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Despite the name, Tibetan Terriers are not actually members of the Terrier group at all. Their history is ambiguous and in their native lands they are called the Tsang Apso.
The Tibetan Terrier is often called the 'Holy Dog of Tibet' and is thought to have been bred to work as a utility dog for and as a companion to the monks living in the high mountains. They were highly valued as companions to the monks and families who owned them and were treated like children in the family, living in the home and not outside like many dogs. Taking care of livestock flocks and herds, they were bred to be a tough and hardy dog, sure footed and reliable to ensure they could work effectively on the harsh terrain.
It is said that anyone who owned a Tibetan Terrier would ever sell their dog, as they were considered very good luck and if sold, the owner was selling their 'luck' with it. So prized were these dog, and mistreatment of them was frowned upon and families could be socially ostracised. Breeding of them was highly regulated and while they were never sold, they could be given as gifts. The first Tibetan Terrier to come to Europe came with an English doctor around the 19th century, who was given a dog in return for saving a monks life.
Average height to withers: Males up to 16 inches, with females usually being a couple of inches smaller.
Average weight: Can range between 8-14 kg for males and females.
The overall appearance of this dog is one of agile strength and beauty. The head is solid and is in good proportion to the body. The eyes are large, set well apart and are dark brown in colour. The ears are v shaped, pendant and lie quite close to the head. The muzzle is strong with a small beard on the lower jaw.
Overall the body is square shaped, compact and muscular with the tail is set high, carried curled over the back. The Tibetan Terrier's most distinctive feature is its coat. The topcoat is long, flat and thick. The texture is very much the same as human hair and the undercoat is thick, warm and woolly. This weather resistant undercoat keeps the dog warm even in freezing conditions - a perfect adaptation for life in the high mountains. The hair is profuse even on the head where it falls over the eyes and this dog notably has extra long eyelashes that keep the hair out of its eyes!
The coat comes in all colours except liver, and can be tri colour, brindle, piebald or any solid colour. Another unique feature to this dog is its feet. The Tibetan Terrier has broad, flat, feet which enabled the dog to herd the flocks over snow covered mountains, acting in very much the same way as snow shoes do!
The Tibetan Terrier is loyal, intelligent, and brave and is extremely affectionate and sensitive. It loves family life and likes older children rather than younger ones. If it has been well socialised from an early age it can also live happily with other pets and is relatively easy to train, especially at obedience. The Tibetan Terrier suit any family that is fun loving and active and can give this wonderful dog the exercise and training it needs. If it does not receive adequate exercise and stimulation, it can become quite boisterous and this can give way to undesirable behaviours, especially barking, of which the Tibetan Terrier is quite fond of anyway!
A hardy dog that evolved to survive very harsh conditions, this breed is robust and suffers with no more a serious complaint on a regular basis than usually being quite allergic to fleas. With this in mind a frequent programme of flea, tick and parasite treatment is required. This dog can live up until the age of 15 years.
This dog needs plenty of exercise and stimulation so does best on at least two good walks per day. It also does very well at canine sports such as flyball and agility to help focus its naturally high energy drive. It should be housed with an active family only, as it will not tolerate a sedentary lifestyle.