According to the AKC...

One of the three native Tibetan breeds in the Non-Sporting group (along with the Lhasa Apso and the Tibetan Terrier), the Tibetan Spaniel is small, active and alert. They are low to the ground, with a body slightly longer than tall. Popular primarily as companion dogs in their native Tibet, "Tibbies" are also now found in the conformation, obedience and agility rings in the United States. The breed can be all colors including cream, gold and sable, with white markings allowed on the feet.

Found in early Eastern art dating back as far as 1100 BC, Tibetan Spaniels were prized as pets and companions in Tibetan monasteries. Referred to as "Little Lions" by their masters, they would sit on monastery walls and keep watch over the countryside below, barking to alert the monastery inhabitants of any impending trouble. The breed's development was influenced by dogs from China and other Buddhist countries, as Tibbies were sent between the countries as gifts.

AKC Tibetan Spaniel Standard

General Appearance

Should be small, active and alert. The outline should give a well balanced appearance,slightly longer in body than the height at withers. Fault - Coarseness of type.

Size, Proportion, Substance

Height about 10 inches. Body slightly longer from the point of shoulder to root of tail than the height at withers. Weight 9-15 pounds being ideal. Faults - Long bodied or low to ground; leggy or square.


Small in proportion to body and proudly carried, giving an impression of quality. Masculine in dogs but free from coarseness. Eyes dark brown in color, oval in shape, bright and expressive, of medium size set fairly well apart but forward looking, giving an apelike expression. Eye rims black. Faults - Large full eyes; light eyes; mean expression, blue eyes, or eyes with bluemarks. Ears medium size, pendant, well feathered in the adult and set fairly high. They may have a slight lift from the skull, but should not fly. Large, heavy, low set ears are not typical. Skull slightly domed, moderate width and length. Faults - Very domed or flat wide skull. Stop moderately defined. Medium length of muzzle, blunt with cushioning, free from wrinkle. The chin should show some depth and width. Faults - Accentuated stop; long, plain down face, without stop; broad flat muzzle; pointed, weak or wrinkled muzzle. Black nose preferred. Faults Liver or putty-colored pigmentation. Mouth ideally slightly undershot, the upper incisors fitting neatly inside and touching the lower incisors. Teeth should be evenly placed and the lower jaw wide between the canine tusks. A level mouth is permissible, providing there is sufficient width and depth of chin to preserve the blunt appearance of the muzzle. Teeth should not show when mouth is closed. Faults - Overshot mouth; protruding tongue. A bite that is so severely undershot, that the lower teeth are exposed.

Neck, Topline, Body

Neck moderately short, strong and well set on. Level back. Well ribbed with good depth. Tail set high, richly plumed and carried in a gay curl over the back when moving. Should not be penalized for dropping tail when standing.


Shoulders well placed and firm. When viewed from the front, the bones of the forearms are slightly bowed to allow the front feet to fall beneath the shoulders. Moderate bone. Faults-Extremely bowed or straight forearms, as viewed from front. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet - Small, hare foot. Fault - Cat feet.


Well made and strong. Stifle well developed, showing moderate angulation. Hocks well let down and straight when viewed from behind. Faults - Straight stifle; cow hocks. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet as in front.


Double coat, silky in texture, smooth on face and front of legs, of moderate length on body, but lying rather flat. Ears and back of forelegs nicely feathered, tail and buttocks well furnished with longer hair. Neck covered with a mane or "shawl" of longer hair which is more pronounced in dogs than bitches. Feathering on toes, often extending beyond the feet. Should not be over-coated and bitches tend to carry less coat and mane than dogs.

Presentation - In the show ring it is essential the Tibetan Spaniel be presented in an unaltered condition with the coat lying naturally with no teasing, parting or stylizing of the hair. Specimens where the coat has been altered by trimming, clipping, or by artificial means shall be so severely penalized as to be effectively eliminated from competition. Dogs with such a long coat that there is no rectangle of daylight showing beneath, or so profuse that it obstructs the natural outline, are to be severely penalized. Whiskers are not to be removed. Hair growing between the pads on the underside of the feet may be trimmed for safety and cleanliness. Feathering on toes must not be trimmed.


All colors, and mixtures of colors allowed.


Quick moving, straight, free, positive.


Gay and assertive, highly intelligent, aloof with strangers. Fault - Nervousness.