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April 5, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Tibetan Spaniel

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Purebred Star Blog Series

Are you looking for a little dog that will do great in apartment or condo living? Cat-like, charming, and spunky - do these qualities sound like fun? The Tibetan Spaniel will definitely offer a little spice to the family dynamic.

This adorable little breed is related to the Pekingese and the Japanese Chin. In fact, the Tibetan Spaniel is often mistaken for the Pekingese. Just like their cousins, they were adored by the Buddhist Monks in Tibet, where they were developed for companionship. They were also known for their watchdog capabilities in the Tibetan monasteries. They made their way to the United States in the 1960's.

Spunky, Clever, Charming

These are just a few words that describe the Tibetan Spaniel. These different personality traits will keep the pet parent on their toes.

The Tibetan Spaniel is brilliant and works hard to please their family. They do well in most situations and will have everyone adoring their personality.

Watch Dog and Cat-Like, the Perfect Blend

Tibetan Spaniels were known to sit high on the monastery walls. With their keen eye sight, they would quickly alert the monks to any visitors by barking. The good news is that the Tibetan Spaniel is not known to be a yappy type breed, only using their bark for alerting of visitors.

They are thought to have many of the characteristics of a cat, including a love for being in high places, which is believed to have come from when they originally protected the monastery by sitting high on top of the walls. They also have excellent eyesight, giving them the capability to see far away. Both of these traits are very much cat characteristics.

Friendly Except with Strangers

Due to their exceptional watch dog skills, the Tibetan Spaniel is known to be leery around strangers. However, after they get to know you, they will eventually warm up.

They do exceptionally well with people and other animals they know, but the Tibetan Spaniel can be standoffish with dogs they are unfamiliar with. Early training and proper socialization will help the Tibetan be friendly around those they don't know.

If they are allowed to rule the roost, they may develop Small Dog Syndrome. Small Dog Syndrome is a serious behavioral condition that is brought on by lack of rules and training from the pet parent. Establishing rules, working on training, and teaching the Tibetan to have manners will help prevent this.

The Tibetan Spaniel will do great in Doggy Daycare, benefiting from the positive interaction with other dogs.

A Daily Walk Only

Don't let their name fool you, they are not part of the spaniel group (which is considered a "gun dog") at all. The spaniels, like the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and the Tibetan Spaniel are considered lap-dogs, but were originally hunting spaniels that were bred to the smaller size, thus why the spaniel name stuck.

Tibetan Spaniels are not known to be overly rambunctious, high energy dogs like the spaniel. Gun dogs are high energy, but because the Tibetan is not considered a spaniel, they typically have a low to moderate energy level.

They only require a 30 minute daily walk around the neighborhood. They are typically low key and inactive inside, making them the perfect companion for apartment and condo living.

A Healthy Little Breed

Tibetan Spaniels have an average lifespan of 13-16 years, and overall, they are a pretty healthy breed. They can suffer from respiratory problems, cataracts, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and heatstroke.

Their grooming needs are minimal. Brushing twice a week helps maintain their beautiful coat and when during the shedding season their fur comes out in clumps.

Adopt First

As you begin looking for a Tibetan Spaniel, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!

At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.

On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!


Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe

Dog Breed Info

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  • I love the face on this dog! Cutest ever - maybe it's the short snout!

  • I agree Nancy, this face is ADORABLE, so want to kiss it! :-)

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