The Tibetan Terrier originates from the desolate remote land of Tibet situated high up in the Himalayan Mountains in Asia. This very ancient breed has developed to survive the harsh conditions of Tibet with its extremes of weather and terrain. Dogs were kept in the monasteries and used by the nomads to herd and guard their animals. The breed was rarely seen outside of Tibet until Dr. Greig was presented with one as a present for treating a sick Tibetan. She obtained other dogs and brought them back to the United Kingdom in the 1920's. These were bred from and with dog brought from Tibet later, and these formed the basis of the breed as we now see them worldwide. Many pedigrees can be traced back to the original bitch Bunti.
The breed uniquely has large flat feet which provide grip on snow and rocky ground. It also aids the tremendous agility the dogs have. The long hair covering the eyes is protection against the glare of the sun at high altitude and against the frequent dust storms experienced in Tibet. The long thick double coat keeps the dogs dry and warm in the cold winters. The breed is medium in size and should be between 14 and 16 inches tall. It is very sturdy and compact and well muscled.
A full grown dog weighs between 20 and 30 lbs. They are long lived and often live to 15+ years old. They are normally very healthy dogs. All colours occur ranging from black, grey, cream, gold, white and combinations of these. Chocolate colours are occasionally seen but are not suitable as show dogs. Obviously the coat needs plenty of attention to keep it free from mats, but normally only requires a few minutes a day to keep it clear once groomed out.
They will eat most foods, especially what you have left on your plate and are not normally fussy eaters. They do appreciate a long walk but are quite happy with a short one. They are very affectionate dogs and love children and people. A TT is a very good guard and house dog but be warned, they can be noisy. They can be very obedient if trained properly although they are strong willed but they do like to please. A number of people have trained them to do agility with a lot of success. Although called a Tibetan Terrier the breed has no terrier characteristics and is more of a working dog. It is classified in the Utility Group at Shows.
It is important that you only buy a puppy from a responsible breeder, preferably one approved by the Breed Clubs or Kennel Club. These breeders will have taken care to only breed from sound stock that has been tested to make sure they are believed to be free of genetic faults leading to eye disease and hip dysplasia. No guarantee can ever be given as with a lot of breeds but approved breeders will have done their best to make sure their stock is all right. Lists of approved breeders can be obtained from the Secretaries of the Breed Clubs.
Two national clubs currently serve the breed. The Tibetan Terrier Association and the Tibetan Terrier Breeders and Owners Club. Details of contacts can be obtained from the Kennel Club. Both clubs organise shows, educational seminars, fun days, supply help and advice, and keep records of genetic problems in the breed to try and eliminate these. Both clubs run Rescue schemes to rehome unwanted TTs. A number of books have been published about the breed detailing its history and giving advice. Contact the clubs for details. A comprehensive handbook for first time owners is published by the TTA.
REMEMBER it is a privilege to be owned by a Tibetan Terrier and should not be taken lightly. If you are thinking about getting one, find out the name and address of a local breeder from the clubs and go and see the dogs first. Find out about them, discuss things with the breeder and then go away and think about it before taking the plunge. A TT can be hard work but well worth the effort.