History of the Tibetan Spaniel Breed
The Tibetan spaniel was bred by Buddhist monks and was considered sacred symbols of their religion. The Lamaist form of Buddhism believed that the lion followed Buddha like a dog. With the tibbie’s resemblance to a lion, it became a symbol of this Buddhist belief and was highly regarded in their culture. The Chinese also bred a lion-like dog, the Pekingese, and the Tibetan and Chinese dogs were often interbred. The best breedings occurred in the monasteries, where only the smallest of dogs were bred. These dogs worked in the monasteries, sitting atop the walls and barking when strangers or wolves approached. The Tibetan spaniel was known as the prayer dog; it ran on a small treadmill to turn a prayer wheel around 1100 B.C. In the 1890s, it began appearing in England, although it wasn’t bred until the 1920s. The Griegs, who also promoted the Tibetan terrier, obtained several specimens and began to breed them. Only one of their dogs, Skyid, survived World War II, however it was used to repopulate the breed. It didn’t arrive in America until the 1960s, and just received recognition by the AKC in 1984. Adored by its owners, it has been slow to gain a popular following.
Size and Appearance of the Tibetan Spaniel
This small dog is longer than it is tall with a small head and short muzzle. Its ears are decorated with long tufts of fur, and its eyes are set apart giving it an “apelike” expression. The tibbie has a long, feathery hair on its tail, and hair growing between its toes. Its coat is double coat that varies in length on its body – moderate length on its body, longer mane, shorter on its face and fronts of its legs, feathering on ears, backs of legs and tail. The fur is silky and flat-lying of moderate length of any color.
Tibetan Spaniel Temperament
The Tibetan spaniel is highly independent and can be stubborn or willful, but is also friendly and sweet. It enjoys playing with its family and makes a great house pet, but it is not a lap dog. It prefers climbing up high so that it can survey its surroundings. It will bark at strangers and anything unusual, making it a great watchdog.
Tibetan Spaniel Recommended Maintenance
The Tibetan spaniel has a long silky coat that requires extra grooming to keep it free from matting. Brush and comb at least twice weekly and bathe only when necessary. The hair needs to be trimmed between its pads on its feet and extra care needs to be taken during its seasonal shedding, when its coat will come out in clumps. Additional maintenance includes trimming nails and cleaning its ears and teeth. The Tibetan spaniel is well suited for apartment living, as long as it receives proper exercise. It needs minimal daily exercise, such as a short walk or a playing in the yard. They should not be kept as an outside pet, but should have access to a fenced yard. The tibbie has been known to scale chain-link fences. This breed is highly intelligent and independent, which makes training slightly more difficult. It may be hard to housebreak and will benefit from obedience training.
Tibetan Spaniel Health
• Life span: 12 – 15 years
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: patellar luxation
• Occasionally seen: PRA
• Suggested tests: knee, eye