Tibetan Terrier

Written by: Jamie
Updated: April 25, 2020

The Tibetan Terrier has been purebred for some 2000 years and in its original home high in the mountains, it’s held in very high esteem as the original holy dog of the Himalayas. Learn more down below.

Tibetan Terrier 1

Height: 35–41 cm
Weight: 8–14 kg
Lifespan: 11 – 15 years
Pedigree Breed (recognised by the Kennel Club?): Yes, under the Utility category

Positives and Negatives of the Breed


  • Loving and dependent
  • Intelligent and receptive to training
  • Gorgeous long coat
  • Sociable with pets and children


  • Known to bark a lot
  • Long coat requires plenty of grooming and washing
  • Energetic and require long exercise periods
  • Fairly stubborn


This Tibetan dog has been purebred for some 2000 years and in its original home high in the mountains, it’s held in very high esteem as the original holy dog of the Himalayas.

This dog is not actually a member of the Terrier group but was named as such due to its high resemblance to Terrier breeds. The name Tibetan Terrier has stuck to this day and is unlikely to ever change.

Reasonably high in stature for a dog of its type, broad and headstrong, the Tibetan Terrier is hardy and durable with a coat to endure the coldest winters.

Such is the traditional mysticism surrounding this breed that the Tibetan monks who highly prized the dog would never sell them, but might give them as a supreme token of good luck to those who were embarking on long and dangerous journeys.

Tibetan terrier lying

This dog makes for an exceptional companion, devoted, loyal and alert to danger.

They are clever and trusting and whilst they possess defensive traits, they are kind and docile around their owners, children, other pets and strangers alike, providing they are socialised well.

That said, the Tibetan Terrier dog is not one to shy away from intruders or evident threats where present. They are alert and have keen senses, able to spot movement from a great distance and react clearly to tell their owners.

Tibetan Terriers are traditionally accustomed to wide-open landscapes and they can be very independent.

With strong memories and an excellent sense of direction, they were frequently used to both herd livestock and protect monasteries and homes.

They carry over this free-roaming, lively behaviour and do demand a fair amount of exercise and they certainly love outside spaces.

With a strong desire to roam, forage and explore, this pastoral breed synchronises well with natural settings and enjoys foliage and mud, and snow where possible!

Best suited to colder environments, the Tibetan Terrier is not a hot weather dog due to its thick coat. Despite its coat length, this dog doesn’t shed, which is a major driving force behind its rapidly accelerating popularity.


Tibetan Terriers are much respected amongst the animal-loving dwellers of the Himalayas and have existed for thousands of years. Throughout their existence, they’ve been kept safe and treasured by their owners.

This is a pastoral dog that can assume many uses ranging from shepherding livestock to watching farms, and also makes a loyal companion and component of a larger team of dogs over which they may assume leadership.

Anyone who mistreats Tibetan Terriers tends to be shunned by Himalayan communities as this dog is considered holy and a good-luck charm of the highest order.

Owners would never part with their Tibetan Terriers unless they were being offered to intrepid travellers as a token of luck, a companion fit for traversing the toughest terrain.

These dogs were only exported by travellers from the region in the 1950s and since then, they’ve been steadily growing in number, though breeders are still few and far between and waiting lists for a Tibetan Terrier puppy is usually long.

The mystical heritage of this dog and its status as a sign of good luck made is very marketable in the West.

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Tibetan Terriers are stalwart and strong, devoted to their owners and caring.

They are highly alert and have keen senses which makes them excellent watchdogs, though their preferred method of warding off strangers is by barking and alerting their owner, rarely would they attack unless the threat is immediate and obvious.

These dogs love their owners and are keen to please which makes them fairly easy to train. They are intelligent and receptive to commands, though they can be stubborn at times and tend to be quite preferential.

Due to their devoted and loyal tendencies, Tibetan Terriers suffer from bad separation anxiety and are not well suited to quiet homes where no one is in for long periods of time.

