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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Tibetan Spaniel Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Tibetan Spaniel Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Tibetan Spaniel

The Tibetan Spaniel is a small dog with a long history. This small but active and alert dog breed originates from mountainous Tibet, where these dogs served as watchdogs and companions. The Tibetan Spaniel is known for its intelligence, easy-to-groom coat, and unwavering loyalty to its owners.

Breed Overview


9 ­– 11 inches


9 – 15 pounds


12 – 15 years


Black, white, tan, sable, gold, red, fawn, cream

Suitable for:

Families with children and other dogs


Affectionate, loyal, protective, gentle

Tibetan Spaniels are adaptable dogs that can fit into a variety of different households and their small size allows them to fit happily into apartments provided they get enough exercise and outdoor time. Since this dog breed is so affectionate and loving, they do not enjoy being left alone for hours a day and if they do not get enough attention and exercise, they may start to pick up bad habits such as excessive barking.

Tibetan Spaniel Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Tibetan Spaniel Puppies

Tibetan Spaniel puppy
Image By: Lambos Pavlides, Shutterstock

Tibetan Spaniels are adorable and loving dogs. They make great pets because of their gentle and affectionate behavior. They create strong bonds with their families and children, and because of their small size, they’re great for apartment lifestyles.

Keep in mind that they need plenty of attention and time. They’re not a good fit for anyone that won’t be with them during most of the day. If you can give the Tibetan Spaniel plenty of love and care, you will be rewarded with a loyal, happy companion that enjoys spending tons of time with their family.


Temperament & Intelligence of the Tibetan Spaniel

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Tibetan Spaniels are affectionate and protective of children and their families, but because this is a small dog breed, they can be easily injured by mishandling. They are better suited to families who have older children who know how to be gentle when handling this dog breed.

Their loyal and affectionate nature makes them good family dogs that can adapt well to their family’s daily routine. However, they do not enjoy being left alone for long periods and can suffer from separation anxiety when one or all of the family members are not home.

Tibetan Spaniels are happy and playful companions both to humans and other pets. They are also watchful and alert, and despite their small size, they are always willing to protect their family. A bonus is that the Tibetan Spaniel is not prone to yapping like other toy dog breeds, but they can bark excessively if they get bored.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Tibetan Spaniels typically do well with a variety of other pets, such as cats and dogs, and even smaller pets like rabbits and guinea pigs. Since this dog breed was not bred for the sole purpose of hunting, they are not naturally driven to chase or hunt smaller animals.

This dog breed gets along well with cats and other smaller dogs, but they may be curious about any new pets in the household. Some Tibetan Spaniels may even be nervous and scared around new pets because they feel as if they are facing a threat and need to protect their family. This is when a gentle introduction phase will be beneficial so that your Tibetan Spaniel can get accustomed to having other pets in the home.

Tibetan Spaniel
Image Credit: Ilona Ilyés, Pixabay


Things to Know When Owning a Tibetan Spaniel:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

In their native Tibet, the Tibetan Spaniel had the same diet as the Tibetan people which consisted of ground barley, meat (sheep or yak), yogurt, and tea. However, your Tibetan Spaniel should instead be fed a high-quality commercial diet or homemade raw foods to stay healthy.

How much your Tibetan Spaniel eats depends on their size, age, body shape, metabolism, and activity levels. Since this is a small dog breed, they require a cup or two of dry food split into two or three meals a day, and it’s important to ensure that their diet is 100% balanced.

Exercise 🐕

Tibetan Spaniels only need moderate exercise, between 30 to 60 minutes per day. This is not an overly active dog breed and they are happy with short daily walks or playtime in a fenced and secure area. The best form of exercise for this dog breed is daily walking on a leash—not only do they get to spend time with you, but they also get their required exercise!

If you have a safe and secure dog park in your area, you can also take your Tibetan for walks there on occasion. However, they will be just as happy to play fetch in their backyard.

Toys are an essential item for Tibetan Spaniels, especially when they are left alone while you are at work or your children are at school. Interactive toys will help keep their mind stimulated to help prevent boredom. You can also try giving them various chew toys that they can carry around and chew on to their heart’s content.

Training 🎾

This dog breed is usually easy to train because two of their main characteristics are intelligence and eagerness to please their owners. Tibetan Spaniels are easier to train from a young age and as they get older, it will take more patience to train them. When Tibetan Spaniels are still under a year old their brains are still developing, and they can pick up bad habits that can stick as they get older.

In some cases, Tibetan Spaniels seem to have a mind of their own and may not always listen when you give them a command. This is when treats really come in handy as you can use treats as motivation to teach your Tibetan Spaniel tricks and basic commands.

Grooming ✂️

Tibetan Spaniels require consistent grooming. They have medium-length fur that can get greasy and messy if a regular grooming routine is not applied. Ideally, this dog breed should be taken to a grooming parlor every couple of months to have a full-body clean and trim to keep their fur in good condition.

At home, you can bathe them regularly with dog shampoo and brush out any knots in their fur. You will also need to make sure their nails are trimmed to a comfortable length.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Tibetan Spaniels are generally healthy, but like all dog breeds, they are prone to some health conditions. Not all Tibetan Spaniels will develop serious health conditions, especially if they are well cared for and fed a good diet. However, some diseases and conditions may run in your Tibetan Spaniels genes, which makes these conditions more likely.

In Tibetan Spaniels, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for their knees and the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) for eyes. Some health conditions may only make an appearance as this dog breed matures or reaches its senior age. Health clearances are usually not issued to dogs that are under 2 years of age.

Minor Conditions
  • Deafness
  • Cataracts
  • Bacterial and viral infections (Parvo, rabies, distemper)
Serious Conditions
  • Patellar luxation
  • Epilepsy
  • Retinal dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Cancer

Male vs Female

Male and female Tibetan Spaniel are similar in both size and appearance, but females usually have a shorter coat and smaller “mane” than males do. Both genders can vary in weight and height, but females are stockier than males and have shorter legs. Male Tibetan Spaniels typically have a better-looking coat and can be much slimmer than females, plus, they tend to bark far more often.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Tibetan Spaniel

1. They Are Not Technically Spaniels

Tibetan Spaniels do not share any common ancestry with the traditional Spaniel Breed, most of which were bred to be gun dogs.

2. They Were Bred By Buddhist Monks

Although Tibetan Spaniels are not Spaniels, they are indeed from Tibet. They lived in Tibetan monasteries with monks and lamas (priests) and were referred to as ‘little lions’, a title of great honor since lions are considered sacred in Buddhism.

3. They Appear in Ancient Eastern Art

Tibetan Spaniels appear in the art that dates back to 1100 B.C, making this dog breed at least 3,000 years old! It’s possible that the Tibetan Spaniel could have been the predecessor to the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso.


Final Thoughts

The Tibetan Spaniel makes a great family dog breed, and you will fall in love with their loyal, affectionate, and charming personality. This dog breed is the perfect fit for families that want a small, apartment-friendly dog breed with minimal grooming and exercise requirements.

If you are not gone for hours each day and can spend quality bonding time with your dog as well as give them plenty of gentle exercise, then the Tibetan Spaniel may be the right dog breed for you!

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Featured Image Credit: Jne Valokuvaus, Shutterstock

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