There is much evidence to suggest that we Tibetan Spaniel are related to other small Tibtan breeds such as the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu, and may even be related to other oriental breeds like the Pekingese or Japanese Chin. However, it is almost impossible to conclude which breed is the ancestor among those mentioned here.
We are a small breed, slightly longer than tall, about ten inches at the withers with a lovely double coat – a fluffy undercoat to keep us warm and a longer outer coat to keep us clean. It is usually quite easy to distinguish between a male and female Tibbie (to the practiced eye anyway). The mature male generally has a thicker coat and a lovely lion-like shawl, and a usually a bigger head than the female. For a small dog we are very sturdy, unlike some of the other toy breeds. We have that wonderful quality of always seeming to be puppy-like. We have been likened to the Pekingese although we do have a longer muzzle but do not have the profuse coat of the Peke. Most people say that the head is the most distinguishable feature of the Tibbie as it gives us a our characteristic monkey face. We are sometimes called part dog, part cat and part monkey – we have the faithfulness and watchfulness of the dog, independence and curiosity of the cat and the cleverness and mischievousness of the monkey.
Many Tibetan Spaniel were raised in monasteries and used as watchdogs. Because we are very long sighted, we could warn the larger guard dogs of any approaching danger. We were also used as companions and bed and body warmers in the cold, harsh climate of Tibet (some of us lucky ones are still used as bed warmers even in Australia)! We make wonderful pets and show dogs. A lot of people say we are the perfect show dog because we don’t need a lot of attention to prepare us for the show ring (they call us the ‘shake and show’ dog).
We are not kennel dogs and thrive on human contact. We would prefer to be in the house with access to a securely fenced garden, but make sure it is escape-proof as some of us love to dig or clim our way out!If you live in a flat or unit we can cope with that too and will be content with a daily walk on a lead (which is good for your health as well as ours). When we go to a new home we will need training and you will have to be patient with us and teach us the rules of the house.
We’re happy little dogs, lively and alert and love to have a conversation with people (in our own special language). If you want to play, great, but if not, we will leave you alone and either sleep or amuse ourselves. Make sure you leave us some toys and chewies to keep us amused if you are not going to be around. We may bark if someone comes to the door, but we will love them once we know they are your friends (we are supposed to be aloof with strangers). We are very loving although we do maintain a certain amount of independence at times (some call this trait stubbornness but I think that is a bit harsh)! People say we have long memories – we never forget a friend or forgive an enemy.
We are very intelligent little dogs – some even call us schemers. We like to play games with you and other dogs, such as “hidey” and “chasey”. We will figure out how to open doors and get into your bag if you are hiding a special treat for us. We know how to get what we want – we just have to plead with our big dark eyes and you usually can't resist us. We love to learn new things, too, and we don’t mind attending obedience classes.
We love being taken for walks on a lead and we can walk for miles if you want us to (even though we only have short legs). We must be exercised regularly, but if on occasions you can't take us for a walk then we will exercise ourselves y chasing over and under the furniture or around the yard and get our own exercise. We also love to ride in the car with you as long as we are secure in our crates (though not in hot weather).
We will give you a lot of love and it has to be returned. We are easy to look after and do not require much grooming edcept a brush, especially behind the ears, and a wipe of our eyes and face with a warm damp cloth. You will need to keep the fur between the pads of our feet trimmed but please don’t trim my featherings. We don’t have that usual doggy smell so you only need to bath us if we are going to a show or are dirty. Please keep my bowl full of fresh water.
Our dedicated breeders will supply you, the new owner, with a diet chart which will explain everything you ned to know about what we need to eat at all the different stages of our lives. We are not fussy eaters but you must start us off right.
Breeding is NOT the mating together of two registered dogs to produce puppies. That has been the downfall of many breeds. It is a creative art that requires the study of genetics, conformation, bloodlines and veterinary procedures. The responsibility for future generations lies with the breeder. The mating together of outstanding dogs will produce many pets, so if dogs that are not outstanding are bred, you can imagine what will and does happen as time goes on. Personality, disposition and hardiness are list – along with the good looks of the breed. A healthy dog is bred for, not come across by accident.
So, You Want A Pet…
There is no excuse for buying a puppy from a pet shop, market or person who is exploiting the popularity of the breed – whose only concern is to make a quick dollar at your expense. When you buy from a dedicated breeder, who is breeding for future Champions, you have a chance to acquire a well-bred, properly raised puppy, offered at a fair price. Often only one puppy in a litter is show quality – the rest will be fine puppies. All puppies are cute but may not grow up to be show dogs. If a breeder is selling you a pet puppy, it is interesting to ask why it is not show quality. You will most likely find that it will be a simple matter, which will only affect a show dog, not a pet. Many breeders require that you spay or neuter their pets so you have the best pet possible. Some reders will put their puppies on the Limited Register to protect their puppies.
So, You Want A Show Dog…
A ‘show dog’ is a rare animal that with proper training, nutrition, environment and handling, can and does win in the conformation ring. The Tibetan Spaniel Association of Victoria Inc. will provide you with a list of breeder members who have puppies available. The breeders of these puppies will giv you the much needed help to ‘learn the ropes’ and allow you to enjoy showing your new Tibetan Spaniel.
Do not be in a hurry. Nothing worthwhile is attained overnight. Reputable breeders do not have puppies available all the time, but their puppies will be worth waiting for.
Reproduced By Kind Permission of the TSAV
For more information please contact the Secretary of The Tibetan Spaniel Club of Scotland