Tibetan villagers bred the Tibetan Spaniel and prized them as companions, noted for their resemblance to miniature lions. Villagers used them as watchdogs at the monasteries and gifted them to neighboring rulers.
Mrs. Mclaren Morris became the first person to bring Tibetan Spaniels to England in 1898. However, it took until the 1940s to establish the breed there. Later, the first breed members arrived in America in 1966.
The Tibetan Spaniel is a small, well-balanced dog with a moderately long, silky double coat. It is slightly longer than tall, with a short neck, a level back, and a long, well-plumed, high-set tail carried over the back.
This Spaniel’s forelegs are slightly bowed, and the feet are small and oval-shaped. The head is little and, to some extent, domed, with a medium-length, blunt muzzle. The dark brown eyes are wide and oval-shaped, with the ears medium size, well feathered, and set relatively high.
Tibetan Spaniel Breed Facts
Activity level: Tibetan Spaniels should have daily walks or playtime in a fenced yard.
- POPULARITY: Uncommon
- FAMILY: Oriental
- AREA OF ORIGIN: Tibet
- DATE OF ORIGIN: Ancient times
- ORIGINAL FUNCTION: Watchdog, companion
- TODAY’S FUNCTION: Companion
- OTHER NAME: None
Tibetan Spaniel Temperament
The parent club describes this Spaniel as “50 percent terrier, 50 percent monkey, and 50 percent cat.” This little dog is self-possessed, dignified, loyal, and devoted to its family but standoffish with strangers. Tibetan Spaniels thrives on human companionship. They’re vigilant dogs, seriously committed to protecting their home and family.
These dogs are quiet but won’t hesitate to bark a warning if they detect an intruder. They have keen senses and love to sit on top of high places to survey their domain. Typically quiet and well-mannered house dogs, Tibetans are suitable for urban dog owners.
Grooming a Tibetan Spaniel
Weekly brushing is sufficient for this dog. During their twice-annual shed, daily brushing and combing, plus a good bath, will prevent matting.
Coat: The Tibetan Spaniel’s coat is double layered and smooth on the legs’ face and front. The body coat is flat and of moderate length, a long mane on the neck, and a long, profuse plume on the tail. Also, there are long feathering on the ears, back of the legs, and feet.
Color: All colors and combinations of colors are allowed in competition.
- Major concerns: none
- Minor concerns: patellar luxation, cataract
- Occasionally seen: PRA, portacaval shunt
- Suggested tests: knee, eye, (DNA for PRA)
- Life span: 12-15 years
- Weight: 9-15 pounds
- Height: about 10 inches
Tibetan Spaniel Buyer’s Guide and Breeder Information
Email the parent club of breeder’s directory. Consider the disadvantages of their breed, including The Fact that Tibbies are very smart but not obedient; they must remain indoors, where they prefer to sleep on your furniture; they are dog-aggressive, and can never be walked off-lead because they cannot be trusted to come back.
Parent club: Tibetan Spaniel Club of America; founded in 1971
Regional clubs: Finger Lakes Tibetan Spaniel Association
Rescue: You can find TSCA rescue information under “Adopt/Breed/Rescue” on the club’s home page