Choosing a Tibetan Terrier

The Tibetan terrier is an uncommon breed that is a loyal companion but a little shy with strangers. With their long hair hanging over their eyes, this dog looks like a miniature sheepdog.

History and Origin

The Tibetan terrier hails from the Lost Valley of Tibet, a land located in the Himalayan Mountains in Asia. This area is so remote that visitors were often given these dogs as guardians on their journeys. This dog was a beloved companion of monks in the monasteries for centuries and was thought to bring good luck to anyone that owned one. Tibetan nomads used them as a herder and guardian of animals.

Until the early 1900s, the Tibetan terrier was rarely seen outside of Tibet. When a visiting British physician, Dr. A. R. H. Grieg, treated a sick Tibetan, she was given a Tibetan terrier as a gift, which she took with her to England. Other dogs were obtained and brought back to England and a breeding program began. The Tibetan terrier was eventually used in the development of other breeds such as the shih tzu, Tibetan spaniel and Lhasa apso.

The Tibetan terrier was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1973 as a member of the non-sporting group.

Appearance and Size

The Tibetan terrier is a dog of medium size with a long hair coat, which usually covers the eyes. The dog looks a little like a miniature sheepdog. The ears are not erect, are feathered and shaped like a 'V'. The tail of the Tibetan terrier is medium length with long hair and curls over the back. One of the most unique features of this breed is his large flat feet. The feet are like snowshoes that help the dog walk in the snow covered mountains of Tibet.

The coat of the Tibetan terrier is long and double. The outer coat is often straight but can be wavy. It can be any color or combination of colors.

The adult Tibetan terrier stands around 14 to 17 inches at the shoulder and weighs about 20 to 30 pounds.


Tibetan terriers are affectionate and generally happy dogs but can be cautious around strangers. Some may be willful and try to dominate other dogs.

Home and Family Relations

Tibetan terriers 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. Tibetans 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 terriers are very intelligent and can be trained in obedience or agility but may sometimes be stubborn.

Special Concerns

The Tibetan terrier does not like to be left alone and prefers to join with the families activities. When left alone, this dog may become destructive. The Tibetan terrier should be brushed every 2 to 3 days. The hair between the pads of the feet should be periodically clipped.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The Tibetan terrier is a hardy breed that has few known diseases. The most common illnesses are hip dysplasia, lens luxation and 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 terrier 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.