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  • Temperament: Playful, Bright, Self-Confident
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 118 of 192
  • Height: 10 inches
  • Weight: 9-15 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Non-Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Tibetan Spaniel lying in three-quarter view facing forward
Tibetan Spaniel head and shoulders facing left
Tibetan Spaniel coat detail
Tibetan Spaniel standing in three-quarter view
Tibetan Spaniel

Find a Puppy: Tibetan Spaniel

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

Should be small, active and alert. The outline should give a well balanced appearance, slightly longer in body than the height at withers. Fault – Coarseness of type.

HEAD

Small in proportion to body and proudly carried, giving an impression of quality. Masculine in dogs but free from coarseness. Eyes dark brown in color, oval in shape, bright and expressive, of medium size set fairly well apart but forward looking, giving an apelike expression. Eye rims black. Faults – Large full eyes; light eyes; mean expression, blue eyes, or eyes with blue marks. Ears medium size, pendant, well feathered in the adult and set fairly high. They may have a slight lift from the skull, but should not fly. Large, heavy, low set ears are not typical.

BODY

Neck moderately short, strong and well set on. Level back. Well ribbed with good depth. Tail set high, richly plumed and carried in a gay curl over the back when moving. Should not be penalized for dropping tail when standing.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders well placed and firm. When viewed from the front, the bones of the forearms are slightly bowed to allow the front feet to fall beneath the shoulders. Moderate bone. Faults – Extremely bowed or straight forearms, as viewed from front. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet – Small, hare foot. Fault – Cat feet.

COAT

Double coat, silky in texture, smooth on face and front of legs, of moderate length on body, but lying rather flat. Ears and back of forelegs nicely feathered, tail and buttocks well furnished with longer hair. Neck covered with a mane or “shawl” of longer hair which is more pronounced in dogs than bitches. Feathering on toes, often extending beyond the feet. Should not be over-coated and bitches tend to carry less coat and mane than dogs.

HINDQUARTERS

Well made and strong. Stifle well developed, showing moderate angulation. Hocks well let down and straight when viewed from behind. Faults – Straight stifle; cow hocks. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet as in front.

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tibetan spaniel illustration

About the Tibetan Spaniel

With a blunt muzzle and big expressive eyes, a “lion’s mane” around the neck, and a plumed tail elegantly curving over the back, they’re distinctly Tibetan. But are they spaniels? No, not in the Western sense, like Cockers or Cavaliers. Instead, Tibbies recall the ancient traditions that produced Pekes, Pugs, Lhasas, and other unmistakably Asian breeds. Tibbies stand about 10 inches at the shoulder; they move quickly and with purpose. They’re seen in coats of many colors and combinations.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Tibetan Spaniel

Find a Puppy: Tibetan Spaniel

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Tibetan Spaniel Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Tibetan Spaniel should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior), and if feeding dry food, the breed tends to prefer a small-bite kibble. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

 

GROOMING

Whether show or pet, the Tibetan Spaniel is a natural breed that does not require trimming except for the hair on the bottom of their feet, for cleanliness. The area behind the ears tends to mat and should be combed frequently, but otherwise the breed’s coat does not tend to mat. A regular brushing and bath will keep the coat in good condition, with attention also given to the rear fringes, which can use a regular combing. Tibetan Spaniels do shed, and can do a good shed any time of the year. A bath and conditioning can help at this time. If the Tibbie is taken to a groomer, they should be advised to not cut the hair on the belly or between the legs. Many groomers regularly do a “sanitary cut” unless the owner advises them not to. Tibetan Spaniels will lick and itch badly if a sanitary cut is done. Nails should be trimmed as puppies, training the Tibbie to get used to regular nail trimming. They can be very bad about their nails unless worked with early.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

A daily walk is always enjoyable to a Tibetan Spaniel. They are as happy lying around the house as they are taking a long run in the yard. A fenced yard is a must. They are a great breed for owners who would like a dog to accompany them on long walks or jogs, as they are able to keep up with their human partner.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Calm

