Tibetan Terrier

Updated 09 May 2024
Read time: 5 mins
article author
Written by Elle Padgham
Lead Copywriter
article author
Reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon
Team Vet


Breed history

Despite its name, the Tibetan Terrier is not actually a member of the Terrier group. They are recognised by the Kennel Club in the UK within their Companion Dog Group. They are thought to have given rise to the Lhasa Apso, meaning they are a truly ancient dog.

Originating in Tibet, they were owned by monks and used as guard dogs for their monasteries. They were seen as ‘holy dogs’ and were thought to bring luck. As they had such a revered position in society, we can assume that they would have been well taken care of.

General appearance

The Tibetan Terrier is a medium-sized but well-muscled dog that has an impressively shaggy coat. They have dark brown eyes, a black nose and a smiling face. Their body is compact and sturdier than on may assume. Interestingly, they are said to have uniquely flat feet, though these feet should not be splayed. Their tail is carried gaily above their back and has beautiful feathering.

The double coat of the Tibetan Terrier is thick and comes in a range of colours including white, cream and black. While solid coats are common, breed members may also have more than one coat colour.


Given their history as a guard dog, it is little wonder that this breed remains alert and loyal to their owner. Some are sensitive and do not take kindly to criticism. While they can get on well with most people, owners need to make an effort to socialise them during their puppy months.

Some people dislike the fact that these can be a ‘yappy’ dog, though others see this as a positive attribute, especially if they want a dog who will alert them of any strangers coming on to their property.

Tibetan Terrier fanciers appreciate the devotion that this breed shows their owner and they are not one to hold back on affection. Most are very content to sit in their owner’s laps and get stroked, licking their hand as a ‘thank you’ every now and again.

Health considerations 

Tibetan Terriers enjoy relatively good health though there are a number of conditions that we should screen for when breeding these pedigrees. A reputable breeder will always screen their breeding stock and you should be able to view proof of this. Health considerations include:

Eye disorders: There are a number of eye issues that affect this pedigree including glaucoma, cataracts and lens luxation. Any abnormality of the eye (such as squinting, tearing or swelling) requires urgent veterinary assessment. The vet will examine the eye with an ophthalmoscope and may stain it to check for ulcers, check its tear production and measure the pressure within the eye.

Diabetes Mellitus: Signs of diabetes can include an excessive thirst and hunger, weight loss and chronic urinary tract infections. This endocrine disorder is easily diagnosed with blood and urine tests. Most dogs are managed with a diet change and daily insulin injections. It is important that diabetics are routinely monitored and this will mean frequent vet checks.

Hip Dysplasia: While smaller dogs seem to suffer less with the effects of hip dysplasia, it is a painful and debilitating orthopaedic disease to live with. The initial signs may be subtle and can include a mild limp in the back end, ‘bunny hopping’ when at a run and sitting with the legs out to the side. This condition can be diagnosed with X-rays. While most affected dogs are medically managed, surgeries may be offered in some cases. For example, a Total Hip Replacement might be an option for those with extensive hip disease.

Hypothyroidism: The signs of an underactive thyroid tend to come on insidiously and are often mistaken for normal signs of aging. We may notice that an affected dog keeps getting infections, struggles to lose weight and has a lower than normal heart rate. A blood test will determine that there is a low level of thyroid hormone (T4) circulating in the blood. Importantly, other diseases can cause this so we need to assess the patient as well as their bloodwork.


Though some Tibetan Terriers can be sensitive and/or stubborn, this dog tends to be relatively easy to train. They are not especially prone to behavioural issues and enjoy a close relationship with their owner, listening well to the commands given to them.


The long and dense coat of the Tibetan Terrier should not be neglected and they require regular grooming. Owners should brush them at least daily and should check them all over for ticks, burrs and other objects that may be hidden in their fur at the end of every day.

Most owners choose to clip their Tibetan Terrier short, to avoid having mats and keep them more comfortable in hotter months.


This dog is easy going when it comes to exercise. While most will be happy to tag along on a long hike or jog, they don’t have an insatiable appetite for exercise. Some days they will run around for hours, while others they may spend most of their day relaxing indoors. 

Feeding Considerations

Given their stocky frame, Tibetan Terriers generally do well on a high protein diet. As with other dogs, they benefit from fresh and digestible ingredients. Dry kibble is a good option to promote dental health and to keep their facial fur clean and tidy. A good choice for most would be the Pooch & Mutt Superfood kibble. These diets are enriched with nutrients such as prebiotics and joint supplements to keep your dog in tip top shape.


You'll find a handy feeding calculator on every product page here at Pooch & Mutt to help you identify how much of our health led recipes are right for the age, size and weight of your dog.

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