Tibetan Terrier

Country of origin:
China, Tibet
Height (cm):
Weight (kg):
Life span (years):
tri-color, white, black, golden, cream, grey (smoke)
Hair length:
Recognized by:
FCI code:
Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • great companion
  • gets on with other dogs and animals
  • affectionate
  • doesn't like being alone
  • needs a substantial amount of grooming
  • poor guardian 

The Tibetan Terrier was presented to the west by Tibetan monks so this affectionate and cute dog can be absolutely proud of its ancestry. This dog was named the «terrier» because of its resembling size but it has nothing common with the Terrier breed as far as its disposition concerns. It was bred as a companion and guarding dog and it suits for these roles perfectly.

The Tibetan Terrier has served as a highly-valued companion dog of Tibetan monks, known also as lamas, for over 2000 years. It’s strongly suggested that it gradually evolved from the North Kunlun Mountain Dog and the Inner Mongolian Dog. This breed was treated as a talisman of luck and it was also called the Holy Dog. It was considered a bad sign to sell it so this breed was only presented in reward for services or was granted to civil servants as a symbol of respect. The Tibetan Terrier was not only owned by the lamaseries but it was also used by nomadic herders to guard their tents in their tough and dangerous travel through high plateaus.

Although the Tibetan Terrier has been in existence for numerous centuries it reached the western countries only in 1920s. In this decade, Dr. Agnes R.H. Greig England was actively engaged in the work for Women’s Medical Service of India and one day she was granted with the puppy of the Tibetan Terrier. It was a gift from a Tibetan man whose wife the doctor saved. The second specimen she got from the Dalai Lama himself. It was enough to initiate the breeding program and began to popularize the breed in her native England. The dog was called the Tibetan Terrier simply because it had the similar size with Terrier-type dogs. Actually it’s by no means related to this kind of dogs, neither in temperament nor in general appearance.

The standard of the Tibetan Terrier was developed by the Kennel Club of India in 1930, and it was completely accepted by English Kennel Club (KC) in 1937. The American line of the breed was set in 1956 when first specimen was brought to the United States by the couple Henry and Alice Murphy. They’ve done a great deal to get this dog known in their homeland and contributed to its recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1973.

Presently the Tibetan Terrier is an active participant of various canine competitions including obedience, agility and conformation. Naturally the dog was designed to be a wonderful family dog and it’s still acquired almost exclusively for this role.

The Tibetan Terrier possesses mischievous, fun-loving and bright individuality, which makes it an exceptionally good companion dog. The well-balanced and charismatic animal bonds tightly with its family and craves to be a part of it. It tends to become nervous and miserable if left alone for a long time and therefor it won’t be a good choice for people with busy work schedule. The well-brought-up Tibetan Terrier is polite and patient with children as long as they respect the dogs’ boundaries.

The Tibetan Terrier demonstrates aloofness and distrust when it meets a new person. The breed definitely requires timely socialisation in order to prevent problems of undesirable shyness or even more undesirable human aggression from development. It’s always aware of its surroundings and uses its sonorous voice to warn its master about anything suspicious. So it will make a highly effective watchdog. However, the Tibetan Terrier is too sociable and amiable to become a reasonable guard dog.

The majority of specimens has very little issues with other dogs but this breed is certainly capable to stand up for itself if provoked. It will peacefully coexist with one or more other canines preferably of the same size or smaller. The Tibetan Terrier gets along with other pets as long as they have been introduced to each other correctly and timely. This dog will also get on well with a home cat and will only occasionally bother it trying to invite in its game. Nevertheless in order to ensure their amicable co-existence it’s essential to get them acquainted at an early age.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• patellar luxation;
• eyes problems;
• heart murmur;
• flea infestation;
• diabetes mellitus;
• hypothyroidism;
• allergy problems;
• von Willebrand’s Disease.

The Tibetan Terrier demands considerable amount of time and efforts to be invested in its grooming. Its thick and long coat should be brushed every two or three days but preferably daily. It may be useful to spray its gorgeous hair with water or a dog conditioner to facilitate this job.

Be prepared that at the age of approximately 10 to 14 months your dog will fully loose its «puppy coat» in order to acquire its long adult coat. During this period it’s strongly recommended to brush the Tibetan Terrier on a daily bases. If you don’t plan to show your dog it’s really easier to have its hair trimmed or clipped periodically. Additionally it will make the life of the dog more comfortable. Anyway its owner should regularly remove excessive hair between its toes and in the ear canals.

Evidently the Tibetan Terrier may require more frequent bathing to keep its coat healthy and tidy. It also should be regularly inspected for the signs of fleas or other parasites because the thickness of the coat can make them not so visible. On the whole this breed is a light shedder if you groom it properly.

The training of the Tibetan Terrier is a quite easy work but it can become a challenge because of the dog’s inattention. It is regarded as an intelligent dog, which can grasp fairly difficult commands in reasonable number of repetitions. The problem is that this breed quickly gets bored and therefore distracted so it completely loses its interest in training.

The handler should make lessons short and captivating as well as regular and consistent. He should display patient and calm disposition while working with this dog. It’s crucial to motivate the Tibetan Terrier only with mild reinforcement and tasty incentives. If it feels that it’s treated unfairly it usually reacts with wilful and disobedient behaviour.

The Tibetan Terrier is has an average energy level and needs a daily and brisk walk. However it’s hardy enough to accompany you in the walk to the park and it will become a willing participant of various outdoor activities.

This cunning dog will always find the way to entertain itself and this can be often at the cost of your possession. That’s why it’s important to invest enough time in walking and playing with the Tibetan Terrier. Being a highly biddable and gentle dog it will become an excellent companion for elderly people as well as for less active families.