Guardian Tibetan Terrier: An Uncommon And Loyal Breed

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Have you heard about the 'Holy Dog of Tibet?' Meet Tibetan Terrier, a dog who loves being around people and other animals. Read on to discover why this was a holy dog of Tibet for years.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
14 to 16 inches tall at the shoulder
20 to 24 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?

For a long time, the Tibetan Terrier was viewed as an all-purpose dog. This breed was bred in such a manner that he was able to follow his humans on any job.

This is a compact dog with a strong posture, and is powerfully built.

The Tibetan Terrier has a double coat, made of a profuse fine outer coat and a soft woolly undercoat.

This coat is what still keeps this breed protected from the harsh Tibetan climate. This breed is also known for its unique look, specifically long hair that falls forward over their eyes and foreface.

Quick Facts

Real name: Tibetan Terrier
Other names: Tsang Apso, Dokhi Apso
Origin: Tibet
Breed type: Non-sporting
Weight: 18-24 lb
Height: 15-16″
Lifespan: 15-16 years
Litter Size: 5 – 8 puppies
Color: Commonly combination of solid, parti-color, tricolor, red sable, black, cream, or piebald
Coat: Long and soft

Tibetan Terrier History

The Tibetan Terriers are Tibetan, but arent true terriers. So, why are they called terriers? Westerners add ‘terrier’ and it stuck.

This breed and its ancestors are among dogs who are associated with Buddhist monasteries and the Dalai Lama.

As of today, they’re best known as companions and watchdogs, although there were times when they were busy working as herders and flock guardians. A breed standard was created by the Kennel Club of India in 1930.

Seven years later the breed was officially recognized by England’s Kennel Club. The Tibetan Terrier Club of America was formed in 1957, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1973.

They were also considered to be an emblem of good luck. In a way, they were good luck charms.

For example, if you wanted to bring good fortune to someone that you care for, like a friend or even a neighbor, gifting a Tibetan Terrier was a good way to do it.

Visitors to the Lost Valley were often presented with Tibetan Terriers to accompany them on their way home because the path was too bumpy and challenging.

Around 2000 years ago, this breed was bred and raised in monasteries by lamas.

This famous breed is native to the Lost Valley of Tibet, and ever sicne were promoted as ‘luck bringers’ for those lucky enough to own them.

When it comes to the States and this breed, the first official Tibetan Terrier was brought to the States in 1956.

Tibetan Terrier Physical Appearance

The Tibetan Terrier is a medium-sized dog with a shaggy coat. Many dog experts often describe this breed as a miniature version of Bearded Collie.

Skull in this breed is of medium length, and it narrows slightly from ear to eye. Eyes are large and set fairly wide apart. The neck is proportional to the body, while the body is compact, well-built, and strong.

This dog is powerful when it comes to speed and endurance. The tail is of medium length and heavily covered, while the legs are straight and strong.

When it comes to feet, the Tibetan Terrier has one of the most unique feet in the canine world. Their feet are large and snowshoe-like. Paws shaped like this helped them navigate through the snowy mountains of Tibet.

As for the color, this breed comes in many colors, including white, and they are all acceptable.

They usually have between 20 and 24 pounds, but the weight range may be 18 to 30 pounds. The average height in this breed is 15 to 16 inches, with bitches being slightly smaller. It’s considered to be a fault if the height is above 17 inches or below 14 inches.

Tibetan Terrier Personality

The Tibetan Terrier is a smart and affectionate dog. He is fun-loving and gentle. Reserved toward strangers, this breed is extremely devoted to his family members.

They will bark on alert, which makes them more than suitable watchdogs. In terms of being watchdogs, they are true to their roots and original purpose.

They hate being left alone for too long periods, or too frequently. If you do so, expect many problems that come with separation anxiety.

They are also known for their capability to adapt easily to different situations and do things that make their owners laugh hard.

Just like any other breed, Tibetan terriers need early socialization – expose your Tibetan Terrier to new people, new surroundings, experiences, dogs, and other animals – when they are young.

Of course, this is something that should be done once the vaccination is completed. Early socialization next to proper training should help you have a well-behaved canine citizen.

Tibetan Terrier With Children And Other Pets

Tibetan Terriers are fond of children, and they can match their energy, of being active all day long. Still, their soft nature toward children doesn’t mean that children shouldn’t know some basic rules around dogs.

Educating family members on dog psychology, and what are basic house rules for dogs and guests can go long way. This way you will prevent any unwanted accidents, such as biting or tail/ear pulling.

Educate your children never to approach a dog while eating or resting. Explain to them why it’s wrong to try to take the dog’s food away.

No matter how friendly a dog is, a dog and children should never be left alone. This breed usually tolerates other dogs and cats, especially if they are together from puppyhood.

Tibetan Terrier Training

The Tibetan Terries is an independent breed that needs an experienced dog owner. Training should start as soon as you bring your Tibetan Terrier home – from day one.

Make sure that you provide enough toys, puppy-proof your home, and educate your children on how to behave around dogs.

Children must know all the time that dogs aren’t toys and why they should pull their tails, or disturb them while they are eating, drinking water from their bowl, or just napping in their crate.

Early training promotes the right behavior sets the ground for the future. If you feel like you need extra help with training sessions, hire a professional dog trainer, or attend puppy classes together with your Fido.

This breed, just any other breed, in fact, thrives on cooperation, bonding, trust, respect, and of course – treats. Make training sessions regular, frequent, fun, and short.

