Form and Function
The Tibetan Spaniel is slightly longer than they are tall. Their head is small in proportion to their body; their wide eye set gives them an expressive face. Their mouth is undershot. Their gait is quick moving, straight, and free. Their coat is double, with a flat-lying, silky outer coat of moderate length. Their tail is usually plumed, and long feathering grows from between their toes.
Friendliness To Dogs
Friendliness To Other Pets
Friendliness To Strangers
Ease of Training
Area of Origin
Date of Origin
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 lion-like dogs that followed the Lamas 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.
The Tibetan Spaniel largely originated from the monasteries, which usually had the smallest sized dogs. These 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 Tibetan Spaniel came to England in the late 1800s, they largely were unknown until 1920s, when the Griegs (known for promoting the Tibetan Spaniel) obtained several of these dogs. Only one of their dogs, Skyid, survived World War II, but his descendants can still be found. The start of most Western Tibetan Spaniels 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 this breed came to America, and in 1984 it received AKC recognition. This sacred dog has been slow to gain fans, but they are worshiped by those who have adopted them.
The Tibetan Spaniel is independent, bold, and stubborn, but they are also sensitive and amenable. They often have a happy attitude, enjoying games and outings with their family. They also tend to enjoy snoozes next to their special person. They are an exceptionally enjoyable and fastidious member of the household. They are usually amiable with other dogs and pets, but can be reserved with strangers.
The Tibetan Spaniel’s exercise needs can be fairly minimal, but daily. Their needs may be met by games inside the house or fenced yard, or with a short walk on leash. This breed is often well suited for apartment life and usually does not like hot weather. Their coat needs brushing and combing twice weekly.
- 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