Tibetan Spaniel Dog: Profile, Facts, Care, Traits, Feeding

Tibetan Spaniel Dog

The Tibetan Spaniel dog, fondly known as “Tibbies,” has a rich history rooted in their breeding as a companion animal for Buddhist monks in Tibetan monasteries. These small, affectionate dogs were highly valued by the monks for their companionship, providing warmth and comfort during meditative practices. They were often used as watchdogs due to their keen senses and alert nature, sitting atop monastery walls to guard against intruders. This historical role has ingrained in them a deep-seated need for close human interaction, making them thrive in family environments where they receive ample attention and affection. Their loyalty to their owners is unparalleled, often forming strong, lasting bonds that are evident in their behavior and demeanor. This deep loyalty and need for companionship make them ideal pets for individuals or families who can provide a loving and attentive home.

Tibetan Spaniel Dog: Profile, Facts, Care, Traits, Feeding

Origins of the Tibetan Spaniel

Early Beginnings in Tibet: The Tibetan Spaniel, often called the Tibbie, is believed to have originated in the rugged, mountainous regions of Tibet around 1100 BC. These small, sturdy dogs adapted well to the harsh climate conditions of their homeland, developing a resilience and temperament that suited their environment.

Companions to Buddhist Monks: Tibbies were highly valued by Buddhist monks who cherished all life due to their belief in reincarnation. This belief posited that all beings, including humans, could be reincarnated as dogs. Thus, Tibbies were treated with great respect and affection. They were kept as companions, and their presence in the monasteries was both functional and spiritual.

Role and Functions

Guardians and Alarms: Tibetan Spaniels played a crucial role as alert dogs. Their keen senses and sharp barking would alert the larger Tibetan Mastiffs of any approaching strangers, serving as an early warning system. This made them an integral part of the monastery’s defense.

Keeping Warm: Besides their guarding duties, Tibbies were also used to provide warmth to their human companions. Their small size and warm fur made them excellent lap dogs, offering comfort in the cold Tibetan climate.

Mythical Roles: There is a popular belief that Tibetan Spaniels were used by monks to turn prayer wheels, although there is no concrete evidence to support this claim. This myth adds to the mystical and revered status of the breed within Tibetan culture.

Introduction to the West

Silk Trade Influence: The Tibetan Spaniel made its way to the Western world through the silk trade. These dogs were often given as prized gifts to visiting dignitaries and traders, symbolizing high regard and friendship. Despite their spread, they were never sold, only given as gifts, maintaining their status as treasured companions.

Arrival in Britain and Australia: The breed found its way to Britain in the 19th century, where it gained popularity. In Australia, the first Tibetan Spaniels were imported by Myra Livett in 1974, marking the beginning of the breed’s establishment in the country.

Cultural and Historical Significance

Monastic Life and Affection: The deep connection between Tibetan Spaniels and Buddhist monks highlights the cultural significance of the breed. Their role in monastic life, from companionship to protection, underscores their valued status in Tibetan society.

Modern Recognition: Today, Tibetan Spaniels are recognized for their intelligence, affectionate nature, and historical importance. They continue to be cherished companions, reflecting their long-standing relationship with humans that dates back over a millennium.

Good with Children and Other Pets

Tibbies are exceptionally friendly and adaptable, making them wonderful companions for children, other dogs, and even cats. Their gentle and playful nature allows them to integrate seamlessly into various household dynamics. Children, in particular, find great joy in interacting with these dogs, as Tibbies are known for their patient and tolerant demeanor. They are less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior, making them safe and reliable playmates.

Additionally, their sociable disposition extends to other pets in the home. Whether it’s another dog or a cat, Tibbies can cohabitate peacefully, often forming bonds with their fellow furry companions. This adaptability and friendliness make them a versatile choice for families with existing pets or those planning to expand their furry family members.

Grooming Needs

When it comes to grooming, Tibetan Spaniels are relatively low-maintenance. They shed their undercoat twice a year, typically during the spring and fall seasons. During these periods, more frequent brushing is beneficial to manage the shedding and keep their coat healthy. Outside of these seasonal sheds, Tibbies require only occasional brushing to maintain their coat’s condition and reduce the risk of matting. Their fur is silky and smooth, which helps in keeping grooming sessions manageable and less time-consuming.

