Black and white Tibetan Terrier gaits in the ring at Westminster
A Tibetan Terrier profile
Black and white Tibetan Terrier poses with handler
White and sable Tibetan Terrier puppy gaits in the ring

Tibetan Terrier Breed Standard

A breed standard describes the perfect specimen of a breed.  It details the ideal appearance, type, structure, gait, and temperament to enable a dog to perform the job or function for which it was bred.  For example, Tibetan Terriers were bred to thrive in mountainous areas with temperature extremes.  The fall of hair over the eyes protects them from sun and dust, and the big “snowshoe” feet keep them safe on precarious trails.

No dog perfectly meets the standard, but good breeders use it as a blueprint for what to strive for in a litter.

Tibetan Terriers are intended to be a moderate dog, shown as naturally as possible.  Thus, the only serious fault in the standard is a shaved, scissored, sculpted, or stripped coat. Of course, Tibetan Terriers are now acclimated to lives of leisure, and many homes keep their coats cut short.

The Official Standard of the Tibetan Terrier is as follows. The Tibetan Terrier Club of America has also published an Illustrated Guide to the Tibetan Terrier, which is helpful if you want to better understand the breed standard.

Official Standard of the Tibetan Terrier

The Tibetan Terrier evolved over many centuries, surviving in Tibet’s extreme climate and difficult terrain. The breed developed a protective double coat, compact size, unique foot construction, and great agility. The Tibetan Terrier served as a steadfast, devoted companion in all of his owner’s endeavors.

General Appearance: The Tibetan Terrier is a medium-sized dog, profusely coated, of powerful build, and square in proportion. A fall of hair covers the eyes and foreface. The well-feathered tail curls up and falls forward over the back. The feet are large, flat, and round in shape producing a snowshoe effect that provides traction. The Tibetan Terrier is well balanced and capable of both strong and efficient movement. The Tibetan Terrier is shown as naturally as possible.

Head: Skull – Medium length neither broad nor coarse. The length from the eye to the tip of the nose is equal to the length from eye to the occiput. The skull narrows slightly from ear to eye. It is not domed but not absolutely flat between the ears. The head is well furnished with long hair, falling forward over the eyes and foreface. The cheekbones are curved but not so overdeveloped as to bulge. Muzzle – The lower jaw has a small amount of beard. Stop – There is marked stop but not exaggerated. Nose – Black. Teeth – White, strong and evenly placed. There is a distinct curve in the jaws between the canines. A tight scissors bite, a tight reverse scissors bite or a level bite are equally acceptable. A slightly undershot bite is acceptable. Eyes – Large, set fairly wide apart, dark brown and may appear black in color, neither prominent nor sunken. Eye rims are dark in color. Ears – Pendant, falling not too close to the head, heavily feathered with a “V” shaped leather proportionate to the head. Faults – Weak pointed muzzle. Any color other than a black nose. Overshot bite or a very undershot bite or a wry mouth. Long narrow head. Lack of fall over the eyes and foreface.

Neck and Body: Neck – Length proportionate to the body and head. Body – Compact, square and strong, capable of both speed and endurance. Topline – The back is level in motion. Chest – Heavily furnished. The brisket extends downward to the top of the elbow in the mature Tibetan Terrier. Ribs – The body is well ribbed up and never cloddy or coarse. The rib cage is not too wide across the chest and narrows slightly to permit the forelegs to work free at the sides. Loin – Slightly arched. Tail – Medium length, heavily furnished, set on fairly high and falls forward over the back, may curl to either side. There may be a kink near the tip.

Forequarters: Shoulders – Sloping, well muscled and well laid back. Legs – Straight and strong when viewed from the front. Heavily furnished. The vertical distance from the withers to the elbow equals the distance from the elbows to the ground. Feet – The feet of the Tibetan Terrier are unique in form among dogs. They are large, flat, and round in shape producing a snowshoe effect that provides traction. The pads are thick and strong. They are heavily furnished with hair between the toes and pads. Hair between the toes and pads may be trimmed level with the underside of the pads for health reasons. The dog should stand well down on its pads. Dewclaws – May be removed

Hindquarters: Legs – Well furnished, with well bent stifles and the hind legs are slightly longer than the forelegs. Thighs – Relatively broad and well muscled. Hocks – Low set and turn neither in nor out. Feet – Same as forefeet. Dewclaws May be removed.

Coat: Double coat. Undercoat is soft and woolly. Outer coat is profuse and fine but never silky or woolly. May be wavy or straight. Coat is long but should not hang to the ground. When standing on a hard surface an area of light should be seen under the dog. The coat of puppies is shorter, single and often has a softer texture than that of adults. A natural part is often present over the neck and back. Fault – Lack of double coat in adults. Sculpturing, scissoring, stripping or shaving are totally contrary to breed type and are serious faults.

Color: Any color or combination of colors including white are acceptable to the breed. There are no preferred colors or combinations of colors.

Gait: The Tibetan Terrier has a free, effortless stride with good reach in front and flexibility in the rear allowing full extension. When gaiting the hind legs should go neither inside nor outside the front legs but should move on the same track approaching single tracking when the dog is moved at a fast trot. The dog with the correct foot and leg construction moves with elasticity and drive indicating that the dog is capable of great agility as well as endurance.

Size: Average weight is 20 to 24 pounds, but the weight range may be 18 to 30 pounds. Proportion of weight to height is far more important than specific weight and should reflect a well-balanced square dog. The average height in dogs is 15 to 16 inches, bitches slightly smaller. The length, measured from the point of shoulder to the root of tail, is equal to the height measured from the highest point of the withers to the ground. Faults – Any height above 17 inches or below 14 inches.

Temperament: The Tibetan Terrier is highly intelligent, sensitive, loyal, devoted and affectionate. The breed may be cautious or reserved. Fault – Extreme shyness.