Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Maltese vs. Lhasa Apso: The Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on April 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

Maltese vs. Lhasa Apso

Maltese vs. Lhasa Apso: The Differences (With Pictures)

The Maltese and Lhasa Apso are somewhat similar dogs. They were both bred to be small lap dogs. Therefore, they have many of the same traits, as they were selectively bred for the same “job.” So, you’ll find many similarities between these breeds.

However, they also have a lot of differences. For instance, the Lhasa Apso is much more independent and reserved than the Maltese. Therefore, they require more training and socialization.

Because these dogs have many differences, thoroughly researching both is important. Below, we’ll help you do just that.

dogster paw divider

Visual Differences

Maltese vs Lhasa Apso - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – Dora Zett, Shutterstock | Right – robertos0621, Shutterstock

At a Glance

  • Average height (adult): 8–10 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 4–7 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Exercise: Moderate
  • Grooming needs: High
  • Family-friendly: Yes, generally
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes, with socialization
  • Trainability: Fair
Lhasa Apso
  • Average height (adult): 10–11 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 12–18 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Exercise: Moderate
  • Grooming needs: High
  • Family-friendly: With older children
  • Other pet-friendly: Yes, with socialization
  • Trainability: Fair

dogster paw divider

Maltese Overview

maltese puppy looking back
Image Credit: Petra, Pixabay

Maltese are small, elegant dogs with white coats and family-friendly nature. This breed dates back thousands of years and has been a lapdog for a very long time. They’ve been cherished companions for a long time.


Maltese dogs are often said to be affectionate and friendly. They’re incredibly human-centered and prefer to be the center of attention. They’re a bit needy but make excellent companion animals for those who want a cuddly dog.

These dogs are often very good with children, especially older ones. As smaller dogs, they can be injured by younger children, making them fearful and aggressive. Therefore, it’s vital to supervise them with children and teach children how to treat them.

The Maltese is better with strangers and children than the Lhasa Apso.

Little girl is with maltese dog indoors in domestic room
Image Credit: Standret, Shutterstock


The Maltese is considered a healthy breed. They are prone to some specific health issues, though. For instance, their smaller mouths make them more prone to dental problems like tooth decay and gum diseases. Their teeth are more crowded, leading to many problems.

They may also be susceptible to patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap), eye conditions like cataracts, and allergies. However, overall, they are healthier than many small companion dogs.

Adopting a puppy from a quality breeder can help limit health problems, as many of these issues are genetic. Therefore, choosing a breeder that only breeds the healthiest dogs is essential.

Lhasa Apsos are prone to many of the same health issues, as they are also smaller dogs.


Maltese dogs are intelligent and eager to please, making them easier to train. You can train them just like any other dog, using positive reinforcement techniques and lots of consistency. Early socialization is also important; it helps them learn good manners and prevents fear.

These canines aren’t particularly strong-willed, so they’re easier to train than many other dogs, including the Lhasa Apso.

White maltese dog walking with his owner
Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

Suitable For:

Maltese dogs are great family pets if the children are taught to respect them. Socialization and training are still essential. However, they tend to adapt better to family life than other breeds.

dogster paw divider

Lhasa Apso Overview

lhasa apso dog in the garden
Image Credit: Ruth Black, Shutterstock

The Lhasa Apso is known for their unique appearance and personality. They date back thousands of years to Tibet, where they were bred as watchdogs and companions.


These canines are known for their independent nature, despite being pretty people-oriented. They are known to be loyal and affectionate with their family members, forming deep bonds. While they may be reserved with strangers, early socialization can help them become more comfortable in new situations.

It’s worth noting that Lhasa Apsos can display a stubborn streak, requiring consistent and patient training methods. They aren’t as people-pleasing as other dogs.

In comparison, the Maltese is known for its friendly, playful, and lively nature. Maltese dogs generally have a more outgoing and social personality, enjoying interactions with family members and strangers. The Lhasa Apso is much less likely to interact with strangers right away.

smiling lhasa apso
Image Credit: karygrabovski, Pixabay


Lhasa Apsos, like any breed, are prone to specific health issues that potential owners should be aware of. Eye problems, such as progressive retinal atrophy and cherry eye, can occur in Lhasa Apsos, highlighting the importance of regular veterinary check-ups and eye care. Plus, hip dysplasia and allergies are other health concerns that can affect this breed.

However, these dogs are pretty healthy and have no genetic problems. Adopting from a quality breeder is still essential, though.


Lhasa Apsos are intelligent, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to training. They are stubborn and assertive, so they’re much harder to train. Positive reinforcement and treats are the way to go, but you can’t expect these dogs to always listen to you. It just isn’t in their nature.

Early socialization is crucial, as these dogs aren’t naturally social. They tend to distrust strangers, which can lead to aggression if they aren’t socialized properly.

lhasa apso
Image By: kshitijprakash, Pixabay

Suitable For:

Lhasa Apsos are suitable for families with older children. These canines may fit the bill if you’re looking for a lap dog. However, they also make good watchdogs. Don’t expect them to be extremely friendly like many smaller breeds.

dogster paw divider

Which Breed Is Right for You?

On the surface, these dogs may seem very similar. However, their temperaments are incredibly different. Lhasa Apsos tend to be more independent and assertive, while Maltese dogs tend to be friendlier. Maltese dogs are also more trainable, as they’re much more people-pleasing.

Both breeds have high grooming needs due to their long coat. Both also are prone to different health issues, however, they’re both healthier breeds than most.

Featured Image Credit: Top – Muffin Creatives, Pexels | Bottom – kshitijprakash, Pixabay

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.