Regular brushing not only helps in maintaining their appearance but also provides an opportunity for bonding between the dog and the owner. Furthermore, keeping their ears clean and trimming their nails regularly is part of their basic grooming routine, ensuring they remain comfortable and healthy.

Exercise and Alone Time

Tibetan Spaniels are not overly demanding when it comes to exercise, which makes them suitable for various living situations, including apartments and homes with limited outdoor space. They enjoy short walks and play sessions, which suffice to meet their physical activity needs. However, it’s crucial to note that while they don’t require extensive exercise, they do need mental stimulation and companionship.

Tibbies are prone to separation anxiety if left alone for prolonged periods. Their happiness is closely tied to their interaction with their human family members. Owners should ensure they are not left in isolation for long, providing toys and activities that can keep them occupied in their absence. Engaging with them through interactive games and training sessions can also help in keeping them mentally stimulated and emotionally satisfied.

Longevity and Health

One of the remarkable traits of Tibetan Spaniels is their longevity. These dogs have a life expectancy that ranges from 13 to 16 years, making them a long-term commitment for any prospective owner. Their long lifespan is a testament to their robust health and the care provided by their owners. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and a healthy lifestyle contribute significantly to their extended years.

Potential owners should be prepared for the long-term responsibility and companionship that comes with owning a Tibbie. Their enduring presence in a family can bring years of joy and companionship, creating lasting memories and strong emotional bonds. Ensuring their health and happiness throughout their lifespan is crucial, involving proper care, attention, and affection from their human family members.

Unique Characteristics and Nicknames

Affectionately known to his friends as the Tibbie, the Tibetan Spaniel dog boasts a captivating blend of traits often described as part terrier, part monkey, and part cat. This whimsical description highlights the breed’s eclectic personality and distinct physical characteristics. The terrier-like qualities embody their tenacity and alertness, showcasing a determined spirit that makes them excellent watchdogs. Their playful and mischievous behavior mirrors that of a monkey, always engaging and entertaining their owners with clever antics.

Additionally, their independent and sometimes aloof nature is akin to that of a cat, enjoying their own company but also valuing affection when they seek it. Despite the name “Spaniel,” Tibbies are not true spaniels. Their roots trace back to the highlands of Tibet, where they served as alarm dogs in Buddhist monasteries. Today, they retain these vigilant watchdog tendencies, quickly alerting their families to any unusual activity, and maintaining an enduring instinct for protection.

Personality and Social Traits

Tibetan Spaniels are renowned for their outgoing and pleasant disposition, making them delightful companions for various family dynamics. They are small yet energetic, brimming with vitality and joy. Their playful antics and endearing personalities often charm their owners, bringing laughter and warmth into the household. Despite their friendly nature, Tibbies can be somewhat reserved around strangers. This aloofness is not a sign of aggression but rather their natural caution and discerning nature, always evaluating new people and situations with a keen eye.

Their intelligence and assertiveness mean they are quick learners, easily mastering new commands and tricks. This combination of traits makes them both entertaining and reliable pets. Their social nature ensures they thrive in environments where they are actively included in family activities and given ample opportunities to interact with their human companions, fostering a strong bond and mutual respect.

Exercise and Grooming Needs

Tibetan Spaniels require a balanced approach to exercise, needing moderate physical activity to stay healthy and content. While they are energetic and enjoy playtime, they do not demand extensive exercise routines. Regular walks and engaging play sessions are sufficient to meet their physical needs. Mental stimulation through puzzle toys and training exercises can also keep them mentally sharp and satisfied. Grooming is another essential aspect of their care routine.

Tibbies have a double coat that necessitates weekly brushing to maintain its health and prevent matting. This grooming routine helps remove loose hair and distribute natural oils, ensuring their coat remains shiny and smooth. During periods of seasonal shedding, more frequent brushing may be required to manage the increased hair loss. Regular grooming sessions not only keep them looking their best but also provide a valuable opportunity for bonding, reinforcing the close relationship between the dog and the owner.

Legacy and Lifelong Companionship

Tibetan Spaniels have a rich legacy as loyal and cherished companions, a tradition that continues to thrive today. Their long history as prized pets in Tibetan monasteries speaks volumes about their enduring appeal and valued traits. Owners of Tibbies can expect a long-term, loving relationship with these dogs, as they often live up to 13 to 16 years. This longevity makes them a long-term commitment, but one that is richly rewarding.

Tibbies bring joy, loyalty, and companionship, creating lasting memories and deep emotional bonds with their families. Their enduring presence and vibrant personality ensure that they are not just pets but beloved family members, enriching the lives of those who care for them. By providing proper care, attention, and affection, owners can enjoy many happy years with their Tibetan Spaniel, fostering a lifelong connection that stands the test of time.

Daring and Independent Spirit

True to his heritage, Tibbie possesses a daring and independent spirit that makes him a distinctive and charismatic companion. This independence is a trait deeply rooted in their history as watchdogs in Tibetan monasteries, where they often made decisions on their own. Tibbies enjoy life to the fullest, especially when surrounded by a family that loves and appreciates them.

Their lively personality shines through in their playful antics and affectionate interactions. However, their independent streak means they can be quite headstrong, often wanting to do things their way rather than following commands. This trait adds to their charm, but it also requires owners to approach training with patience and consistency.

Family First and Social Traits

A Tibetan Spaniel’s family holds the top spot in his heart. He forms deep, loving bonds with his human companions and is exceptionally loyal. Within the home, Tibbies get along well with other dogs and cats, displaying a harmonious and friendly demeanor.

Despite their sociable nature with familiar faces, they tend to be reserved with strangers. This cautious approach is part of their inherent watchdog instincts, always on alert to protect their loved ones. Their small size makes them best suited to homes with older children who understand how to handle them gently and respectfully, ensuring a safe and comfortable environment for the Tibbie.

Intelligence and Headstrong Nature

Tibbies are extremely intelligent and exhibit a strong-willed, headstrong nature. This combination of smarts and determination means they often have their own ideas about what they want to do.

Owners should never assume that a Tibbie will always obey commands without question. Instead, training requires patience, consistency, and the use of positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, and food rewards. Engaging their intelligence with puzzle toys and interactive activities can help manage their independent spirit, making training sessions more enjoyable and effective.

On-Leash Necessity

Walking a Tibetan Spaniel off-leash is not advisable due to their unpredictable nature. There is no guarantee that a Tibbie will come when called; in fact, there is a high likelihood that he will take off to explore, which could lead to dangerous situations. This might include picking fights with larger dogs or engaging in undesirable behaviors such as scavenging.

Keeping them on a leash ensures their safety and allows owners to maintain control during walks. A sturdy leash and a secure harness are essential for managing their explorative tendencies and ensuring their well-being during outdoor activities.

Exercise and Activity Preferences

While Tibetan Spaniels are energetic, their physical capabilities have limits due to their small size and flat face. They are not built for long jogs but can enjoy moderate activities such as walks in the park or indoor play sessions. Their sturdy build allows them to participate in various forms of exercise, making them content with chasing a toy around the living room or playing interactive games.

For Tibbies who enjoy sports and activities, participating in agility, rally, and obedience competitions can be a great way to channel their energy and intelligence. These activities not only provide physical exercise but also mental stimulation and opportunities to showcase their skills in front of appreciative audiences.

Ideal Companion and Therapy Dog Potential

Tibbies can also excel as therapy dogs due to their loving and people-oriented nature. With proper training that emphasizes patience and positive reinforcement, they can provide comfort and companionship to those in need.

Their ability to form deep bonds and their gentle demeanor make them well-suited for therapy work. These dogs must live indoors with their families, as they thrive on human interaction and being part of the household. Sharing furniture and spaces with their owners is a given, as Tibbies see themselves as integral members of the family. They take their place at the heart of the home, where they can best fulfill their role as loyal and loving companions.

Tibetan Spaniel Dog: Profile, Facts, Care, Traits, Feeding

Tibetan Spaniel Dog Temperament

Affectionate and Loving: Tibetan Spaniels are known for their affectionate and loving nature. They form strong bonds with their human families and thrive on being close to them, regardless of the activity or location. Whether it’s a trip to the beach, a car ride, playing in the snow, or snuggling in bed, Tibbies are always eager to be with their loved ones.

Headstrong and Independent: Despite their affectionate nature, Tibetan Spaniels can be quite headstrong and independent. Owners need to establish themselves as the pack leader early on to manage their assertive tendencies. Proper training and leadership help in curbing their headstrong behavior, ensuring they are well-behaved companions.

