Tibetan Spaniel Mobile

Tibetan Spaniel

Happy, assertive and highly intelligent, the Tibetan Spaniel has been a prized companion in his native Tibet since 1100 B.C. Small, alert and active, Tibetan Spaniels are outgoing and friendly but may be aloof with strangers. Moderate exercise is suggested, and weekly brushing is needed for the breed’s double coat.

DID YOU KNOW? Tibetan Spaniels were nicknamed “little lions” by Buddhist monks, which gave them great prestige as lions were sacred.


The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Basic training required
  • Enjoys gentle walks
  • Enjoys walking half an hour a day
  • Small dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • Great with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Pet Card

  • Living Considerations: Good with children, Suitable for apartment living, Not hypoallergenic
  • Size: Small
  • Height: Approximately 25 centimetres at the shoulders
  • Weight: 4 to 7 kilograms
  • Coat: Medium
  • Energy: Medium
  • Colour: Any colour or mixture of colours
  • Activities: Agility, Conformation, Obedience, Rally Obedience
  • Indoor/Outdoor: Indoor

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Weight:  7 – 9kg 
Height:  around 25cm
Colours:   The coat comes in all colours and combinations
Size:  Small 
UK Kennel Club Groups: Utility 


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 4/5
Energy level: 3/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 3/5


Alert and active, the Tibetan Spaniel may be reserved with strangers, yet completely loyal to family. As a companion breed they do not like to be separated from their owner or family, and this is something they must be trained to cope with and even then something they may always struggle with. They have a natural tendency remains to alert owners to whatever is occurring, and this breed trait should not be ignored as they can be extremely vocal.

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Tibet

Bred in Tibet by the monks to act as watchdogs within the monasteries, the Tibetan Spaniel is a spaniel in name only, they have no genetic link to the gundog spaniels, but most likely took the name as they slightly resemble the toy spaniel types.  

In their original role as watchdogs, the Tibetan Spaniel would climb walls to seek out high vantage points from which to watch, and bark an alarm should someone approach. This behaviour can still be seen in modern Tibetans, whose owners will frequently find them on worktops, table tops and window sills. No, they cannot levitate, they are just extremely gifted climbers! 

It is also possible the Tibetan Spaniel performed another function for the monks, in turning the prayer-drums that contained the prayer on a scroll. Each rotation counted as a prayer ‘said’ and this extra duty would give one reason why the Tibetan Monks had several small breeds that worked for them.

Health and Common Issues

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Tibetan Spaniel

Training Tibetan Spaniel

Best Family Dog Breeds

Did You Know?

  • Tibetan Spaniels, or at least dogs that look very like them, appear in art that dates to 1100BC – this makes the breed around 3000 years old. It is possible they are the ancestors of the Pekingese and the Lhasa Apso.
  • They were once referred to as ‘little lions’ which was a great honour as lions are sacred in Buddhism. 
  • In Tibet they’re called ‘Simkhyi’, meaning ‘housedog’, ‘room dog’ or ‘bedroom dog’. 
  • Tibetan Spaniels were only ever gifted and never sold, most often to leaders in China or other Buddhist countries. 
  • It’s said that this breed helps Lamas with spiritual practices and will often sit next to them or on their lap during meditation. 

Finding a dog

Labrador lying next to the sofa
Finding a pet
Is this the right breed for you?
All dogs have their own unique personality! Try our Dog Breed Selector tool and find out which dog breeds better match your preferences and lifestyle.
Puppy walking next to owner on a lead
Finding a pet
Thinking about getting a puppy?
Join Growing Pup for help from our Purina experts on how to find the right puppy and prepare for your new arrival, as well as a discount off one of our puppy ranges.
Dog with red collar sitting next to the owner
Finding a pet
Finding a good breeder
If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Find out what to look for in a puppy breeder with this guide.
Dog with red collar
Finding a pet
Welcoming your dog home
While you're waiting for the big day you may need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort our before you welcome your new arrival.
Dog with red collar lying
It's incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organisation. It often means offering them a second chance at life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family and their forever home, but what can you expect from the process?
Dog with red collar looking out the window
Puppy advice
Everything you need to know
Getting a new puppy is incredibly exciting for all the family, but it can be quite scary for your new pup. Find out how to deal with everything from behaviour to health questions with our expert puppy advice.
Owner checking dogs collar
Finding a pet
Benefits of having a dog
It's known far and wide that dogs are man's best friend, but did you know that there's actually numerous benefits of having a dog? From helping you to get fit to meeting new people, your puppy can actually help to improve your health and social life. Keep reading to discover the benefits of dogs!