Tibetan Spaniel Guide

Non-Sporting Dog Breeds

The tibbie is slightly longer than it is tall. Its head is small in proportion to its body; its wide eye set gives it an "apelike" expression. The mouth is undershot. The gait is quick moving, straight, and free. The coat is double, with a flat-lying, silky outer coat of moderate length and a longer mane. The tail is plumed, and long feathering grows from between the toes.

The Tibetan spaniel is independent, bold, and stubborn, but it is also sensitive and biddable. It has a happy attitude, enjoying games and outings with its family. It also enjoys snoozes next to its special person. It is an exceptionally enjoyable and fastidious housedog. It is amiable with other dogs and animals, but reserved with strangers.


FAMILY companion, herding


DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times

ORIGINAL FUNCTION watchdog, companion


AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 10 Weight: 9-15

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 10 Weight: 9-15


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

The tibbie's exercise needs are minimal, but daily. Its needs can be met by games inside the house or yard, or with a short walk on leash. This breed is suited for apartment life and should not live outside. Its coat needs brushing and combing twice weekly.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: patellar luxation
• Occasionally seen: PRA
• Suggested tests: knee, eye
• Life span: 12 - 15 years
The Tibetan spaniel's history is interwoven with the Buddhist beliefs of Tibet. The Lamaist form of Buddhism regarded the lion as an important symbol, as it was said to follow Buddha like a dog. The little lionlike dogs that followed their Lama masters were regarded as symbols of the sacred lion and were thus highly valued. The Chinese also cultivated a lion dog, the Pekingese, and dogs from each country were often presented between countries, encouraging some interbreeding between the Tibetan and Chinese dogs. Although breeding occurred in the villages, the best breedings were products of the monasteries, which usually bred only the smallest specimens. The little dogs served more than a decorative purpose; they perched on the monastery walls and sounded the alarm when strangers or wolves approached. They also served as prayer dogs, turning the prayer wheels by means of small treadmills. Although the first tibby came to England in the late 1800s, no concerted breeding program was attempted until the 1920s, when the Griegs (known for promoting the Tibetan spaniel) obtained several specimens. Only one of their dogs, Skyid, survived World War II, but its descendents can be found in modern pedigrees. The start of most Western Tibbies dates from around 1940, when several dogs came to England by way of an English couple living in Sikkim. It wasn't until the 1960s that the breed came to America, and only in 1984 did it receive AKC recognition. This sacred dog has been slow to garner fanciers, but it is worshiped by those who have adopted it.