The Tibalier is a fairly popular designer dog, the deliberate
cross between two small companion dogs, the Tibetan Spaniel, one of a few breeds
of small watchdog developed thousands of
years ago by the monks of the Tibetan mountains, and not a true Spaniel at all.
While they possess the appearance of a hunting Spaniel, they do not have the
high energy levels or prey drive that is commonly seen in these breeds. The
Tibetan Spaniels were known as “Little Lion dogs” and were prized for their loyal
and engaging personalities, their extremely acute hearing, and their tiny size
which legend states allowed them to turn the Buddhist prayer wheels for the monks.
Like the other breeds of dog developed by the monks, Tibetan Spaniels were highly
valued and treated with great respect, never sold, but sometimes given as gifts
to visiting royal families and dignitaries. They remained extremely rare
outside of Tibet until after World War II, and it wasn’t until 1966 that the
first Tibetan Spaniels were imported into the United States. The Cavalier King
Charles Spaniel is a newer breed, and one that has been painstakingly recreated.
This breed of diminutive Spaniels was a
great favorite of both King Charles I and II, as evidenced by many works of art
showing the kings surrounded by their little dogs, but when their reigns ended,
shorter faced dogs like the Pug became more popular and the interbreeding of dogs
at court contributed to a breed that developed a much shorter muzzle, a smaller
stature, and a more domed head shape. In the 1920s breeding efforts were
undertaken by an American named Roswell Eldridge to restore the breed to their original conformation, utilizing the numerous
illustrations of the Spaniels of King Charles. In 1995 the breed finally gained
the recognition of the American Kennel Club and has since become the 19th
most popular breed in America.