Tibetan Terriers – Lucky Charms from The Mountains of China

There are many myths and stories about the Tibetan Terrier. The Chinese lucky charm was hardly known in Europe until the middle of the 20th century and could only be bought as a gift from Tibetan monks. Today there is a small but stable breed in Europe. Here you can find out what to expect when you bring one of the “little people” into your home.

How Do Recognize Tibetan Terriers?

Tibetan Terriers and Old English Sheepdogs share many similarities, although the breeds are unlikely to be directly related. The sacred dogs from the Tibetan highlands are strong and athletically built, but their body shape is hardly recognizable because of the thick, long fur. The withers should be about 36 to 41 cm high for males, females are slightly smaller according to the FCI breed standard.

The Tibetan Terrier from head to tail

  • The head tapers slightly towards the front and the muzzle is so long that the eyes from the center of the head. Except for the clearly pronounced stop, the facial features are hardly recognizable because of the long hair over the eyes and on the muzzle. All Tibetan Terriers have a black nose.
  • The body is compact and strong, with the thorax reaching far back.
  • The dark brown eyes are wide apart, they are also relatively large and round. They should not be covered by the eyebrows.
  • The lop ears are set high on the head and end in V-shaped tips. They have long hair and can hardly be made out in the long fur.
  • The tail is carried “happily rolled up” over the back and is covered by a thick topcoat.
  • The Fore and hind legs are long and hairy and strong. The dogs have strong and flexible claws on their large, flat paws, which makes them excellent climbers.

Coat and colors of the Tibetan Terrier

The Tibetan Terrier has an abundant coat that hangs smooth or wavy all over the body. The two-layered stock hair feels fine and woolly on the body but is neither silky nor rough.

Possible color variations

  • Almost all color variations occur in the Tibetan Terrier, except brown and merle.
  • Some puppies’ fur will lighten significantly as they grow older. Black and sable puppies may be gray or tan as adult dogs.
  • Gold, also with white markings (front, head, paws, tail).
  • Brindle, gold brindle, and brindle with white markings.
  • Sable or sable colored with white markings.
  • Solid white, white with black patches (ears, body), or white with golden patches.
  • Black, gray, black with gold markings, or black with white markings.
  • Tricolor (black with white markings and gold branding).

Differences between similar dog breeds

  • The Tibetan Spaniel is significantly smaller than the Tibetan Terrier and has a shorter, finer coat and a shortened muzzle.
  • Lhasa Apsos and Shih Tzus look similar to Tibetan Terriers but have silkier, longer coats and are also significantly smaller.
  • The Bearded Collie looks like the Tibetan Terrier’s big brother, but the breeds are not directly related.
  • The Havanese also bears a resemblance to the Tibetan Terrier but is much smaller.
  • According to the Tibetan Terrier breed standard, the dogs look like smaller versions of the Old English Sheepdog, although again there is no direct relationship.

The Origin of the Tibetan Terrier: The Watchdog of Monks and Emperors

Tibetan terriers are not related to terriers but were given this false nickname by the first breeders in England. The origin of the breed is so far back that it can hardly be traced back, but it is proven that the dogs lived in Tibetan monasteries for over 2000 years and were kept as purebreds. They guarded the cattle and farm and warned of approaching guests. Like all dog breeds of the clergy in the heights of Tibet, Tibetan terriers could not be bought until the middle of the 20th century, but could only be acquired as gifts.

From Tibet to the whole world

A British doctor received such an honorable gift from the monasteries of Tibet and brought the first Tibetan Terriers to Europe in the 1920s. A second lineage outside Tibet developed in Liverpool (the progenitor of the lineage was found at Liverpool Harbour). Almost all Tibetan Terriers living in Europe and the USA today go back to these two breeding lines, which differ from each other in many ways.

Nature and Character of the Tibetan Terrier: are They Really Grumpy Barkers?

For centuries, Tibetan Terriers had the task of keeping strangers out of monasteries and loudly signaling their arrival. In the mountains, they protected the cattle in small herds and drove goats or sheep in the right direction by lightly pinching their knuckles. The rough terrain and changeable weather in Tibet’s heights (up to 4500 meters) demanded a lot from the dogs, which is why they are very robust and can withstand any weather. Despite their noble appearance, Tibetan Terriers are real daredevils who go through life bravely and actively.

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