Lhasa Apso vs Havanese: 3 Key Differences

Written by Jude Speegle
Published: October 5, 2022
© iStock.com/f8grapher
Share this post on:
Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

There is just something about finding the perfect dog to mesh with your personality and family that feels satisfying. Maybe it’s more about finding a new best friend with minimal effort, but the right dog can change your whole life. That’s why it’s essential to be educated on the type of dogs you are interested in. If there are two remarkably similar, you should be researching the differences to find the dog that fits best.

In Tibetan culture, the Lhasa Apso was a small dog given as a gift. What a wonderful and precious gift to receive. The Havanese dog breed is literally the only canine native to beautiful Cuba. Both dogs have long, flowing locks and loving eyes framing a classic snout.

At first glance, these two different dog breeds can appear very similar, but they differ more than just culturally. These dogs are entirely separate breeds with their own personalities and standards. The three key differences between these two are their size, appearance, and temperament. Let’s take a closer look.

32,435 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?
Lhasa ApsoHavanese
Size12-18 lbs7-13 lbs
AppearanceThey have straight hair that comes in a wide variety of colors.They have wavy hair that comes in darker shades.
TemperamentNot so easily trusting, especially to strangers.Friendly to everyone and easily trusting.

So even though these canines seem to match at first glance, this is not truly the case. Let’s dig a bit deeper into these three key differences between the Lhasa Apso and Havanese dogs.

Size Difference

Cheerful chocolate sable colored Havanese dog is lying in the grass - Show Champion
The Lhasa Apso is native to Tibet, and the Havanese, such as the one pictured here, is native to Cuba.

©Dorottya Mathe/Shutterstock.com

The Havanese is the only dog native to Cuba, and they were bred in a precise manner to remain petite. They are the natural lap dog that first began appearing in the early 1900s in Cuba. They fit the Cuban sensibilities and continued to be bred through the years, resulting in the dog we know today. Growing to around 13lbs at most, the Havanese is smaller than the Lhasa Apso. They are easy to pick up if need be or steer away from any trouble they could get into.

The Lhasa Apso maxes out around 18 lbs, but that is still a hefty difference between the two animals. These dogs were initially only owned by Tibetan monks or other holy men and served as loyal guards and protectors. They are brilliant and easily trained. Lhasa Apso’s have been around for more than 2,000 years and can boast a long pedigreed history. These dogs are still a great choice as a family pet because their looks and personality have been well-established.

Appearance Difference

Lhasa Apso walking around outside
Lhasa Apsos have long, silky locks that easily tangle if not properly groomed.


Another stark difference between these two breeds is their coloring and hair texture. If you let a Lhasa Apso grow its locks out with silkier, straighter-textured hair, they are far more likely to tangle. Choosing to let your dog have long hair is fine as long as you groom it regularly and learn the best practices to take care of it. Boasting wavier, thick hair, the Havanese may have more hair matting than tangles. They need to be brushed daily and bathed regularly with trims.

In terms of coloring, both dogs come in a wide variety of colors, but they usually follow this pattern. Havanese tend to have darker shades of brown or beige in their fur, while the Lhasa Apso keeps it lighter. Of course, both have been known to be on all ends of the spectrum, so this difference isn’t always as good of an indicator of what breed you are dealing with.

Temperament Difference

The Havanese are more open and trusting than the wary Lhasa Apso. The Havanese was bred in particular to be fun-loving petite lapdogs. Their friendly, amicable nature is a huge selling point as the perfect companion to those in Cuba.

It wouldn’t do for the Lhasa Apso to be too immediately friendly. They were bred as guardians for Tibetan monks or the wealthy, and they were considered rich and generous gifts because of their beauty and usefulness.

Before Lhasa Apso’s became a more accessible breed, they were nearly exclusive to the monks and Dalai Llama. Sometimes it is incredible to look back on the world and compare it to reality, and to imagine such a sacred animal growing commonplace over time is mind-numbing.

Don’t let this lessen your opinion of the Havanese. To be sure, this dog has its own gregarious nature that makes it ready to bring you joy and snuggles and loyalty which knows no bounds. Just because it wasn’t bred to be supremely loyal doesn’t mean it isn’t.

If you choose to invite a Havanese to join your family, know that it is a dog who will become attached to everyone in your household, and it will see itself as an integral part of the family. That’s a great option when you have a large family, and you want to be sure a dog gets along with everyone.

Between the Two?

The Havanese is a friendly family dog who will want to go everywhere with you. The Lhasa Apso enjoys people, but it is a protector at heart and picks who they will guard. No matter the choice, you’ll have a best friend for life.

Up Next:

Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?

How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.

What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?

More from A-Z Animals

The Featured Image

Lhasa Apso walking around outside
Lhasa Apsos have a tendency to bite people it doesn't recognize.
© iStock.com/f8grapher

Share this post on:
About the Author

Jude is a writer both by trade and by heart. They have been writing since a very young age and have eight years of professional writing experience. Passionate about animals, Jude has three birds and three cats.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.