Tibetan Terrier

Breed Group: Non-Sporting

Temperament and Behavior

The Tibetan Terrier loves their fanciers as much as their fanciers love him. These dogs can be happy in a small apartment or a sizable estate as long as they are with their people. When left alone, they may be inclined to sleep on dirty laundry to have the smell of their people around them. They do well with older, well-behaved children, but are less tolerant of toddlers who may poke him or pull his hair. But even if this happens, a Tibetan Terrier is more apt to retreat than retaliate. They do reasonably well with dogs and other family pets but consider themselves alpha and tend to be bossy. But with strangers, they are usually cautious or sometimes even timid. Although active dogs inside where they love to play, they are less active outdoors. Easy keepers, they need only a brisk walk around the block and a rousing inside play session to meet their exercise needs. But they love playing in the snow at which time their large snow-shoe like feet prevent them from sinking in as easily as most breeds.

Physical Characteristics

A small, or at most, medium size dog, a Tibetan Terrier is 14 to 17 inches tall and weighs between 20 and 30 pounds. They have a profuse coat that can be either straight or wavy but should never be curly. They come in many colors including white, silver, gold, cream black, and others in solid, sable, brindle, and parti-color patterns. Unless they are clipped about every five weeks, their coat requires a significant dedication to grooming every other day to prevent matting. They also have a massive puppy shed that takes place between the age of one and two which lasts between a couple of weeks and a couple of months. They do reasonably well in the cold, especially for a small dog and do equally well in heat.

Trainer's Notes

To build confidence with strangers, a reasonable socialization effort is a must. To avoid making them more stubborn, use only positive training methods that feature food rewards. The Tibetan Terrier is a good choice for a first-time dog owner.

Photo © by Mr407SW available under the a Public Domain
Tibetan Terrier

Tibetan Terrier


Never bred to meet the demands of the pet trade, the Tibetan Terrier is a reasonably healthy breed. Perhaps their most frequent health issue is Hypothyroidism which affects 12% of the breed. This is closely followed by Patellar Luxation which affects between 10% and 11% of all dogs. Other health issues include PRA and Lens Luxation, both of which affect their eyes. Ceroid Lipofuscinosis, a neurological disorder that affects each breed differently also affects the Tibetan Terrier. For more information on the condition see the Canine Genetic Disease’s page on Ceroid Lipofuscinosis. A few are affected by either Hip or Elbow Dysplasia. The average lifespan of a Tibetan Terrier is 12 to 15 years.


Never a popular breed, the Tibetan Terrier is ranked 93rd in popularity of the AKC breeds with about 700 dogs registered annually.

Breed History

Developed in Lamaist monasteries about the time of Christ, their origins are as mysterious as the cloud-shrouded mountains of their origin. Originally given as gifts but never sold, the Tibetan Terrier made its way from Tibet to India in 1920 by way of Dr. A. Grieg in thanks for medical treatment. He then obtained additional dogs and started to promote the breed. By 1937 the Tibetan Terrier was being shown in England. He made his first appearance in the U.S. in the 1950s. The breed received full recognition from the AKC in 1973. Although they originated in Tibet, they are unrelated to any other terrier.

Additional Information

The National (US) breed club is the Tibetan Terrier Club of America.

Is A Tibetan Terrier THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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