Tibetan Terrier Dog Breed
Aliases: Tsang Apso
|Life Span:||15 to 17 years|
|Litter Size:||5 to 8 puppies|
|Group:||Herding, AKC Non-Sporting|
|Recognized By:||CKC, FCI, AKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR|
|Color:||Wide variety. Black/White, Tricolor, Silver, Gray, Cream, Golden, Black. Any color but chocolate or liver is acceptable for Tibetan Terriers.|
|Male Height:||14-16 in (35-40 cm)|
|Male Weight:||18-30 lbs (8-14 kg), 20-25 lbs preferred (9.5-11 kg)|
|Female Height:||tend to be slightly smaller, but 14-16 inches is an acceptable range|
|Female Weight:||18-30 lbs (8-14 kg), 20-25 lbs preferred (9.5-11 kg)|
|General info courtesy of terrificpets.com. Additional information about this breed can be found on their website.|
|Living Area:||Virtually anywhere. Tibetan Terriers adapt very easily to the moods and habits of their owners, and will be happy in almost any consistent home environment. The dogs were bred for herding and companionship purposes, so environments that allow the Tibetan Terrier to express these instincts (outdoor/rural areas with other animals or urban/suburban areas with constant companionship at home) would probably be the best.|
To any dog enthusiast, the word terrier conjures up a certain image: gruff, intelligent, excitable, bred for the killing of rats and vermin. One hears the name "Tibetan Terrier" and one assumes that the same holds true for this fairly unknown breed.
But one would be wrong. In the first place, Tibetan Terrier aren\'t true terriers: they were bred for companionship and herding, more like working dogs than true terriers, and they lack much of the gruffness that defines the terriers as a breed. In addition, the Tibetan Terrier has a history that far exceeds that of simple European terriers--a history that places them at the feet of monks in monasteries, on the borders of fields, and in the hearts of the people who would exchange the earliest Tibetan Terriers with one another, believing the dogs to be an undeniable sign of good luck to whoever kept them.
The Tibetan Terrier is a medium-sized dog, similar to a Shih Tzu in some details of its appearance. (Which is not coincidental--it\'s now believed that the Tibetan Terriers were one of the Shih Tzu\'s most significant ancestors in early breeding programs.) Tibetan Terriers have a fall of hair over the faces in order to protect them from the elements, as well as powerful hind legs, a long, straight outer coat with many possible color variations, and a long, tufted tail carried above the dog\'s hindquarters and falling slightly over its back. Its most distinctive feature, however (for those who know what to look for), is its set of extremely flat, roughly-textured feet. These give the Tibetan Terrier a high degree of mobility over rough terrain--an extremely valuable attribute, given the breed\'s origins as a companion to the monks in mountainous monasteries surrounded by fields of rock and snow.
Tibetan Terriers have two coats. The inner coat is short and extremely smooth, while the outer coat is long and usually straight (some amount of waviness is acceptable, but never curliness).
The Tibetan Terrier was almost completely unknown in the West until the 1920s, when a British surgeon in India was given a female of the breed as a gift for saving the life of a local woman. His colleagues had never seen a dog like the Tibetan before, and after the surgeon entered the rare breed in an Indian dog show, the judges made a special effort to acquire a male of the species from Tibet. After the dogs had been breeding for several generations, the surgeon--one Agnes Greig--retired to England to begin breeding the dogs full-time, popularizing the breed in the West.
Yet although the Tibetan Terrier remained unknown in the West for a great deal of time, the dog has a long history in the East as a temple dog, a herder, and a companion for the monks of various disciplines. The Tibetan Terrier was never sold to anyone, and the only way to get one of the dogs for yourself was as a gift from one of the monks or another grateful owner--a gift just like the one that finally brought the Tibetan Terrier to the Western world.
Because of their origins as companion dogs, Tibetan Terriers thrive on the presence of people. If left to their own devices, they can be extremely unhappy--which can lead to behavioral problems. So wherever you choose to keep your Tibetan Terrier, make sure that it has plenty of opportunities to be with the people it loves and trusts.
You\'ll also want to spend a great deal of time with your Tibetan Terrier simply because they\'re so smart. This makes them a very appealing breed in some ways--they\'re extremely trainable, friendly, outgoing, and adaptable to whatever your habits and customs are. But in some ways--and at some ages, the first fourteen months or so of the dog\'s life being the crucial age we\'re talking about here--the breed\'s intelligence could make you think that the name "Tibetan Terrier" is even more of a misnomer than we\'ve said: "Tibetan Terror" might be more accurate.
It\'s not that the Tibetan Terriers show any ill will toward you. It\'s simply that they\'re too smart for their own good sometimes. Tibetan Terriers have been known to figure out from simple observation how to unlock their own puppy crates, how to find their way out of locked rooms, and any number of troublesome (yet precocious) practices. Can you break them of these bad habits? Yes, you can--but only by appealing to the dog\'s native sense of intelligence and curiosity, by turning the positive behaviors you want to reinforce into puzzles that the dogs themselves can solve. Negative training will simply create resentment, and the Tibetan Terrier will just go on its merry, destructive way.
Although the Tibetan Terriers are highly friendly and highly intelligent, they can be sensitive about being touched. It\'s important to develop a sense of familiarity with them slowly and carefully--don\'t simply expect to cuddle up to your Tibetan Terrier in the first week. Tibetan Terriers tend to mature more slowly than most dogs, so you\'ll want to carefully and slowly train them over a great deal of time while introducing acceptable levels of physical contact. If you can do this, the Tibetan Terrier will eventually come to trust you completely and to behave appropriately--allowing you to appreciate the breed\'s qualities of companionship, intelligence, and adaptability all the more.
Thyroid Disease - High Risk
The Tibetan Terrier ranks #7 among all breeds for autoimmune thyroiditis prevalence. There is a high risk of obtaining a dog that will develop thyroid disease. For this reason you should make sure you, or your breeder, are testing all dogs before breeding. It may even be a good idea to test dogs that you don't plan on breeding so that any instance of disease can be traced back to breeding pairs and eliminated.
|Rank Among Breeds||Number of Dogs Tested||Percent of Dogs With Disease|
You can download the full report (on all breeds) by the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health. Here
Other Health Problems
The Tibetan Terrier has lived and thrived for centuries--if not millennia--virtually unchanged. This speaks well for their overall health, of course, but a few possible hereditary problems are known to exist in the breed:
- Hip dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Lens luxation