Tibetan Spaniel

Table of Contents

The Tibetan Spaniel, affectionately known as the “Tibbie,” is a breed with ancient origins rooted deep in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet. This small but robust dog was highly revered in Tibetan monasteries, where it served as a companion and watchdog. Characterized by its expressive, almond-shaped eyes, a short, blunt muzzle, and a feathered tail that arches over its back, the Tibbie exudes an aura of regality. Its silky, medium-length coat, which comes in a plethora of colors and patterns, gives it an elegant appearance.

Temperamentally, the Tibetan Spaniel is a curious, alert, and very intelligent breed. They possess a confident and independent spirit, often paired with a loving and affectionate nature towards their families. Although they are generally sociable, their watchdog roots can make them reserved around strangers. Tibbies thrive in environments where they are treated as part of the family, given their strong bond with their human counterparts. This adaptable breed can flourish in various living conditions, from spacious country homes to city apartments. Hence, the Tibetan Spaniel is a delightful blend of affection, intelligence, and ancient allure, making it a treasured companion for those fortunate enough to share their lives with one.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

15-16 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level

Very Low

Best For

The Tibetan Spaniel is best suited for individuals and families looking for a loving, alert, and adaptable companion. Its manageable size and moderate energy level make it an ideal choice for both apartment dwellers and those with larger homes. Due to its affectionate nature, the Tibbie thrives in households where it can participate in daily activities and enjoy regular interaction. Its keen senses and alert demeanor also make it an excellent watchdog for the home. Furthermore, those who appreciate a breed with a rich history and unique cultural significance will find the Tibetan Spaniel particularly endearing. While the Tibbie can be independent, its loyalty and affection towards its family are unmatched, making it a delightful pet for people of all ages, including seniors and children who treat pets gently.

Tibetan Spaniel Traits

Breed Characteristics

The Tibetan Spaniel is known for its keen intelligence, alertness, and assertive nature. These small dogs possess a strong sense of independence but are equally devoted and affectionate towards their families. Characteristically curious, “Tibbies” are often seen perched on high places, keenly observing their surroundings. Their playfulness shines when engaged in spirited play sessions. Their steadfast loyalty and gentle disposition also make them excellent companions for both young and old. When evaluating a Tibetan Terrier, experts rate traits on a 1-5 star scale. However, keep in mind that each dog is unique and may not always align perfectly with breed expectations.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Characteristics

The Tibetan Spaniel, or “Tibbie,” is a compact breed with a domed head, expressive dark brown eyes, and feathered ears. Their frame is rectangular, slightly longer than tall. With a luxurious mane and tail, they exude a lion-like aura. Weighing 9 to 15 pounds and standing 10 inches tall, their silky double coat can be of various colors. Details characteristics are listed below:

1. Appearance
The Tibetan Spaniel, often affectionately referred to as “Tibbie,” has a slightly domed and small head with a short blunt muzzle. Their expressive eyes are dark brown, oval-shaped, and give them a keen, intelligent look.
2. Eyes
The Tibetan Spaniel’s eyes are medium-sized, dark brown, and oval, exuding intelligence and warmth.
3. Ears
The breed sports medium-sized, pendant ears that are set high and hang close to the head, giving them an attentive expression.
4. Weight & Height
Typically, adult Tibetan Spaniels weigh between 9 to 15 pounds. Their height ranges from 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder.
5. Coat & Color
Tibbies have a silky, double coat that can come in a variety of colors and combinations, including gold, cream, fawn, red, white, black, and tan. The coat is typically shorter on the face and front of the legs but forms a mane around the neck and feathering on the tail and hind legs.
6. Body
Compact yet sturdy, Tibetan Spaniels possess a slightly longer body than their height. Their neck is covered in a mane-like coat, more pronounced in males, which gives them a regal look.
7. Tail
A distinctive feature of the Tibetan Spaniel is its plume tail, which is set high and carried in a cheerful curl over their back.
8. Nose
Their nose is black and small, fitting well with their overall facial structure.

Tibetan SpanielTemperament

The Tibetan Spaniel, affectionately known as the “Tibbie,” possesses a confident and assertive disposition. With a history as a monastery watchdog in the Himalayas, this breed is alert and naturally observant, often serving as a keen watchdog in modern households. Despite their vigilance, Tibbies are notably affectionate and thrive on companionship, developing close bonds with their family members. They get along well with other animals and children, though they can be slightly reserved with strangers. A proper socialization process from puppyhood ensures a well-rounded and adaptable temperament. The Tibetan Spaniel is known for its intelligence and independent nature, which can sometimes manifest as stubbornness during training sessions. However, with consistent guidance and positive reinforcement, they prove to be quick learners.

