Tibetan Spaniel: An Overview of the Playful Breed

Published March 12, 2021
Tibetan Spaniel dog outdoors

Holy men developed the Tibetan spaniel more than 2,000 years ago. This breed is also known as the "lion dog" and bred to guard monasteries. The little lion dog is said to bring good luck to pet parents.

Tibetan Spaniel Breed Overview

Many dog breeds of the Himalayan area, including the Tibetan spaniel, are associated with Buddhism. This little spaniel stood on monasteries' exterior walls and, when necessary, would sound an alarm and turn prayer wheels. With this in mind, this dog is not a true spaniel! The monks named this breed after the lapdog version of hunting spaniels, such as the Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

Origin and History

The Tibetan spaniel is an ancient Asian breed frequently given as gifts to ambassadors visiting China. The 'gifts' helped the breed gain popularity across the world. The lion dog arrived in England in 1898 and about 70 years later in the U.S. In 1960, the breed was recognized by the England Kennel Club.


This breed is sensitive, intelligent, and devoted to his family members. Tibetan spaniels are friendly with other pets and children. The dog does let family owners know when a stranger is approaching.


The breed's coat is double, silky in nature, moderate length, straight, and flat.

  • Coat color: This breed is available in any color. The typical color is golden with black points.
  • Height: The lion dog is 10 inches tall.
  • Weight: The Tibetan spaniel weighs between nine and 15 pounds.
Tibetan Spaniel on yellow sand


The breed's coat requires minimal combing and brushing to maintain the silky texture.


The Tibetan spaniel is happy to run around a yard and play. This active dog needs one brisk daily walk with his pet parents.

Health Issues

The Tibetan spaniel is a generally healthy breed but prone to a few genetic diseases.

  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Patellar luxation
Tibetan Spaniel dog

Small Breed Diet

Most small breeds benefit from a diet designed for little dogs. Always feed your small breed and Tibetan spaniel a diet with high-quality ingredients. Pet parents need to watch a dog's weight as you do not want your small breed to become obese.

Caring for Your Senior Tibetan Spaniel

This dog's lifespan is over 12 years. Every small senior breed needs to see the vet at least twice a year. A vet may need to do lab work, prescribe joint supplements or pain medications for achy joints.

Top Tibetan Spaniel Mixes

The breed is relatively rare, but a Tibetan spaniel mix may be a good choice for pet parents.

  • Tibalier: Tibetan Spaniel and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Tibetanpei Spaniel: Tibetan Spaniel and Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Tibetan Chin: Tibetan Spaniel and Japanese Chin
  • Tibetan Spaltese: Tibetan Spaniel and Maltese
  • Tibetan Pap: Tibetan Spaniel and Papillon
Tibetan spaniel resting in lawn

Monks Bred the Tibetan Spaniel

Bred and owned by the monks of Tibet, the Tibetan spaniel was first brought to the United Kingdom around 1900 by returning medical missionaries. The dog's exact ancestry is lost as he was introduced to the Western world relatively recently in the early nineteenth century.

The Little "Lion Dog" Is Not a True Spaniel

The Tibetan spaniel is a loyal and obedient companion animal. This little breed was developed in Tibetan monasteries and is probably not a spaniel! The dog is an excellent family companion and friendly with other pets. If you are interested in puppies, reach out to a breeder at the Tibetan Spaniel Club of America.

Trending on LoveToKnow
Tibetan Spaniel: An Overview of the Playful Breed