Tibetan Terrier

20-24 lbs
14-16"
Tibet
Luck Bringer, Dokhi Apso, Tsang Apso, Holy Dog of Tibet, Lhasa Terrier, Darjeeling Terrier

Known in Tibetan as Tsang Apso, the Tibetan Terrier is a breed that’s evolved in a tough mountainous climate. Despite this, they’ve got a joyful disposition and make for wonderful companions. They’re no strangers to hard work, either — nomadic herders have employed their energy to round up sheep on the high plains.

By the end of this guide to the Tibetan Terrier, you’ll know that:

  • The breed doesn’t shed its heavy coat and is hypoallergenic
  • They are thought to have been around for two millenia
  • Tibetan Terriers are talented when it comes to agility and obedience
  • Their love of being around humans means they can suffer from Separation Anxiety

Tibetan Terrier Breed Overview

You can tell from a single glance that the Tibetan Terrier is well suited to wintry conditions. Their soft double-coat keeps them warm whatever the season, while their flat feet act almost like snow-shoes. They’re versatile dogs, however, and can adapt to warmer weather, too. 

If you’re wondering ‘is a Tibetan Terrier hypoallergenic?’, the good news is yes — as much as any breed can be — as they don’t tend to shed their thick coats and are suitable for parents with allergies.

The Tibetan Terrier isn’t widely known outside of its home country, but those who share their lives with the breed will be quick to agree that they’re innately happy pets with energy to burn — in other words, the perfect companion for an active family. Their sweet nature and wish to be constantly around people means that they make great therapy dogs, but be careful; it can also turn into separation anxiety.

Each and every dog deserves pet insurance to protect them when things go awry — Wag!’s online comparison tool will help you find a policy that’s right for you.


 

purpose Purpose
Companion
history Date of Origin
Ancient Times
ancestry Ancestry
Lhasa Apso, Shih Tzu, North Kunlun Mountain Dog, Inner Mongolian Dog

Tibetan Terrier Health

Sketch of Tibetan Terrier
Average Size
Male Tibetan Terrier size stats
Height: 15-16 inches Weight: 20-25 lbs
Female Tibetan Terrier size stats
Height: 14-16 inches Weight: 20-24 lbs

Tibetan Terrier Breed History


The Tibetan Terrier suffers from something of a misnomer. Yes, they’re from Tibet, but they’re not actually Terriers — this was a title given to them by Westerners last century due to the breed’s similar size to other terriers.

Instead of catching rats and darting down holes, the Tibetan Terrier was bred by the country’s monks to be companions and watchdogs. They were considered to be good luck charms and were often given as gifts or thank-yous after a favor. It was also believed that mistreating or even selling the dogs would bring misfortune.

This partly explains why the breed remained unknown outside of the country for so long. It wasn’t until 1922 that they came to the attention of Europeans. It was in this year that they were brought back to England by Dr Agnes Greig, an English missionary who had been given a Tibetan Terrier puppy — a female called Bunti — after performing an operation on a local woman. 

After receiving a second — a male named Rajah — Greig decided to breed the pair and set up a kennel dedicated to these hairy dogs. In 1937, the Royal Kennel Club first recognized the breed and the American Kennel Club (AKC) followed suit in 1973 after a pair of Tibetan Terriers were imported to the USA.

Today, the breed is still pretty niche in the USA, with the AKC finding it to be the 106th most popular canine variety in the country in its recent-most survey.

Tibetan Terrier Breed Appearance


The most distinctive feature of a Tibetan Terrier has to be their shaggy double coat, the undercoat of which is thick and wooly while the upper-most layer is long and either wavy or straight. In terms of colors, you might see them in white, gold, brindle, silver, black or a mixture of these.

Their eyes are large, wide-set and normally dark brown in color. You should expect to also see floppy pendant ears, a black nose and a strong muzzle with a bit of a beard underneath.

At the other end of their body, the tail of a Tibetan Terrier is normally feathered and carried over the back. Their feet are large and flat, which helps them to navigate snowy terrain.


