Tibetan Terrier

Published: Updated:

Get the facts on the Tibetian Terrier in our 101 guide.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
15 to 16 years
Size:

Medium

Maintenance Level:

Medium

Shed Level:

Very Low

Temperament:
AdaptableAdoringSensitive
Coat Color:
Black; Brown And White; BlackBrindle; Gold; Gold And White; Golden Brindle; Sable; White; White And Black; White And Gold

Best For

Tibetan Terriers are best suited to pet parents with ample time and willingness for grooming their woolly coat. They're highly adaptable, so they can live anywhere from a small apartment to a large home with a fenced-in yard. Don't worry if you're a newbie pet parent—the Tibetan Terrier is amiable and easy to train and an ideal friend for older kids and other pets.

Tibetan Terrier Traits

What makes the Tibetan Terrier a Tibetan Terrier? Let's find out how they stack up.

Tibetan Terrier Temperament

The Tibetan Terrier packs plenty of enviable traits into their personality, including funny, mischievous, independent-minded and extremely smart. They’re an interesting combination of toddler and tween, cat and class valedictorian.

With a gentle temperament, the Tibetan Terrier’s biting tendencies are lower than the average dog breed, but be aware that, in their playful youth, they tend to be pretty mouthy and are prone to nibbling. It’s wise to invest in a few chew toys.

The Tibetan Terrier makes a devoted pet and is very compatible with cats and other dogs. They’re great with kids too, but since Tibetan Terriers are a pretty sensitive breed, they’ll do better with older kids who understand the importance of boundaries and respect for a dog’s space. It’s always advised to supervise any dog breed when playing around toddlers and younger ones.

These dogs are friendly, though not quite extroverts, so they can appear pretty standoffish and aloof to guests in the home. On the other paw, this ancient breed evolved as alert dogs for Buddhist monks in monasteries, so their instinct is to bark whenever someone approaches the door. But, as you now know, their bark is worse than their bite!

How to Care for a Tibetan Terrier

As you care for your Tibetan Terrier, plan on dedicating a lot of time for maintaining their coat and exercising your pup. With their double coat and extremely long fur, you’ll spend about 15 minutes every day brushing their gorgeous locks. These high-energy pups also need daily exercise to keep them well-behaved members of society. They’re a delight to train, giving you a great outlet to help engage their brains and their bodies.

Tibetan Terrier Health

Tibetan Terriers have a lifespan of 15 to 16 years and are generally a very healthy breed. But like all dogs, the Tibetan Terrier can be prone to certain health issues. That’s why it’s so important to work with a reputable breeder who screens for conditions common to the breed. Pre-conception DNA testing and assessing the health of prospective parents can help avoid these common health problems.

  • Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (lipid storage neurological disease): This is a degenerative neurological disease that impairs vision and balance, causes aggressive behavior and even triggers seizures. There is currently no treatment for the condition, although research is ongoing into potential therapies. Fortunately, it is avoidable if you use a responsible breeder who does pre-conception DNA testing for genetic diseases.
  • Hip Dysplasia: When the hip ball (head of the femur) and pelvis don’t grow at the same rate during puppyhood, the joint doesn’t fit together correctly in adulthood. This can cause degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis. Look out for weakness in the back legs and instability when your dog tries to get up. Treatment with medication and physical therapy can often greatly improve their quality of life.
  • Primary Lens Luxation: This inherited disease can lead to inflammation, glaucoma, cataracts and inflammation. Watch out for painful, red and teary eyes, especially if they look cloudy or hazy. See your vet annually for an eye exam to catch problems early. If detected early, surgery and medication can help prevent further complications.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: With this inherited disease, the retina slowly degenerates, leading to progressive vision loss and eventually blindness. Regular eye exams with your vet are essential to catch the problem, which may not have any obvious symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this disease, but a dog who loses vision can still lead a happy and full life. Getting your Tibetan Terrier from a reputable breeder means you are usually getting a dog who has been screened for such health issues.

