Five Tibetan Terriers of various colors pose on a deck
Hot Sauce, Jones, Juno, Chapman, and Hoopz (l-r)

About the Breed

In the words of the Tibetan Terrier Club of America:

This breed is not for everyone, but for many devoted TT owners, there is no breed that compares.

After having Tibetan Terriers, you will not want to live without a shaggy, amusing TT companion.

The Tibetan Terrier is a medium sized, shaggy, square dog, measuring 14-17 inches from shoulder to ground, and weighs 18 to 30 pounds. An average sized dog is 15-16 inches in height and weighs 20 to 24 pounds. Surprisingly agile, the Tibetan Terrier is powerful and surefooted in his movements.

The breed has a double coat. The inner coat is fine, similar to cashmere. The outer coat may be almost straight or undulating. It is neither silky nor curly. Tibetan Terriers should have a heavy fall of hair over the eyes and face to protect them from the elements. The breed should also have a lovely plumed tail, set on the body rather high and carried over the back.

In addition to the breed’s square, compact look, other important characteristics include large, almost flat feet suitable for traction on rough ground, a good sized rib spring and superb balance. All this is accompanied by strong reach of the front legs and strong drive in the rear.

The Tibetan Terrier received AKC (American Kennel Club) recognition in 1973.

More About Tibetan Terriers

Personality

Tibetan Terriers–like all dog breeds–have unique personalities that are difficult to generalize. However, they are usually very devoted to their family members.

The breed standard describes TTs as “chary of strangers” and for some, that’s quite true.  Others love anyone and everyone. TTs can be a bit of a watchdog, alerting you to nefarious (and not so nefarious) activities outside or friends dropping by.

Overall, they are playful and happy companions, usually content to be by your side.  But don’t be surprised when your TT curls up in the farthest corner of your room, wanting to be close…but not too close.

Coat and Grooming

A puppy coat is quite easy to care for, but a Tibetan Terrier’s striking double coat grows long and requires regular grooming.  That means you (and your dog) will become well-acquainted with a brush, comb, and grooming spray.  Dirty coats form mats more than clean coats, so a TT in full coat has to be bathed and thoroughly dried (with a hair dryer) regularly as well.

The breed standard requires that Tibetan Terriers in the show ring have a full coat, without trimming or scissoring. Most families, however, opt to keep their TTs clipped for a lower-maintenance option.  Even with a shorter haircut, families should still expect regular brushing sessions between appointments with the groomer.  Even short coats can develop mats.

A breed that requires grooming comes with a great benefit: the Tibetan Terrier is considered low-shedding breed.  Like people, they still lose hair, but your favorite black sweater won’t be covered with it.

Exercise & Activity

Tibetans, like most puppies, need lots of exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation, and if you don’t provide it, they will make their own fun.  For the sake of your home and belongings, keep them busy and tired.
Once adults, TTs will adjust to your home’s activity level. If you want to take a three-mile hike, they’re in; if you want to binge-watch a series all Sunday afternoon, they’ll game for that too.  But they’ll always enjoy and appreciate daily walks and getting out of the house.

Training

Training a Tibetan will be different from a Golden or a Border Collie.  Traditional methods aren’t very effective: TTs bore easily and will react poorly to harsh aversive techniques, due to their sensitive natures.  They will learn basic household manners through rewards and calm repetition. Clicker training is thought to be the gold standard for teaching performance behaviors like agility or nosework.