Tibetan Terrier


The Tibetan Terrier is a dog of medium size, that originated in Tibet. It is not a member of the terrier group, despite its name. it was given its English name by European travelers because of its resemblance to known terrier breeds. Tsang Apso, the Tibetan name for the breed roughly translates into “shaggy or bearded (“apso”) dog, from the province of Tsang. The history of the breed dates back thousands of years. The Tibetan Terriers were bred and raised in monasteries by lamas and were kept as good luck charms, watchdogs, herding dogs, companions, and mascots. Also, they were used to retrieve articles that fell down mountain sides. Known as the “Holy Dogs of Tibet” they were never sold, but rather only given as gifts by monks to help promote good fortune. Because of this, the early history of the breed is linked to only a few foundation dogs. Recent DNA analysis concludes that the breed is descended from the most ancient dogs.

Physical Appearance

This dog is medium-sized of square proportions, powerful, with a shaggy coat. They vary in their height and weight, between 14-16 inches and 18-30 pounds. His head is moderate, and has a medium length strong muzzle. The skull is neither rounded nor flat. The eyes of the Tibetan Terrier are large, dark, and set fairly far apart. His v-shaped ears drop, and are well feathered, and should be set high on the sides of the skull. The body of the dog is compact and well-muscled. His tail is high set, well-feathered, and is carried in a curl over his back. The double coat of the dog is profuse. The undercoat is warm, and his topcoat has the texture of human hair. All colors are permissible within this breed, barring liver and chocolate, and none is preferred.


This is an amiable, affectionate family dog that is sensitive to their owners. They are gentle with older children if properly introduced. The Tibetan Terrier tends to be reserved with strangers, which is fitting for his origins as a watchdog. However, he should never be aggressive nor shy with them. While he has an assertive bark, they are not generally prone to excessive barking. As the dog is energetic and surprisingly strong, they need regular exercise. His general nature is happy, lively, agile, intelligent, and active. Being steadfast, clever, and determined, they can sometimes be stubborn. Some of the dogs of this breed can sometimes be jealous, making it hard to live with another pet.


The average lifespan of the Tibetan Terrier is around 12 years, one in five can live to 15 years or more. Some common health issues within the breed include, hip dysplasia, luxating patella, progressive retinal atrophy, lens luxation, cataracts and heart murmurs. They can also carry the genetic disease canine neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, which is called Batten disease in humans.

Tibetan Terrier