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  • Temperament: Affectionate, Loyal, Sensitive
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 91 of 192
  • Height: 14-17 inches
  • Weight: 18-30 pounds (male), slightly smaller (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 15-16 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 Terrier standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Tibetan Terrier head and shoulders facing left
Tibetan Terrier lying in three-quarter view facing forward
Tibetan Terrier coat detail
Tibetan Terrier

Find a Puppy: Tibetan Terrier

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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.
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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Tibetan Terrier is a medium-sized dog, profusely coated, of powerful build, and square in proportion. A fall of hair covers the eyes and foreface. The well-feathered tail curls up and falls forward over the back. The feet are large, flat, and round in shape producing a snowshoe effect that provides traction. The Tibetan Terrier is well balanced and capable of both strong and efficient movement. The Tibetan Terrier is shown as naturally as possible.

HEAD

Eyes – Large, set fairly wide apart, dark brown and may appear black in color, neither prominent nor sunken. Eye rims are dark in color. Ears – Pendant, falling not too close to the head, heavily feathered with a “V” shaped leather proportionate to the head. Faults – Weak pointed muzzle. Any color other than a black nose. Overshot bite or a very undershot bite or a wry mouth. Long narrow head. Lack of fall over the eyes and foreface.

BODY

Neck – Length proportionate to the body and head. Body – Compact, square and strong, capable of both speed and endurance. Topline – The back is level in motion. Chest – Heavily furnished. The brisket extends downward to the top of the elbow in the mature Tibetan Terrier. Ribs – The body is well ribbed up and never cloddy or coarse. The rib cage is not too wide across the chest and narrows slightly to permit the forelegs to work free at the sides. Loin – Slightly arched.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – Sloping, well muscled and well laid back. Legs – Straight and strong when viewed from the front. Heavily furnished. The vertical distance from the withers to the elbow equals the distance from the elbows to the ground. Feet – The feet of the Tibetan Terrier are unique in form among dogs. They are large, flat, and round in shape producing a snowshoe effect that provides traction.

COAT

Double coat. Undercoat is soft and woolly. Outer coat is profuse and fine but never silky or woolly. May be wavy or straight. Coat is long but should not hang to the ground. When standing on a hard surface an area of light should be seen under the dog. The coat of puppies is shorter, single and often has a softer texture than that of adults. A natural part is often present over the neck and back. Fault – Lack of double coat in adults. Sculpturing, scissoring, stripping or shaving are totally contrary to breed type and are serious faults.

HINDQUARTERS

Legs – Well furnished, with well bent stifles and the hind legs are slightly longer than the forelegs. Thighs – Relatively broad and well muscled. Hocks – Low set and turn neither in nor out. Feet – Same as forefeet. Dewclaws May be removed.

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tibetan terrier illustration

About the Tibetan Terrier

Bearing a passing resemblance to their smaller cousin, the Lhasa Apso, Tibetan Terriers reside at the lower end of medium-sized breeds, standing about 15 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 20 and 24 pounds. A breed hallmark is the beautiful and profuse double coat—wooly underneath, with a long, fine topcoat. TTs are unique among dogs for their large, flat “snowshoe” feet, adapted over centuries to help them negotiate the snowy, mountainous terrain of their homeland.

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 Terrier

Find a Puppy: Tibetan Terrier

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 Terrier Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

Tibetan Terriers evolved in a challenging land that experienced both feast and fast as a way of life. A traditional Tibetan diet would include staples such as easily digestible gruel (cooked barley flour), and meat broth. TTs often received the leftover gruel as food. Naturally lean animals that savor their food (they chew it!), it is not unusual for TTs to leave some in their bowls. Historically, the diet of peasants promoted longevity, while the rich foods of kings created disease. With this in mind, it is best to feed an honest food with real ingredients, and trust a TT to eat what he needs rather than rely on the instructions on a feed bag. A lean dog is more energetic, healthier, and full of happy life force!

GROOMING

Prospective TT owners may mistakenly think this is not the dog for them based upon the manicured, flowing coats seen on televised dog shows. But there’s an agile, versatile dog underneath with a multi-purpose coat suited for everyday life. TTs have a double coat, the undercoat being wool, resistant to moisture and a natural insulator. Coat textures can vary from softer to harder to more or less prone to matting. The natural coat of the breed can stand up to most anything nature can dish out. It may be convenient to keep the dog in a puppy cut if a full coat hinders desired outdoor adventures. That being said, the real benefit of grooming a TT is that it strengthens the bond in relationship, is great training, and is a way to monitor the dog’s health. It may come as a surprise how enjoyable grooming can be.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

TTs love to take walks and be outdoors with their people. Individuals within the breed may have more or less drive for exercise. A good breeder will be able to place match each prospective owner with a compatible dog. If you want to hike up a mountain, there’s a TT for that. If you’re more of a homebody and simply walk around the block or take the stairs a couple times a day, there’s a TT for that. Many TTs enjoy a post in the house where they can look out a window or door and perform sentry duty for their household. If this spot is an overlook like a stair landing or balcony, all the better.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

This is an independent-minded breed that is quick to learn and will wither under obsessive repetition or harsh methods. Training practices that allow the dog to choose the right behavior are recommended. Clicker-training instruction is widely available, and both human and dog will enjoy the developing partnership from training together. TTs are enthusiastic students who love working closely with their owner (in things such as agility, rally, and nose work) and performing jobs that contribute to the household. They seek companionship based on mutual cooperation, trust, and respect. They have great capacity for love and devotion to their people.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

