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Tibetan Spaniel Mobile

Tibetan Spaniel

The Tibetan Spaniel is an attractive little dog, slightly longer than they are tall and with a silky, medium length coat that forms feathering on the ears, legs and tail. Males may have a thicker coat and mane around the neck and shoulders.

  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Basic training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Needs under an hour of walking a day
  • Small dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming daily
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a small garden
  • Can happily live in the city
  • Can be left occasionally with training

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Weight:  7 – 9kg 
Height:  around 25cm
Colours:   The coat comes in all colours and combinations
Size:  Small 
UK Kennel Club Groups: Utility 


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 3/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 3/5
Tibetan Spaniel lying on the grass


Alert and active, the Tibetan Spaniel may be reserved with strangers, yet completely loyal to family. As a companion breed they do not like to be separated from their owner or family, and this is something they must be trained to cope with and even then something they may always struggle with. They have a natural tendency remains to alert owners to whatever is occurring, and this breed trait should not be ignored as they can be extremely vocal.

Tibetan Spaniel lying on the grass and and focused on something

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Tibet

Bred in Tibet by the monks to act as watchdogs within the monasteries, the Tibetan Spaniel is a spaniel in name only, they have no genetic link to the gundog spaniels, but most likely took the name as they slightly resemble the toy spaniel types.  

In their original role as watchdogs, the Tibetan Spaniel would climb walls to seek out high vantage points from which to watch, and bark an alarm should someone approach. This behaviour can still be seen in modern Tibetans, whose owners will frequently find them on worktops, table tops and window sills. No, they cannot levitate, they are just extremely gifted climbers! 

It is also possible the Tibetan Spaniel performed another function for the monks, in turning the prayer-drums that contained the prayer on a scroll. Each rotation counted as a prayer ‘said’ and this extra duty would give one reason why the Tibetan Monks had several small breeds that worked for them.

Health and Common Issues

The most common health problem affecting Tibetan Spaniels is an inherited eye disease and so eye testing prior to breeding is important.  

The breed club monitor the health of the breed carefully and should be contacted for the most up-to-date information and details of any DNA or additional testing they recommend. Breed Clubs can be found on the Kennel Club website. 

Exercise Needs

An hour’s exercise per day, as well as some training and games in the form of puzzle solving, clicker training and feeding from food dispensing toys should keep the Tibetan Spaniel busy and satisfied. A secure garden is a must as the Tibbie is an excellent digger!

Space Requirements

The Tibetan Spaniel is not a demanding dog to house, a secure garden is vital and it is worth considering how loud or busy your local area is, as this breed is likely to be overstimulated and stressed by constant noise. As long as this is taken into account, the Tibetan Spaniel will happily live in country or town housing.

Nutrition and Feeding

Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.

Grooming Tibetan Spaniel

The double coat consists of a fine, dense undercoat and a longer, silky topcoat. Brush and comb through the coat a couple of times a week, paying particular attention to the feathering, which is prone to tangling and the fur between the pads which can easily mat or collect debris. 

Training Tibetan Spaniel

Easily trained this breed is quick to learn and loves to spend time with their owner, positive reinforcement training will get the best out of this little dog. Although small the Tibetan Spaniel should be capable of a variety of dog activities including tracking, man-trailing and mini agility and it is well worth having a go at some of these activities to keep their minds occupied.

Best Family Dog Breeds

Gentle and kind, the Tibetan Spaniel can make an excellent family pet. Caution is advised with very small children as it is very easy for them to mistake small fluffy breeds for toys. Not ideal for the very busy family who have long periods of absence from the home. 

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them. 

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Tibetan Spaniels, or at least dogs that look very like them, appear in art that dates to 1100BC – this makes the breed around 3000 years old. It is possible they are the ancestors of the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso.
  • They were once referred to as ‘little lions’ which was a great honour as lions are sacred in Buddhism. 
  • In Tibet they’re called ‘Simkhyi’, meaning ‘housedog’, ‘room dog’ or ‘bedroom dog’. 
  • Tibetan Spaniels were only ever gifted and never sold, most often to leaders in China or other Buddhist countries. 
  • It’s said that this breed helps Lamas with spiritual practices and will often sit next to them or on their lap during meditation. 

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