Tibetan Terrier

Other names: Tsang Apso, Dhoki Apso

Tibetan Terrier

Despite his name, the Tibetan Terrier is not a terrier! He was originally used as a herding dog and watchdog before eventually falling into the companion dog category we are mostly familiar with today.  Considered sacred in Tibet, he is much more lively than his Tibetan cousins hailing from the same group. Cheerful, docile and very smart, this little dog is perfectly suited for family life, which he takes great pleasure in and is very devoted to.

Key facts about the Tibetan Terrier

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful

Size :

Origins and history

His origins can be traced back to Tibet, where he gets his name from. The breed has since further developed in the United Kingdom. It is throughout the course of the 20th century that Dr. Agnes Greig imported the first specimens in Europe. The FCI officially recognised the breed in 1957.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs


Section 5 : Tibetan breeds

Physical characteristics of the Tibetan Terrier

    Adult size

    Female : Between 14 and 16 in

    Male : Between 14 and 16 in


    Female : Between 18 and 29 lb

    Male : Between 18 and 29 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The Tibetan Terrier is slightly smaller than what would traditionally be considered a medium-sized dog, and has an abundant coat. His head is not massive but is certainly robust, with a short muzzle and a strongly built lower jaw. The eyes are big and round. The ears are ‘v-shaped’ and pendant, with a fringe. The frame is stocky and compact. The limbs are straight and muscular. The tail, of medium size, is cheerfully carried in a curl over the back.

    Good to know

    In Tibet, he was considered a sacred dog, and was indeed dubbed the ‘Sacred Dog of Tibet’.


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      This dog vows undying love to his master and demonstrates his affection in many ways on a daily basis. Very cheerful and chirpy, he infects his surroundings with his ‘joie de vivre’.

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      Particularly agile, this dog is very playful and enjoys spending time and having fun with members of his social group, especially children.

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      The Dhoki Apso, as you may also call him, can be calm if all his needs have been met and his owners are at home. Otherwise, it is a rather animated and active dog who often seeks a lot of attention.

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      This little companion dog is particularly intelligent, he doesn’t follow orders blindly and needs to fully grasp what is at stake before carrying anything out. In this sense, he is a lively dog that needs coherent training. Without the latter, being as sharp as he is, he will quickly gain the upper hand.

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      In direct contradiction to his name, this dog is not a terrier and does not actually possess a predatory instinct to the extent that his fellow ‘Terriers’ do. He could, similarly to certain dogs, be prone to chase after small prey, but will rarely go beyond that.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      Even if he rarely demonstrates any aggressivity, the Tibetan Terrier is relatively withdrawn and wary towards strangers. However, once he starts trusting the prospective guests, he welcomes them with open arms.

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      The Tibetan Terrier does not deviate from the norm that applies to most companion dogs: he is very dependant on his master.

      Behaviour of the Tibetan Terrier

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        Tolerates solitude

        Very close to his master, this Tibetan dog cannot stand being alone. He tolerates his owners’ absences very poorly and can quickly become miserable (and destructive) if they are prolonged and recurrent.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        Even though he is quite calm by nature and possesses very little of the trademark Terrier characteristics, the Tibetan Terrier remains quite stubborn and demanding when it comes to commands, which he absolutely must perceive as coherent. 

        In short, he must feel like he understands the use of an order before deciding to cooperate. In this sense, a strict yet gentle handling is necessary, and must be initiated ahead of time to prevent the Tibetan Terrier pup from developing any bad habits. 

        Of course, the only viable way of working with him is through positive reinforcement, rather than submission and coercion.

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        Being the good watchdog that he is, this dog does bark, but within moderation. He rarely goes over the top, especially if he has been trained and taught constraint.

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