TTs can be a hardy, healthy breed that ages gracefully. But just as second-generation immigrants to Western countries succumb to Western diseases, the same phenomenon might be linked to the shift in TT health issues due to environmental changes in diet and lifestyle from its country of origin. Early spay and neuters can predispose dogs to joint issues. Many breeders request that the dog reach maturity before altering. Geriatric heart murmurs and cataracts are not uncommon in aging TTs. Occasionally senior TTs are struck with vestibular disease, which is fortunately something from which they can recover. Cancer is an increasing concern in aging TTs. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as allergies, thyroid issues, bladder stones, periodontal disease, hip and patella issues. Genetic tests (such as for NCL, LL, PRA, etc.) are a valuable tool used by breeders to eliminate the expression of those diseases in their puppies.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • PLL DNA Test
  • NCL DNA Test
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Tibetan Terrier
Tibetan Terrier
Tibetan Terrier
Tibetan Terrier
Tibetan Terrier
Tibetan Terrier

History

The breed name gets it only half right: Tibetan Terriers are Tibetan, but they’re not true terriers—not by blood, temperament, or job description. Westerners carelessly hung the name “terrier” on this typically Asian dog, and it stuck. An ancient breed developed in the splendid isolation of the Lost Valley, TTs are among several Tibetan dogs associated with Buddhist monasteries and the Dalai Lama. TTs are best known as companions and watchdogs, but during their long history they’ve worked as herders and flock guardians.

Did You Know?

The Tibetan Terrier originated in Tibet.
The Tibetan Terrier, along with the Lhasa Apso and the Tibetan Spaniel, is one of three native Tibetan breeds in the Non-Sporting group.
The Tibetan Terrier was bred and raised in monasteries by lamas almost 2000 years ago.
Tibetan Terriers are native to the Lost Valley of Tibet, where they were prized companions and "luck bringers" for those fortunate enough to own them.
The first "official" Tibetan Terrier was brought to the US in 1956.
The Tibetan Terrier is not actually a "Terrier," but was dubbed that because of his Terrier size.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Tibetan Terrier is a medium-sized dog, profusely coated, of powerful build, and square in proportion. A fall of hair covers the eyes and foreface. The well-feathered tail curls up and falls forward over the back. The feet are large, flat, and round in shape producing a snowshoe effect that provides traction. The Tibetan Terrier is well balanced and capable of both strong and efficient movement. The Tibetan Terrier is shown as naturally as possible.

HEAD

Eyes – Large, set fairly wide apart, dark brown and may appear black in color, neither prominent nor sunken. Eye rims are dark in color. Ears – Pendant, falling not too close to the head, heavily feathered with a “V” shaped leather proportionate to the head. Faults – Weak pointed muzzle. Any color other than a black nose. Overshot bite or a very undershot bite or a wry mouth. Long narrow head. Lack of fall over the eyes and foreface.

BODY

Neck – Length proportionate to the body and head. Body – Compact, square and strong, capable of both speed and endurance. Topline – The back is level in motion. Chest – Heavily furnished. The brisket extends downward to the top of the elbow in the mature Tibetan Terrier. Ribs – The body is well ribbed up and never cloddy or coarse. The rib cage is not too wide across the chest and narrows slightly to permit the forelegs to work free at the sides. Loin – Slightly arched.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – Sloping, well muscled and well laid back. Legs – Straight and strong when viewed from the front. Heavily furnished. The vertical distance from the withers to the elbow equals the distance from the elbows to the ground. Feet – The feet of the Tibetan Terrier are unique in form among dogs. They are large, flat, and round in shape producing a snowshoe effect that provides traction.

COAT

Double coat. Undercoat is soft and woolly. Outer coat is profuse and fine but never silky or woolly. May be wavy or straight. Coat is long but should not hang to the ground. When standing on a hard surface an area of light should be seen under the dog. The coat of puppies is shorter, single and often has a softer texture than that of adults. A natural part is often present over the neck and back. Fault – Lack of double coat in adults. Sculpturing, scissoring, stripping or shaving are totally contrary to breed type and are serious faults.

HINDQUARTERS

Legs – Well furnished, with well bent stifles and the hind legs are slightly longer than the forelegs. Thighs – Relatively broad and well muscled. Hocks – Low set and turn neither in nor out. Feet – Same as forefeet. Dewclaws May be removed.

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tibetan terrier illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 007
BLACK & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 019
BLACK WHITE & GOLD Check Mark For Standard Color 032
BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 057
GOLD Check Mark For Standard Color 091
GOLD & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 092
GOLDEN BRINDLE Check Mark For Standard Color 096
SABLE Check Mark For Standard Color 164
WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 199
WHITE & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 202
WHITE & GOLD Check Mark For Standard Color 208
BLACK & BRINDLE 008
BLACK & BROWN 009
BLACK & GOLD 234
BLACK & WHITE BRINDLE 020
BLACK BROWN & WHITE 022
BRINDLE & WHITE 059
BROWN 061
BROWN & WHITE 063
FAWN 082
FAWN & WHITE 086
GRAY 100
GRAY & WHITE 105
RED 140
RED & WHITE 146
RED BRINDLE 148
SABLE & WHITE 165
SILVER 176
SILVER & BLACK 177
SILVER & WHITE 182

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BLACK MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 002
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 014
BLACK MASK 004
BLACK POINTS 019
SABLE 026
TICKED 013

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