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Your Pet, Our Passion.

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.

The need-to-know
  • 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
Generally healthy breed

The Tibetan Spaniel dog breed is classed as brachycephalic; problems associated with the condition include;
Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome: a condition in brachycephalic breeds (those with a short nose and squashed face) where breathing is obstructed and can lead to reduced ability to exercise, or even severe respiratory distress.
Skin inflammation/infection: brachycephalic breeds have a short nose and a normal amount of facial tissue. This means there is often excess skin around their face which leads to skin folds. The skin inside these folds can become sore and infections are prone to develop. 
Eye ulcers: ulcers are painful erosions on the surface of the eye. They are more common in brachycephalic breeds due to their conformation, as their eyes tend to be more bulbous. 

The breed can also suffer from: 
- Patellar luxation
- Progressive retinal atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness.

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Eye screening scheme

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.

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.