The Tibetan Spaniel or Tibbie is an attractive small dog breed that looks a little like a Pekingese but with a less profuse coat and a longer muzzle. The Tibbie has a wide and slightly domed head that is carried high. The muzzle is medium length and wrinkle free and the pendant, feathered ears are set high.
The Tibbie has a level back, deep chest and a high set plumed tail that curls over the back. The forelegs are slightly bowed and the small hare feet have hair growing between the pads. Tibetan Spaniels have silky, long haired double coats with longer hair on the collar, ears and tail as well as on the backs of the front legs and the trousers/panties of the back legs.
Any color is acceptable but the most common colors are fawn or gold. Tibbies are about 10 inches tall at shoulder height and weigh from 9 to 15 pounds.
Tibetan spaniels are members of the American Kennel Club (AKC) Non Sporting Dog Group.
History of The Tibetan Spaniel
The Tibetan spaniel is misnamed because although it originated in Tibet, it has no real spaniel heritage in its ancestry. Small monastery dogs are thought to be the Tibbies predecessors. These small dogs accompanied the Llamas, turned prayer wheels and performed watch dog duties in the monasteries.
They also became known as “lion dogs” that were sent to and received from China and other Buddhist countries as highly prized gifts. The breed is likely to share common ancestry with the Pekingese, the Pug and the Japanese Chin. Tibbies were imported into England in the late 19th century but didn’t reach the US until 1965 when a breeding pair was brought in from a Tibetan monastery.
The AKC recognized the breed in 1984. Tibbies make great companion dogs and watch dogs. The Tibetan Spaniel was ranked 102nd out of 154 dog breeds registered by the AKC in 2005.
Temperament of The Tibetan Spaniel
The Tibbie is lively, cheerful, affectionate, alert, very intelligent and thrives on lots of human companionship. Tibetan Spaniels are calm, playful and very good natured and they do well with considerate older children. The Tibbie is very devoted to its family and if properly socialized will get along well with other cats and dogs and family pets. This breed is quite reserved with strangers and may bark when they approach.
Tibbies are somewhat independent and difficult to train but reward-based training will be effective as they are intelligent and eager to please. Tibetan Spaniels do fine with first time or novice owners and make fairly good watchdogs.
Tibbies can adapt equally well to apartment living or living on a farm. They only need a daily twice-walk or a play session in the yard. Tibbies are quite agile and sure footed climbers and love to perch on window sills and cabinets surveying their domain.
Although this breed has fairly long hair, it only requires a weekly brushing except when it sheds once a year. The Tibbie is a moderate shedding breed.
Tibetan Spaniels are quite healthy and can be expected to live for 12 to 15 years. The breed is slow to mature and there are no common health problems although some bloodlines have been known to exhibit later-onset progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts and allergies.
Prospective buyers should ask for the breeding parents Canine Eye Registry (CERF) recent ophthalmologists report for eye disorders