TRAINING

Tibetan Spaniels are smart and eager to please, and can excel in canine activities such as agility, scent work, rally, and obedience. They have a very independent mind, however, and will decide if and when they will do what is asked of them, so an early start to training is needed, and it should be a fun and enjoyable time. Socialization in puppyhood is a must as well.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Tibetan Spaniels are a relatively health breed, and responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as progressive retinal atrophy (a genetic eye disease);  “cherry eye,” an inflammation of tissue adjacent to the eye that often is corrected surgically; and patellar luxation. Before going to their new homes, puppies should be checked for portosystemic shunt (liver shunt), in which the blood flow around and/or through the liver is affected.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Tibetan Spaniel
Tibetan Spaniel
Tibetan Spaniel
Tibetan Spaniel
Tibetan Spaniel

History

A reverence for animals occupies a special place in Eastern belief and legend. In that spirit, Buddhist monks played a lead role in fostering and preserving Tibet’s native dog breeds. The monks kept Tibbies mainly as companions, but also as watchdogs who worked in tandem with their brawny cousin, the Tibetan Mastiff. Tibbies were farseeing sentinels who sat atop the monastery walls and scanned the horizon for friend or foe. And they no doubt made agreeable bed warmers on those subzero Himalayan nights.

Did You Know?

The Tibetan Spaniel originated in Tibet.
The Tibetan Spaniel, along with the Lhasa Apso and the Tibetan Terrier, is one of three native Tibetan breeds in the Non-Sporting group.
As the Tibetan Spaniel breed became more highly regarded, the practice of sending the dogs as gifts to the palaces of China and other Buddhist countries grew significantly, and in reciprocity, more "lion dogs" were presented back to Tibet.
The ancestors of the Tibetan Spaniel lived in the monstaries with Buddhist monks and were called "Little Lions", giving them great value and prestige (lions were sacred).
The Tibetan Spaniel can be found in early eastern art, dating as early as 1100 BC and on some carved jade pieces from 1644 AD.
The Tibetan spaniel was prized not only as pet and companion, but as a useful animal by all classes, acting as guard and alert dog.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Should be small, active and alert. The outline should give a well balanced appearance, slightly longer in body than the height at withers. Fault – Coarseness of type.

HEAD

Small in proportion to body and proudly carried, giving an impression of quality. Masculine in dogs but free from coarseness. Eyes dark brown in color, oval in shape, bright and expressive, of medium size set fairly well apart but forward looking, giving an apelike expression. Eye rims black. Faults – Large full eyes; light eyes; mean expression, blue eyes, or eyes with blue marks. Ears medium size, pendant, well feathered in the adult and set fairly high. They may have a slight lift from the skull, but should not fly. Large, heavy, low set ears are not typical.

BODY

Neck moderately short, strong and well set on. Level back. Well ribbed with good depth. Tail set high, richly plumed and carried in a gay curl over the back when moving. Should not be penalized for dropping tail when standing.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders well placed and firm. When viewed from the front, the bones of the forearms are slightly bowed to allow the front feet to fall beneath the shoulders. Moderate bone. Faults – Extremely bowed or straight forearms, as viewed from front. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet – Small, hare foot. Fault – Cat feet.

COAT

Double coat, silky in texture, smooth on face and front of legs, of moderate length on body, but lying rather flat. Ears and back of forelegs nicely feathered, tail and buttocks well furnished with longer hair. Neck covered with a mane or “shawl” of longer hair which is more pronounced in dogs than bitches. Feathering on toes, often extending beyond the feet. Should not be over-coated and bitches tend to carry less coat and mane than dogs.

HINDQUARTERS

Well made and strong. Stifle well developed, showing moderate angulation. Hocks well let down and straight when viewed from behind. Faults – Straight stifle; cow hocks. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet as in front.

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tibetan spaniel illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 007
BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 018
CREAM Check Mark For Standard Color 076
GOLD Check Mark For Standard Color 091
RED Check Mark For Standard Color 140
SABLE Check Mark For Standard Color 164
SILVER SABLE Check Mark For Standard Color 286
WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
PARTI-COLOR Check Mark For Standard Mark 038
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 014
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