How to Care for a Tibetan Spaniel

Caring for a Tibetan Spaniel, or ‘Tibbie’ as enthusiasts fondly call them, is a delightful journey that blends ancient traditions with modern canine companionship. With their roots tracing back to the sacred monasteries of Tibet, these little sentinels have evolved to be both alert watchdogs and endearing lap dogs.

Their luxurious coat, paired with a spirited yet loving nature, means they require a mix of regular grooming and mental stimulation. While they may present an image of regality reminiscent of their Himalayan heritage, at heart, they’re keen on being an integral part of their human family. Nurturing a Tibbie means embracing their unique quirks, historical significance, and providing them with a balanced lifestyle that caters to their physical and emotional well-being.

Grooming a Tibetan Spaniel is essential not just for aesthetics but also for their health and comfort. Here’s a comprehensive guide to ensure your Tibbie looks and feels its best:

  1. Coat Care: Despite its lush appearance, the Tibetan Spaniel’s double coat is surprisingly easy to maintain. Regular brushing, around 2-3 times a week, should suffice to keep it free from tangles and mats. During their shedding seasons, which usually occur twice a year, daily brushing might be necessary to remove the dead hair and promote new growth.

  2. Bathing: Tibbies don’t require frequent baths. Every 6-8 weeks is usually adequate unless they get particularly dirty. Always use a dog-specific shampoo that maintains the natural oils in their coat. Ensure thorough rinsing to prevent any residue, which can cause skin irritations.

  3. Ear Care: Check their ears weekly. Due to their shape and size, they can be prone to wax build-up and potential infections. Clean them gently with a vet-recommended ear cleaner using a soft cloth or cotton ball. Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal.

  4. Eye Care: Tibbies’ expressive eyes can sometimes accumulate debris or tear stains. Wipe them gently with a soft, damp cloth to keep them clean.

  5. Dental Hygiene: Brushing your dog’s teeth is crucial. Aim to brush at least 2-3 times a week, if not daily. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings by a vet will also help in preventing potential dental issues.

  6. Nail Trimming: Typically, their nails should be trimmed once a month. If you hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Use a dog nail clipper and be cautious not to cut into the quick, which can be painful and bleed.

  7. Paw Care: Inspect their paws regularly for any signs of injury, cracks, or foreign objects, especially after walks. In winter, be vigilant about salt and ice-melt chemicals that can be harmful if licked off their paws.

  8. Tail and Rear Area: Due to the plume-like nature of their tail, ensure it’s free from mats. Also, keep the rear area clean, especially after they defecate, to prevent any fecal matter from sticking to their fur.

Remember, grooming is also a bonding experience. It’s a chance for you to check your Tibetan Spaniel for any signs of health problems and to reinforce your bond. Always reward your Tibbie with praise and treats to make grooming a positive experience.

Training a Tibetan Spaniel requires a good understanding of their unique temperament and characteristics. These intelligent dogs are quick learners, but they also have an independent streak which can sometimes be mistaken for stubbornness. Here’s an in-depth guide on how to effectively train your Tibetan Spaniel:

  1. Early Socialization: Begin socializing your Tibetan Spaniel as a puppy. Introduce them to various people, places, sounds, and other animals. This helps in ensuring they grow up to be well-rounded and confident adults.

  2. Positive Reinforcement: Tibbies respond best to positive reinforcement methods. Use treats, praise, and toys as rewards. Avoid harsh corrections or punishments, as this can make them wary and less likely to cooperate.

  3. Consistency is Key: It’s essential to be consistent in your commands and expectations. Changing rules or commands can confuse them and slow down the training process.

  4. Short and Engaging Sessions: Due to their attention span, it’s best to keep training sessions short, about 10-15 minutes, and engage them with enthusiasm. Multiple short sessions throughout the day are more effective than one long session.

  5. Basic Commands: Start with basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel,” and “down.” Once they master these, you can proceed to more advanced commands or tricks.

  6. Leash Training: Tibetan Spaniels can sometimes be a little too curious. Begin leash training early to ensure they walk beside you and not pull ahead. Use a harness to prevent any strain on their neck.

  7. Recall Training: Their curious nature means that they might wander off if something catches their attention. Prioritize recall training so they come back when called.

  8. Avoid Repetition: Repeating the same command or trick can lead to boredom. Keep things varied and interesting for them.

  9. Addressing Undesired Behaviors: If your Tibetan Spaniel develops behaviors like excessive barking or chewing, address them immediately. Distract them from the undesired behavior and redirect their attention to something constructive.