Again: always pair training with treats.

Tibetan Terrier Exercise

Do you know much exercise do dogs need in general? When getting a dog you need to be ready to change your routine. In fact, you need to be ready to create a new one, the one that meets the needs of your Fido.

You may think that a five-minute walk around the block is enough for your dog to complete toilet needs, but you should know that toilet needs arent the same as exercise needs.

Just like in humans, exercising in dogs can boost overall health, make joints and hips stronger, and boost mental stimulation. As for Tibetan Terrier, a simple walk around the block will do, followed by a short time in a dog park.

At least three walks around the block daily are mandatory if you want your dog to be both healthy and happy. This dog will enjoy indoor exercise and games as well, as long as he gets to do them with you.

If you have a terrace or a balcony, expect to see Tibetan watching the neighborhood all the time from the distance.

As an active breed, the Tibetan Terrier will be more than happy to participate in dog sports. This breed will love participating in dog agility trials, obedience, tracking, and even flyball. They won’t say no to herding events as well.

Tibetan Terrier Grooming

The Tibetan Terrier loves spending time being active. Playing around the house, chasing with children, playing indoor games, helping you with your garden… You name the activity and he will be there. However, so intense energy doesn’t come without some serious grooming.

After all, cleaning is a mandatory part after playing time even for humans. Make sure that you check coat for any sign of external disturbances, and for any sign of fleas or skin issues.

This breed has a double coat so you can expect heavy shedding four times per year, and regular brushing.

Brushing can be daunting for some people, but you should look at it as a time to relax, bond with your dog, and check his skin and coat for any sign of infection or irritation.

By the time your puppy Tibetan turns 18 months, you can get by brushing one to three times a week. Later on, it may be even more frequent.

You should have the right grooming tools on hand, and if you feel that your Tibetan doesn’t get the proper grooming care, think about taking him to a professional groomer.

The rest is basic grooming:

  • Check gums regularly
  • Clean ears when needs – learn how to clean dogs’ ears properly
  • Provide mandatory vaccination
  • Spay or neuter on time
  • Microchip your dog

Implement this practice, and you will see how your Tibetan Terrier has no odor – when it comes to choosing an odorless breed, this breed should be considered.

Tibetan Terrier Health

Before you start asking questions about a dog’s health and medical history, you should know that if you want a healthy dog, you should never buy one from a puppy mill.

If you are buying a dog, you should only deal with responsible breeders who can provide health clearances or guarantees. What about a pet store? This should be also avoided.

You can always adopt a dog from an animal shelter or deal with a responsible breeder only.

Responsible breeders will always test breeding dogs to make sure that they are free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies and so on.

Overall, this is a healthy breed, although during life some health issues may appear. Some of the major concerns include PRA and lens luxation, while minor concerns are cataracts, CHD, patellar luxation, ceroid lipofuscinosis, and hypothyroidism.

Deafness is occasionally seen. Of course, with proper vaccination, medical control, and regular veterinarian check-ups, you will be able to prevent a lot of conditions and keep your dog well taken care of.

If you manage to provide proper nutrition, enough healthy environment, and nurturing atmosphere you can expect your Tibetan Terrier to live up to 15 years.

Tibetan Terrier Nutrition

Tibetan Terriers should do well on high-quality food, especially when designed for their age.

Its important to serve your puppy food designed for puppies, or a senior dog food designed for senior dogs.

You should never feed a puppy with food for a senior dog, because they won’t get any nutritional benefits from it.

Avoid feeding any dog with human food, especially if it contains salt or onion because these ingredients could lead to a life-threatening situation, and in some cases directly to death.

Make sure that you know which human foods are dog-safe, and which human foods should never find a way to your dog’s stomach. If you are not sure which brand is best for your dog, talk to your veterinarian and learn to read pet food labels.

Once you get a dog you are directly responsible for his health. Therefore, don’t let your dog become a part of obese pets statists.

Obesity in pets is a problem on the rise in the States, so make sure that your dog isn’t part of that notion.

Keep the dog’s weight in balance by providing the proper food, enabling enough exercise, and always having a bowl of water available.

As a general rule, you should feed your Tibetan Terries twice a day. Provide 1 1/8 to 1 3/8 cups of high-quality dog food daily. You can serve one meal after a walk in the morning and the second one at night after a walk as well.

Although these are general recommendations, you should talk with your veterinarian for exact measurements.

How much your adult dog eats will depend on his age, build, size, metabolism, and even activity level.

Dogs are individuals just like people are and they all have different needs. So, what may work for one dog, maybe pointless for another one.

Also, the food that you are buying matters – its quality matters, and the better the dog food, the better it will support your dog’s health.

The Bottom Line

So, you have your heart set for a famous Tibetan Terrier, but you are still not sure if this breed is for you? If so, you should be honest when it comes to your time and work-life balance.

Simply said – can you afford to have a dog? If yes, then you should know what traits you are searching for in a dog.

If you want a dog that is small to medium-sized, sturdy, and playful at times, you should think about welcoming Tibetan terriers into your life.

This dog might also be for you if you want a dog who is great as a watchdog but is not aggressive with people.

If you don’t want to deal with stubbornness, regular combing and brushing, and shaggy dog syndrome this breed might not be the right for you.

If you are sure that this breed is for you, know that it won’t be easy to find Tibetan Terrier overnight, there is a waiting list – this is also another sign of responsible breeding, and it should be supported.

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