ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Tibetan Terrier

Tibetan Terrier dog breed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Tibetan Terrier, also known as Tsang Apso and Dokhi Apso, is a dog of medium size that originated in Tibet. The interesting fact about this dog breed is that even though there is a ‘terrier’ in his name, he does not belong to the dog group of terriers. European travelers gave them this name because of his resemblance to popular terrier dogs.

The Tibetan Terrier is an affectionate companion who is able to adapt to various lifestyles. In this article we are going to cover his most important characteristics so you can see whether you are a suitable owner for this dog breed.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityHigh
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHighest

Dog Breed Group:Companion Dogs
Height:1 foot, 2 inches to 1 foot, 4 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:Generally 20 to 24 pounds
Life Span:12 to 15 years

When it comes to adaptability, the Tibetan Terrier adapts well to apartment living. He is a dog breed of medium size, but he does not minding living without a yard because what he likes best is spending most of the time with his owner. However, this does not mean that you should never take him out for a walk or exercise. On the contrary, this dog breed has high exercise needs (which will be discussed later on); but he is famous for adapting well to apartment living.

The Tibetan Terrier is an okay choice for novice owners because he is not too stubborn, but the problem is that he requires a lot of grooming and brushing which can be difficult for novice owners. In that case, you might need to hire a professional groomer or to spend more time learning how to do it properly.

The Tibetan Terrier does not have a high sensitivity level, which means that he adapts well to most lifestyles, be it urban environment, a noisy household or an eccentric owner who has an unusual lifestyle. Even though he has a fluffy and long coat he adapts well to cold weather and high temperatures which make him a very tough and sturdy dog. However, you should keep in mind that what this dog does not tolerate at all is definitely being alone.

He is very sensitive to being left alone for long periods of time so he can turn into a self-destructive and depressive dog. If you lead a chaotic lifestyle that keeps you away from home most of the time, then this dog breed is not for you. The reason why he adapts so well to most homes is probably because he loves being close to his owner in the first place.

Speaking of an all-around friendliness, the Tibetan Terrier is really an affectionate dog. He is a great family member who is on great terms with children and even other dogs. If socialized and trained from an early age, he can turn into a well-mannered dog who is not suspicious of strangers or smaller animals. Otherwise, he might not be as friendly to strangers and unfamiliar people as he is to his family members. All in all, the Tibetan Terrier is a great family companion who craves human affection and closeness.

When it comes to health and grooming, that can be a bit tricky. The Tibetan Terrier has a fluffy and long coat that requires regular grooming and brushing. If you are not up to this task then hiring a professional to do it instead is a must. Additionally, this dog breed sheds a lot, which means that unless you want to be covered in tons of fur all the time, you will need to brush your pet regularly, or even daily.

The good thing is that the Tibetan Terrier does not have a drooling potential and his size is not a problem when it comes to living in an apartment. His health is good in general, but there is a potential for weight gaining and there are also certain conditions that this breed is prone to, such as: hip dysplasia, cataracts, heart murmurs and joint related diseases. The general life span is up to 15 years.

The breed is a relatively easy to train. They are intelligent dogs that love to please their owner which mean that positive reinforcement works well. Additionally, this dog breed has a very low potential for mouthiness and prey drive, mostly because his original role was to simply be a companion and not a hunting dog. Another great info is that he also does not bark or howl much and his wanderlust potential is moderate. All in all, it is in his genes to be a well-mannered and calm dog which should never attack other animals or humans.

Having in mind that he had never been trained for such things in the past makes it all easier to understand his personality. However, that does not mean that you should not train him at all – as with all dogs, the earlier you start the better would be.

And finally, what are exactly this breed’s exercise needs? Even though the Tibetan Terrier adapts nice to apartments and homes which are smaller, that does not mean that he would not appreciate a nice game or walk. It might surprise you, but this dog breed has high exercise needs that should be met if not daily, then weekly. His personality is calm, but he has a high energy level and potential for playfulness. The intensity of exercises should depend on your pet’s age, health and overall character, but you should engage him as much as you can.

Main Highlights
  • Even though Tibetan Terriers are suited for families with children, they should not be with toddlers but children who know how to treat dogs properly.
  • If you have raised your Tibetan Terrier with other animals and dogs, training would be much easier and they would get along great.
  • This dog breed requires a bath once a month and regular weekly brushing. The grooming is not easy and it might be better to be done by a professional.
  • Even though they do not bark much, they will do so if they hear something unusual, which makes them not so bad watch dogs.
  • Tibetan Terriers’ history dates back thousands of years as they served monks as companions in Tibet.
  • Tibetan Terriers were kept purebred for over 2000 years due to the fact that their location (Tibet) had been isolated for a long period of time.
  • A Tibetan Terrier was brought to Europe for the first time in 1922.
  • Tibetan Terriers love affection and they do not handle being alone at all.
Breed History

The place of Tibetan Terriers’ origin is Tibet, the land which had been isolated for long periods of time. It is interesting to note that this breed dates back thousands of years, so it is no wonder that they are known as the ‘Holy Dogs of Tibet’. Tibet is famous for its mountains, rough terrain and isolated beauty and when you look at Tibetan Terriers, their fur and coat seem to be perfect for such an environment. This dog breed has been purebred for thousands of years due to the inaccessibility of the place and they have always been cherished by the monks and local people.

They referred to them as ‘The Little People’ who were used as lucky charms, watch dogs, mascots and mostly companions. They were never sold as puppies but rather given as gifts because they were considered to bring luck and good fortune.

As we already mentioned, they do not belong to the group of terriers. European travelers gave them this name when they saw them for the first time because they reminded them of the real terriers. It was not until 1922 that this dog breed was brought to Europe and not until 1956 to the USA.

The first person who started breeding this dog outside Tibet was Dr. Agnes R. H. Greig, and The American Kennel Club recognized this dog breed officially in 1973. What is interesting is that this dog breed is considered responsible for creating other dog breeds such as the Tibetan Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu and others.

Size

The Tibetan Terrier is a dog breed of medium size which is known for varying widely in both height and weight. As long as the weight is proportional to the size, it is acceptable. The sizes vary from from 14-16 in (35–41 cm) to 18-30 lb (8–14 kg), and 20-24 lb (9.5–11 kg) for both genders.

Personality and Character

Personality and character are the best aspects of a Tibetan Terrier. They are famous for their sensitive, cheerful, playful, and sensitive personality. They love their owners so much that they can easily become self-destructive, depressed or even ill if they are neglected for a long period of time. What makes them happiest is to make their owner happy, so it is relatively easy to train them with positive reinforcement and rewards.

The Tibetan Terrier is not a breed that barks or howls too much, but they can be good watch dogs because they are suspicious of strangers, especially if they have not been trained to be sociable. You should expose your dog to as many different people, animals and sights in order for him to become a nice and well-mannered dog. They are smart, pleasant and amazing companions who would make your life more cheerful.

Health and Potential Problems

When it comes to health, the Tibetan Terriers are considered healthy in general; however, there are some conditions and diseases that can affect this breed more than the others. Some of them are:

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a disease that affects the eyes and leads to the gradual deterioration of the retina. Tibetan Terriers that become affected by it usually become night blind and later on even become completely blind; but they can lead normal lives as long as their surroundings remain the same as before.
  • Hip Dysplasia is an inherited condition which is when the thighbone doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint. It can be diagnosed with X-ray screening. Some signs include lameness and pain. These dogs should not be bred as well. Arthritis might be one of the consequences of hip dysplasia.
  • Lens Luxation is a condition that is usually inherited and it affects the lens of the eyes which are not properly placed in the eyes. It can be either partial or complete and sometimes it can be treated with surgery or medications. However, if the case is severe, the eye may need to be removed.
  • Other: heart murmurs, cataracts, allergies to dairy, wheat and grains, the genetic disease called the canine neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (Batten disease in humans).
Care Features

As we already said, the Tibetan Terriers are very adaptable dogs who do not mind leaving in a variety of households, including apartments; even though they are dogs of medium size. They hate being stuck in a kennel because they thrive on human companionship and closeness. You should keep this in mind before purchasing a Tibetan Terrier puppy.

The most important thing that you would need is patience, because housetraining can be tough and you would need to take your dog for exercise every day. This dog breed is filled with lots of energy and playfulness so they would not go along with an owner who is a real coach potato. Other necessary parts of care include regular teeth brushing, nail clipping and check-ups to make sure there are no injuries or infections on the body.

Feeding Schedule

When it comes to recommended daily dosage of food, it should be 1 1/8 to 1 3/8 cups of high-quality dog food per one day, which should be divided into two meals, usually breakfast and lunch. Puppies of Tibetan Terriers should eat 3 to 4 cups daily.

However, according to your Tibetan Terrier’s energy level, metabolism and the intensity of exercises, you should give him more if he spends more energy or less, if he is more of a coach potato type. Any extremity should be avoided because each can lead to health problems. Make sure to always buy food of high quality and include vitamins, vegetables and proteins.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The coat is double, soft, fluffy, woolly, and it has an undercoat and a topcoat. The hair is usually wavy but it can also be straight. If you think of their origin, then it is completely logical to see why this breed developed such a thick coat with both an undercoat and a topcoat. When it comes to the color, this dog breed comes in a variety of colors, such as: white, gold, tricolor, brindle, silver, black, barring liver and chocolate. They also come in a variety of combinations and not only just one color; however, gold is definitely the rarest while silver is the most common.

Grooming is very difficult so it is not unusual that novice owners or those who do not have time, to hire a professional to take care of it instead. The Tibetan Terrier requires daily brushing in order for his coat to stay shiny and healthy and he requires weekly grooming. He also sheds a lot, so that is one more reason to take care of his coat regularly.

When it comes to bathing, a bath is required once per month and you should put a bit of conditioner on your pet’s coat in order to make it shiny and healthy. Make sure to inspect your pet’s body to see if there are any fleas, ticks or injuries. Mats are also another potential danger.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Tibetan Terrier is a dog breed that is famous for its affectionate nature and their need to be part of the family. They thrive in a household that is filled with love and laughter and as long as the children are well-mannered and not rough, they will get along with them just well.

Training your Tibetan Terrier and socializing him from an early age is a must, but you should also know that teaching your kids to be respectful of dogs and animals in general is also mandatory.

Now, that you are familiar with this dog’s physical traits, personality quirks, and most importantly – his basic needs we believe you can tell if he’ll be a good companion. If you are an active person who has time for spending time with your pet – then this dog breed might be the one for you.

He might be of medium size, but he loves being playful! He is also very affectionate and loves being cared for, so you should never keep him alone. Give him all your attention and love and you’ll receive lots of care and affection from your beloved friend.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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