Tibetan Spaniel

Written by: Jamie
Updated: July 23, 2020

Are you searching for more information on the Tibetan Spaniel? Our comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know. Below, we talk about health, personality, training habits, and loads more!

Tibetan Spaniel dog sitting on grass

The Tibetan Spaniel or Tibbie’, is a small yet intelligent dog originating from Tibet where they were used as watchdogs and companions.

Height: Around 10 inches
Weight: Between 4-7 kilos
Lifespan: Approximately 12-15 years for the Tibetan Spaniel lifespan
Pedigree Breed (recognized by the Kennel Club): Yes, this breed is KC registered.

Positives and Negatives

Before purchasing or rehoming any dog you should always understand the positives and negatives related to the breed type.


  • Makes a great watchdog
  • Doesn’t require much exercise
  • Very loving and affectionate
  • This breed gets along great with other household pets


  • Has the tendency to bark a lot
  • The breed has high grooming needs and have ‘coat blowouts’ twice a year (shedding clumps of underlining fur  when removing their seasonal coat)
  • Tibetan Spaniels can have a variety of breed-related health issues
  • Can be wary or unfriendly towards strangers

Tibetan spaniel looking curious


Tibetan Spaniels are small, playful, and friendly dogs. Although they have ‘Spaniel’ in their name, they are completely unrelated to Cocker Spaniels. They are instead closely related to the Japanese Chin, Pekingese and Lhasa Apso.

Tibbies are highly popular across Europe due to their size, intelligence and trainability. Their intelligence requires them to be mentally stimulated which can be done through games or through their own curiosity when exploring.

These dogs were bred to be watchdogs and will alert you if they sense anything out of the ordinary. Tibetan Spaniels make loyal companions so much so, they can pick up on their owner’s moods and emotions.

Tibetan Spaniel close up

Their small size labels them as a ‘Toy Breed’ and because of this, they don’t require too much exercise. They have a tendency to bark, but not as much as other breeds this size.

Tibbies hold a deep attachment to their owner and because of this, they shouldn’t be left alone for long periods of time, only a few hours at the most. If this breed is left alone continuously, it could lead to separation anxiety.

Tibetan Spaniels have been listed under the ‘Utility’ breed group. It means the dog has been bred for a specific purpose that does not include working or for sport.

Related: We give the lowdown on the wonderful Catalan Sheepdog in our latest guide.


Tibetan Spaniel Facts: The Tibetan Spaniel originated from Tibet where they were developed by Buddhist Monks. Tibbies acted as watchdogs for the monks, keeping the monasteries safe and alerting their owner to anything suspicious.

This ancient breed dates back to around 2,000 years ago where they were owned by the Buddhist monks. These dogs were never sold and were only given to those outside the monasteries as gifts to close friends. They lived hidden away in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet and has been featured in Asian art dating back to 1100 BC.

In Tibet, the Tibetan Spaniel is called ‘Simkhyi’. Tibbie’s worked alongside a much larger companion, known as the Tibetan Mastiff. Weighing up to 72kg these huge guard dogs would enforce any action needed against threats to the monasteries. They were also used as bed warmers, their small size makes them feel like a soft, furry, miniature heater.

Tibetan Spaniels arrived in the UK in 1898 however, it was only until World War II when they started being officially bred. It was Lord and Lady Wakefield with two other friends who brought Tibbie’s back to England after staying in Western Tibet.

They began breeding the dogs and raising their numbers which led to the opening of the Tibetan Spaniel Association in 1957. The ‘Spaniel’ name was given to the dog by Europeans.

Tibetan Spaniel sitting on grass


This intelligent dog is highly alert and just like in ancient eras, they are always on the look out for danger. They have a strong bond with their owner and require lots of time, attention, and affection.

Although this dog is always on the look out and will alert you via barking, it does not mean that a Tibbie is aggressive. They are sensitive dogs that pick up quickly on their owner’s emotions.

Just like they used to do in the mountains, the Tibbie likes to sit up high observing their territory, so you may find them resting on a window sill or table trying to get a look outside.

