The Tibetan Spaniel was created in the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet, historians reckon they have been known for over 2,000 years. The were bred by Buddhist Monks as companions and bed warmers with surplus stock being given away as pets to highly esteemed friends. Keen eyesight, the Tibetan Spaniel made ideal lookouts, especially on the high monastery walls where they would sit barking a warning to both the Monks and the much larger Tibetan Mastiffs inmates when subjected to strange sites and noises. Although they will vigorously alert to unwelcome events, they do not bark unnecessarily. Neither are they hyper or nervous, the Tibbie is like a very large dog in a small body!
The first Tibetan Spaniel imports into Great Britain was around 1898 though few were bred from until after world war II. The United States of America’s interest in these dogs began around the middle 1960’s when several were imported there. The Tibetan Spaniel Club of America was formed in 1971 followed by The American Kennel Club’s recognition of the breed in 1984 where it joined the Non-Sporting Group.
Tibetan Spaniels are a well-balanced small dog and clear of any exaggeration to features. His body is slightly longer than his hight, his beautiful feathered tail is carried over his back; his weight is around nine and fifteen pounds. His distinctive head and expression is very endearing; the muzzle is of medium length with a slightly noticeable chin; eyes are almond in shape and well set, forward looking, all combining, to give a typical ape-like expression. His ears are pendant with varying length fringes. He has two coats, a very soft undercoat for warmth and a longer flat silky outer coat; males come with a more luxuriant coat with a much noticable lion-type mane around the neck and shoulders; females have a shawl around the shoulders; less feathering around the legs. All canine colours, and combination of colours, are accepted.
IMPORTANT. A Tibetan Spaniel with exaggerated features is the result of bad breeding. Credit; The Breed Club Connection.
The breed is a very intelligent little dog which is happiest when close to a loving human companion, they thrive on human companionship, as a result do not make good kennel dogs. Though at times may seem aloof, especially to strangers, they are very affectionate to their family. The breed adapts to almost any lifestyle and most Tibetan Spaniels will happily mix with other pets. Their favorite past times are for long walks and curled up by the fireside after a busy and interesting day.
Talk to the breeder and discuss health and medical records on the dog’s parentage.
Tibetan Spaniels are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can get certain conditions. Not all Tibetan Spaniels will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed.
If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog’s been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.
PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY (PRA); is a degenerative eye disorder. Blindness caused by PRA is a slow process resulting from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye. PRA is detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness. A reputable breeder will have their dogs eyes certified on a yearly basis.
PATELLAR LUXATION; also known as “slipped stifles,” this is a common problem in small dogs. It is caused when the patella, which has three parts — the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (calf) — is not properly lined up. This causes lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait, sort of like a skip or a hop. It is a condition that is present at birth although the actual misalignment or luxation does not always occur until later. The rubbing caused by patellar luxation can lead to arthritis, a degenerative joint disease. There are four grades of patellar luxation, ranging from grade I, an occasional luxation causing temporary lameness in the joint, to grade IV, where the turning of the tibia is severe and the patella cannot be realigned manually. This gives the dog a bowlegged appearance. Severe grades of patellar luxation may need surgical repair.