Originating in palaces and monasteries in Tibet, and across the border in China, these little dogs were mainly used as watchdogs, patrolling the high walls of the monasteries in the Himalayas mountains. They were also regarded by the monks as ideal little companions and would often be seen around the monasteries, although the stories often told of them being used to power prayer wheels are probably just a myth!
Tibet and China were not often visited by foreigners until the 19th century so it was not until the late 1890s that Tibetan Spaniels were introduced to Europe. They subsequently made it to the USA in the 1960s.
Tibbies, as they are affectionately known, make excellent guard dogs, having very good eyesight and hearing. They will bark to give early warning to their owner of the presence of visitors, or anything else that is out of routine.
Tibbies come in a range of colors including black & tan, sable, white, red and black. When fully grown they should weigh between 9 lbs and 15 lbs and stand about 10 inches tall at the shoulder. They are healthy and hearty little dogs and will live for 15 or more years, given a good balanced diet, proper health care, and regular exercise.
Tibetan Spaniels need daily brushing to prevent their coat from becoming matted and to minimize the shedding of hair. In addition, they will require a full grooming every 4 to 6 weeks, including a bath with a gentle dog shampoo. Regular bathing will help to keep the coat in full condition as well as generally keeping it clean.
Grooming Tibbies is the same as any other double-coated breed: You need to brush out the coat with a slicker or pin brush to remove loose hair that can otherwise become tangled with the woolly undercoat. The grooming session is also a good time to check nails and trim them if necessary.
Tibetan Spaniels, like many other toy breeds, need almost constant human companionship – they suffer easily from separation anxiety. So if everyone in the household is out most of the day, this is not a suitable breed – the Tibbie should not be left alone for more than a few hours, and even then, not on a regular basis. And as far as exercise is concerned, being a small dog, they do not need to be walked for miles every day – a few short walks is sufficient.
If you are looking for a companion that will be equally happy to go for walk, play with a ball, or snuggle up to you on the couch, a Tibetan Spaniel may be just right for you. And the care and attention that these lovable little dogs need will be amply repaid by their devotion to you.
The author, Chris Lewis, is a long time dog breeder. He has been raising, training and showing dogs for over 30 years. If you found this article interesting, you can get more tips and advice on the Tibetan Spaniel breed on this website Milestone Tibetan Spaniels.
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