Tibetan Terrier

Developed to be a companion dog, the Tibetan Terrier is a beautiful small dog breed that is not a true terrier. This pleasant dog is also known as the Tsang Apso which means shaggy or bearded dog and Dokhi Apso meaning working shaggy dog that lives outside. 


The Tibetan Terrier was created in the mountainous region of Tibet by Buddhist monks (lamas). The breed was considered to bring good luck and lived among the monks and nomadic herdsmen.

This dog guarded the tents of the herdsmen, helped to herd the flocks and sometimes went down the mountains to retrieve lost articles. 

So prized by their owners, Tibetan Terriers were never sold and only offered as gifts to people who did them a kindness, acts of service or as a mark of esteem. 

A dog called Bunti was gifted to Dr Agnes R.H. Greig who began and established a breeding program.

Because of the dog’s size, the breed was given the name Tibetan Terrier, even though it didn’t share the instincts or personality of a true terrier. 

The Kennel Club of India created a breed standard in 1930. Seven years later, the Tibetan Terrier was officially recognised by England’s Kennel Club.

In 1956, the first Tibetan Terrier arrived in the United States of America. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1973. 

Physical Characteristics

This small dog has a powerful medium-sized body that is squarely proportioned. He can be mistaken for a smaller Bearded Collie.

He has a strong medium-sized muzzle and big dark eyes that are set fairly apart. His drop ears are V-shaped and sit high on the sides of his head. 

Adapted for the mountains he was raised in, his feet are broad and flat, like natural snowshoes. 

The Tibetan Terrier has a double coat with a soft wooly undercoat and a wavy or straight topcoat. His ears and tail are well-feathered. He also has hair growing in between his toes. 

The dog’s coat comes in various colors and patterns including: 

  •  White
  •  Gold
  •  Tricolour
  •  Brindle
  •  Silver
  • Black 


Fully grown, the Tibetan Terrier measures 14 to 16 inches (35 to 41cm) and weighs 20 to 24 pounds (8 to 14kg). 

Character & abilities

The Tibetan Terrier is affectionate, lively and fun. He is good-humored and thrives on human companionship. 

He has a sparkling personality but is reserved among strangers. He will bark when he notices anything out of the norm. 

His sweet and kind nature makes him a good companion for children. He can match their energy levels but might be too rowdy for small children. 

When brought up together, the Tibetan Terrier gets along well with other dogs and cats. 

Because he is not a true terrier, he will not show any terrier tendencies like digging or chasing.

Trainability & Intelligence

This dog is smart and trainable. Early socialization will ensure the Tibetan Terrier is a well-rounded dog.

Training is easy using positive reinforcement techniques like play, praise and treats.

Housebreaking this breed requires time and patience by developing a regular potty schedule and crate training.

This amiable pup excels as a therapy dog and makes an excellent alarm dog.  

The Tibetan Terrier is athletic and can compete in performance dog sports like agility, obedience and rally. 

Because he is alert, this dog likes to bark when he sees or hears anything unusual. He may also do it out of boredom. He however can be trained to stop and not become a nuisance barker. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

As a puppy and adolescent, this dog is highly energetic and needs a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. 

He will be happy to play and run around a securely fenced yard or romp around in a leash-free dog park.

When fully grown, the Tibetan Terrier is happy to sit on the couch with his family, but will still require at least a 30 minutes walk every day. 

How much this dog eats depends on his age, size, body type, metabolism and activity level. The recommended daily amount of high-quality dog food for an adult Tibetan Terrier is not more than two cups divided into two meals. 


The Tibetan Terrier should be groomed from puppyhood to get him accustomed to being touched and handled. 

Before maturity, this breed needs daily brushing to detangle the fur. At 18 months, the double coat needs brushing at least thrice a week using a pin brush and metal comb.

Use a spray bottle containing water and a dog conditioner to moisten the fur and avoid damaging the hair. 

Ear powder can make it easier to remove matted hair in the ears, feet, chest, abdomen, legs and tail. 

Baths are given when necessary using a specialized dog shampoo because human hair products contain chemicals that can harm the dog’s skin and fur.

Daily brushing of the teeth will prevent the build-up of tartar and bacteria. 

Clip the dog’s nails at least once a month because short nails will make sure he doesn’t slide, slip and fall or get caught in upholstery. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

The Tibetan Terrier is adaptable and fits well in a home with a yard or apartment. He is well suited for homes with snowy winters. 

This breed doesn’t like being left alone and requires plenty of attention. Too much time on his own may lead to separation anxiety. 

Despite his double coat, he is not an outdoor dog and should live in the house with his family. 


Generally healthy, the Tibetan Terrier is susceptible to health conditions like:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Luxating patella
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Lens luxation
  • Eye cataracts
  • Heart murmurs
  • Allergic to dairy and grains
  • Canine neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis

The Tibetan Terrier has a life span of 12 to 15 years.


This purebred dog is a loving companion that adapts easily to life in any household. He however is not suited for homes with younger children. He is fun-loving with a wonderful sense of humor and thrives on regular human interaction. 

Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we are determined to connect dog parents to the right furry companion. We have compiled well-researched dog breed descriptions to guide the adoption process. 

Whether a novice or experienced dog parent, we recommend adopting from a local shelter or reputable breeder.


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Energy Level

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