Originating from Tibet, this breed was much prized by the Buddhist Monks. Early examples varied considerably in type and still today, it is possible to see several different types in the show ring and elsewhere. We are told this breeds purpose was to be a companion and also to guard their owners/family. They were much prized, and never sold, but given as a gift from the monasteries. Legend has it that this breed would stand on guard on the flat roofs, and they would give the alarm as soon as strangers were sighted. Tibetan Spaniels are often able to see much further in the distance than one would expect them to. Present day stock in the UK can often be easily traced back to the few original examples.
Tibetan Spaniels first came to England in 1898, although the breed has become much more numerous since the second world war, still they are not a 'common' breed and it can be very difficult to find puppies at times. This is a good thing since the breed is not a suitable pet for all homes due to their arrogance and single mindedness.
This breed can be very cat like; they are often good at climbing - some have been known to climb a 6 foot chain link fence - and can jump incredibly high for their size. They are always wonderful company, and sense your moods of joy or sadness.
They need careful socialisation as can be very nervous as adults if not carefully taken out as puppies to mix with people, dogs and strange noises. They will often decided to do their own thing, instead of obeying their owners, so allow for their headstrong tendencies when walking them, a sudden noise can make them just run off, and lose all sense of where they are.
They are very good burglar alarms, but if prevented from sitting on a window sill or from seeing passing traffic and people, and dogs, they are not noisy. They love clean bedding and will often curl up in the clean linen basket for a sleep.
They can be very determined and amazingly strong willed and owners need to be prepared to make rules or the tibby will be ruling the roost in no time!
They are never boring and many of them love making their owners laugh at their funny antics.
As adults, they would be able to walk as far as any ordinary person, yet they are just as happy to snuggle down for a rest with their owners. Puppies should not be walked too far before fully grown and need to be able to sleep a lot when small.
Tibetan Spaniels are rarely greedy and most will only eat what they need. Some hate wet weather and will need to be forcefully encouraged to go outdoors for toilet reasons when the weather is wet.
Tibbies are very intelligent and learn quickly usually.
This is a breed which mostly enjoys very good health.
The only accepted health problem in the breed, in the U.K. is Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy. GPRA is a hereditary disease of the eye which causes total blindness as the retina 'atrophies' and does not reflect back light into the eye. Affected dogs go blind, sometimes as young as four years of age, although often they are 8-12 years before this happens. At the present time, the Animal Health Trust is researching to find the gene which causes this. Those purchasing a puppy should ask to see the parents certificates stating the parents were free of GPRA in the 18 months prior to the birth of the litter. Very few cases have been reported in the U.K. and at the present time, probably less than 6 reported cases of GPRA are living. Carriers can often have excellent eye sight all their lives and at present, carriers are only revealed when they produce a case of GPRA.
There have been reports of Liver shunt and slipping patella in this breed in the UK over the years, but these conditions do not seem to be numerous.
Tibetan Spaniels often live well into their teens and to find them still coping well at 16 is not unusual.