The Rare Tibetan Spaniel: Only Gifted, Never Sold

The Tibetan Spaniel is a flat-faced breed hailing from Tibet. Known for their playful, bright nature, these dogs were bred for work in monasteries.

Mar 22, 2024By Thalia Oosthuizen
the rare tibetan spaniel only gifted never sold

When it comes to dog breeds that stand out from the rest, the rare Tibetan Spaniel comes to mind. These cute balls of fluff are so packed with personality that they are often described as giant dogs crammed into tiny bodies.

Their small stature and cute faces make them ideal companion dogs. However, these little furballs are so much more than a dog you carry around in a bag. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the rare Tibetan Spaniel.

They Are Not Really Spaniels

Fluffy Brown Tibetan Spaniel Standing on Grass
Image credit: Brit-Petfood

Contrary to what the name might suggest, these amazing dogs are not spaniels. In fact, these dogs share no commonalities with spaniels. While spaniels have been bred for their natural hunting abilities, Tibetan Spaniels are considered companions. Interestingly, “spaniel” comes from the French word “epagneul,” which means comforting.

As the name suggests, Tibetan Spaniels originate from Tibet. They are often called Tibbies, which is quite a cute and informal nickname. These sweet little balls of fluff are very intelligent and responsive. They can also be quite playful, making them a fun addition to any family.

Traditionally, They Were Precious Gifts for Chinese Leaders

Adult Brown Tibetan Spaniel Dog Lying in Garden
Image credit: Chewy

Hundreds of years ago, Tibetan Spaniels were considered to be so elite that they were only gifted. Regardless of how badly people might have wanted them, they were never sold. Instead, if you were important enough or considered to be an invaluable part of the Chinese royalty, you might have been fortunate enough to receive one of these fluffy presents.

It was only much later that ordinary people could share in the privilege of having these adorable dogs as pets, and today, we are so grateful that we don’t need to be royal to have a Tibbie.

There Is No Unified Coat Color

When it comes to variety, the Tibetan Spaniel has an impressive range of coat colors. The most common color for these dogs is light brown, but they can also be white, reddish, dark brown, black, or multi-colored. The breed is one of the few dogs that has a double coat. This means that Tibbies have an undercoat and a topcoat.

The undercoat is usually super-soft fur that keeps the dog warm throughout the year, and it is not uncommon for Tibbie owners to notice a lot of shedding during the warmer months. The undercoat grows much faster than the topcoat, while the topcoat tends to be richer in color.

Unlike the bigger dogs with double coats, the Tibetan Spaniel’s coat is relatively easy to take care of. With regular washes and combing, your Tibbie will look like a dog show-winning pup!

Black and Brown Tibetan Spaniel on Blanket
Image credit: Breed Expert

Because Tibbies don’t require a lot of professional grooming, they’re an excellent option for people who are on the lookout for a low-maintenance dog. Since their undercoat is for warmth and comfort, it is not recommended that Tibbie owners shave their dogs. If you feel overwhelmed by your Tibbie’s shedding when seasons change, try daily brushing with hair-filtering combs.

An adorable feature of the Tibetan Spaniel is its lion-like mane that so beautifully frames their enchanting little faces. They are also well-known for having quite a furry tail that curls so gorgeously towards their backs. It’s believed that like many Spitz breed dogs, Tibbies were bred to look like lions—a symbol of courage and power in Chinese culture.

Tibbies Are Generally Healthy, Long-Living Dogs

Tan Tibetan Spaniel Standing on Leaves

Fans of Tibetan Spaniels will be delighted to hear that these dogs don’t have massive, chronic health problems. However, senior dogs are more likely to have eye problems and allergies.

Tibetan Spaniels only need a moderate amount of exercise, so they are great pets for those living in apartments. Tibbies can get quite restless if they go without exercise for long periods. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a walk routine. Your Tibbie will be thrilled to spend time with you!

Copper Colored Tibetan Spaniel Standing Outside
Image credit: Daily Paws

Another huge plus is that Tibbies are very trainable, so they are ideal for those who yearn for a loyal, well-behaved companion. Tibbies are known to live up to 15 years of age, which is pretty typical for dogs in the Toy Group. However, for your Tibbie to have the best life expectancy, regular visits to the vet are advised. They’ll need regular vaccines and checkups to stay healthy.

While people are usually very tempted to spoil their companion dogs with treats and table scraps, it is also better to keep the snacks to a minimum and stick to a healthy, balanced diet.