  10. Enroll in Puppy Classes: Consider enrolling your Tibbie in puppy training classes. This not only helps in training but also provides an opportunity for socialization.

  11. Stay Patient and Persistent: Remember, every dog is unique, and while some Tibetan Spaniels might pick up commands quickly, others might take a bit longer. Celebrate small achievements and stay patient.

In summary, while the Tibetan Spaniel is an intelligent breed, their independent nature requires a trainer to be both patient and consistent. Establish a bond of trust and mutual respect, and you’ll find that training your Tibbie can be a rewarding experience for both of you.

Ensuring your Tibetan Spaniel receives the proper diet and nutrition is crucial for its health, longevity, and overall well-being. As with all breeds, the dietary needs can vary based on the dog’s age, weight, activity level, and health condition. Here’s an in-depth guide on diet and nutrition for your Tibetan Spaniel:

  1. Puppy Diet: Tibetan Spaniel puppies are fast-growing and need a diet rich in protein to support their muscle development. Opt for high-quality commercial puppy food that specifies meat as the primary ingredient. Ensure the kibble size is appropriate for their small mouths.

  2. Adult Diet: As they transition into adulthood, Tibetan Spaniels require a balanced diet to maintain their energy and health. Look for dog food that lists real meat, poultry, or fish as the primary ingredient, supplemented with whole grains, vegetables, and healthy fats.

  3. Senior Diet: Older Tibetan Spaniels might become less active and can gain weight easily. Choose senior dog food formulations that have reduced calories but still provide the necessary nutrients. Supplements like glucosamine can be beneficial for joint health at this stage.

  4. Portion Control: Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which is a concern for Tibetan Spaniels. Follow the feeding guidelines on the dog food package, and adjust based on your dog’s activity level. It’s advisable to feed them smaller meals twice a day rather than one large meal.

  5. Hydration: Ensure that your Tibetan Spaniel has access to fresh water at all times. Proper hydration is vital for digestion, temperature regulation, and overall health.

  6. Healthy Treats: While treats can be an essential training aid, they should be given in moderation. Opt for low-calorie, nutritious treats and avoid those with artificial additives or fillers.

  7. Homemade Diet: If you’re considering a homemade diet, consult with a veterinarian or pet nutritionist to ensure your Tibetan Spaniel is getting all the essential nutrients.

  8. Special Dietary Needs: Some Tibetan Spaniels might have food allergies or sensitivities. If you notice symptoms like itching, ear infections, or digestive issues, consult your vet. They might recommend a hypoallergenic diet or specific protein sources.

  9. Supplements: While a balanced diet should provide all the necessary nutrients, some Tibetan Spaniels might benefit from supplements like omega fatty acids for coat health or probiotics for digestion. Always consult your vet before introducing any supplements.

  10. Avoid Human Foods: Some human foods can be toxic to dogs, including chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic. Always be cautious and avoid giving your Tibetan Spaniel table scraps.

  11. Regular Check-ups: Regular veterinary check-ups will help monitor your Tibetan Spaniel’s weight and overall health, ensuring they are on the right dietary track.

In summary, a well-balanced, high-quality diet is foundational for the health and happiness of your Tibetan Spaniel. By paying attention to their nutritional needs at each life stage and regularly consulting with your veterinarian, you can ensure they thrive and enjoy a long, healthy life.

Tibetan Spaniels, affectionately known as “Tibbies,” are not as active as some breeds, but they still require consistent exercise to maintain their health, manage their weight, and keep their minds stimulated. Proper exercise also helps in curbing any unwanted behaviors that may arise from boredom or excess energy. Here’s what you need to know about exercising your Tibetan Spaniel:

  1. Daily Walks: Tibbies enjoy their daily strolls. A moderate-paced walk of about 20 to 30 minutes twice a day is ideal for them. It’s not just about physical activity; these walks also offer them a chance to explore their environment, sniff around, and satisfy their curiosity.

  2. Playtime: Tibetan Spaniels are playful and enjoy engaging in interactive games with their owners. Fetch, hide and seek, or even gentle tug-of-war games can be a fun way to get them moving. Remember to use toys suitable for their size to ensure safety.

  3. Mental Stimulation: Alongside physical activity, Tibbies need mental challenges. Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, or even simple training sessions can be a great way to engage their minds.

  4. Socialization: If possible, schedule playdates with other small to medium-sized dogs. Social interactions can be a source of exercise and also help in building their social skills. Ensure the play is supervised to prevent any rough play or potential conflicts.

