Tibetan Terrier

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Key Breed Facts
Breed Characteristics
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Tibetan Terrier
Average Cost to keep/care for a Tibetan Terrier

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #78 out of 238 Dog Breeds.

The Tibetan Terrier breed is also commonly known by the names TT, Tsang Apso, Dokhi Apso.
12 - 15 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Utility Group
Males 35 - 41 cm
Females 35 - 41 cm at the withers
Males 8 - 14 kg
Females 8 - 14 kg
Average Price (More Info)
£799 for KC Registered
£724 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics


Tibetan Terriers were originally bred to herd flocks and to guard monasteries in the high regions of the Himalayan Mountains. They are thought to be the original Tibetan Holy Dog and are the tallest and liveliest of all the Tibetan dogs classed as Utility dogs by The Kennel Club. These charming dogs have gained quite a big fan base over recent years thanks to their popularity in the show ring. Tibetan Terriers are known to be good natured dogs that form strong ties with their owners, loving nothing more than to be in a home environment which they will protect and guard with vigour if the situation arises.


The Tibetan Terrier was bred to be a hardy, robust dog and one that could survive the harshest conditions of the high regions of the Himalayas. They are the tallest of all the Tibetan breeds and were used as guardians, herders and companions to the monks who lived in remote mountain monasteries. Nomads also used these charming, loyal dogs as watchdogs when they made their epic journeys from China to Tibet.

The breed is thought to be the original "Holy Dogs of Tibet" and all through the ages, they have been highly prized by monks and families alike who would treat their dogs are valued members of the family. Anyone who mistreated a Tibetan Terrier would be frowned upon and even ostrasized from their community because these dogs were so highly thought of.

Tibetan Terriers were thought to be "bringers of luck" and were often offered to intrepid travellers as good luck charms for their journeys. They were first discovered by an English doctor when a merchant offered her a puppy as a “thank you” for saving his wife's life. The doctor was enchanted by the dog and later purchased a second one from the merchant and began breeding from her two dogs. Her breeding programme eventually led to the Tibetan Terrier being recognised by the Indian Kennel Club. The doctor returned to the UK in the 1930's taking her dogs with her and by 1937 the breed was officially recognised by The Kennel Club.

Today, Tibetan Terriers are gaining popularity thanks to their charming looks and kind, affectionate and loyal natures with more well-bred puppies being registered with The Kennel Club every year.


Height at the withers: Males 35 - 41 cm, Females 35 -  41 cm

Average weight: Males 8 - 14 kg, Females 8 - 14 kg

The Tibetan Terrier is the tallest of all the Tibetan breeds placed in the Utility Group by The Kennel Club. They are medium sized dogs being just as long in the body as they are tall at the withers which gives them a well-balanced if not square look about them. They boast having an appearance of strength and beauty with their profuse coast and unique feet. They have medium sized skulls that are neither too broad or coarse and which narrow slightly from a dog's ears to their eyes. They have a well-defined stop and strong muzzle with a nicely developed lower jaw. They have black noses and lots of long hair covering their heads which forms eyebrows and whiskers on the lower jaw.

They have large, dark brown, round shaped eyes that are set nicely apart on a dog’s head. Tibetan Terriers always have an alert, determined and intelligent look about their eyes. Their ears are pendant and V-shaped being set quite high which are heavily feathered, but dogs don't carry their ears close to their heads. They have a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones.

They have muscular, moderately long and strong necks which allows dogs to carry their heads proudly. Shoulders are well laid and forequarters heavily furnished. The Tibetan Terrier has a well-muscled, powerful and compact body with nicely sprung ribs and a deep brisket. They have level top lines and short, slightly arched loins and level croups. Their hindquarters are heavily furnished and well-muscled with dogs have strong back legs.

They have large, rounded feet that are heavily furnished both between a dog's toes and their pads. Their toes are not arched at all with dogs standing well down on their pads. They have medium length tails that are set quite high and which dogs carry curled over in their backs gaily. Their tails are heavily feathered and often have a kink at the tip which is allowed under the breed standard set by The Kennel Club.

When it comes to their coat, the Tibetan Terrier boasts having a profuse double coat that consists of a fine, woolly undercoat and a fine, thick and long top coat that can either be straight or wavy, but never curly. The accepted breed colours are as follows:

  • White
  • Golden
  • Cream
  • Grey/smoke
  • Black
  • Parti-colour
  • Tricolour

The only colours that are not acceptable under The Kennel Club standard are chocolate and liver.


