Tibetan Spaniel – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Tibetan Spaniels are active and loyal dogs of small size. They are energetic and true children lovers. Read on to learn more about this lion dog.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
From 10 inches tall at the shoulder
9 to 15 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Tibetan Spaniels aren’t actually spaniels, although they are from Tibet.

Even today, they can be found living in Tibetan monasteries with monks. This is a small dog with a long history.

They were originally bred to be companions and alarm dogs, and next to that they were even popular gifts. The Tibetan Spaniel or Tibbie is in its roots a watchdog with a playful personality.

Tibetan Spaniels are known for their size, silky coat, and ‘lion’s mane’ around the neck. They also have a Tibetan name – Simkhyi, which means housedog.

These small dogs had an important job. Their primary duty was to guard monasteries. They would sit atop the monastery walls and bark whenever a possible intruder would approach.

Tibetan Spaniels are gentle dogs who are sensitive to the moods and even the needs of their families. They are quick learners but may be stubborn from time to time.

Tibetan Spaniels will shed all year-round and they will need weekly brushing to get rid of dead hair and make your floors and furniture hair-free.

These small dogs are friendly, and they will get along with other dogs and pets.

If your home is a multi-dog household they will fit in perfectly. As long as they get to be next to you they will fit in perfectly.

Quick Facts

Real name: Tibetan Spaniel
Other names: Tibbie
Origin: Tibet
Breed type: Companion Dogs
Weight: 9 to 15 pounds
Height: From 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Litter Size: 3 – 6 puppies
Color: Black, black and tan, cream, dark sable, golden
Coat: Silky double coat

Tibetan Spaniel History

Tibetan Spaniel is mostly known as small monastery dogs from Tibet.

They were considered to be sacred and enjoyed big comfort and a safe environment for centuries.

Tibetan Spaniels were favorites of Buddhist monks who treated these small dogs as divine creatures.

These small size dogs were so protected that there they couldn’t be bought at any price.

The only way for these small dogs to leave the borders of Tibet was to send them to someone as a gift, but not everyone could get them.

They would be presented only to those who would be worthy of their ownership.

This included royal places of China and other important Buddhist countries.

Tibetan Spaniels first arrived in England in 1898, when the numbers of this breed started going up, because some Tibetan Spinels were brought in without big fuzz, sort of speaking.

By the time WWII ended in entire England, only one Tibetan Spaniel could be found.

Luckily, breeders and fanciers of the breed joined in their forces and the breed survived.

During the 1920s this breed was also in big danger as Tibet was annexed by China, and a huge number of monasteries were destroyed.

With monasteries, a large number of dogs disappeared as well, and the West became the breed’s safe place.

Today, Tibetan Spaniels can be found across the world. The AKC recognized this breed in 1984.

Tibetan Spaniel Physical Appearance

Tibetan Spaniels are small size dogs perfect for city strolling.

Still, they can be seen in more rural areas, proudly exploring more rough terrain. They have a silky double coat that covers the whole body.

The hair on the face is more smooth than on the rest of the body. Also, the hair on the legs is moderately longer than on the rest of the body.

These small size dogs have rounded heads with large and expressive eyes that only add to their overall soft expression. Their ears are pendant and are a bit bigger, going down to the earth.

The rich hair around their neck is their trademark which is also named ‘the little lion.’

As for the size they have between 9 to 15 pounds and are usually 10 inches tall at the shoulder. Their tails are usually carried high.

They come in many colors, including black, brown, and golden. Overall, these dogs should be small, alert, and active. Thanks to their coat they aren’t afraid to walk in the rain.

Tibetan Spaniel Personality

Tibetan Spaniel owners describe this breed as intelligent, playful, and active.

They may be small in size, but they are full hands when it comes to outdoors and activities.

Tibetan Spaniels are playful little companions, who will appreciate indoor games.

As alert and watchful dogs, they will be great when it comes to watching duties. However, they are not prone to yapping or barking, although they will do their best to inform you when a stranger is nearby.

As real guardians, they will be extra protective of children. Since these Spaniels tend to glue themself to children it’s mandatory to educate children on how to behave around dogs.

They should know that dogs aren’t moving toys and that they are not meant to be carried, pulled, or anyhow disturbed while eating, drinking water, or sleeping.

Tibetan Spaniels are small size dogs and they can easily be injured by rough handling, which is why they are best suited to homes with older children, of a minimum of 6 years of age.

