Tibetan Spaniel

AKC Non-Sporting Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Dogs were highly prized in ancient Tibet, and were often given as gifts to royal houses. This practice spread dogs throughout Asia, and because breeding was not particularly discriminate, the Tibetan Spaniel is thought to be related to many other Oriental breeds, including the Chin and the Pekingese. Depictions of dogs similar to the Tibetan Spaniel have been found on Chinese bronzes from as early as 1100 BC. The Tibetan Spaniel was a companion and watchdog at Tibetan monasteries, sitting on the high walls and barking at any sign of intruders. The dog also reportedly turned the prayer wheels for his masters. Today’s Tibetan Spaniel still likes to sit in high places to watch over his surroundings. The Tibetan Spaniel first was brought to England in the late 1800s. The breed received official AKC recognition in 1984. Now the Tibetan Spaniel is a popular companion and show dog.


The Tibetan Spaniel is a small dog that looks rather like a Pekingese, but with a slightly longer face, less profuse coat, and no extra skin around the eyes. He is somewhat longer than tall. The dog should carry himself proudly. The top of the head is slightly rounded, and the medium-length muzzle is blunt. The expressive oval eyes are dark brown, and the nose should be black. A slightly undershot bite is preferred. The Tibetan Spaniel has a plumed tail curling over his back, feathered pendant ears and a soft, silky medium-length coat. The neck sports a mane of longer hair. The coat comes in many shades: gold, cream, fawn, red, white, black, and black and tan. May be solid, multicolor, or shaded. White is allowed on the feet only. This breed should have small hare feet with long feathering.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Averages 10 in.
  • Size:  Very small
  • Weight:  9 to 15 lbs.
  • Availability:  Difficult to find
  • Talents:  Watchdog, agility, and performing tricks


Usually gets along well with other animals. Not prone to any major health problems. May overheat or have respiratory problems because of his short face. The Tibetan Spaniel is slow to mature and lives a long time. Females tend to come into heat only once a year. Litters tend to be small, averaging about three to six puppies per litter. The adult’s long coat develops by the time the pup is 5 or 6 months old. Once a year, the coat comes out in clumps.


Perky and happy. Very smart and trusting. Sweet and loving to his family, and aloof with strangers. Protective of his family, and especially of children. A good watchdog that will bark at intruders and strange happenings. Not yappy. Rather insistent and willful at times.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Moderately protective
  • Trainability:  Slightly difficult to train
  • Independence:  Fairly independent
  • Dominance:  High
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Not generally dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Likes to bark
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Feathered coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Moderate exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space:  Does OK without a yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Moderately long-lived (12 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Tibetan Spaniel Breed Standard


Tibetan Spaniel Breed Club


Search for a Breeder


Rescue Organizations


Books about the Tibetan Spaniel


Tibetan Spaniel Gifts