Because of the geographically isolated location of Tibet, Tibetan terriers were kept purebred for over 2,000 years. Monks and families referred to the ancient breed as “the little people”, for they were highly valued as companions who were eager to assist in protecting properties and flocks.
Since the dog was considered a bringer of luck, mistreating or selling a Tibetan terrier was believed to cause bad luck to both family and village.
The first Tibetan terrier to come to Europe came with Dr. A.R.H. Greig of England in 1922. She was given a gold and white female puppy “Bunti” for successfully performing an operation on a patient. After acquiring a second male “Rajah”, Dr. Greig established a kennel and began to breed them.
Height: 14-16 Inches
Fully grown, the Tibetan Terrier resembles a miniaturized Old English Sheepdog. The head is moderate, with a strong muzzle of medium length, and a skull neither rounded nor flat. The eyes are large, dark, and set fairly far apart. The V-shaped drop ears are well feathered, and should be set high on the sides of the skull. The body is well muscled and compact. The length of the back should be equal to the height at the withers, giving the breed its typical square look. The tail is set high, well feathered, and carried in a curl over the back. One of the more unusual features of the Tibetan Terrier is the broad, flat feet with hair between the toes. The hair of Tibetans has a long growth cycle. As a result, their coat grows quite long and pet animals will require occasional trimming. They do not shed like dogs with shorter hair growth cycles. The exception is at approximately nine months when puppies slough their entire coat in advance of acquiring their adult coat. All colors are permissible, barring liver and chocolate, and none are preferred. Gold is the rarest. Tibetan Terriers are available in any combination of solid, parti-color, tricolor, brindle or piebald, as long as the nose leather is black and the eyes and eye rims are dark
The temperament has been one of the most attractive aspects of the breed since it was first established. They are amiable and affectionate family dogs, sensitive to their owners and gentle with older children if properly introduced. As is fitting for a dog formerly used as a watch dog, they tend to be reserved around strangers, but should never be aggressive nor shy with them. Though not prone to excessive barking, the Tibetan Terrier has an assertive bark. . The energy level of the Tibetan is moderate to high and its general nature is happy, active, lively, intelligent and agile. They are steadfast, determined, and clever, which can lead to them being stubborn. Tibetan Terriers are usually charming and loyal. Some dogs of this breed can often be jealous, which can make it hard to live with another pet.
A UK Kennel Club survey puts the average lifespan of the breed at 12 years. About one in five lives to 15 years or more, with the longest-lived Tibetan Terrier having lived to 18.25 years. Tibetan Terrier is still susceptible to a variety of health problems, especially those related to the eyes and joints. These problems can include canine hip dysplasia, luxating patella, progressive retinal atrophy, lens luxation, cataracts and heart murmurs.Tibetans also have a history of being somewhat allergic to dairy, wheat and grains. Tibetan Terriers can carry the genetic disease canineneuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, called Batten disease in humans. The first symptom of the disease is night blindness. Blindness and neurological signs such as epilepsy, motor abnormalities, dementia and unexpected aggression will follow some years later.