Tibetan Terrier History

Often called the “Holy Dog of Tibet,” the Tibetan Terrier is an ancient breed with a long history. The breed evolved over 2,000 years ago as a watchdog and good luck charm for Buddhist monasteries on the cold, wind-swept plains of Tibet. With their wise eyes, sensitivity and slightly mischievous nature, it’s easy to imagine that this luck bringer connected, somehow, to the Dali Lama himself!

Because they were originally bred as companions and watchdogs for monks, they make devoted companions for modern pet parents, even if you’re sitting on the sofa rather than a zafu.

The Tibetan Terrier first came to the West thanks to a British surgeon, Dr. Agnes Greig, who lived in northern India in the 1920s. After performing life-saving surgery on a Tibetan woman, Dr. Greig received a Tibetan Terrier as a thank you gift. She became so enamored of her dog—and really, who wouldn’t?—that she started her own breeding program when she returned to England. By the 1950s, two dogs from her program were brought to the US, and by 1973, the American Kennel Club had recognized the Tibetan Terrier.

So what’s the best way to bring a Tibetan Terrier into your life? Start with a reputable breeder on the AKC’s website or contact one of the 16 breeders (yes, just 16!) listed with the Tibetan Terrier Club of America. The cost of a Tibetan Terrier puppy from a reputable breeder is around $2,500—but the value of bringing one into your life is priceless. For that price you usually get a dog who’s been screened for health and temperament issues, and they might even come with pedigree papers. You can also adopt a dog through a Tibetan Terrier rescue program.

FAQs

Do Tibetan Terriers shed?

Tibetan Terriers don’t shed much for most of the year, but in the spring and fall, they do blow their coats (shed in chunks of fur).

When do Tibetan Terriers calm down?

While Tibetan Terriers have a higher energy level in their early years, they do tend to calm down when they’re around 2 years old.

How long do Tibetan Terriers live?

Tibetan Terriers have an average lifespan of 15 to 16 years, giving you a long time to create wonderful memories with your pup.

Are Tibetan Terriers good family dogs?

Yes, Tibetan Terriers make great family dogs and are good with kids, adults and other dogs when socialized properly.

Do Tibetan Terriers bark a lot?

Tibetan Terrier dogs are pretty average barkers compared to other breeds. While they won’t typically bark just to hear themselves bark, they did evolve as alert dogs for Buddhist monasteries. That means they will bark, perhaps with abandon, to alert you when something is going on.

What are the most popular Tibetan Terrier names?

The most popular Tibetan Terrier breed names are Dali, Milo, Tenzin, Amala, Pooch, Diki, Karma, Lolha, Maya, Mikyo, Fuzz, Rusty, Coco, Honey, Pepper and Lucky. Get more dog names here.

What are the most common Tibetan Terrier mixes?

  • Tibetan Terrier-Poodle mix (Ttoodle)
  • Tibetan Terrier-Lhaso-Apso mix (Tibetan Terrier-Lhaso-Apso)
  • Tibetan Terrier-Maltese mix (Tibetan Terrier-Maltese)
  • Tibetan Terrier-Jack Russell mix (Tibetan Terrier-Jack Russell)
  • Tibetan Terrier-Schnauzer mix (Tibetan Terrier-Schnauzer)
Image

Top Takeaways

If you’re looking for a devoted dog who will join you in whatever you want to do, look no further than the Tibetan Terrier. This adaptable dog can live anywhere from an urban apartment to a large suburban house with a big fenced-in yard. They’ll happily spend their day with you, whether you like climbing rugged trails or lounging by the fireplace and reading a book. Just be sure you have ample time—and desire—to devote to regular grooming.

Stacey La Forge, Tibetan Terrier Club of America, Inc. and Tibetan Terrier Health & Welfare Foundation, Jessica Bell, DVM, Clinical Assistant Professor, and Briah Tannler, DVM, Clinical Instructor, Community Practice, Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Pullman, Wash., and Jody Haas Wolfson, Cpdt-KA , dog trainer and canine behaviorist at Root Dog Training.

Published: