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Tibetan Spaniel

Country/Date of Origin: Tibet/1000BC

The name Spaniel is a misnomer. This ancient breed from Tibet is probably the ancestor of the Pekingese. It has been kept by monks for over three thousand years. The little dog was trained to walk on a treadmill, which turned prayer wheels that the monks believed sent prayers to heaven. The holy dogs were given to the emperors of China as tribute gifts and surely figure in the backgrounds of many of the Chinese breeds. One of the first of the Tibetan breeds to reach the west, the Spaniels appeared in England about 1900 and looked much like the Pekingese of the time. Refinements in England have brought the two breeds to their present forms. The Tibetan Spaniel has much more leg under it and is not so exaggerated in form as the Pekingese. Tibetan Spaniels were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1984.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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AKC Group: Non-Sporting

Breed Club: Tibetan Spaniel Club of America, Inc.

Rescue Club: Deb Henson, 5435 Briarfield Rd., Jackson, MS 39211; 601-957-0969; [email protected]

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Body Type:

  • Somewhat similar in appearance to the Pekingese but less exaggerated. The mouth is supposed to be undershot
  • Height: 10 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 9-15 pounds
  • The high-set plume tail is carried over the back and is not altered
  • The medium-sized, hanging ears are never altered


  • Very intelligent but stubborn
  • Aloof with strangers
  • Affectionate with family members
  • Alert and happy


  • The silky textured double coat is moderately long
  • All colors and mixtures of colors are acceptable
  • Moderate grooming required

Health Concerns:

  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Kidney disease
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • Despite its name, this is not a true spaniel, which is a hunting dog. The Tibetan Spaniel is a companion animal
  • Long lived
  • Obedience training is recommended
  • May be difficult to housebreak
  • Well suited to apartment living

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