Originating from Tibet, Tibetan Terriers are a medium-sized dog breed in the working group. They are so called “terriers” but have no relation to the terrier group of hounds.  However, due to their remarkable resemblance to terriers, European travelers included the breed in their name. In Tibet, this dog is called Tsang Apso (shaggy or bearded) dog or Dokhi Apso meaning outdoor dog. 

Brief History

Tibetan terriers have lived for thousands of years in the area that we now know as Tibet. Various DNA tests revealed that these dogs may have descended from various ancient breeds. In centuries past, Tibetans bred these dogs as good luck charms, companions, mascots, and herding dogs. Often known as holy dogs in Tibet, they were sometimes considered a rarity and were never sold, but raised by monks to be given as gifts. Living in Tibet which was a geographically isolated region, Tibetan terriers managed to stay as a purebred dog for more than 2000 years. In 1922, an English doctor brought the first Tibetan terrier to Europe. This was a white and gold female puppy. She later acquired a male Tibetan and with this couple as foundation stock, began breeding them in her then established kennel.

The first litter born to these dogs was in 1924, these puppies assumed the name Lhasa terriers. It was in 1930 when the Kennel Club of India changed the name Lhasa Terriers to Tibetan Terriers. In 1956, Dr. Henry and Mrs. Alice Murphy brought the first Tibetans to the US and in1973 the AKC recognized this breed placing it under the non-sporting group.

tibetan terrier

Physical Features

Tibetan Terriers are medium-sized with a powerful build and profuse coat. Their hairs are long and tend to cover their face, eyes, and sometimes mouth. The Tibetan’s body is square in proportion with large round feet that lie flat on the ground. Their tails are well feathered with an upward curl that allows it to fall forward over the back.

Average Height:

14-17 inches

Average Weight:

18-30 pounds

Life Expectancy:

15-16 years


Tibetans are known for their loyal and affectionate charm which makes them good family pets. They are also intelligent, capable dogs with a strong helper drive. Tibetan terriers are sensitive and gentle to both adults and children.

Special Needs

With strangers or strange environments, Tibetans tend to be reserved. Owners need to exercise patience while introducing them to people and places they don’t know. Early socialization is required for them to grow into obedient and well-mannered pets. Due to their clever, steadfast and determined natures, some Tibetans tend to be stubborn. They also make excellent guard dogs. 

Possible Health Concerns

Tibetans are a hardy and healthy breed, however, they tend to succumb to western canine diseases due to environmental changes and other bearing aspects such as the lifestyle they were used to in their country of origin. Early neutering and spaying may expose this breed to joint issues. In fact, many breeders suggest that owners wait until these dogs reach maturity. Occasionally, older Tibetans may suffer from vestibular disease. Although fatal, they may recover from it if dealt with during its early stages. Canine cancers also remain of concern to aging Tibetans.

tibetan terrier puppy


The Tibetan terrier is an outdoor dog and enjoy daily walks with their family. Plan to fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise time a day to make sure your Tibetan stays at a healthy weight and is mentally stimulated. 


A Tibetan’s double coat is adaptable in everyday life. The undercoat is woolen and acts as a natural insulator and water resistor. Coat textures may vary from soft to hard and they may or may not be susceptible to matting. Grooming the Tibetans ample coat should be a regular activity, perhaps trimming it to a manageable length or just hand stripping any dead or loose hair. As they tend to chew their food, owners should ensure that they clean their dog’s teeth once a week to keep them healthy and clean.

Tibetan Terriers have a versatile, friendly and intelligent nature. They make loving and loyal family companions.

tibetan terrier breed

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