The Tibetan Spaniel really does live up to its features, a ‘lions mane’ surrounds the neck and their larger than life personality definitely suits this.

Recommended: Learn all about the curious looking Borzoi breed in this guide.

Tibetan spaniel looking at camera

Are Tibetan Spaniels Good With Strangers?

This breed is often quiet and reserved when coming around strangers, but they should not show aggression nor will they try to bite.

They tend to be warier of their surroundings and don’t like being immediately petted by somebody they don’t know.

Are Tibetan Spaniels Good With Children?

Tibetan Spaniels make great playmates for children however, it is important that play is supervised. This is because a child can easily injure your pooch accidentally due to their small size.

It is recommended to have a dog this size in the home with children above the age of 6, as they are more aware of how to treat an animal so small. Tibbie’s do make excellent family pets.

Are Tibetan Spaniels Ok With Other Dogs?

Generally, Tibbie’s get on fine with other dogs and household pets. They do have a stubborn streak so it may be best to socialize them with terrier type breeds whilst they are puppies.

Tibetan Spaniels were bred to work alongside the Tibetan Mastiff, so they can happily be around larger dogs without the instant feeling of intimidation, as seen with other breeds.

Recommended: Don’t miss our guide to the Welsh Terrier next!

Tibetan spaniel running on lawn


Once you decide on which type of dog you would like your new companion to be, you must check out the health issues that could be associated with the breed.

The following health problems have been seen amongst the Tibetan Spaniels:

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy– The deterioration of the retina in the eye which could eventually cause permanent blindness.
  • Hip Dysplasia– Poor development can cause hip joint laxity which in turn can lead to arthritis.
  • Entropion– Where the eyelids turn inwards.
  • Luxating Patellas– The knee caps slip out of place.
  • Distichiasis– Small eyelashes can grow on the inner edge of the eyelid causing irritation and rubbing against the eye.


Tibetan Spaniels don’t require much exercise due to their size, despite being so energetic and playful. Once they become adults, they will be happy with half an hour for their daily exercise and sometimes will just be satisfied with a run around the garden.

Yet it is still important to take them out on regular daily walks just so they can keep their legs, muscles, and joints moving. Tibetan Spaniels like to explore which is why they should be leashed at all times, an extendable lead will work fine.

Intelligence & Trainability

Described as one of the most cat-like dog breeds, the Tibetan Spaniel is notorious for their extreme intelligence. They will climb up on anything they can just to get a peek at what’s going on outside.

Their independence allows them to wander off on the look out for danger and hold the confidence of a large breed dog in a toy size body.

Training this breed can be a little difficult. Their stubbornness and independence can often make them seem like they are ignoring you. The Tibetan Spaniel does not respond well to harsh training techniques.

Recommended: Learn all about the wonderful Westiepoo in our next breed guide.

Instead with positivity, praising, rewards and a soft touch your dog will respond much better and will grasp the training techniques quicker.

Separation anxiety is commonly seen amongst this breed, which is why it is important they aren’t used to being left alone regularly. They can be trained to stay at home on their own for at least a few hours.

Shyness is also something you should watch out for, if this breed isn’t socialized correctly they may become timid around other dogs.

Tibetan Spaniel dog standing on grass


Tibbies should be bathed once every 6-8 weeks and brushed 2-3 times a week. You can use a wire pin brush or a soft slick brush to comb through your pooches fur.

This breed has two coats the undercoat and the upper layer which shed seasonally. The undercoat should be removed with the wire pin brush whereas the upper layer should be brushed with the slick brush, this helps to keep the outer layer of fur silky and smooth.

Some mats may appear in areas behind the ears or around the legs, if this occurs use some small handheld clippers to shave off the mat. You can also use the same tool to remove fur from around the feet and the overgrown fur within the paw pads.

Spray conditioners and finishing sprays are often used to keep the coat silky and shiny. Avoid products with silicon if you live in a sunnier climate as the sun rays can instead damage the fur.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at Jamie@woofbarkgrowl.co.uk or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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