The Tibetan Spaniel

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Tibetan Spaniel
Weight: 9 — 15 lbs
Height: 9” — 10”
AKC Rank 2008 #102
Lifespan: 12—15 yrs
Group Non-Sporting
Origin: Tibet

Dog Breed Info - The Tibetan Spaniel

Purebred Tibbie
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Breed Overview

Origin: Ancient times. Original function: Watchdog, Companion. Today: Companion.
Colors: All colors and mixtures, wht ok on feet.

The Tibbie comes from the Himalayan Mountains in Asia where at one time it was known as the “lion dog.” In Buddhist culture, the Tibbie was highly revered and sometimes given to Chinese royalty and others as a precious gift. Often the dogs were exchanged, and the exchange was for a Pekingese from the Chinese. Both breeds were highly valued. The Tibbie liked to sit on high places such as monastery walls and barked at approaching people as a warning.

The first Tibbie came to England in the 1800’s but there was no special breeding program was established until the 1920’s. A man named Geiegs, who was known for promoting these Tibetan Spaniels, got hold of several of these dogs. The beginning for most modern Tibbie's starts around 1940 when several dogs arrived in England to a couple living in Skkim. By 1960 the breed arrived in America and by 1964 the Tibetan Spaniel was recognized by the AKC. This sacred breed has been very slow to acquire admirers and popularity. However, the dog is worshiped by those who have brought on into their home!


Though the Tibbie is intelligent, it can be somewhat difficult to train. Some Tibetan’s pick up right away, many don’t. Use patience, repetition and clicker training with positive reinforcement will enable your dog will learn anything you want to teach.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Tibetan Spaniel? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Tibetan Spaniel profile
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Potty Training

Tibetan Spaniel puppies are usually pretty easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.



The Tibetan Spaniel is a delightful, alert, peppy, affectionate and active little dog that loves her family and is good with older, well-mannered children. This breed has been used as a companion dog for centuries. She is relatively quiet except when strangers approach, at which time she will let you know with a good loud bark. Keep a tight reign on this dog and always be sure she knows you are the alpha in the house and she is the submissive one. The Tibbie may try to rule the roost if given the chance. He’s independent, bold and stubborn which means this breed is not always the easiest to train. The Tibbie enjoys outdoor play and games with her family and after, will welcome a nap at her masters’ feet. This is a friendly, clean housedog and for years has been known as a fine pet. Separation anxiety is a possibility.

If you happen to get a Tibetan Spaniel with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Yes, gets along with other dogs as a rule.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

.Yes, usually gets along well with house pets. Introduce other dogs to your Tibbie on common ground and go slow with cats and all should be all right. This is not a nasty dog.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Maybe. Tibbie’s can be wary, shy or stand-offish and reserved around strangers but they warm up easily once the Tibbie gets acquainted.


Yes. the Tibbie is very playful.


Yes. Very affectionate little breed. A sort of lapdog. Will play, then curl up at your feet or on the sofa with you.

Good with children?

Yes, the Tibetan Spaniel is good with older, well-mannered, well behaved children. The dog is SMALL so the kids must be cautions and not harm the pooch by accident.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes. The Tibbie and a senior will do well. The dog is affectionate, playful and easy to care for. She’s a good watchdog, perky, lively and fun to be around, yet quiet. A good match for the senior. If longevity or training are an issue, find a Tibetan Terrier Rescue group and get a 2 or 3 year old dog that is house trained and knows a few commands. This will save some headaches.

Living environment

Apartment, home with a small to medium fenced yard, farm or ranch are all okay for the Tibetan Spaniel.

If an apartment, the dog must get out for walks and play time daily.

If a house, the size of yard is not important. No yard at all is fine too. This is a small dog that just needs to walk around.


Energy level

Moderate. Can exert a lot of energy when playing and romping with the family but doesn’t overdo it.

Exercise needs, daily

Low. A short walk or two daily and some play time in the house will suffice. This is a great little apartment dog.


Excellent watchdog. Will always announce unusual activity.

Guard dog

No. Too friendly.


Yes. Moderate shedding.


Brush and comb 2 to 3 times a week to keep the coat fresh and neat looking and to remove dead hair. Use a firm bristle brush.



Suggested Reading - The Tibetan Spaniel

  • At the left end, the book: "How To Play With Your Dog" is a training guide that teaches HOW to play with your dog as well as when and where. It's different information.

  • 2nd from the left is: "50 Games To Play With Your Dog." This collection of simple, easy-to-teach-and-play games will keep your Spaniel busy and give him good exercise too.

  • 3rd from the left is: "101 Dog Tricks" and the name really says it all. Give your dog some variety in his training! This has plenty of new things to learn and they are easy.

  • The book at the far right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog health, emergencies and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. Vol 2, 2008, includes a DVD.

Tibetan Spaniel Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Tibbie puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Tibetan Spaniel Breeders with puppies for sale.

Tibetan Spaniel Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Tibetan Spaniel Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Tibetan Spaniel Rescue As I write this, Petfinder is showing only 11 Spaniels for the entire USA as available to adopt. This number is subject to change, of course. If you do find one to adopt, try to locate any dog health records and keep for possible future reference.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but you will likely need to go online and search for Tibetan Spaniel Rescue groups, kennels or dogs for sale, These dogs are scarce in the States.

Dog Health Issues For The Tibetan Spaniel
Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Tibbie by various vets and books

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position in the Tibetan Spaniel. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness, arthritis and difficulty walking for the Tibetan Spaniel. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Cataracts—Hazy or cloudy vision and eventually will cause total blindness if not treated.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—(PRA) An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Portosystemic shunt—Can be hereditary. Incorrect flow of blood from the gastrointestinal tract to the liver causing unclean blood toxins to bypass the liver and it’s cleansing function. Since the liver can not detoxify properly, the toxins cause health problems in the body. Most cases will show lethargy, disorientation, depression, weakness, throwing up, hyperactivity and maybe seizures, as well as diarrhea. Treatment can come in the form of medical, dietary or surgical, depending on the individual dog, age and severity of the case and finances.

Other health problems could occur with your Tibetan Spaniel. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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