Most dogs love a bit of fresh meat or wet food, and Tibbies are no exception. However, it is recommended that owners include at least some good-quality kibble every day because it is good for their teeth and gum health.

They Have Their Own Distinct Bark

Adult Tibetan Spaniel Standing Beside Lake
Image credit: PVTSC

Tibetan Spaniels have a unique bark known as the Tibbie scream. Now, if you haven’t heard your Tibbie scream, that’s probably a good thing; these dogs only “scream” in stressful situations.

Tibbies are known to cry out loudly when they feel threatened or panicked. This usually happens when strangers enter their loving home because the dogs feel such a loving and tender protectiveness towards their owners.

Also, if a Tibbie is caught off guard, you might hear loud, high-pitched screams. The best thing to do if your Tibbie is having a screaming session is to approach it calmly and try to assure it that everything is alright. Before you know it, your fluffy friend will be calm and quiet again.

Per the American Kennel Club, Tibbies rank three out of five on the bark scale. This means that if you’re looking for a quiet dog breed, you may want to consider another dog, like a French Bulldog.

Tibbies Are Tiny But Fierce

White Tibetan Spaniel Jumping at Agility Course
Image credit: Tibroke’s Tibetan Spaniels

Amazingly, back in the time when these wonderful fur babies were only given as gifts, they were considered the perfect gift for three reasons:

  • They are sweet and charming.
  • They are the ideal companion dog.
  • The last reason might be a surprise. Tibbies are incredible watchdogs.

Chinese leaders knew that these terrific mini pooches would keep them safe if they were ever threatened. Therefore, people who long to get a pet that can be loving, trained, small, and will keep the place safe should not overlook the Tibetan Spaniel. These dogs are very alert and vocal about possible danger.

They Are Indoor Pets

Tibetan Spaniel Relaxing on Couch
Image credit: Wikipedia

People who believe that a dog should live outside should not get a Tibbie as a pet. These mini floofs are house dogs, and they can become quite depressed when they spend too much time outdoors alone. In fact, these fluffy friends can feel lonely pretty quickly. Therefore, if they are introduced to a family that is home a lot, they will blossom.

However, if they spend many hours a day staring at the door, waiting for their owners to return, they will feel unhappy. Their need for love and interaction makes them the perfect pet for a family with children. It is vital to keep in mind that the Tibbie is tiny, so rough playing may result in injury.

Teaching your kids how to interact with your Tibbie can be a bonding experience for your child and furbaby. Once they have bonded, rest assured that your child has made a furry friend for life. Few dogs are as loyally protective as Tibbies.

Tibetan Spaniels Are Explorers at Heart

Adult Tibetan Spaniel on Leash by Flowers
Image credit: Borrow My Doggy

Tibbies are curious by nature, and they will easily wander off to explore their surroundings. That is why it is recommended to keep a Tibetan Spaniel on a leash while they are walking outside.

However, they enjoy interacting with other dogs, so if you are in an enclosed area where dogs can socialize, you could try letting your Tibbie off-leash. Before doing this, ensure that your dog understands commands like “come” and “stay.” Understanding these commands will help them stay safe at dog parks.

Tibetan Spaniel Standing in Long Grass
Image credit: Dogster

If the weather has you stuck inside your home, and you feel that your Tibbie is becoming quite restless, a few interactive toys can keep your Tibbie busy and happy for hours. Since these tiny dogs are naturally playful and curious, they love toys. Since Tibbies can get quite excited during playtime, it is best to stick to toys that have been specifically designed for dogs.

Good news for cat lovers: Tibbies get along very well with their feline friends, so introducing a Tibbie into a home that has cats should not be a problem. Tibbies are even more tolerant of birds and reptiles, too. In fact, your Tibetan Spaniel will be more focused on you and getting your attention than on the other pets in the house.

Tibetan Spaniels Are Suited for Many Homes

Tibetan Spaniel Lying on Grass
Image credit: the Spruce Pets

Any animal lover who is eager to get a dog that is energetic, adventurous, and fiercely loyal should consider getting a Tibbie. These fun-size dogs can put a smile on your face whenever you walk through the door because of their adorable expressions, eagerness to please, and unlimited love.

These days, we are fortunate that we don’t have to be royalty or VIPs to cross paths with one of the world’s best dog breeds. You might find that your darling Tibbie is the companion you never even knew you needed.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading