Tibetan Spaniel

Other names: Tibbie, Simkhyi

Tibetan Spaniel

The Tibetan Spaniel is a small, charming little dog with a big personality. Despite his tiny stature, this is a confident and assertive breed. Remarkably intelligent for a small dog, highly social, and very affectionate towards his owners, the Tibetan Spaniel makes an interesting and loving pet. His little legs don't require much exercise, making him a perfect companion dog for people living less active lifestyles.

Key facts about the Tibetan Spaniel

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Calm Intelligent

Size :

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Origins and history

The Tibetan Spaniel was a popular companion dog for the Buddhist monks of Nepal. As relations between China and Nepal began to develop, the two countries would send dogs as gifts. Once in China, the Tibetan Spaniel became a popular choice for leading feudal families. It wasn't until the late 19th century that the West started paying attention to the Tibetan, and the Tibetan Spaniel was brought to Britain by missionaries. By 1971, the Tibetan Spaniel Club of America had 14 separate charters, and its popularity has been growing ever since.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs


Section 5 : Tibetan breeds

Physical characteristics of the Tibetan Spaniel

  • Tibetan Spaniel
    Tibetan Spaniel

    Adult size

    Female : Between 10 and 10 in

    Male : Between 10 and 10 in


    Female : Between 9 and 13 lb

    Male : Between 9 and 13 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The Tibetan Spaniel is a small, active dog with an alert expression and a springy gait. He has a small head, short legs, and a long body for a dog of his size. He has expressive oval eyes, medium-sized, pendulous and fringed ears. He has a high set tail and fluffy patches of fur around the legs and chest.

    Good to know

    He was also called Tibetan prayer dog, because the monks, during the winter, carried these little dogs under their tunics and used them to turn the prayer wheels.


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      The Tibetan Spaniel was bred as a companion dog, meaning he’s extremely affectionate towards his owners. That being said, he is a resourceful dog, who can also show initiative and be quite independent.

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      This is an energetic little dog that loves to play, but it's not just about fun; smart dogs like the Tibetan Spaniel need lots of mental and physical stimulation.

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      Of a rather serene nature, this dog is not the type to go around in circles for hours and ask for any attention. The Tibetan Spaniel knows how to chill out. He tends to be active during the day before turning into a "lazy bones" later in the evening. As long as his needs are met, he knows how to distance himself and be small at home.

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      The Tibetan Spaniel is a very intelligent  and receptive dog. His education is easy because of his abilities and his enthusiasm.

      In addition, his intelligence is also revealed by his great ability to observe, which allows him to adapt to the mood of the people around him.

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      This little dog does not have the extremely high prey drive of his spaniel cousins, but can chase birds and squirrels in the garden. 

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      The Tibetan Spaniel is wary of strangers and other new people at first sight, but is confident enough to befriend people once he understands they are no danger.

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      The Tibetan Spaniel can be very independently minded. The Tibetan likes what he likes and will rarely do anything he doesn’t want to. Start training as early as possible. If not, you'll find yourself trapped in a battle of wills with a rather stubborn dog.

      Behaviour of the Tibetan Spaniel

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        Tolerates solitude

        The Tibetan Spaniel can handle being left alone, as long as he is accustomed to it positively from a young age.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        The Tibetan Spaniel is docile, intelligent and alert. It is very easy to educate this dog as he wants to learn, and please those he loves. Of course, this still requires time, patience and a firm trainer to reach his full potential.

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        This dog can be quite “yappy”, especially if he wasn’t properly socialised. He will also bark a lot if he’s not getting enough exercise or mental stimulation.

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        Tendency to run away

        The Tibetan Spaniel prefers to stay in his familiar environment. This homebody doesn’t easily get out of control, especially if all his spending needs are met.

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        Since he tolerates loneliness very well, this dog is not destructive and can remain quiet until the return of his masters. However, this is only valid if he has stimulating toys available to prevent him from being bored.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        Good treats can be a nice motivator to get full cooperation from this already docile dog.

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        Guard dog

        His mistrust of people he does not know (and therefore potential intruders) makes the Tibetan Spaniel a good warning dog, although his physique is not very intimidating or dissuasive.

        At the time when he accompanied Buddhist monks in their temples, he "worked" as a team with the Mastiffs of Tibet to protect his masters. He would bark to warn when intruders approached.

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        First dog

        Tibetan Spaniels are a good choice for first-time dog owners. He is a small dog that can be taken everywhere. He is easy to educate, pleasant to live with and not subject to the troubles (e.g. separation anxiety, excessive barking, etc.) often observed in other companion dogs. 

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          Tibetan Spaniel in a flat

          This small dog can live very comfortably in a flat or a small house, as well as rural settings. He doesn’t require much space and is fairly docile for much of the time. He is primarily an indoor dog, so shouldn’t sleep outside.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          30 mins of stimulating daily exercise is enough for this dog. He does like time off the leash, so it’s best to walk him in large parks or big open spaces.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          A Tibetan Spaniel makes a really good travel companion. He responds really well to crate training and is small enough to travel on planes.


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            Tibetan Spaniel and cats

            A well-trained Spaniel can co-exist in relative peace with a cat, especially if both species have grown together.

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            Tibetan Spaniel and dogs

            Tibetan Spaniels are social creatures that tend to get on well with other dogs. 

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            Tibetan Spaniel and children

            This breed is best suited to families with slightly older children. He may be little too excitable for toddlers or small children. Tibetan Spaniels are delicate little dogs, so it’s important to teach your children how to handle household pets. 

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            Tibetan Spaniel and the elderly

            A well trained Tibetan can make a loving and rewarding companion for isolated elderly people. Nevertheless, his needs must not be neglected. 



            The average cost of a Tibetan Spaniel is between £700 for Non KC Registered dogs, and £900 for KC Registered dogs. Looking after a dog of this size typically costs between £50 to £80 a month, including food, medical/insurance, and incidental expenses.


            His long, silky coat requires frequent brushing and the occasional wash. His ears should be monitored and cleaned regularly to prevent infection.


            Shedding is moderate but intensifies during the seasonal moults, when brushing should be daily.

            Nutrition of the Tibetan Spaniel

            A Tibetan Spaniel requires around 1-2 small cups of high-quality dog food each day. One meal a day is enough, preferably in the evening to promote better digestion.

            Health of the Tibetan Spaniel

            Life expectancy

            The Tibetan Spaniel is a healthy breed with an average life expectancy of around 13 years.

            Strong / robust

            This small, fragile-looking dog is actually quite solid and enjoys longevity and good overall health.

            Withstand heat

            During hot weather, care should be taken to offer this little dog fresh water at will and a spot in the shade to rest. 

            Withstand cold

            The Tibetan Spaniel must not live outdoors because he can suffer in severe weather. He is above all an indoor dog that appreciates comfort.

            Tendency to put on weight

            It’s really important that you don’t overfeed the Tibetan Spaniel. Their slight frames were not designed to support heavy loads.

            Common illnesses

            • Retinal Atrophy Disorder
            • Weepy eye
            • Liver disease
            • Dislocation of the patella
            • Kidney stones
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