Sweet but Assertive: This breed is a delightful mix of sweetness and assertiveness. While they are affectionate with their family members, they can be aloof towards strangers. Tibetan Spaniels make excellent watchdogs, alert and attentive to their surroundings, a skill honed over centuries. Despite this, they are generally trusting of other dogs and people once they become familiar.

Feline-like Behavior: Many owners describe their Tibetan Spaniel’s behavior as cat-like. These dogs often perch on high furniture, such as sofas or chairs, to survey their domain. They are meticulous groomers, much like cats, and enjoy keeping themselves clean and tidy.

Moderate Activity Level: Tibetan Spaniels have a moderate activity level. They enjoy long walks and outdoor adventures but are equally content lounging around the house. They can adapt to indoor play with toys or racing around the home when the weather is bad or their owner’s schedule is tight.

Intelligent and Trainable: While they are intelligent, Tibetan Spaniels can also be independent-minded. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, play, and treats, work best when training them. It’s important to start training early, as puppies are highly receptive to learning and socializing. Waiting until they are older can result in a more headstrong adult dog.

Training and Socialization

Early Training: Begin training your Tibetan Spaniel as soon as you bring them home. Even at 10 weeks old, they are capable of absorbing a lot of information. Early training helps instill good behavior and makes managing them easier as they grow.

Puppy Kindergarten: If possible, enroll your puppy in a kindergarten class by the time they are 10 to 12 weeks old. This early exposure to training and socialization is crucial. However, ensure that their vaccinations, including those for kennel cough, rabies, distemper, and parvovirus, are up to date before exposing them to other dogs and public places.

Home Training: If formal training classes are not an option, start training your puppy at home. Socialize them with family and friends to ensure they become well-adjusted adults. Consistent training and socialization from a young age are key to a well-behaved Tibetan Spaniel.

Choosing a Tibetan Spaniel Puppy

Consult the Breeder: When selecting a Tibetan Spaniel puppy, talk to the breeder about your lifestyle and what you are looking for in a dog. Breeders spend a lot of time with the puppies and can make accurate recommendations based on their observations.

Good Temperament and Socialization: Look for a puppy whose parents have good temperaments and who has been well-socialized from an early age. A well-socialized puppy is more likely to grow into a well-behaved and balanced adult dog.

Personality Match: Ensure that the puppy’s personality matches what you are looking for. A good breeder will help you choose a puppy that fits well with your lifestyle and preferences, ensuring a harmonious relationship between you and your new pet.

Tibetan Spaniel Dog Appearance

Tibetan Spaniel dogs are small, energetic, and alert, exuding a lively and keen presence. They are well-balanced, with bodies slightly longer than their height at the withers, creating a proportionate and agile look. Their front legs are slightly bowed, adding to their unique stance, and they typically have a slightly undershot bite, though a level bite is acceptable in some regions, like Australia.

Body Structure and Head Proportion: A Tibetan Spaniel should possess a small head in proportion to its body, free from any coarseness, contributing to its elegant appearance. The head is slightly dome-shaped, which adds to its distinctive charm. The breed’s body is balanced and well-proportioned, with the length being just slightly greater than the height, giving it a robust yet graceful demeanor.

Eyes and Ears: The eyes of a Tibetan Spaniel are oval or almond-shaped, dark brown, and are set apart but forward, giving them a keen and intelligent expression. The ears are set high, pendant-shaped, and feathered, which enhances their alert and attentive look.

Muzzle and Jaw: The muzzle is of medium length, and the jaw is usually slightly undershot, which is preferred, although a level bite is also acceptable. This jaw structure contributes to the breed’s characteristic expression.

Neck and Back: Tibetan Spaniels have a short, strong neck and a level back, providing a sturdy framework. This build supports their active and agile nature, enabling them to move with grace and ease.

Legs and Feet: The forelegs of a Tibetan Spaniel are slightly bowed, which is a distinctive feature of the breed, while the feet are hare-shaped, featuring a long third digit. The hindlegs are strong and straight when viewed from behind, with well-developed stifles.

Tail and Coat: The tail of a Tibetan Spaniel is one of its most striking features. It is curled and carried high over the back, adorned with rich plumage. They have a double coat that protects them from the harsh climates of their native Tibetan monasteries. The outer coat is silky, lies flat, and is of moderate length, while the undercoat is soft and fine.

Feathering and Mane: Their forelegs are feathered, and the hindlegs and tail boast a dense, long coat. Around the neck, they have a “mane” of longer hair, contributing to their regal appearance. This mane, combined with their high head carriage, gives them a noble and dignified look.

