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Tibetan Spaniel

 Photo of Tibetan Spaniel
Photo: by Jill Terry

Tibetan Spaniel Books

Group: Utility - Breed Standard

Origins

Small monastery dogs, thought to be early representatives of the Tibetan Spaniel, loyally trailed behind their Lama masters and came to be regarded as "little Lions", thus giving them great value and prestige. The practice of sending the dogs as gifts to the palaces of China and other Buddhist countries grew significantly, and in reciprocity more "lion dogs" were presented back to Tibet, continuing until as late as 1908. Through exchange of Tibetan Spaniels between palaces and monasteries, the breed is likely to have common ancestors with a number of the Oriental breeds, including the Japanese Chin and the Pekingese. While within the monastery walls, Tibbies were sometimes used as watchdogs, barking out a shrill warning to intruders in order to alert the monks of their arrival. They often were used to turn the monks' prayer wheels, as well. Village-bred Tibetan Spaniels varied greatly in size and type, and the smaller puppies were usually given as gifts to the monasteries. In turn, these smaller dogs used in the monastery breeding programs were probably combined with the more elegant Tibetan Spaniel-type dogs brought from China. Those bred closer to the Chinese borders were characterized by shorter muzzles.

Not only was the Tibetan Spaniel prized as a pet and companion, it was considered a very useful animal by all classes of Tibetans. During the day, the dogs would sit on top of the monastery walls keeping a steady watch over the countryside below. Their keen eye and ability to see great distances, as well as their persistent barking, made them exceptionally good watchdogs. Modern-day Tibbies retain their ancestors' love of heights.

Tibetan Spaniels were being bred in the United Kingdom by the 1890s.

Description

Height about 25 cms (10 ins). Ideal weight: 4-7 kgs (9-15 lbs). Should be small, active and alert. The outline should give a well balanced appearance. Body slightly longer from the point of shoulder to root of tail than the height at withers. All coat colors acceptable except liver-like colour because of the light colored eyes.All coat colors acceptable except liver-like colour because of the light colored eyes.

Character/Temperament

Joyful and assertive, highly intelligent, aloof with strangers. "Tibbies", as they are often called, make excellent housepets for many people, including families with small children.

Training

See our books on training


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Last link added: 08 Dec, 2006