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Tibetan Terrier Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

The Tibetan Terrier is considered to be one of what is considered an ancient dog breed and for over 2,000 yrs remained a pure bred. This was capable simply due to the breed’s remote origins high in the hills of the Himalayas in Tibet.

Which is pretty impressive…

However, we should point out that even though this medium sized dog has terrier as part of its name they are in fact not a member of the terrier dog group. (The addition of terrier to their name was something of a faux pas by English travelers who gave this breed their name due to their appearance being similar to the terrier breed.)

Which is why…

We wanted to take a moment and discuss what it might be like to own a Tibetan Terrier becomes sometimes their “name” can give folks the wrong impression.

That is of course…

Assuming that you’re in the US, were the term “terrier” will often give folks a certain “impression” which can be good or bad depending on how you feel about the “terrier” dog breed as a whole.

Now if you’re…

Not from the US, you may not even refer to these little guys as a “terrier” in fact, on Tibet, this breed is named Tsang Apso, Tsang roughly translates to shaggy or bearded and Apso being the word for dog. There are accounts of old that also refer to a Dokhi Apso, which would be a shaggy or bearded dog that is an outside living working dog.

In either case…

Knowing how this little guy is likely to behave will go a long way in determining if he might be “right” kind of dog for you.  So, without further ado, let’s begin our discussion about this awesome little dog breed.

Tibetan Terrier Dog Breed Facts

Country of Origin: Tibet (China)

Original Purpose: Herder, companion animal and gift for Important People

Height: 13 to 17 inches

Weight: 19 to 25 pounds

Dog Breed Classification: Non-sporting Group

Life Span: 10 to 14 years

Tibetan Terrier Dog Breed History

In Tibet this breed of dog is known as the ‘Holy Dogs of Tibet,’ living in monasteries, and was only given as gifts, never to be sold, by Buddhist monks, in order to bring good fortune.

In fact…

Mistreatment or selling a Tibetan Terrier was thought to bring bad luck to not only the family but also to the village as a whole. People referred to these dogs as “the little people” because they were valued as companions. These companions were not only considered to bring good luck they were also excellent watchdogs and herding dogs. (They even retrieved items that had fallen down the mountain side.)

Then In 1920…

A physician by the name of Dr. A.R.J. Greig, from England, brought the first Tibetan Terrier into Europe. Dr. Greig was gifted a puppy that was a gold and white female, named “Bunti,” after a successful surgery was performed on a patient in Tibet.

As a result…

Dr. Grieg is credited for establishing one of the first (if not the first) breeding program for these dogs outside of Tibet after he acquired ‘Rajah’ who was a male Tibetan Terrier.  Shortly thereafter, a litter was born in 1924 which were originally registered as Lhasa Terriers (similar to Lhasa Apso).

The Kennel Club of India…

Later changed the name of the breed, in 1930, to Tibetan Terrier. In 1956, Dr. Henry and Mrs. Alice Murphy of Virginia imported the first Tibetan Terrier into the United States and despite their initial popularity, the American Kennel Club (AKC) didn’t decide to “officially” recognized the breed until 1973, and they were given a non-sporting group classification.

Physical Characteristics

Tibetan Terriers are a medium sized dog with a thick double coat. (Remember they are a native of Tibet where winter temperatures can average close to 0F.) The undercoat on this breed is thick, akin to wool, and the hair may be straight or wavy.

The hair/fur of the…

Tibetan Terrier parts along the middle of its back. There is no set color for a Tibetan Terrier so they can be any one or a combination of colors and patterns including; white, silver, gold, bridle, or black. This breed has eyes that are dark brown in color and are both large and wide set. The ears of the Tibetan Terrier have what’s called ‘pendant ears’ and they typically have a black nose. The teeth of a Tibetan Terrier have a scissor or reverse scissor like bite. This dog has a long muzzle with a small beard on its chin.

We should point out that…

The coat of a Tibetan Terrier needs to be brushed daily in order to avoid the long hair getting tangled and matted. Before brushing, the coat needs to be moistened; this keeps the hair from fracturing and breaking off. They will also require regular maintenance, like all dogs such as nail trims and brushing of their teeth. These dogs will need regular grooming to ensure that their hair is kept at a decent length.

Temperament and Personality of the Tibetan Terrier

As with all dogs it is important for early socialization when they are puppies. If a Tibetan Terrier is not exposed to other animals and people they will grow up to be shy and reserved. This breed is susceptible to develop separation anxiety, but luckily doesn’t bark extensively, so please remember that they do not like to be left alone for any extended period of time.

As with all dogs…

We here at IndulgeYourPet believe that you will receive the best results during training when you strictly adhere to positive reinforcement in training and with the Tibetan Terrier remember that treats can be used as rewards.


Tibetan Terriers love people and have a very sweet and gentle temperament, thus they can make great therapy dogs but they without proper socialization they may be aloof with strangers.

But remember…

Tibetan Terriers are some relatively high energy dogs, so they will do best if they get daily exercise including; hikes, runs, and daily walks. Since they have a higher level of intellect they do well with agility training and some advanced obedience training.


Please note, this breed does mature a tad slower than some other breeds. So please have patience during their puppy stage. When this dog is fully matured they are an intelligent and loyal dog. Remember though that they are a clever and intelligent dog which can cause them to be stubborn.

Health Concerns of a Tibetan Terrier

Although the Tibetan Terrier is an athletic breed it is susceptible to some health problems, most of which are related to their joints and their eyes. Some of the conditions that a Tibetan Terrier is known to be susceptible to include;

(This breed also has a history of being allergic to wheat, grains, and dairy.)

Tibetan Terrier clubs…

Highly recommend getting a Tibetan from a reputable breeder. A good breeder will have done both hip and eye testing such as Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) and Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

There is also…

A genetic disease, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, (Batten disease in humans) which is a neurodegenerative disorder that Tibetan Terriers are predisposed to. An early symptom of this disease is night blindness and then some years later it will result in blindness and neurological symptoms including; epilepsy, dementia, and aggression.


In 2009, the gene that is responsible for causing neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis in Tibetan Terriers was found. There is now a DNA test for the gene and in Germany they found that approximately 1/3 of all Tibetans are carriers of the gene. Since the introduction of this DNA test, in Germany, carriers are no longer being bred. There is no known cure for this disease.

Potential Costs

  • Hip Dysplasia: $1,500-$5,500
  • Luxating Patella: $1,300 – $3,650
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: $1,900-$3,600
  • Lens Luxation: $500-$3,750
  • Cataracts: $1,300-$3,650
  • Heart Murmur: $500-$5,500

And while…

Many of these conditions may not be life threatening, they can certainly become quite expensive to deal with particularly if they become recurring issues.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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