The Tibetan Spaniel is a strong-willed, alert dog, originally bred thousands of years ago to keep monks company in the Himalayas, and to bark when anyone approached the monastery. They are not spaniels at all, but rather share ancestry with other toy breeds developed in China, including the Pekingese, the Pug, and the Shih Tzu.
Dubbed 'Tibbies' by those who know and adore them, Tibetan Spaniels have a catlike agility. They like climbing to high perches, such as the backs of chairs and couches, where they can get the best view of a room. Tibbies are always enjoyable company, with a good sense of humor and a cheerful demeanor. They don't require an abundance of exercise, but they do need lots of loving attention. This is a breed that adores snuggling on the couch. With people they don't know, they can be aloof at first, but they are usually welcoming of four-legged strangers. Though devoted to their people, Tibbies are also headstrong and require gentle, firm training so they don't rule the roost.
Tibetan Spaniels are nicknamed Tibbies.
Physical Description/Breed Standard
Coat - The Tibetan Spaniel's double coat is silky and medium in length. The fur is smooth on the face and grows longer around their neck to form a 'shawl.' Their ears, tails and the backs of their front and rear legs are feathered. Their coat can be any color or mix of colors.
Breed Standard and History
Tibbies are small dogs, who are slightly longer than they are tall. They have a sleek, strong build, and move with a quick, sprightly gait. They have a proud carriage and dark brown, oval eyes that convey alertness and intelligence. Their muzzle is of medium length with a slightly undershot jaw. The Tibbies high-set tail curves over their back in a jaunty plume.
The breed developed in Tibet where the dogs worked as sentries patrolling high monastery walls. From that vantage point, Tibbies kept their keen eyes peeled for unwanted visitors. When they weren't on duty, they kept the monks company and served as little, furry body warmers. Similar to other toy breeds, they were pampered and prized, and often given as gifts to honored guests. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, British missionaries brought the first Tibbies back to England, where breeding programs were established. Leo Kearns, a sexton of Trinity Lutheran Church, is responsible for popularizing the breed in the US after importing and breeding Tibetan Spaniel pairs. Tibbies were recognized as a toy breed by the American Kennel Club in 1984.
AKC Breed Category
Tibbies adore their family members and love nothing more than to play and snuggle with them. Leisurely walks make them happy too. With people they don't know, they are usually standoffish at first, but accept them as friends in time. With other dogs, they tend to be welcoming off the bat. Tibetan Spaniels have a fastidious quality—always cleaning themselves with care and claiming the best perch in the room for themselves.
Are Tibetan Spaniels Good with Kids? Tibetan Spaniels love the children of their families, but they are better suited to households with older kids who know how to treat small dogs. Roughhousing may result in accidental injuries for Tibbies.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that impact his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Tibetan Spaniels Good with Other Pets? Tibetan Spaniels are usually besties with the dogs and cats that live in their home.
Tibetan Spaniels are very protective of their territory, and wary of strangers who get too close to their family members.
Are Tibetan Spaniels Good Guard Dogs? Tibetan Spaniels are watchful sentries who will bark to rouse the entire house if someone approaches. They are too little, however, to serve as effective guard dogs.
Tibetan Spaniels are moderately energetic. They enjoy play sessions interspersed with long cuddles on the couch.Specific Concerns
Indoor Tibetan Spaniels were bred to live indoors. They relish their two jobs of keeping watch over their home and being joyful companions. Tibbies like to climb to high perches, so don't be surprised if they relax on the chair and couch backs. They shed year round, but only moderately, so cleanup is minimal.
Outdoor Tibbies enjoy heading outside, but they like to keep their outdoor adventures mellow. Walks around the neighborhood and short games of catch in the yard fulfill their need for fresh air.
Exercise A healthy Tibetan Spaniel requires between 30 minutes and one hour of moderate exercise each day. A few walks and a play session in the yard or living room will keep them fit.
Endurance Tibbies are playful and have the stamina for 20 to 30-minute walks and play sessions.
Activity distance rating
Food Generally, this breed requires about ¾ to 1 cup of good quality dry dog food each day, over the course of two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Tibbies's activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Tibetan Spaniel.
Alone Time Spending time alone is profoundly unpleasant for Tibetan Spaniels. It's best not to bring a Tibbie into your home unless someone can spend most of the day with them. You can probably leave them alone for an hour maximum, as long as they are left with their favorite dog toys.
Health and Grooming
12 - 15 years
The Tibby's medium-length coat should be brushed every few days, with special care given to the furnishings around their ears and legs, which tend to mat. A monthly bath keeps their coat healthy and fresh smelling. Wash your Tibetan Spaniel's ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt build up that can cause infections. Brush your Tibby's teeth several days a week, and trim their nails every month or so to prevent painful cracking.
Common Health Issues
This sturdy breed is generally healthy, but the following health conditions can occur in Tibetan Spaniels:
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Tibetan Spaniel by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Intelligent but stubborn, Tibbies can be challenging to train. Consistency and plenty of positive reinforcement will yield the best results.
Tibbies are not known for their prowess in dog sports, agility training, or advanced obedience. However, participating in these activities offers benefits, including keeping your Tibby fit and mentally challenged. It's best to keep training sessions short, and provide an abundance of dog treats and praise so they look forward to their extracurricular activities.
Sporting Dog Training
Tibbies are not sporting dogs.
Are Tibetan Spaniels hypoallergenic?
Are Tibetan Spaniels and Pekingese related?
Can Tibetan Spaniels swim?
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