11 Things You Should Know About the Tibetan Spaniel

The Tibetan Spaniel, or affectionately referred to as a “Tibbie” is very playful and extremely confident, but also a generally calm dog. They will be sure to do things their own way, including leading your daily walk. Whether you are on a hiking trail or walking down the street, these sweet dogs have the confidence to lead on, and will not shy away from other dogs they encounter. They will be wagging that curly tail the entire time, also. According to the American Kennel Club, the Tibetan Spaniel is a non-sporting group dog, only gets 10 inches tall, and ranges between 9 to 15 pounds. Their life expectancy is 12 to 15 years.


This breed is unique, in that they do not actually require a ton of grooming, even though their coats tend to be longer. Their hair does not mat very much, except for behind the ears. Their coat does well with weekly brushings, and they do shed seasonally. They are generally healthy, as well, but some important medical screenings they should have include ophthalmologist and patella examinations.


Important things to note about the Tibetan Spaniel:

Tibetan Spaniel Breed Information

1. They were originally bred for Sentinel work

Their eyesight is so good, they worked at Tibetan Monasteries as lookouts, sure to alarm the monks if anything was out of place. Their history of being “alarm” dogs makes them the perfect dog for you if you’re looking for someone to alert you rather than protect your home of any possible intruders. Although they have great eyesight, routine eye-checks are important to prevent any health issues from coming up.

Tibetan Spaniel on the lookout. Their short snout is another signature facial feature of this breed.

2. They are extremely independent

While they crave human companionship and are perfect lap warmers, the Tibetan Spaniel has an independent streak that can not easily be matched. They are highly trainable, but often will only do certain tasks when they feel like it, and may just walk away when they don’t feel like doing something.

Standing tall with that perfect tail curl

3. They were nick-named “little lions”

Because of this nickname, they were a breed that was nearly worshipped. Lions are sacred to the Buddhist monks, so this breed became sacred as well. They were never sold, only given as prestigious gifts to others. They have a “lions mane” around their neck that was the reason behind their nickname.

4. They are the perfect apartment dog

This is one breed that will feel at home in any place. They could even live in a tiny house. Their relaxed nature makes them suitable for any type of home, as long as they get the necessary physical and mental stimulation. They are more than happy to curl up on the couch with you, but also just as eager to leash-up and go on a run. They love to explore, so providing plenty of mental stimulation if you are gone at work for long hours would be beneficial to them. Agility training would be the perfect activity to keep their minds and bodies sharp, just look at this pup run the course!

5. They are playful

Like many small dogs, this breed loves to play. They love any attention from their owners and prefer playing with their person as opposed to toys. Although you can get them to play fetch or chew up a chew toy, they would still rather play something one-on-one with you.

A Tibbie playing with a cat

6. They are moderately friendly to others

The Tibetan Spaniel is well-mannered around other dogs, and somewhat reserved around strangers, and they stay alert and watchful around people they do not know. They get along with most everyone, but they need to be properly introduced before trusting strangers. They are actually regarded as a great alert dog. They will make sure you know if something is wrong or if someone is close by that shouldn’t be.

7. They are not actually a spaniel

They are a companion dog through and through, not of the spaniel group at all. The name was simply a misnomer that came about from the French word epagnuel, which meant companion or comforter in the Middle Ages. Although they have the personality to be considered spaniels, they are not. Even though they are a non-sporting group dog, the Tibbie can be highly active and learn plenty of tricks to impress you and your guests.

8. They are gentle with children

Their laid-back temperament makes them the perfect dog if you have children of any age. It’s almost as if they can sense that children are just the human equivalent of a puppy because they will be the first to gently entice a child to play with them or to love on them. Even with grabby babies and toddlers, they are very gentle and patient. My Joe will let my nearly-crawling baby grab him and tug on him, and I don’t have to worry about him pulling away from the baby and sending him tumbling.

Joe (my Tibbie mix) guarding the baby’s toy

9. They have many different coat colors

There is no breed standard for the color of the Tibetan Spaniel, so no colors have been “bred out.” There is such a variety of coat colors and color combinations that you are sure the find the color you are looking for in this breed. Their coat colors may be:

  • Black
  • Cream
  • White
  • Sable
  • Brown

Their coats can also be any combination of these colors. 

Puppy in the snow

10. They were sent as gifts

The breed grew in popularity and became one of the highest regarded gifts given to the palaces of China, as well as to some other Buddhist countries. Tibet also received them as gifts in return. Having a rich history like this makes them the perfect dog to surprise a loved one with, and you can even tell them about their history of only being given as gifts back in the day.

11. They prefer high-quality dog food

Although any decent-quality ingredient dog food will do, the Tibetan Spaniel definitely prefers food of higher quality. The AKC even mentions cooking your dog’s dinner from scratch, with veterinarian approval and guidance, of course. Any dog would love a home-cooked meal, but if this isn’t practical for you (for many, it isn’t), a high-quality food will do just fine and your Tibbie’s health will thrive.

The Tibbie is a gentle, cute little dog that can make themselves at home nearly anywhere. Although they love having room to explore, they are perfect for any size home. The thing they love most is being with you, and they will do very well in any home where they can be close to their person most of the time.

How Much Does a Tibetan Spaniel Cost

Regardless of any color or color combination, you will likely pay around $800 for a Tibetan Spaniel puppy. There is no preference of color that will increase the price of these adorable pups.

Tibetan Spaniel

Tibetan Spaniel 2 Tibetan Spaniel 3 Tibetan Spaniel 4 Tibetan Spaniel 5 Tibetan Spaniel 6