Tibetan Terriers are very clever and accompany children well. They’re sensible and measured in their actions and though they can be impressively physical, they tend to be careful around small animals and other small dogs.

This makes them a wise choice as a dog for a large family with other pets and children of all ages.

The Tibetan Terrier’s willingness to learn and socialise allows it to slot into living scenarios easily and with great flexibility, they have become a pretty popular choice for urban dwellers too.

They do love to spend time outside and will even happily sleep outside but overall, this dog can easily adapt to a permanent interior home, provided they are given ample time to express themselves outside too.

Tibetan Terrier 3


Tibetan terriers are durable dogs with a high longevity and tend to live until they are 14 or 15 quite regularly which is a long time for a dog of their size.

The Tibetan Terrier lifespan is testament to their rugged form and careful breeding. Kennel Club registered breeders of Tibetan Terriers will be well aware of health problems and DNA tests are readily available.

Granted quality breeding practice and trustworthy accredited breeding programs, it is unlikely a Tibetan Terrier will suffer from serious hereditary issues that affect its health in early or middle age.

Arthritis, eye and ear problems are amongst the most likely to develop later on. Ears, in particular, are floppy and furry and will have to be cleaned regularly to prevent intrusive wax and infection.

Tibetan Terriers develop tight bonds with their owners and as such, mental health can be an issue when they face periods of isolation.

Tibetan Terriers are used to close-knit communities and whilst their owner is their number one companion and friend at all times, they do feed off the energy of others too, hence why they make an excellent dog for families.

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Tibetan Terrier 4


The Tibetan Terrier has a free-roaming and active temperament, is lively and loves to exercise. They’re also great roamers and benefit from time off the lead.

Ducking, diving, foraging, smelling, looking and overall great curiosity tend to describe this dog well when they’re allowed to explore outdoor space.

Exercise that involves long walks through landscape settings are ideal, the Tibetan Terrier is quite flexible though and can be suited to city life if the owner is dedicated to spending as much time outdoors with it as it needs.

This may be easier said than done, though, and if exercise expectations can’t be met, the Tibetan Terrier will likely become depressed and mopey.

Tibetan Terrier dogs are also clever so need mental stimulation and play. Dog toys are a must, particularly those that exercise the mental faculties and motor control.

Keep things fresh and don’t allow your Tibetan Terrier’s play to become too stagnant or repetitive.

They interact well with children and can exercise alongside them in gardens, etc, under supervision in the case of younger and smaller children.

Tibetan Terrier 2


Tibetan Terriers are of above-average intelligence and are some of the best problem solvers of the canine world. They love mental dog toys, e.g. those that require them to solve a problem to release a treat.

They have excellent coordination and memories, which means they may be able to suss out when you leave a cupboard open to go in search of food, etc.

They can be pretty audacious in their exploration so don’t be surprised to find your Tibetan Terrier working hard to map out the various parts of your home and garden, as well as outside spaces.

Tibetan Terriers should be trained from as young as possible, they’re quick to learn and quick to trust other animals and humans.

Training shouldn’t be repetitive and punishment techniques won’t work. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and kind forms of training that don’t involve dominance techniques.

They should lead train quite easily and are unlikely to pull once restrained when doing so as puppies (using a harness).

Tibetan Terriers like to forage for food so they may eat too quickly from standard dog bowls, consider using a foraging mat to decrease consumption rates and improve digestion.

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Proper Tibetan Terrier grooming will take work and dedication – don’t underestimate it! After all, their best physical assets are usually their coats.

Long, flowing and wavy, they can easily reach the ground and are vulnerable to becoming very dirty and matted if left unattended even for a few days.

Due to their free-roaming and inquisitive nature, Tibetan Terriers may easily need some level of wash and groom after every walk during wet or wintery conditions.

Brush to avoid tangles and wash to prevent build-ups of dirt and grime, particularly around the ears and paws.

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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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