Similar Breeds to a Tibetan Terrier

If you’re looking for a different breed that’s similar to the size of Tibetan Terrier dogs, don’t look for a terrier as these will be completely different in looks and temperament. You’re better off searching for a sheepdog or another energetic working dog.


Tibetan Terrier Breed Maintenance

The fact they’re not huge shedders makes a Tibetan Terrier hypoallergenic (while no dog is ever 100% hypoallergenic, some breeds are close to it, and this is one) and a great choice for parents with allergies.

However, this coat does require regular attention. For a start, they should be brushed daily to prevent tangles and matted hair — be sure to mist their fur with water beforehand as this prevents hair breakage. Giving your Tibetan Terrier a puppy cut is another option.

As well as tending to their coats, parents need to clip their nails once a month, brush their teeth at least once a week and check their ears weekly for wax build-up. Your vet should be able to recommend an ear cleanser to reduce the risk of infection or inflammation.


Tibetan Terrier Health Risks

Like the vast majority of breeds, a Tibetan Terrier puppy is slightly more predisposed to developing certain health conditions over the course of their lifetime. Some of these can’t be helped, but the risk is lowered if parents deal with responsible breeders who carry out screening on their animals and remove those affected from the breeding pool.

Be particularly aware of these health issues:



Patellar Luxation

Although this is more typically associated with smaller breeds, Patellar Luxation can affect larger canines, such as the Tibetan Terrier. This joint disorder occurs when one of the knee bones dislocates while a dog is moving, leading to a distinctive hopping motion and a lot of pain.

Fortunately, as a comparatively common complaint, vets are usually able to successfully treat cases of Patellar Luxation, either through the use of medication, physiotherapy or surgery.



Eye issues

There are a few eye conditions which are more frequently observed in the Tibetan Terrier. Lens Luxation is one. Like the Patellar equivalent, this involves part of the body moving where it shouldn’t — in this case, the eye lens.

When the lens detaches, a dog’s eye often looks completely different, almost as if they’re turning white. Parents might also see their pet in pain, squinting, or keeping their eyes closed. Treatment should be sought as soon as possible after symptoms start in order to increase the chance of retaining vision.

Vets will be able to diagnose Lens Luxation after various examinations and they will look to treat the condition as soon as possible. The detached lens can often be surgically removed, but if this isn’t possible, the entire eye might have to be taken out. Regular monitoring will be required afterwards.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is another condition for which parents of a Tibetan Terrier need to be aware. This is when retinal cells die off, leading to a gradual deterioration in vision. It’s a hereditary condition that affects lots of dogs, although many can adapt if the symptoms are minor. However, in more severe instances, dogs can begin losing both their night and day vision, as well as their confidence when it comes to moving about.

Sadly, there’s no known cure for PRA and parents are recommended to keep their dog’s living environment safe and constant to prevent accidents from happening.


Hypothyroidism

The size of Tibetan Terrier dogs means that they’re more likely to be affected by Hypothyroidism, an imbalance of hormones produced by the thyroid gland. This causes metabolism to slow down, bringing with it a wide range of symptoms — this includes lethargy, weight gain and poor coat condition.

Given the general nature of the symptoms, Hypothyroidism requires a lot of veterinary tests to land on a precise diagnosis. Once this has been done, the dog in question will have to take a thyroxine replacement for the rest of their lives. Most dogs respond well to this treatment and symptoms should subside, although regular monitoring will be necessary.

Ceroid Lipofuscinosis 

This is a specific type of metabolic enzyme deficiency that leads to a build-up of lipopigments and a variety of symptoms, including diminished eyesight, behavioral changes, seizures, dementia and ataxia (loss of muscle coordination). Ceroid Lipofuscinosis is a serious condition with no cure — sadly, palliative care or euthanasia are usually the only options.

Heart Murmurs

When a vet places a stethoscope against a dog’s body, they might hear an abnormal sound, or a Heart Murmur. This isn’t a disease in and of itself — it can often be a symptom of another cardiac disorder, such as endocarditis, valve abnormalities, or stenosis (narrowing of the arteries).

