Despite his name, the Tibetan Terrier is not terrier-like in either mind or body and he does not "go to the earth" as terriers do. Instead, his behavior is more characteristic of a sheepdog. Agile, alert and very intelligent, the Tibetan Terrier is not particularly friendly towards strangers which is typical of all Tibetan breeds.
It is believed that the Tibetan Terriers origins began over two thousand years ago, in the Lost Valley of Tibet in the Himalayan Mountains. According to legend, they were raised in the monasteries by lamas or Tibetan priests, hence the name "Holy Dog of Tibet," and used by monks as companion, guardian and herding dogs. For centuries, these hardy and devoted companions acquired great endurance to survive in their native mountainous terrain. Nomad traders also used them as watchdogs when traveling to and from China. The compact size and unique foot structure of the Tibetan Terrier, which produces a snowshoe effect, permitted movement over snow and terrain inaccessible to man.
Many Tibetans treasured Tibetan Terriers as a symbol of good luck. They never sold their dogs. Instead, they were given as gifts to those who were about to undertake a long and dangerous journey. These terriers were also called "lion dogs" since their beard, mane, tail and shaggy coat resemble the snow-lion.
The first Tibetan Terrier introduced to the Western world belonged to Dr. Agnes R.H. Greig who was working in a hospital in India. She was given a Tibetan Terrier puppy as a present for saving the life of a sick Tibetan woman. In the 1930s she started a kennel named "Lamleh." Tibetan Terriers bred in this kennel became the foundation stock of the modern breed.
The Tibetan Terrier is very sociable and gets along with everyone, but will keep strangers at a distance which is typical of all Tibetan breeds. He is a great family pet that is always happy to see you and to be close to you. Puppies are very enthusiastic and playful. Adult Tibetan Terriers have a charming disposition but will take time accepting strangers.
Photo courtesy of Khatakhyi
Tibetan Terrier Breed Outline
Other Names: TT, Tibetan
Country of Origin: Tibet (Patronage - Great Britain)
Utilization: Companion Dog
FCI Classification: Group 9 - Companion & Toy Breeds. Section 5 - Tibetan breeds; AKC Classification: Non-Sporting Group
Size: Medium (14-16 inches at shoulders)
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Colors: Any color except chocolate or liver is acceptable. White, golden, cream, grey or smoke, black, parti-color and tricolors are the most common colors in this breed.
Litter Size: 4
Life Span: 12-14 years
Grooming Requirements: The Tibetan Terrier's long profuse coat needs regular grooming. Brush and comb at least once a week to make sure that the coat is tangle-free.
Shedding: They shed their thick woolly undercoat once a year and their wavy or straight overcoat about once in three years.
Personality: Lively, loyal, happy, outgoing and playful.
Suitability for Children: Tibetan Terriers are usually good with children.
Exercise Needs: The Tibetan Terriers like to run off leash and are most happy when you take them for long walks in the woods. They will also adapt very well to life in an apartment as long as they get enough exercise.
Train Ability: Please bear in mind that this is a sheep dog that was bred and trained for centuries to be a working dog. He is willing to learn and easy to train, but needs firm and consistent approach. First-time owners may be challenged by this strong-willed fellow.
Health & Behavioral Issues: The Tibetan Terrier is a very hardy breed and dedicated breeders have striven to seek out and eliminate any hereditary problems. All Tibetan Terriers used for breeding must be tested for eye disorders (cataracts, lens luxation, progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia).
Keywords: Tibet Terrier, Terrier Tibetain, Tibet Terrier, Terrier Tibetano, companion dog, chien de compagnie, Begleithund, perro de compañía