  5. Yard Play: If you have a fenced yard, letting your Tibetan Spaniel roam and play can be a good exercise option. However, always supervise them. They can be adept climbers and might try to scale short fences, especially if something catches their attention.

  6. Avoid Over-exercising: Due to their small size, Tibetan Spaniels can get exhausted quickly. It’s essential to watch for signs of fatigue during exercise and adjust accordingly. Over-exercising can lead to joint and health issues in the long run.

  7. Weather Considerations: Tibetan Spaniels have a double coat that can make them prone to overheating in hot weather. During summer months, try to walk them during cooler parts of the day, like early mornings or late evenings. Always carry water to keep them hydrated.

  8. Consistency is Key: Like all dogs, Tibetan Spaniels thrive on routine. Keeping a consistent exercise schedule helps them understand what to expect and reduces anxiety.

In summary, while Tibetan Spaniels might not demand as much physical activity as more energetic breeds, they still need a mix of both physical and mental exercises. Regularly engaging them in moderate activities suited to their temperament and size will ensure they remain healthy and content.

Tibetan Spaniels, with their rich history and adaptable nature, can thrive in various living conditions. However, creating an ideal environment for them ensures they live their best life. Here’s what you should consider for your Tibbie:

  1. Living Space: Despite their small size, Tibetan Spaniels are active indoors and enjoy moving around the house. While they can adapt to apartment living, they’ll appreciate a space where they can roam freely. A house with a secured yard or garden is ideal but not necessary.

  2. Safety: Tibetan Spaniels are curious by nature. If you have a yard or garden, ensure it’s securely fenced to prevent them from wandering off. Their small size makes them vulnerable to larger animals, so a safe enclosure is crucial.

  3. Climate: Tibetan Spaniels have a double coat that keeps them warm in cooler climates, reminiscent of their origins in the Himalayas. However, they can adapt to warmer temperatures if provided with shade and ample fresh water. Avoid prolonged exposure to extreme heat or cold.

  4. Quiet Surroundings: While Tibbies are known for their alertness and can be good watchdogs, they can become stressed in overly noisy or chaotic environments. A calm and stable home is ideal for their well-being.

  5. Social Environment: Tibetan Spaniels thrive on human companionship. They prefer being around their families and can become anxious if left alone for extended periods. It’s ideal for them to have someone around or have another pet for company.

  6. Mental Stimulation: They’re intelligent dogs that need regular mental challenges. An environment filled with interactive toys, puzzle games, and regular training sessions will keep them mentally sharp.

  7. Exercise Opportunities: Proximity to dog-friendly parks or walking trails is a bonus. This allows them to explore, socialize, and exercise outside the confines of their home.

  8. Training and Socialization: Early exposure to various sights, sounds, and experiences is crucial. An environment where they can interact with different people, animals, and situations will make them well-rounded and adaptable.

Hence, the ideal environment for a Tibetan Spaniel is one that balances safety with stimulation. They require a loving, secure space where they can be active and engaged, both physically and mentally. With the right environment, a Tibetan Spaniel will be a happy, loyal, and delightful companion.

Tibetan Spaniel Health

Tibetan Spaniels, fondly known as “Tibbies,” are generally robust dogs with a good lifespan. Nevertheless, as with all breeds, they have predispositions to certain health issues. Being well-informed about these health considerations allows owners to take preventive measures and provide optimal care.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This is an inherited eye condition that gradually leads to blindness due to the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. Regular eye check-ups can help detect the condition early on.

  • Cherry Eye: Tibbies may develop a condition called cherry eye, where the gland in the dog’s third eyelid protrudes, looking like a cherry. It’s not typically painful but may require surgical treatment if it causes discomfort.

  • Respiratory Issues: Their short snout can make them prone to brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS). It’s essential to ensure they’re not overexerted and that they stay cool during hot weather.

  • Hip Dysplasia: Although less common in small breeds, Tibetan Spaniels can experience hip dysplasia – a malformation of the hip joint that can lead to arthritis. Regular vet check-ups can help monitor their hip health.

  • Patellar Luxation: This condition involves the kneecap sliding out of place, which can range from mild to severe. Signs include occasional limping or an abnormal gait. Severe cases might require surgery.

  • Dental Issues: Tibbies can have dental problems like any other breed. Regular brushing, dental chews, and routine dental check-ups can help maintain oral health.

  • Allergies: Tibetan Spaniels can be prone to certain allergies, either from food or environmental factors like pollen or dust mites. Symptoms might include excessive itching, redness, or digestive issues.

  • Heart Issues: Older Tibetan Spaniels might develop heart conditions. Regular cardio check-ups, especially in senior dogs, can help in early detection and management.

