Meet the Breed: The Tibetan Spaniel

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Overview:

  • Height: 10"
  • Weight: 9-15 pounds
  • Historical function: Monastery watchdog, prayer wheel turner
  • Modern function: Companion
  • AKC classification: Nonsporting

Physical Characteristics:

The Tibetan Spaniel is sometimes confused with a Pekingese, but the Tibetan Spaniel has a less profuse coat, a slightly longer muzzle with no extra skin folds near the eyes. The domed head is small in comparison to the rest of the body. The body is slightly longer than it is tall. The feathered V-shaped ears hang down to cheek level. The short muzzle is broad and has a small but defined stop. The nose is black. The medium-sized eyes are wide set, brown and oval. The bite is either level or slightly undershot. The neck has a ruff of fur. The silky coat is double and medium in length on the body but is short on the face. The ears, tail and toes are feathered. Coat colors may be fawn, red, gold, white, cream, tan and black and parti-colored. White markings are common on the feet. The front legs are slightly bowed. Like the Tibetan Mastiff, this dog only comes into season once a year. 

History of the Breed:

The Tibetan Spaniel is an ancient breed documented as early as 2,000 years ago. Many Tibbies worked in tandem with the Tibetan Mastiff to protect monasteries. The little lion-like dogs would patrol the tops of the walls, surveying the area with their keen vision. They would bark when they would spot anything out of the ordinary, alerting the monks and Mastiffs to investigate. Legend has it that these bright little dogs were also trained to spin the prayer wheels. They would also sleep with the monks to keep them warm. The dogs were never sold but were offered as gifts to treasured friends throughout Asia; therefore, it is thought that the Tibetan Spaniel contributed to the foundation of many small oriental breeds.  

Temperament: 

The Tibetan Spaniel is a clever, cheerful, assertive and friendly dog with excellent watchdog instincts. While some dogs of this size and instinct can be yappy, this dog will alert his family to unusual sounds or visitors without being annoying. He is quick and athletic and makes an excellent family companion. He is versatile and travels well. This breed gets along well with other dogs and cats. Tibbies are very much in tune to their family members' needs. Make sure this dog doesn't develop Small Dog Syndrome or he may become territorial and develop other undesirable characteristics. Socialize well and early.

  • Best suited for: Families with children, multiple-dog families, retirees, RV travelers. 
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog thrives in most situations provided he is not left alone for long periods. Does best in cooler climates. 

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Brush and comb regularly. This dog is an average shedder but has a heavy shed seasonally.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk, and mental exercises will help this clever dog stay mentally and physically fit. 
  • Life expectancy: 13-16 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to heat stroke, allergies and breathing problems.

Breed Club Links: Tibetan Spaniel Club of America

BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: Long Hair FURminator for Toy Dogs

Have any stories about a Tibetan Spaniel? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This entry was posted by Mary.
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