Tibetan Spaniel

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
fast facts

About Tibetan Spaniel

9-15 lb
12-15 years
AKC Non-Sporting
Best Suited For
Families with children, singles, seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards, watchdog
Happy, playful, stubborn, alert
Comparable Breeds
Japanese Chin, Pekingese
9-10 inches
Tibetan Spaniel Basics

He may be small, but don’t be fooled – the alert Tibetan Spaniel (also known as a Tibbie) will stand on guard and let you know if a stranger is getting too close to your home. Don’t be surprised if you find him perched high on something that gives him the best view of his surroundings. When he’s not watching over you and your family, this little guy is happy to be a wonderful companion and lap dog. On top of all that, he’s intelligent, happy and comes with an easy to care coat. What’s not to like about this breed?

A great friend for seniors and those who live in smaller quarters, the Tibetan Spaniel can be aloof with strangers, but will warm up once he gets to know them. Sensitive to the moods and needs of its family, the Tibbie will do everything it its power to meet them. Read on to see if the Tibetan Spaniel is the right fit for your family.

A great friend for seniors and those who live in smaller quarters, the Tibetan Spaniel can be aloof with strangers, but will warm up once he gets to know them.


The Tibetan Spaniel is one of three breeds native to Tibet. This breed kept watch over Tibetan monasteries, were called “lion dogs” and were regarded as a symbol of Buddha. Although the age of the breed is unknown, evidence and historical artifacts have been found that speculate the Tibbie could be over 1000 years old. This breed was valued and given to royal families and dignitaries as gifts.


Because of the age of the Tibetan Spaniel, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact pedigree of this breed. However, it is speculated that it is related to the Pekingese and Japanese Chin.

Food / Diet

Tibetan Spaniels can thrive on a number of different diets, from dry kibble to raw diets. Because every dog is different, you may need to experiment with what diet works best for your dog. The Tibbie isn’t an overly active dog, so be sure not to overfeed him, as it could cause obesity.

If you’ve got a lot of attention to give, the Tibetan Spaniel is the dog for you.


Because of his stubborn streak, the Tibetan Spaniel can be difficult to train. For the best results, start early and establish yourself as the Alfa of the household. If your dog gets the upper hand, this will be difficult to train them out of. For the best results, use positive training reinforcements, such as praise and treats. And keep training sessions short and interesting to hold your dog’s attention. You’ll be happy to learn that Tibetan Spaniels are pretty easy to house train and it is recommended that you crate train your dog.

Tibetan Spaniels are known to be vocal, alerting you to a stranger’s presence. With patience and consistency, it is possible to train them to stop barking once they’ve alerted you to the possible threat.


A small dog, the Tibetan Spaniels weight ranges from 9 to 15 pounds.

Temperament / Behavior

If you’ve got a lot of attention to give, the Tibetan Spaniel is the dog for you. This is just one of the many reasons it makes an excellent companion for older people. This breed loves its family but is wary of strangers. Even with its small size, the Tibbie is good with small children and will keep a watchful eye on their activities.

Because of their small size, the Tibetan Spaniel can be carried around in a bag or purse. That being said, you must not over-coddle them, as it leads to the dog becoming high-strung. Give your dog enough independence and make sure he gets out of the purse and onto a leash for regular walks. This will allow him to socialize with people and dogs, so he’ll learn proper doggy manners. And because of his small size, please ask people to greet him on his level, as this will make him feel most comfortable.

Like we mentioned before, the Tibetan Spaniel craves attention. If left alone too long, Separation Anxiety can result. This breed does best with people who can stay at home, not those who work long hours. If left alone too long, you can expect your belongings to become chew toys and annoyed neighbors driven to distraction with constant barking.

Common Health Problems

The Tibetan Spaniel is a generally healthy breed. However, this dog may suffer from the following conditions: progressive retinal atrophy, cherry eye, patellar luxation, allergies, and portosystemic shunt (a liver condition).

Life Expectancy

The Tibetan Spaniel has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

Exercise Requirements

Because of his size, Tibetan Spaniels can live pretty much anywhere. They do as well in an apartment as they would in a large estate. They make wonderful companions for seniors as they don’t need a lot of daily exercise. A daily walk and some play time will cover all his exercise needs. If you have a back yard, do not leave your Tibbie unattended. This dog needs to be with you and will be happiest when playing with you.

Even with its small size, the Tibbie is good with small children and will keep a watchful eye on their activities.

Recognized Clubs

The American Kennel Club says this about the breed: “One of the three native Tibetan breeds in the Non-Sporting group (along with the Lhasa Apso and the Tibetan Terrier), the Tibetan Spaniel is small, active and alert. They are low to the ground, with a body slightly longer than tall. Popular primarily as companion dogs in their native Tibet, “Tibbies” are also now found in the conformation, obedience and agility rings in the United States.” The AKC first recognized this breed in 1983.


Sporting a silky double coat, the Tibbie’s fur is long at the ears, tail, back of the forelegs and buttocks, and smooth on his face and front of the legs. You can expect long hair covering the rest of his body and a mane around the neck called a shawl. The coat comes in many colors and patterns.

The Tibetan Spaniel shed lightly year round. To keep his coat free from tangles and matts, you should brush your Tibetan Spaniel two to three times per week.


As with most dogs, Tibetan Spaniels need early socialization. Expose your dog to as different people, sights, sounds, and experiences as possible while he is young. By socializing your Tibetan Spaniel puppy, you’ll ensure that he grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

Photo credit: Rob Moroto/Wikimedia Commons; Angelica/Flickr; Dog.Show_Photos/Flickr

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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