Tibetan Terriers are livelier than other Tibetan breeds in the Utility Group, they are renowned for being good natured and loyal companions that are always on the alert and ready to guard their families and possessions which are traits deeply embedded in their psyche. They form very strong ties with their owners and thrive in a family environment, loving nothing more than to be involved in everything that goes on around them. However, TTs are naturally wary of people they don't already know which is why they have always been so highly prized as watch dogs. However, rarely would a Tibetan Terrier show any sort of aggression towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance and let their owners know that people are around.

The Tibetan Terrier is an intelligent dog and one that loves to please. However, they need to be handled and trained with a firm, fair and gentle hand so they understand their place in the pack. They boast a lot of energy which means on top of being kept busy, TTs need to be given a ton of daily exercise. They do make great family pets, but they tend to get on better with older children rather than younger ones. They also do better in households where at least one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house so they always have company. If Tibetan Terriers are left on their own for too long without enough daily exercise and mental stimulation, they would quickly become bored and this would lead to a dog developing separation anxiety.

They are a good choice for first time owners as long as they have the time to dedicate to their canine companions and their grooming needs. It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life.

A Tibetan Terrier is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.

Intelligence / Trainability

The Tibetan Terrier is a very smart dog and a fast learner. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits as they are the good. Their training has to begin early with puppies being taught the "basics and boundaries" as soon as they arrive in their new homes. Their training has to be consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what their owner expects of them. TTs are never happier than when they are given something to do which is why they are so amenable to learning new things.

They excel at many canine sports which includes activities like flyball, agility, tracking and obedience because they thrive on the attention they are given during their training and the one-to-one contact when competing with their handlers.  The key to successfully training a Tibetan Terrier is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions short which helps dogs stay more focussed on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored.

They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods, but they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and quick witted dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved.

Children and Other Pets

As previously mentioned, Tibetan Terriers are best suited to families where the children are old and are not the ideal choice for people with very young children because playtime tends to get a little too boisterous which could result in a smaller child being knocked over. As such any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm.

When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, a TT would think nothing of chasing off any other cats they encounter because they would see them as fair game. Care has to be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets because of their high prey drive as such any contact is best avoided.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.


The average life expectancy of a Tibetan Terrier is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

The Tibetan Terrier is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these energetic dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

  • Eye problems - Breeders should have stud dogs eye tested
  • Hip dysplasia - Breeders should have stud dogs hip scored
  • Luxating patella
  • Heart murmurs
  • Allergies to fleas

Caring for a Tibetan Terrier

As with any other breed, Tibetan Terriers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


The Tibetan Terrier boasts having a long, wavy or straight coat that can reach the ground. They are high maintenance in the grooming department because they need to be brushed on a daily basis to prevent any matts or tangles from forming paying particular attention to their long, silky feathers. Their eyes also need to be wiped on a regular basis to keep things nice and clean. Any excess hair in a dog's ears should also be gently plucked which is a job best left up to a professional groomer. When Tibetan Terrier puppies "blow" their coats when their adult ones grow through, it can last a few weeks which means more brushing is typically necessary because more tangles seem to develop that much faster.

They also benefit from being professionally groomed several times a year which makes it that much easier to keep their coats looking good in between visits to the grooming parlour. Tibetan Terriers don't shed which in short, means they are a good choice for people who suffer from pet related allergies, bearing in mind the dander a dog sheds could also trigger a pet related allergy attack.

It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections. Because Tibetan Terriers are prone to suffering from allergies to fleas, it's essential to treat dogs with the right sort of flea treatments on a regular basis to make sure they are well protected throughout the year.


Tibetan Terriers are energetic, intelligent dogs and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded characters. They need anything from 60 to 80-minutes exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible, but only in a safe environment. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a TT would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active, high-energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble. They adore taking part in lots of canine sports which includes activities like flyball and agility which are both things they excel at.

With this said, Tibetan Terrier puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.


If you get a Tibetan Terrier puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Average Cost to keep/care for a Tibetan Terrier

If you are looking to buy a Tibetan Terrier, you would need to pay anything from £500 to over £600 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Tibetan Terrier in northern England would be £18.35 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.75 a month (quote as of August 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a TT and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £800 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Tibetan Terrier would be between £50 to £80 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred puppy.

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