Tibetan Terrier: Dog Breed Info

Tibetan Terrier

The Tibetan Terrier, which originated in Tibet more than 2000 years ago, is a dog breed of medium size. Despite its name, it is not a part of the terrier group. European travelers named it as such due to similarities with other terrier breeds. Initially bred as companions for monastery monks and for herding sheep, these dogs are known for their sensitive and affectionate nature. They have been reliable watchdogs throughout history and are loved for their loyalty and companionship. Because of their reputation for bringing good luck, they were often given as gifts instead of being sold. The Tibetan Terrier is a delightful and joyful medium-sized dog, making them an excellent family pet. They are highly regarded for their caring and loving temperament.

Tibetan Terrier Appearance

The Tibetan Terrier possesses a well-proportioned body, a head that is moderately sized, and a nose that is black in color, all within its medium-sized frame. They have three different ways in which their teeth can meet: a scissors bite, a reverse scissors bite, or a level bite. With captivating dark brown eyes and pendant-shaped ears, this breed stands out. Their back is level, their chest extends down to the elbows, and they have a well-feathered tail that curls over their back.

The Tibetan Terrier’s hind legs are slightly longer than the front legs, and their dewclaws are sometimes removed. They have long coats in various colors, including black, black and white, brindle, gold, sable, and white and black. Their special feet with thick pads and hair between their toes and pads make them well-suited for snowy terrains.

History of Tibetan Terrier

The Tibetan Terrier is a breed that has been selectively bred and raised in Tibetan monasteries for over 2,000 years. Originally, they were companions to the monastery monks and were used by Tibetan nomadic herdsmen for herding sheep. They were highly regarded for their reputation of bringing good luck and were often given as gifts instead of being sold.

In the 1920s, a British surgeon named Dr. Agnes Greig received a Tibetan Terrier as a gift, which sparked her fascination with the breed. She established her own breeding program in England and introduced the first Tibetan Terrier, named Bunti, to Europe. Initially known as Lhasa Terriers, the breed was later renamed Tibetan Terrier in 1930.

The breed arrived in the United States in 1956 and was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1973. Additionally, Tibetan Terriers have played a significant role in the development of other breeds, such as the Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Tibetan Spaniel, and Polish Lowland Sheepdog.

Tibetan Terrier Temperament

The Tibetan Terrier is a highly intelligent and affectionate dog breed that is known for its sensitivity and loyalty towards its owners.  They are cautious around strangers but form strong bonds with their owners and get along well with children and other animals. To prevent shyness, early socialization is crucial. Due to their affectionate demeanor and capability to thrive in the company of humans, they are well-suited to be exceptional therapy dogs.

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While they may develop separation anxiety, they are not excessive barkers. Tibetan Terriers are intelligent and determined, making them easy to train using positive reinforcement. They can coexist with other pets and children but may be better suited for older kids. Although they have a mild temperament, they may nibble during play, so chew toys are recommended. Tibetan Terriers are devoted pets and get along well with cats and dogs, but tend to bark when someone approaches the door.

Tibetan Terrier Grooming

Prospective owners of Tibetan Terriers must be prepared to dedicate time to their grooming needs. If their fur is not regularly trimmed, it can easily become tangled and form uncomfortable mats that may need professional assistance to remove. However, their coats are sturdy and can endure different weather conditions, making them low-maintenance in terms of coat care. Brushing should be done every 2-3 days, with a moistened coat and attention to areas such as leg joints, beard, and hindquarters.

Baths should be given regularly, about once a week or two. Cleaning the ears and trimming hair between paw pads are important. Regular teeth brushing and annual professional cleanings are necessary for oral hygiene. Nail trimming should be done once a month or as needed based on activity levels and the sound of their nails when walking.

Tibetan Terrier Training

Trick training is a beneficial activity for Tibetan Terriers to enhance their mental abilities and obedience. It involves teaching them commands like sit, stay, roll over, and lay down. Creating a distraction-free environment is essential for their focus. Reinforcement and rewards play a crucial role in teaching new tricks. Start by rewarding your dog for completing a trick and gradually increase the difficulty.

