Choosing a Tibetan Spaniel

The Tibetan spaniel is an uncommon breed that is a loyal companion and a good watchdog. The breed enjoys sitting in high places, watching the world below, and barking when someone approaches. Affectionately called the "lion dog" in Tibet, this spaniel is a tough but tender dog.

History and Origin

The Tibetan spaniel hails from Tibet, a land located in the Himalayan Mountains in Asia. It is thought that the Pekingese, pug and Japanese chin were involved in the development of the breed. In Buddhist culture, the lion is highly prized and these dogs were called "lion dogs". Since they were so admired, the Tibetan spaniel was given as gifts to Chinese royalty and to leaders of other Buddhist countries.

In Tibet, this spaniel became a beloved companion and watchdog of monasteries. They would typically sit on the high walls and bark at intruders. In the late 19th century, the Tibetan spaniel was imported to England and by the mid 1900s, the breed made it to the United States.

The Tibetan spaniel was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1983 as a member of the non-sporting group.

Appearance and Size

The Tibetan spaniel is a dog of small size with an undershot jaw and a domed head. The dog has a proud appearance with dark eyes and a bright expression. The ears hang, are well feathered and set high. The tail is set high and plumed, carried curled over the back.

The coat of the Tibetan spaniel is of medium length, silky and flat. The ears and legs are feathered and the tail and rear have longer hair. The neck has a mane of longer hair. The coat can be a solid color or multi-colored. Typical colors include cream, fawn, gold, red, white, black and black and tan.

The adult Tibetan spaniel stands around 10 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 9 to 15 pounds.


Tibetan spaniels are affectionate and generally happy dogs. Good watchdogs, the Tibetan spaniel will alert their family when strangers approach. Some may be willful and try to dominate other dogs.

This is a very intelligent breed which thrives on human companionship. Although they may be aloof with strangers, they are affectionate and devoted to their family and friends.

Home and Family Relations

Tibetan spaniels can do well in families with older children. The breed is loyal and devoted to his family but can be a little shy with strangers. Tibbies are good watch dogs and will bark when stranger people or other animals approach. This dog can do well in an apartment if taken on daily walks. They can also do well in a home with a fenced yard.


These spaniels are very intelligent and can be trained in obedience but may sometimes be stubborn.

Special Concerns

The Tibetan spaniel does not like to be left alone and prefers to join with the families activities. The breed tend to bark, especially when anyone approaches the house.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The Tibetan spaniel is a hardy breed that has few known diseases. The most common illnesses are:

Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint that results in pain, lameness and arthritis.

Luxating patellas also known as loose kneecaps, can cause pain or lameness.

Portosystemic shunt is a malformation of the blood flow associated with the liver. The blood is shunted away from the liver, resulting in accumulation of blood toxins and subsequent profound illness.

progressive retinal atrophy a disease that causes nerve cells at the back of the eye to degenerate, leading to blindness.

The average life span of the Tibetan spaniel is 12 to 15 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.