A wellness plan includes more frequent testing and screenings for your pets — these can often prove crucial in catching diseases at an earlier stage.


What to Feed a Tibetan Terrier

As an energetic dog with a working history, the Tibetan Terrier has a hearty appetite and this should be satiated with high-quality dog food — this means high protein content for muscle growth and lots of vitamins and minerals.

Parents should avoid carb-heavy recipes or formulations containing a lot of filler ingredients. These increase the risk of obesity and the secondary health conditions caused by this.

It’s understandable if you’re overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice available when it comes to pet food — luckily for you, our partner Dog Food Advisor has put together a list of the best meals available to buy today.


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Tibetan Terrier Temperament


As a dog that has provided companionship in Tibet’s monasteries for millenia, it should be no surprise to learn that the Tibetan Terrier is more often than not a complete joy to be around and they love being with their family and playing games. 

While being slower than other dogs to mature, they grow up to be intelligent canines and easy to train with positive reinforcement.

Now, no dog breed is completely perfect and it’s important to note some of the less desirable traits of the Tibetan Terrier. For starters, this want to be around people can also manifest itself in Separation Anxiety when they’re left alone for long periods of time — thankfully, they’re not excessive barkers, but they might appear confused, withdrawn or even aggressive.

What’s more, the Tibetan Terrier temperament is gentle and kind, but without early socialization and exposure to other people or dogs, a Tibetan Terrier puppy can grow up to be shy and reserved.

And finally, we’ve mentioned how the Tibetan Terrier is typically clever once they reach adulthood, but we should also point out that this can sometimes express itself as stubbornness. A bit of perseverance and patience should overcome this, thankfully.

Tibetan Terrier Activity Requirements


There’s another thing that prospective parents need to consider and that’s the energy of a Tibetan Terrier. They need lots of daily walks or runs to keep them tired out — they can adapt to apartment living if exercised enough. 

If you want to take things up a step, the breed also does well with agility training and advanced obedience classes.


Top Tibetan Terrier Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Tibetan Terrier breeders of 2024.
Top Tibetan Terrier breeder Tibetan Terrier Kennel
Tibetan Terrier Kennel
Catharpin, Virginia
Top Tibetan Terrier breeder Dzine Tibetan Terriers
Dzine Tibetan Terriers
Jerseyville, Illinois
Top Tibetan Terrier breeder RInchen Tibetan Terriers
RInchen Tibetan Terriers
Brighton, Colorado
Top Tibetan Terrier breeder Domani Tibetan Terriers
Domani Tibetan Terriers
Lorton, Virginia
Top Tibetan Terrier breeder TriSong Tibetan Terriers & Pumik
TriSong Tibetan Terriers & Pumik
Magnolia, Texas
Top Tibetan Terrier breeder Euphoria® Tibetans
Euphoria® Tibetans
Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Top Tibetan Terrier breeder Indira Tibetan Terriers
Indira Tibetan Terriers
Delphi, Indiana

