Tibetan Spaniel

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Pros Cons
  • self confident
  • easy to train       
  • intelligent
  • cheerful
  • excellent family companion
  • independent
  • poor guardian          


The Tibetan Spaniel is a small and happy dog with lively temperament and incredible zest for life. Its forefathers were used from time immemorial by the Tibetan monks as guard and companion dogs. This fearless little animal will not only become a biddable and frisky family dog but will stand guard round the clock, always alert and attentive.


The predecessor of the Tibetan Spaniel was a highly treasured companion dog of Buddhist monks for hundreds of years. This dog was distinguishable for its lion-like appearance and nice disposition. Lions were honoured by monks since they symbolised Buddha’s victory over injustice and violence. That’s why their dogs were intentionally bred to look like this graceful and powerful animal. The ancient Tibetan Spaniel also carried out the duties of a watch dog and signalled with its sharp voice if anyone neared the lamasery. This dog could be oftentimes seen on the tops of the Tibetan monasteries scanning the environments for something unusual or suspicious.

Tibetan Spaniels were often presented to Chinese and Japanese representatives and other affluent people and the monks were granted with other breeds in return. By and by this breed became a regular occurrence in the Royal courts of China and Japan where it was definitely crossed with some oriental dogs. Modern variety of the breed is most likely related to the Japanese Chin, the Pekingese, and the Shih Tzu.

The Tibetan Spaniel reached European countries in the late XIX century thanks to British travellers. The first specimen was imported to England by Mrs. McLaren Morris and more dogs arrived in the 20s of the XX century. The breed quickly acquired some following but its number fell drastically during the Second World War. Its position was completely recovered by 1958 when it was recognised by the Kennel Club (England).

The line of the American Tibetan Spaniel was established in 1965 with the birth of the first litter. In the USA Leo Kearns, sexton of Trinity Lutheran Church was actively engaged in the popularisation of the breed and he managed to attract some attention to it. Although the major contributor in the promotion of the Tibetan Spaniel was Mrs. Jay Child who became the president of the Tibetan Spaniel Club of America. The breed was approved by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1984. This charming and intelligent dog remains rather rare in the west where it’s almost exclusively used as a companion and comfort dog.


The Tibetan Spaniel thrives in the role of affectionate and dedicated family dog. Some may say that it is marked with air of regal dignity and even haughtiness but under this mask is usually concealed a kind and a bit shy dog. This breed is outgoing and friendly with its human family and its favourite pastime is to seat for endless hours on your laps. It usually makes friends with a well-behaved child but it should be taught to handle this small and therefore fragile dog with proper carefulness.

The Tibetan Spaniel is always reserved and wary with strangers since it instinctively views them as a threat to the well-being of its family. It usually takes some times for it to warm up but later it will exuberantly invite the unfamiliar person to join the game. This breed is a very protective and alert animal, which makes it an outstanding watchdog. However its small size and affable nature won’t allow it to become a good guard dog.

The Tibetan Spaniel worked alongside with the Tibetan Mastiff, which served as a guardian of the lamasery. That’s why it gets along quite well with other canines if it has been timely socialised with them. Other dog of the same size will be an excellent playmate for this breed but it can co-exist with larger dog if it treats the Tibetan Spaniel respectfully. The dog is quite accepting of non-canine animals particularly if it has been correctly introduced to them. It will be on friendly terms with a home cat if they have shared the same roof since its puppyhood.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

• eyes problems;
• porto systemic shunt;
• progressive nephropathy;
• ear infections;
• juvenile kidney disease;
• patellar luxation;
• canine hip dysplasia;
• allergies;
• sensitivity to anaesthesia.


The maintenance of the Tibetan Spaniel requires average efforts from its master. It’s important to brush the coat of the dog daily since it’s prone to develop tangles and mats. They should be attended timely and carefully otherwise they will cause the dog much discomfort. If it’s impossible to work out some tangles or mats manually or with a brush its owner should accurately shave them with a clipper.

The Tibetan Spaniel does shed and sheds quite intensely when the seasons change. Majority of dead hair can be removed with regular brushing, which is going to help to keep the amount of the dog’s hair in your house at acceptable level.


The training of the Tibetan Spaniel can become fairly daunting task because this dog is usually head-strong and self-dependent. Regal bearing and self-assurance turn it into selective listener when things concern following the commands of the trainer.

Nonetheless a patient and dedicated handler can gain a great deal with this clever dog especially if he uses positive reinforcement and tasty treats as a base for his training techniques. The forceful methods are totally useless with the Tibetan Spaniel since they can only strengthen its resoluteness to ignore your orders.


The Tibetan Spaniel is a moderately active dog, which will be quite satisfied with an hour of a brisk walk on a daily basis. This dog is praised for its adaptability since it fits well both in a grand mansion and in a small city apartment. It’s wise to remember that it has inquisitive nature, which also requires proper stimulation.

The bored Tibet Spaniel can be quite destructive for such a small dog. So don’t forget to exercise your dog, which will always be glad to escort you in your walk to the park where it will find plenty of ways to entertain itself.