Tibetan Terrier Guide

Non-Sporting Dog Breeds

The Tibetan terrier evolved as an all-purpose dog, able to accompany its owner on any job. It is square-proportioned, compact and powerfully built. Its double coat, consisting of a profuse fine, long (straight or slightly wavy) outer coat and a soft wooly undercoat, provided protection from the harsh Tibetan climate. Long hair falls forward over the eyes and foreface. The feet are large, flat and round, producing a snowshoe effect for maximum traction in difficult terrain. The stride is free and effortless.

Gentle and amiable, the Tibetan terrier makes a charming, dependable companion both indoors and out. It is equally up for an adventure in the field, a game in the yard or a snooze in the house. It is sensitive, very companionable and willing to please.


FAMILY companion, herding


DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times

ORIGINAL FUNCTION herder, good luck, companion


AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 15-16 Weight: 20-24

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 15-16 Weight: 20-24

OTHER NAME Dhokhi apso

Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Moderately playful

Affection level Very affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Friendly

Friendliness toward other pets Friendly

Friendliness toward strangers Shy

Ease of training Moderately easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Not very protective

Grooming needs High maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

The Tibetan terrier likes to run and explore, and needs daily exercise in a safe area. Its needs can also be met by a vigorous game in the yard or a moderately long walk on leash. Although capable of living outdoors in temperate or modestly cool climates, it is better as an indoor, or indoor/outdoor, dog. Its long coat needs thorough brushing or combing once or twice a week.
• Major concerns: lens luxation, PRA, ceroid lipofuscinosis
• Minor concerns: patellar luxation, cataract, CHD
• Occasionally seen: distichiasis
• Suggested tests: eye, hip
• Life span: 12 – 15 years
The history of the Tibetan terrier is as shrouded in mystery as the mountains and valleys from whence it comes. The Tibetan terrier was bred in Lamaist monasteries nearly 2,000 years ago. The dogs were kept not as workers, but as family companions that might occasionally help out with the herding or other farm chores. They were known as "luck bringers" or "holy dogs." Much of the breed's history is speculation or myth; one story claims that a major access route to their valley was obliterated by an earthquake in the 14th century. Few visitors hazarded the treacherous journey to the "lost valley" after that; the few that did were often given a luck-bringer dog to help them on their return trip. As befitting any bringer of luck, these dogs were never sold, but they were often presented as special gifts of gratitude. So it was that in 1920 Dr. A. Grieg, an Indian physician, was given one of the special dogs in return for medical treatment. Grieg became interested in the breed, obtained additional dogs and began to breed and promote them. The Tibetan terrier first became recognized in India; by 1937 it had made its way into English dog shows. From there it came to America in the 1950s and was admitted to AKC registration in 1973. Incidentally, the Tibetan terrier is in no way a terrier, having only been given that name because it was of terrier size.