Let's talk Tibetan Spaniels

A miniscule canine who enjoys lots of attention, the Tibetan Spaniel is more than content assuming a role as your lapdog. However, there is so much more to this big-personality breed than their looks. Their history traces back thousands of years to the remote and high monasteries of Tibet, where Tibetan Spaniels were primarily used as guard dogs. Yes, you read that correctly. Their generation-spanning bond with humans, compact size and even-tempered disposition makes the Tibetan Spaniel a highly desirable modern-day canine companion for a wide variety of pet owners.

Official name: Tibetan Spaniel

Origins: Tibet

Tibetan Spaniel sitting looking at camera in black and white
Drooling tendencies Low Warm weather? Low
Shedding level Medium Suited to apartment living? Very high
*Energy Level low *Friendly pet? High
Compatibility with other pets Medium *Can stay alone? Medium

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behavior. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

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Illustration of Tibetan Spaniel
25 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
4 - 7 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
25 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
4 - 7 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight


 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 10 months
 Adult age  10 months to 8 years
 Mature age  8 to 12 years
 Senior age  From 12 years

Tibetan Spaniel standing on log


Get to know the Tibetan Spaniel

All you need to know about the breed

The Tibetan Spaniel was commonly referred to as “the little lion” while honouring their position as watchdogs for Buddhist lamas thousands of years ago. It not only describes how they look, with thick manes around their neck, but also how they behave: they are assertive and not afraid to sound the alarm when they sense an unwelcome visitor. However, when not engaged in watchdog duties, this petite breed enjoys nothing more than reclaiming their role as loyal and doting companion, wrapping themselves over your lap for a cosy nap (with one eye open for surveillance, of course).

What makes the Tibetan Spaniel so well-rounded and universally adored is their adaptability to most environments. Their affectionate, curious, and affable nature has made them an excellent fit for a variety of different households. Tibetan Spaniels can sometimes be wary of strangers (their long history as guard dogs remains ever present) and they need early socialisation and consistent training to ensure that they are at ease in ordinary situations.

Never judge a book by its cover: despite their bite-sized stature, Tibetan Spaniels are also smart cookies - their high level of intelligence and natural obedience allows them to be easily trainable and quite simply, a joy to be around.

Tibetan Spaniel lying on grass


2 facts about Tibetan Spaniels

1. Not quite a spaniel

Although their name bears the “spaniel” canine classification, Tibetan Spaniels do not share any overlapping qualities with traditional spaniel breeds, most of which were developed to be sporting dogs. The language mix-up, for it is that – the word “spaniel”, derived from the French word “´épagneul”, which in the Middle Ages made reference to companion dogs that were owned and adored by European and Oriental courts.

2. The best gift one could ask for

Given their symbolic connection with the sacred lion, Tibetan Spaniels were occasionally given as gifts to Buddhist leaders . One common belief is that Chinese royalty then cross-bred the Tibetan Spaniels they were given as gifts with their own Pugs to produce the modern-day version of the Pekingese breed. Others claim that Tibetan lamas cross-bred the Pekingese they received as gifts from China with another highly-revered Tibetan breed, the Lhasa Apso, to produce the Tibetan Spaniel. The world will never know!


History of the breed

Tibetan Spaniels boast a fascinating and rich history that dates back thousands of years across far-reaching monasteries of Tibet. To put their age-old existence into perspective, the oldest depiction of the Tibetan Spaniel was found on bronze carvings from 1,100 B.C in China, making the breed at least 3,000 years old!

Back in this ancient period, the Tibetan Spaniel would spend a large part of their days keeping watch over surrounding Buddhist monasteries. If unwanted visitors approached their territory, they would dutifully alert their larger cousin, the Tibetan Mastiff, who would take the lead in protecting their turf. At specific times during the day, the Tibetan Spaniel even served as ‘prayer dogs’ by running on small treadmills to turn the sacred prayer wheels.

It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the Tibetan Spaniel first surfaced outside of Asia, in England. Dr. Ages R.H. Greig, a British doctor who had been gifted with a Tibetan Spaniel, is now credited for promoting the breed across the West. The Tibetan Spaniel was officially recognised by the United Kennel Club in 1960, with the American Kennel Club following in 1984.

Tibetan Spaniel in black and white


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Tibetan Spaniels

1. Head

Slightly domed-shaped skull with wide-set eyes.

2. Tail

Small stature and feathered tail curling over the back.

3. Coat

Medium-length double coat with silky texture in a wide variety of colours.

Close-up of Tibetan Spaniel puppy


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Tibetan Spaniel
Tibetan Spaniel lying on grass


Caring for your Tibetan Spaniels

Grooming, training and exercise tips

With their silky locks, Tibetan Spaniels need their fair share of grooming: regular brushing several times a week in order to remove any loose hairs and prevent tangles. The fur between their toes and on the bottom of their feet may need to be occasionally given a trim to avoid matting. Brush your Tibetan Spaniel’s teeth daily - small dogs can be prone to dental problems - and clean eyes, ears, and paw pads of debris, and trim nails as needed. Tibetan Spaniels do not require too much physical exercise to live their best life, but at least one daily walk or playtime in the yard is recommended. When it comes to training, Tibetan Spaniels are known for being a tad assertive, but their people-pleasing ways will always work in your favour. Socialisation is important from puppyhood in order to temper the Tibetan Spaniel breed’s natural wariness of strangers and make sure they’re at ease in everyday situations.


All about Tibetan Spaniels

Generally speaking, yes. But as with any dog, they must be properly trained before having direct contact with children and vice versa (preferably older children who are able to be gentle when handling the petite Tibetan Spaniel breed).

Given their ancient history as guard dogs, the Tibetan Spaniel has a strong, natural instinct to let out a bark if alarmed. This tendency can be curbed with early training and socialisation, though maybe not enough for citified neighbours.



1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/