they are reborn as humans.


The small Maltese has a toy appearance, reaching 7-9 inches in height and less than 7 pounds at maturity. This pup has a long, silky coat, typically pure white. Most owners, however, prefer to trim the coat short to make it easier to clean and maintain.

Lhasa Apsos are also small dogs, albeit significantly bigger than the tiny Maltese. A mature Lhasa Apso reaches about 10-11 inches in height and between 12 and 18 pounds in weight at maturity. One of the trademarks of this breed is the long coat, often touching the floor and parted in the middle. The coat is straight and dense, and the dog is well-equipped to handle the cold weather of Tibet thanks to its double-layered coat.

Unlike the Maltese, Lhasa comes in different colors, including white, black and white, tan, or cream.

Both dogs are considered hypoallergenic thanks to the texture and characteristics of their coats. They produce less dander than most dogs, so they are often a top choice for individuals who suffer from allergies or want a dog that doesn’t shed much.

Aging Profile

Both dogs have a life expectancy of 12-15 years. However, in practice, this depends on lifestyle, genetics, diet, and overall health.

These pups are usually considered mature at around 1 year old.


The Maltese is a well-balanced, charming little dog. It is extremely devoted to its human friends and loves cuddling and attention. It is cheerful and friendly, but also quite adventurous, so it loves chasing around and looking for the next thing to sniff.

Like most lap dogs, the Maltese is not suitable for individuals who cannot spend much of their time at home with their dog, otherwise, it may suffer from separation anxiety.

Lhasa Apso, the little lion, sees itself as a much bigger dog than it actually is. Hence, it does not have the lap dog behavior a Maltese may have – the little lion is highly independent, devoted, and intelligent. It is an excellent watchdog, naturally suspicious of strangers, and may need strong socialization and training, but this devoted buddy with a protective nature is surely worth it.


When it comes to intelligence, both breeds are smart, but their temperament makes a big difference. The Maltese is easy to train, but it is not as independent or stubborn as most small dogs, so it’s a good choice for a first-time dog owner. Training is perhaps the easiest compared to the rest of the toy group.

Nonetheless, Maltese still requires a firm, but gentle hand and consistency.

On the other hand, Lhasa Apsos are independent and a bit stubborn. It considers itself a little lion and is very willing to become the leader of the pack if you don’t. Training is a must for this breed, and first-time owners may need professional help to socialize and train their pups.

As this breed tends to be overprotective, it’s important to socialize the puppy as soon as possible with both other people and animals.


With both breeds, you’ll need to invest time and resources in grooming. Their appearance is cuddly and elegant, but you need to dedicate time and invest in high-quality grooming products to keep them clean and neat.

The Maltese has a quickly growing coat, so you will have to either invest in professional grooming sessions or trim it yourself quite regularly using high-quality dog clippers. The amount of grooming required mostly depends on how you decide to keep your pup.

A longer coat means that you need to brush it daily to remove dust and dirt, especially if it is down to the floor. Also, daily brushing is a must to avoid tangles and mats, which can be very painful for your puppy. If you opt for a shorter cut, brushing the coat 2-3 times per week will suffice. It’s best to take your new puppy to a groomer first and ask for advice if you are a first-time dog owner.

Apart from this, your dog will need to have its nails cut frequently – which is best done by a professional if you have no experience, because dogs have blood vessels in their nails, and the wrong nail trim may cause bleeding. A groomer can either show you how to do it yourself or just cut the dog’s nails themselves.

The Maltese is a toy dog, and a common problem for small dogs is the fact that their mouths are very small, hence teeth are very close to each other. Food particles can easily get stuck there, causing oral health problems like plaque. You need to brush your dog’s teeth at least every two days to make sure you clean all the bacteria and prevent gum and tooth diseases.

For a Lhasa Apso, the requirements are quite similar. It depends largely on whether you decide to keep the coat long or have a shorter cut. One main difference would be that, unlike the Maltese, its coat is quite coarse, even though it looks silky. Depending on which dog you choose, you’ll need to buy the appropriate products for their coats. For instance, a Lhasa Apso may be easier to brush if you use a conditioner spray.

Apart from cutting its nails, brushing the teeth, and regular brushing and trimming, the Lhasa Apso and the Maltese will need regular baths (as often as needed). You should also check your dog’s ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and paws at least every week. These areas are very sensitive, so inflammation or early signs of infections are possible. If this is the case, it’s always recommended to schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.


Perhaps one of the most important factors you need to consider before getting a puppy is the associated costs.

First, there are the purchase costs if you opt for a reputable breeder. A Maltese may cost as much as $1,000, depending on lineage and its parents. On the other hand, a purebred Lhasa Apso can reach up to $5,000 from a reputable breeder.

A purebred puppy is often very expensive, but you can always opt for adopting one, too. If you want to buy one from a breeder, make sure you do your due diligence and meet the breeder and the puppy’s mother if possible.

In addition to this, you need to consider all the other costs, too, such as grooming, training, food, and vet visits. The choice of dog products is very broad, so you can adjust your requirements based on your budget. Nonetheless, any puppy, of any breed, will need extensive care to make sure it is healthy and happy.


Another important aspect to consider is that both the Maltese and Lhasa Apso are dogs that need to spend time with their owners. They are not a suitable choice if you live alone and spend long hours at work. In this case, it may help if you could leave them with other family members, get a friend to check on them frequently, or hire a pet sitter.

If you must leave your dog alone at home for 1-2 hours at most, always make sure you walk them first (a tired dog is a happy dog). You can also leave plenty of toys and treats around, so they stay busy until you get back. This way, you can avoid loneliness, which can lead to destructive behaviors while you are away. However, when left alone, make sure all toys are appropriate and safe, and your home is puppy-proofed.

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

All in all, choosing between Maltese and Lhasa Apso is quite a difficult task. They are adorable, loving, and smart, and may suit any type of family and household. Perhaps the main difference between the two dogs is their temperament – if you’d like a more docile, obedient dog, a Maltese is a great choice. On the other hand, if you prefer a more independent dog, Lhasa Apso will be happy to become the protector of your home.

Both breeds do well with kids, as long as they are socialized at an early age. They should be introduced to kids from puppyhood, and you should never leave a dog with a child unsupervised.

As for household type and size, both breeds are highly trainable and they do not require much exercise, so they are great regardless of whether you live in a small flat or a large country house. Despite their small size, they still need 30 minutes of exercise.

Also, Maltese and Lhasa Apso are not suitable breeds for owners who don’t want to spend much time on grooming. While they are hypoallergenic and don’t shed as much as other dogs, you need to dedicate lots of time to brushing and keeping their coats clean and healthy. Hence, they may not be suitable for a busy individual who cannot or would not want to invest so much time in care and maintenance.


The Maltese and Lhasa Apso are well-known breeds that have been loved for hundreds of years. Small but intelligent, it’s not difficult to see why they are so loved and popular nowadays.

In the sections above, we’ve discussed the main similarities and differences between the two breeds, so you can now make an informed decision about which one is the right breed for you. Perhaps, it is all down to their different temperaments and your expectations and experience as a dog owner.

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