They usually get along with other dogs and cats, especially if they are raised together from puppyhood.

Tibetan Spaniel Training

Did you know that dogs are capable of mastering basic commands as of eight weeks of age?

This is why the training process should start as soon as you bring your Tibetan Spaniel home.

Proper training and early socialization are two mandatory factors that can actually help you train a dog to become a great canine citizen.

By the time the socialization period ends your Tibetan Spaniel should know the following:

  • Basic commands such as ‘come’, ‘no’, and ‘sit’
  • House dog rules
  • How to behave around house visitors
  • How to walk on a leash
  • How to behave in the backyard
  • To stay away from forbidden home areas

Overall, they are easy to train if you already have experience as a dog owner.

They are willing to please, so training sessions based on praise, positive reinforcement, and treats are a must.

No dog should ever experience any harsh training methods. If you feel like you need help training-wise think about hiring a professional dog trainer, or enroll your Tibetan Spaniel in puppy classes.

What if you are adopting an adult dog?

Fear not, because no matter what people say, older dogs can learn new tricks as well. It only takes time, dedication, patience, and a fair amount of treats.

Tibetan Spaniel Exercise Needs

Exercise is what keeps your dog healthy.

Yes, regular walks are great and a must.

They are used as toilet breaks, a great way to let your dog stretch his legs and paws, and a tool for exploring the world. However, short 2-3 walks around the block aren’t enough to keep dogs fit and obesity-free.

Make sure that you provide additional exercise next to regular walks.

A minimum of 30 minutes to up and hours of moderate exercise each day should be enough to keep Spaniel’s joints strong and his mind fulfilled.

Tibetan Spaniel Grooming

Tibetan Spaniels may be small, but they need a fair amount of grooming.

Grooming is what separates a regular dog from a neat dog. Grooming is much more than regular brushing.

Regular brushing is the first step of great grooming. Make sure that you have the right grooming tools on hand to make brushing easy and fast.

Brush your Tibetan SPaniesl once to twice per week to remove dead skin and debris. Plus, this will keep him tangles-free.

The rest is basic care:

  • Trim or grind nails monthly
  • Bathe only when needed
  • Check gums weekly
  • Check eyes daily for any sign of eye discharge
  • Clean ears when needed

Last but not least, if your veterinarian recommends it, brush your dog’s teeth. Make sure that you use a toothbrush that is specially designed for dogs.

Tibetan Spaniel Health

Tibetan Spaniels are considered to be fairly healthy dogs.

The best way to know for sure if you are getting a healthy puppy is to deal with responsible dog breeders only.

This way you will know exactly how healthy or not your puppy is.

Responsible dog breeders will always screen puppies for most common health issues and present you medical documentation on the puppy, inform you on possible health issues in the future, and share with you nutrition guidelines.

Still, no matter how great care you might provide, dogs still can get sick.

This doesn’t mean that your dog will get sick, but it means that you should be well-informed and do your best to prevent the following health issues:

  • Patellar luxation
  • Congenital deafness
  • Epilepsy
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Entropion
  • Retinal dysplasia

Again, this doesn’t mean that you Tibetan will experience any of the listed issues, but only that you should be familiar with their causes and symptoms.

Next to this knowledge, you should provide recommended vaccination, stick to the vaccinations schedule, provide the best possible nutrition, enable a proper exercise regime and provide regular veterinarian check-ups.

Prevention is the key when it comes to having a healthy and strong Tibetan Spaniel.

Is Tibetan Spaniel For You?

Tibetan Spaniels are small size dogs who are the best fit for people with some dog experience.

They may be small, but they will demand affection and love like appropriate to a big size dog.

Tibetan Spaniels have a bit of independent nature, which makes them challenging to train. However, anything can be achieved when there are enough patience, planning, and treats.

They are also a bit clingy, cat-like, so separation anxiety could be a real problem.

Make sure that you never leave this pup alone for too long, nor too frequently. Otherwise, you will learn how it feels to have a bored and destructive dog, who is on top of that sad.

This dog isn’t for you if you don’t have enough energy and patience to deal with the dog’s stubbornness, timidity if not socialized enough, and regular brushing.

On the other hand, if you have experience around small size dogs and you want a dog who easily adapts to any living space, is small, and gets along with other pets nicely, then the Tibetan Spaniel is the breed to consider having.

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