AKC Dog Breeds: Tibetan Spaniel

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Non Sporting Group
Height: 9-10 inches   Weight: 9-15 pounds  Color: All colors and mixtures, white allowed on feet

To the untrained eye, the Tibetan Spaniel may look like a Pekinese. There is some evidence that the two breeds were interbred at one time and this accounts for their close similarity in appearance. The main difference between the two breeds is that the Tibetan Spaniel has a longer face with no extra skin around its eyes. The coat is less thick than the Pekinese and the coat itself will lay flat. The coat is considered to be of medium length. The Tibetan Spaniel started out as small monastery dogs in Tibet, China. They were once known as the "little Lions" and were so highly regarded that they were given as gifts to the royal palaces of China. The breed is likely to have common ancestors with a number of the Oriental breeds, including the Japanese Chin and the Pekingese. By the 1890's the Tibetan Spaniels were being bred in the United Kingdom. It was not until 1965 that the first authenticated reference to Tibetan Spaniels in the United States is found. This was a litter born out of two imported dogs from a Tibetan monastery. Despite his name the Tibetan Spaniel is not actually related to the spaniel breed. These dogs were registered with the AKC in 1983.

General Appearance

This is a small dog that looks rather like a Pekingese, but with a slightly longer face, less profuse coat and no extra skin around the eyes. He is somewhat longer than tall. The dog should carry himself proudly. The top of the head is slightly rounded, and the medium-length muzzle is blunt and strong. The expressive oval eyes are dark brown and the nose should be black. A slight undershot bite is preferred by breeders. The Tibetan Spaniel has a plumed tail curled over his back, feathered pendent ears and soft, silky, medium-length, flat coat. The neck sports a mane of longer hair. The coat comes in many shades, gold, cream, fawn, red, white, black and black & tan. They may be solid, multi-colored or shaded. This breed should have hare-feet.


A charming, sociable dog, the Tibetan Spaniel is a lover of creature comforts and makes a great family pet or companion. These dogs are well suited to both experienced and inexperienced dog owners, and have bags of energy, charm, and personality. This is an adaptable little dog, with a good natured disposition and a playful attitude. They can be stubborn and independent, which can make training something of a challenge, and a confident, assertive, yet positive owner is essential. Although some Tibetan Spaniels can be on the manipulative side, most are easy going, clam, and sensitive. Although the Tibetan Spaniel is not overly demanding in terms of exercise, regular walks are important, as is a safe and secure area in which to play when not on a leash. The Tibetan Spaniel is very in tune with the emotions of his owner, and enjoys interaction. He is a real people dog, and does not like to be left alone or neglected. Very good at solving problems, smart, and quick to learn, the Tibetan Spaniel makes for a delightful companion. He enjoys climbing, and is very agile for his size. Early socialization is recommended with the Tibetan Spaniel to bring out confidence and stability in his temperament. He can be wary around strangers, and will bark to raise the alarm, making him an effective watchdog. He gets along well with children but does not like to be roughly handled, so is best around gentle, older children. He will usually get along well with other pets too, although some females can be aggressive with dogs of the same sex.


Tibetan Spaniels require brushing once a week. The breed is considered an average shedder but once a year it will shed in clumps. This is normal and should not cause alarm. It is important to pay careful attention to the hair behind the ears as it knots quite easily. When bathing the Tibetan Spaniel a mild shampoo is recommended. They must be rinsed thoroughly of all residues to prevent dry skin that may lead to itching and scratching.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
In general, the Tibetan Spaniel is a very healthy breed and does not contract illness or disease as some breeds tend to do. When properly cared for the breed will remain healthy for years.The Tibetan Spaniel is a long lived breed and it will normally live between 9 and 15 years with some animals living longer than that

Activity Level

While the Tibetan Spaniel is a small breed it can be energetic. In addition to the usual playfulness it will exhibit while indoors, it also loves to be taken on walks. The breed will gladly play with children in the backyard and it loves to run and be happy while out of doors.


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