Tibetan Terrier Owner Experiences

Lewis
9 Years
5 People
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lay down
High Five
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play dead
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Having a Tibetan Terrier a great dog to have there are hypoallergenic and don't shed but they are sweet and loving dogs they can be a great dog for a small house or smaller if you want a medium sized dog that is hypoallergenic and non shedding a Tibetan Terrier is a dog for you and if you have a small home or need a dog this is the breed for you!
2 months ago
Lewis
10 Years
5 People
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petting
Tag
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Play
Catch treats
Relaxing
tummy pets
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Having my dog as a Tibetan Terrier is great they are great for a emotional support animal and really fun to have. Some can be clingy to me and my mom but they have tons of energy when they chose to. I think if your looking for a non shedding/ hypoallergenic dog that is a medium size dog a Tibetan Terrier is a dog for you
2 months ago
Oscar
8 Years
2 People
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Tibetans are eminently trainable --they love tricks. But they have minds of their own, and that includes what other dogs they will tolerate. Unfortunately, we live in a city, and we encounter literally hundreds of dogs over the course of a month. We have an older dog and a puppy come up on one year. The puppy is friends with everyone but the older dog is standoffish, and sometimes aggressive. Mostly he ignores other dogs or allows a sniff, but there are some that drive him bananas -- for no apparent reason. Walking him, therefore, is a challenge. Have worked with a lot of trainers on this. No luck. Now the puppy is picking up the older dog's bad habits re other dogs. Frankly, I'm at my wit's end. The two Tibetans also fight over resources -- treats, visitors, meals. We are scrupulously careful about keeping them separate when we think they may be tempted to fight, but we make mistakes, and they go crazy. No damage done yet, but it looks like it could get serious. We are working with a good trainer and hope for the best. Tibetans are the cutest puppies in the world and people constantly ask what kind of dogs ours are, because they're so adorable. I would ask breeders to please be totally honest about how hard Tibetans can be to train, and how uncomfortable they may be in a busy urban environment. Also we should never have introduced a male puppy into our household, but the breeder (a very good one) assured us it was the best way to get a second dog. I was looking for an adult female rescue but couldn't find one. When I saw her adorable male puppy, I lost all my good sense and took him. It was not the right decision. Both dogs get tons of exercise (at least five miles total walks per day) and we work at home so they have lots of company. We have had other dogs over the years but the Tibetans are by far the most challenging.
6 years, 2 months ago
Watson
6 Years
3 People
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Watson is my 3rd Tibetan Terrier/Lhasa. We home them for their entire life. Cindy, our first she was 8 when we adopted her and lived to a ripe old age of about 14 years. Our second was also an adoption found hiding behind a laundromat. This was in late Nov. the maintenance lady asked if we could take him home with him. So we named him Gladstone. He was a loving, companion he chose me as his person. He continued to live with us about 12 years. Now we have Watson we adopted him from the Nashville TN ASPCA. He was 6 the week after we got him. He is by far the most affectionate, people loving, caring bundle of joy. Very intelligent. We are still using one word commands to find what he actually knows.
6 years, 1 month ago
Watson Reed
6 Years
3 People
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Watson is out 3rd Lhasa. The other two, Cindy was adopted, Gladstone was a rescue and Watson is adopted from the Nashville TN ASPCA.
6 years, 1 month ago
Beatle
4 Years
6 People
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Fetch
Play keep away
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He's a lovey boy who will climb on you when he wants attention.
5 years, 9 months ago
Reese
9 Years
2 People
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Reese is the most loving, loyal, intelligent & beautiful boy. He is both active & docile, depending on the given activity level at home. He easily learns tasks/phrases. He is great with grooming. Loves his adopted 'whacky' terrier-mix brother from another mother, & his adopted feline sister. I have had dogs throughout my life & loved them dearly, but my TT Reese is human-like, which many people have said that to me...he is just amazing! He loves his special place to lay & keep an eye on the outside world, & has been our self-appointed guard dog from the day we brought him home! Everyone loves my beautiful Reese, but I truly would not take all the money in the world for him...he is a once-in-a-lifetime, loving companion that came into my life when I needed him most, & he stole my heart! 💙🐕💙
4 years, 8 months ago
Brie
1 Year
2 People
Apartment
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Tibetan terriers are excellent problemsolvers. Today mine learned how to climb on the counters to get to the cat food bowls on the fridge. She is cautious of strangers, and often barks at people she doesn't know. She hasa tendency to wander, and can't be let off leash. She is the most affectionate and loving dog I've ever had. You can't beat a Tibetan terrier for loyalty. She's been to puppy classes, and picks up new skills very quickly, but only followed commands if she sees a reason to (i.e. the treats are good enough.)
4 years, 1 month ago
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Question

I am letting my Tibetan terrier‘s coat grow long. I noticed that the picture on your website shows the hair/fall pulled back and clipped in place. Can you please tell me if there are clips that are specially made for dogs? I am concerned about my dog pulling it out and ingesting it..

Answer
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd