The Prapso. What Is It?

Breeders with a lot of experience have been known to say that if a breeder has never encountered a surprise in a litter, they just haven’t been breeding long enough, but even a first time Lhasa Apso (or Shih Tzu) breeder can find that they’ve bred a “prapso.”

A what?

A prapso.

It is a short coated puppy in a Lhasa Apso or Shih Tzu litter (both long coated breeds).  Sometimes, such a pup is called a “smooth haired” Lhasa or Shih Tuz, and it isn’t generally noticed until a puppy is around six weeks old – maybe even a little later.  These puppies are healthy, though it’s been noticed that they can mature faster than their littermates: They open their eyes earlier, they get their teeth earlier, and, some breeders say that not only do they seem to be smarter and cheekier than their siblings, but that invariably, they are the alpha dogs in the litter.

What they don’t get is as much hair as their siblings. A prapso puppy will have shorter and smoother hair, especially on his or her muzzle and legs, and in the Lhasa Apso, a prapso pup will look more like a Tibetan Spaniel. There is also a “partial” prapso which will have longer hair, but not as long as his or her littermates, and certainly not a coat that will reach the ground.

The word “Prapso” was first heard in Australia, probably from the phrase “perhaps an Apso.” As far as we know, it was also the Australians who tried to find the cause. Test matings ruled out straight dominant or recessive genes and data was shared with a non-profit organization in the UK which researched animal abnormalities.  They reported that this type of inheritance resulted from the interaction of a large number of genes affecting each other in varying degrees.

Some would say that a prapso is a genetically defective Shih Tzu or Lhasa Apso, but we defer to breed experts on this point until we find more research data.  We have read that a prapso shouldn’t be bred, but they make marvelous pets, particularly with owners who rather prefer not being a slave to grooming.

We don’t have permission to share photos of a prapso (if you have one you’d be willing to let us post, we’ll happily give you full credit), but a Google image search on “prapso” will bring up pages of results.

Image: Lhasa Apso/Deposit

13 thoughts on “The Prapso. What Is It?”

  1. I am admittedly no expert but as a breeder of Tibetan Spaniels for 10 years I heard a bit about Prapsos. I was told by old-time breeders that the belief was that Tibbies were the older breed behind the Lhasas and later the Shih Tzus. A litter of Prapsos was a throwback to the original breed in the line.

    I don’t know if this makes sense genetically but I believed it at the time. I actually ran into a Lhasa breeder who sold entire Prapso litters as Tibetan Spaniels. She had them regularly from her breeding pair and bragged that she put her daughters through college selling the “Tibbies” with papers!!

    • A fascinating comment, Sally, and you’re right, we came across a similar suggestion in our “homework” on the Prapso. We’re hoping someone will donate a photo!

  2. My prapso, BlueCajun Beaux ‘Brain’, came from two Imperial Shih Tzu. He was the breeder’s 1st prapso (and she’s been a breeder for many years). He is, indeed, much smarter than my other full-breed Shih Tzu and hit his milestones faster than normal. His 1st night with us, he was curious but shy – he recoiled from the other animals. By the second night, he was nipping at the other animals when they got near him; he was also busy exploring his surroundings – shyness gone. He was already fully house trained when we brought him home and never had any ‘accidents’ as long as there was a puppy pad near. Within a week of being here, he’d taught himself how to climb the doggy stairs to our bed, simply by watching our other 2 dogs do it, and without any hesitation or prompting from us; he simply looked up the stairs and bolted up and onto the bed. We call him the Munchkin Gremlin, Tiny Terrorist, and The Brain (our bulldog is Pinky lol) from the cartoon “Pinky & The Brain”. He has completely taken over the house! He terrorizes the other animals by launching himself like a little missile towards them, then bites and chews on them until they’re screaming. Our poor English bulldog has PTSD from Beaux constantly attacking him from out of nowhere; Beaux also uses the bully as his ‘muscle’ to attack the other animals. He’s the tiniest fur baby in the home (3 dogs, 7 cats/kittens) but has the heart of a lion! Health wise, there have been no issues, other than the vet having to remove his remaining baby teeth when he was being neutered. With his humans, though, Beaux is sweet and loving, and loves smothering us with kisses. He totally controls this home!

  3. BlueCajun Beaux Brain a/k/a Tiny Terrorist, a/k/a Munchkin Gremlin, a/k/a The Brain, harassing poor Romy.

      • My prapso lahasa apso.
        Her name is Luna rose. She is one year old and controls the house and terrorizes my six-year-old Lahasa mix.
        She definitely looks like a Tibetan spaniel she comes from champion bloodline the breeder has been breeding for years and very surprised.
        She is very healthy and when she was spayed they had to remove two baby teeth.
        Other than that very healthy.
        She loves to cuddle but is very jealous my other dog.

        • Thanks for writing, Elizabeth. Luna Rose is a cutie, and your description of her fits what we’ve read about prapsos.

  4. I got what I thought was a pure breed Shih tzu pup, brought her home Oct 5, 2019. She was 8 weeks old. I named her Scarlett, known as baby Scar Scar. I already had a 3 year old Tzu named Sookie. I quickly realized she looked nothing like my other girl and contacted the breeder asking if she was possibly a mix if some kind. I assumed a Pomeranian because of the coat color and the was her legs and feet looked. He assured me she was all Shih tzu. I was not convinced so I did a breed DNA test, results came back all Tzu. By accident and social media I discovered the description of a prapso Shih tzu. She is exactly as described in these blogs. I’m very happy and feel very lucky to have her.

    • What a journey you’ve had to discovering the Prapso, Tamara, thanks for sharing your story and Scarlet’s photographs!

  5. I have a prapso named him Toblerone 🙂 He is very smart and friendly. When he was brought home, I am fascinated that he knows how to open our screen door. He is a fast learner and very friendly.

    His parents are pure breed Shih tzu, he looks very different from his siblings but he is the smartest and most adorable.. He also snores very loud LOL. <3 love him!

    • You have a cutie there, Corrine, and your experience confirms what we’re read about these little chaps: quick learners and wicked smart. Thank you for sharing Toblerone’s picture. Now we have a sudden hankering for chocolate!

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