Tibetan Terrier



The Tibetan Terrier is an ancient breed, with its origins shrouded in the myth and mystery of Tibet. In its country of origin, the Tibetan Terrier was reputed to be a multitasker: a watchdog in the villages and monasteries and warned owners of approaching strangers on tent and caravan journeys.  The breed also herded yaks and sheep, and was a driver of packhorses and retrieved lost articles down the mountain side.

Developed in a harsh environment, the Tibetan Terrier's battle against difficult terrain made the breed what it is today: a tough, nimble and determined little dog.


The Tibetan Terrier is a lively, outgoing and very good-natured breed. Both dogs and bitches are devoted to their family and are extremely loyal.  However, the breed can be cautious or reserved when initially meeting strangers. Overt affection is moderated by an independent nature and it is extremely intelligent and mischievous. 


The Tibetan Terrier is a small to medium sized dog with long hair, which may be straight or slightly wavy. The long coat should not deceive you into thinking this is a puny or over-cosetted breed, as underneath it there  is a strong, sturdy, well­ muscled body.

A unique feature of the breed is its feet, which are large, flat and round and act like a snowshoe by providing traction. Tibetan Terriers can come in all colours, but the chocolate colour is not permitted in the show ring.


Responsible breeders have been health testing their dogs for well over 30 years and it is now considered as the normal thing to do. Hip scoring at 12 months of age and annual eye examinations for Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy (GPRA) are well established, but new DNA genetic tests are available for Primary Lens Luxation (PLL) a nd Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis ( NCL). Juvenile cataracts may also occur.  Because of the long history of health checking in this breed, the incidence of affected dogs is extremely low.


The Tibetan Terrier has a double coat.  It never sheds its coat around the house, so the breed is suitable for people with a coat allergy, but the woolly undercoat does shed into the topcoat and will cause serious matting. The dead coat therefore needs to be combed out regularly.

On the other hand, clipping the coat off and keeping it short with a trim every two or three months has great appeal to some owners and the breed just loves it.


While suitable for apartment living, the Tibetan is an energetic dog that requires regular exercise. The energy level of the Tibetan is moderate to high and its general nature is happy, active, lively, intelligent, and agile. As a result, they are often well-suited for dog sports such as agility. They are steadfast, determined, and clever, which can lead to them being stubborn. Tibetan Terriers are usually charming and loyal. Some dogs of this breed can often be guarding of their resources, which can make it hard to live with another pet. 1.

The Tibetan Terrier makes an excellent family pet and is especially good with children. The breed likes to be talked to and although its intelligence does not make it naturally obedient, it can be bribed by small treats for training.

As for exercise, the Tibetan Terrier can take as much or as little as the owner wishes to provide. Going on a trek is no problem to the breed, nor is lounging about the house, but in the latter case there needs to be plenty of stimulation with toys to occupy the intelligent mind.


Words: Dr Mike Tempest
Ref 1: Wikipedia

Photo submitted by Sharon Lancey

In Conclusion

Now you know a little about the Tibetan Terrier and have decided this is the dog for you, or you would like more information, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Tibetan Terrier and its needs and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.