Tibetan Terriers have good memory and problem-solving skills, making them adept at solving puzzles. Dog treat toys can offer mental stimulation, but consider your dog’s weight and opt for alternative puzzle options if necessary. DIY puzzles can be created to engage your dog with a rewarding toy.

Establishing boundaries and respect for humans and other animals is crucial in obedience training. Choose a training program that suits your pet’s needs and actively participate to strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

The Right Food for Tibetan Terriers

Tibetan Terriers, formerly mountain dwellers, have a robust nature and active lifestyle that ensures they consume enough calories. A balanced diet with high crude fiber and low energy density is essential for their well-being. To counteract certain diseases like hip joint dysplasia, Patellar luxation, and diabetes, the right food can be beneficial.

Additionally, consult a veterinarian for guidance on foods that support the demanding coat of Tibetan Terriers and address teeth problems or allergies. The key factor in selecting food is that it should be appropriate for their species and contain all necessary nutrients. Puppies should be fed 3-5 times daily, while adults can have up to 2 meals, depending on weight, age, and activity level.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions is advised. In summary, nourishing Tibetan Terriers appropriately helps them stay healthy and fit for many years.


Ensuring regular exercise for Tibetan Terriers is crucial for their overall health. However, statistics indicate that 20% of their owners do not provide them with regular walks, which can result in significant long-term health problems. Fortunately, there are various methods available to keep your Tibetan Terrier active without exerting excessive effort yourself. Basic methods include walking or jogging with your dog and mixing up the routes or visiting dog-friendly places.

Playing fetch is another option, as long as it is done safely and considerately. While tug of war can provide enjoyment, ensure to beware of any displays of aggression. Providing mental stimulation can be achieved by hiding treats or toys in different areas of the house. Agility training offers both exercise and training opportunities.

Tibetan Terrier Health

Tibetan Terriers typically live for about 15 to 16 years and are generally known to be a robust breed. Nevertheless, similar to other canines, Tibetan Terriers can be susceptible to specific health concerns. This is why collaborating with a trustworthy breeder who conducts screenings for breed-specific conditions becomes imperative. Carrying out pre-conception DNA testing and evaluating the health of potential parents can effectively prevent these prevalent health issues.

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis

An incurable neurological disease affects vision, balance, causes aggression, and may lead to seizures. No treatment exists, but ongoing research explores potential remedies. A responsible breeder who conducts pre-conception DNA testing can help avoid this condition.

Hip Dysplasia

When the femur’s head and pelvis do not grow harmoniously during a dog’s early development, the hip joint may not align properly in adulthood. This misalignment can lead to degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis. Be vigilant for signs of weakness in the hind legs and instability when your dog attempts to stand up. Treatment involving medication and physical therapy can often significantly enhance their overall well-being.

Primary Lens Luxation

An inherited disease can cause inflammation, glaucoma, cataracts, and teary, red, and painful eyes. Cloudy or hazy appearance should be monitored. Regular vet eye exams can detect issues early for treatment with surgery and medication to prevent complications.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Regular eye exams are crucial for detecting the gradual degeneration of the retina in dogs, leading to vision loss and eventual blindness. Although there is no treatment available, dogs with this inherited disease can still live fulfilling lives. It is advisable to obtain a Tibetan Terrier from a reputable breeder who screens for these health issues.

Final Thoughts

Originating in Tibet over 2000 years ago, the Tibetan Terrier is a dog breed of medium size. Despite its name, it is not actually a part of the terrier group. Originally bred as companions for monks and for herding sheep, they are known for their loving and sensitive nature. They have been reliable watchdogs throughout history and were often given as gifts due to their reputation for bringing good luck. Tibetan Terriers have a well-proportioned body and a moderate-sized head and come in various colors. In order to prevent their long coat from becoming tangled, regular grooming is necessary. Tibetan Terriers are highly intelligent and loyal, and get along well with children and other animals. Regular exercise is necessary for them, and they may be prone to specific health concerns like hip dysplasia and eye issues. It is important to work with a reputable breeder to ensure the health of the breed.

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