Feet and Grooming: The feet are feathered both on the underside and between the toes, but this is the only area that might require clipping. The rest of the coat should be left natural to maintain its authentic appearance.

Size and Coat Color: Male and female Tibetan Spaniels are similar in size and appearance, though females typically have slightly less coat and mane than males. The ideal height for the breed is about 25 cm, with a weight range of 4 to 7 kg. Their coat can be any color or combination of colors, including solid, patterned, and particolored markings.

Movement and Behavior: Tibetan Spaniels move with a quick, free, and confident gait. They carry their tail and head high, especially when in motion, displaying their spirited and proud nature. Known for their agility, they move freely in a straight line and are often found lounging in high places, such as windowsills or the tops of sofas, where they continue their breed’s traditional role as vigilant watchdogs.

Tibetan Spaniel Dog Characteristics

Personality and Behavior: Tibetan Spaniel dogs are known for their clown-like characteristics, often amusing their owners with playful antics. They are outgoing and friendly but can be aloof with strangers. Despite their approachable nature, they should never exhibit aggression or timidity. Owners quickly learn that these intelligent and affectionate dogs often take charge of the household, showcasing a strong sense of independence and confidence.

Intelligence and Alertness: Tibetan Spaniels are highly intelligent and possess an inherent alertness reminiscent of their ancestors who guarded Tibetan monasteries. They have an instinct to explore large areas and prefer to stay on high vantage points to watch for potential threats, maintaining their role as vigilant guardians.

Maintenance: Minimal grooming is required for Tibetan Spaniels. A weekly brushing will keep their coat free from knots, except during seasonal changes when the double coat sheds. During shedding periods, the undercoat should be regularly stripped to prevent irritation. Regular nail trimming and dental care are essential, and due to their pendant ears with feathering, it is advisable to routinely check and clean their ears to keep them free from debris and infections.

Trainability: Tibetan Spaniel dogs are very easy to train, responding well to gentle discipline due to their intelligence and natural desire to please their family. Once trained, they exhibit excellent recall and become amiable and loving companions. Their eagerness to learn and bond with their owners makes them well-suited for various activities and sports.

Suitability: Tibetan Spaniels are highly adaptable and are suitable companions for both older individuals and children. They thrive in activities such as Obedience, Agility, and other sports. Besides being great family pets, they are also suitable for training as therapy dogs due to their friendly and empathetic nature. Owning a Tibetan Spaniel is a delightful experience, and many owners find themselves unable to stop at just one, drawn in by the breed’s charm and distinctive personality. Fitness – Meditation – Diet – Weight Loss – Healthy Living – Yoga

Exercise and Activity Levels

Tibetan Spaniel dogs have moderate exercise needs and are generally content with daily walks and some playtime. They enjoy outdoor exploration with their family but do not require extensive physical activity. Their historical role as monastic watchdogs makes them fond of high vantage points, such as the back of a couch or a windowsill, where they can survey their surroundings. While they enjoy being active, Tibetan Spaniels thrive in the presence of their family and can become unhappy if left alone for extended periods, regardless of the amount of exercise they receive.


Tibetan Spaniel dogs have a double coat that consists of a fine, dense undercoat and a silky, flat outer coat. Grooming requirements for Tibbies include:

  • Brushing: Weekly brushing is necessary to keep the coat free from tangles and mats. More frequent brushing may be needed during shedding seasons, which occur twice a year.
  • Debris Removal: After outdoor activities, it may be necessary to remove debris from their feathering daily. Dog accessories on Amazon
  • Bathing: Occasional baths are sufficient, as overbathing can strip the coat of natural oils.
  • Trimming: The hair between the toes and on the underside of the feet should be trimmed to aid traction and prevent matting.
  • Nail Care: Monthly trimming of the toenails is recommended if they are not worn down naturally.
  • Ear Care: Weekly checks and cleaning of the ears are necessary to prevent buildup of dirt and wax.
  • Dental Care: Daily brushing of teeth with vet-approved toothpaste helps maintain oral health and fresh breath.

Despite their medium-length coat, Tibetan Spaniels are relatively low-maintenance in terms of grooming. Their coat should retain a natural appearance, and no extensive trimming is needed to keep them looking their best. Regular grooming not only keeps them clean.

Other Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *