Tibetan Spaniel

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Tibetan Spaniel

Breed: Tibetan Spaniel
Temperament: independent, alert, reserved with strangers
Lifespan: 15 years
Dumpage rate: medium
Maintenance: medium
Recommended for: families


Tibetan Spaniels are similar in size to the Maltese or the Shih Tzu. They stand at around 10 inches (25 cm) tall and weigh 9 to 15 lb (4 to 7 kg). The coat is silky in texture and comes in many shades, including gold, cream, fawn, red, white, black and black and tan (any colour or blend of colours are allowed). The oval eyes are expressive and dark brown in colour, the nose is black. The tail of the Tibetan Spaniel is plumed and curls over his back. An unusual feature of this breed is the small hare feet with feathering between the toes.


Tibetan Spaniels remain puppy-like throughout their lives and enjoy playing, but are not as keen to be with their owner as say, a fox terrier or a schnauzer. They make a good family dog and are trustworthy with children. Although not a yappy dog they will bark at intruders and strange happenings.

Health and lifespan

Tibetan Spaniels are claimed to have a hardy constitution, in the past having survived the Himalayan conditions. They sometimes have problems with allergies and inhaling grass seeds in spring and summer. Their short faces can make them prone to respiratory problems and overheating in hot weather.


Breeders describe Tibetan Spaniels as cheap to feed and not fussy. On average, they cost around $8 per week to feed.

Breeding and cost

The average litter size for this breed is four puppies, with few problems reported with whelping. Puppies cost from around $400 for pets and from $600 for show quality dogs. There may be a waiting list for puppies.

Housepet Potential

Tibetan Spaniels are suitable as house dogs and do not require a large amount of space for exercise. They are happy in the company of both older people and families with children.

Space and exercise

Tibetans do not require large amounts of exercise but enjoy daily games and walks. When taken for a walk, they are best kept on leash unless in a fenced off area, safe from passing traffic.


The coat requires relatively little grooming and sheds dirt effectively. A weekly brush is adequate. Tibetans do not have a ‘doggy’ smell when wet and bathing is recommended every two to three weeks. Gently remove any built up mucus from the eye area.


Breeders claim that Tibetan Spaniels are the descendants of dogs which were kept by the Tibetan Llamas for hundreds of years and that they may be the ancestors of the Pekingese. There are stories that local dogs acted as watchdogs to alert the monks to approaching travellers and that they were supposedly used as ‘hot water bottles’ through the cold Himalayan winters. From these variable local dogs a breed was created in England sometime after the 1920’s.


Tibetans are difficult to train and may not be suitable for someone who expects instant and complete obedience from their pet. One breeder says ‘If a Tibetan Spaniel does what you want it to do then it is a happy coincidence!’ This may merely indicate that the breeders need to use better training techniques.

National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.

Dogs NSW
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409