Tibetan Spaniel

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Affectionately called 'Tibbies' by owners and breeders, this small Spaniel is a bold and assertive dog with its roots in the high mountains of the Hymalayas.


The Tibetan Spaniel originates from high in the Himalayas, where it has been bred by Lamaist monks for many centuries. Buddhists believe that Buddha tamed lions and taught them to follow him, and the Tibetan Spaniel, with its habit of following monks here and there, became known as the 'Little Lion Dog'. They were prized as pets and were often given as gifts to Chinese nobility. Though primarily kept as a companion, the Tibetan Spaniel was also a great watch dog. With its habit of sitting high upon monastery walls, this eagle eyed dog would alert the monks of approaching strangers or predators approaching their flocks. Another job undertaken by them, if slightly unusual, is that the monks also put the little dogs to work in small treadmills, rather like a hamster, which would then spin their prayer wheels.

These dogs were reluctantly exported into the West and in England during the 1920s they became quite popular to own as pets of the well heeled and noble. Most of these dogs were lost during World War II, and the population suffered as a result. The only thing that saved them in the UK and the rest of the western world was the renewed importation of them from Tibet.


Average height to withers: Males and females both up to 10 inches.

Average weight: Males up to 6.5kg, with females slightly less.

The Tibetan Spaniel is a small and alert breed, slightly longer than it is tall. The head is delicate and small, with a dome shaped skull, pendant and dropped ears with soulful oval shaped dark or brown eyes that are spaced well apart. The muzzle is blunt and the mouth slightly undershot. Like many Spaniels, the face is very expressive and can look sad from ecstatic from one moment to the next.

The tail is carried high over the back when the dog is moving and hangs slightly when at rest. The tail is heavily feathered in a fine plume. The silky double coat is of a moderate length lying flat and silky on the body, sometimes with a pronounced mane around the neck that is thicker in males than females. Tibetan Spaniels can be of any colour or pattern.


The Tibetan Spaniel is the perfect house pet and companion. These dogs are cheerful, friendly, playful and highly sociable with all members of the family. Clean and respectful of their housemates (human or other animals), this breed is calm when indoors, but can display clown behaviour when outside and switch into play mode very rapidly. Tibetan Spaniels can be very wary and almost distrustful of people they do not know, but they are not at all aggressive, more aloof.

They are very intelligent dogs and relatively easy to train, soon understanding just how to place their owners under their thumbs! They can be stubborn at times, and this trait is enhanced if their owner 'babies' them. Do not be fooled by the cute packaging as this dog is actually very tough and adaptable. That said, it likes nothing more than to curl up into a warm lap, its favourite place, and have a snooze.


This little proud dog is actually quite healthy and can live until at least 15 years of age, sometimes longer. It enjoys good health with few hereditary conditions but can suffer from eye conditions including Progressive Retinal Atrophy. PRA does not necessarily cause pain to the animal suffering from it; however, it can cause blindness which is permanent.

Caring for a Tibetan Spaniel

This dog is suited to life in a flat or smaller home as long as it receives at least one walk or good play a day it will be very happy just to have human company. The coat requires regular attention and benefits from grooming at least twice per week, more so when it is shedding to help control and remove any dead hairs.

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