Holy cow — er, dog! Like their furry relatives, Lhasa Apsos, Tibetan Spaniels got their start guarding Buddhist monasteries. These lion-faced sentries perched themselves atop monastery walls and barked as strangers or predators approached. “Tibbies,” as they're known to their fans, also walked on small treadmills to turn prayer wheels. More than watchdogs, the Tibetan Spaniels were active parts of the monks' daily practice.
These days, most Tibbies act as canine companions to their beloved people. Some also work as therapy dogs.
Originally from Tibet, this small-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 9-15 pounds and lives an average of 12-15 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Non-Sporting group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Watchdog, Companion
Breed Group: Non-Sporting
Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
Bark Factor: Rarely barks, if ever
AKC RANKING 106
FAMILY companion, herding
AREA OF ORIGIN Tibet
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION watchdog, companion
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 10 Weight: 9-15
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 10 Weight: 9-15
OTHER NAME none
Energy level Medium energy
Exercise needs Low
Playfullness Moderately playful
Affection level Moderately affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Shy
Ease of training Moderately easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs Moderate maintenance
Cold tolerance Medium tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A TIBETAN SPANIEL'S PERSONALITY?
Tibetan Spaniels are confident, playful, and loving little dogs. This breed bonds closely with their chosen people. While most are suspicious of strangers — after all, they were bred as guard dogs — Tibbies usually get along fairly well with other dogs.
WHAT IS TIBETAN SPANIEL BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This is a very active breed, full of curiosity and friskiness. For small dogs, however, Tibetan Spaniel are not especially bark-y. They're alert, quick, and determined. They won't need to walk for hours every day, but they'll appreciate the physical and mental stimulation of outside walks or romps.
Though most live in private homes instead of monasteries these days, Tibetan Spaniels still like to find a high place from which to survey their domestic domains.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A TIBETAN SPANIEL?
Bright and biddable, the Tibetan Spaniel responds well to training. Be patient and consistent, and reward good behaviors with treats, praise, and play.
This smarty-paws definitely knows her own mind, however. Because her recall is not reliable, she's not a great candidate for off-leash play outside a well-fenced area.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO TIBETAN SPANIELS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Tibetan Spaniels are seasonal shedders who require occasional grooming. Their double coats are long and silky, and will need weekly brushing to prevent mats and tangles.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO TIBETAN SPANIELS HAVE?
As a breed, Tibetan Spaniels are generally healthy. Some are susceptible to slipping kneecaps or eye disease.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE TIBETAN SPANIELS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Tibetan Spaniels among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, and so produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as small as a Tibetan Spaniel! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS A TIBETAN SPANIEL'S BEST DAY?
Tibetan Spaniels don't necessarily need extensive daily outdoor exercise, but they sure do love the chance to show off for an attentive and appreciative audience. If you have folks over for a dinner party, let this dog show off her tricks and collect the praise she knows is her due.
SHOULD I ADOPT A TIBETAN SPANIEL?
As you might expect from a dog bred to live in Himalayan mountains, Tibetan Spaniels do fine in the cold but droop a bit in the heat. They have moderate exercise needs and make great apartment dogs, but they'll be happy wherever their people are. Tibbies are a great match for folks who have space in their homes for a small dog, but space in their hearts for a very big dog personality.
Have you decided that a Tibetan Spaniel is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.