  • Grooming-Related: Their double coat can sometimes lead to matting, which, if left unchecked, can cause skin infections. Regular grooming and checking the skin can prevent this.

Preventive Care:

  • Regular Vet Visits: Routine check-ups will help monitor their health and catch potential issues early on.
  • Vaccination: Keep up with their vaccination schedule.
  • Diet: A balanced diet will support overall health and immune function.
  • Exercise: Regular, moderate exercise will help maintain a healthy weight and good joint health.

In conclusion, while the Tibetan Spaniel is a relatively healthy breed, being cognizant of their potential health issues and ensuring regular veterinary care can promote a long, healthy, and happy life for your Tibbie. Always consult with a veterinarian for any concerns or preventive advice specific to your dog.

Tibetan Spaniel History

When comparing the Tibetan Spaniel with other breeds, it’s essential to consider various factors, including size, temperament, and care requirements. Let’s look at how the Tibetan Spaniel (often called “Tibbie”) compares to a couple of other breeds:

  1. Tibetan Spaniel vs. Pekingese:

    • Size and Appearance: Both are small breeds, but the Pekingese generally has a more flattened face and a more robust body. Tibetan Spaniels have a slightly more elongated face and are often mistaken for Pekingese due to their similar appearance.
    • Temperament: Both breeds are known for their aloofness with strangers but affectionate nature with their families. However, Pekingese might be a tad more stubborn than the Tibbies.
    • Grooming: Pekingese often require more grooming due to their thick, double coat, whereas the Tibetan Spaniel’s coat is less dense.
  2. Tibetan Spaniel vs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel:

    • Size and Appearance: Both breeds are similar in size, but the Cavalier has a more rounded head and longer ears.
    • Temperament: Cavaliers are known for their exceptionally friendly and adaptable nature, while Tibbies can be a bit more reserved and independent.
    • Exercise: Both breeds enjoy play and walks, but the Cavalier might be slightly more active than the Tibetan Spaniel.
  3. General Considerations:

    • Adaptability: Tibetan Spaniels are highly adaptable and do well in both apartments and houses with yards.
    • Training: They can be somewhat independent and stubborn, which can make training a bit challenging. Early socialization and positive reinforcement are key.
    • Health Issues: When considering a breed, always delve into potential health issues. For example, both Pekingese and Tibetan Spaniels can have respiratory issues due to their facial structure.

In conclusion, while the Tibetan Spaniel shares similarities with other small breeds, their unique temperament and characteristics make them stand out. When considering adding a Tibbie or any other breed to your family, it’s essential to think about the dog’s needs, your living situation, and the kind of relationship you want with your pet. Every breed has its distinct charm, and the right fit depends on individual preferences and lifestyle.


Tibetan Spaniels typically live between 12 to 15 years, though some can live even longer with proper care and regular veterinary check-ups.

Tibetan Spaniels are small dogs, usually weighing between 9 to 15 pounds, and standing about 10 inches tall at the shoulder.

Yes, they are generally good with children and other pets, especially if raised with them. However, always supervise interactions between small dogs and young children to prevent accidental injury.

Their medium-length coat requires regular brushing, at least once a week, to prevent matting and tangling. More frequent grooming may be necessary during their shedding seasons.

Yes, the Tibetan Spaniel has ancient roots in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet, where they were revered as companions and watchdogs in Tibetan monasteries.

Tibetan Spaniels are intelligent and can learn quickly, but they also have an independent streak. Consistent, positive-reinforcement training methods work best.

They can be alert and often use their bark to notify their owners of someone approaching. Proper training and socialization can help manage excessive barking.

Top Takeaways

 Tibetan Spaniels strike a beautiful balance between being independent explorers and devoted companions. Their history in Tibetan monasteries provided them with a keen sense of observation, making them both alert and curious. Yet, when the day winds down, they’re more than happy to snuggle up beside their favored human.

 Don’t let their petite and adorable appearance fool you. These dogs are intelligent and can be quite determined. While they’re quick learners, it’s essential to approach training with a blend of consistency and positive reinforcement. Their intelligence also means they appreciate mental stimulation, so puzzle toys and regular interaction are great for them.

 Tibetan Spaniels are generally robust, but like all breeds, they have their specific health concerns. Regular vet check-ups, a balanced diet, and appropriate exercise will go a long way in ensuring a healthy and happy life for this charming breed.

Top Tibetan Spaniel Names

These are the top Tibetan Spaniel  names as chosen by Pawstray pet parents!

Female Names


Ginger Adam









Male Names











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