About Tibbies


The Tibetan Spaniel is nothing if not an enigma—a contradiction in terms that challenges pre-conceived notions.  He defies categorization.  He is small but not delicate, devoted but not slavish, sensitive but not temperamental, beautiful but not flashy. He questions our authority, teases our intellect, and tweaks our hearts.


This page is made up of excerpts from The Tibetan Spaniel – A Gift from the Roof of the World.


The overall impression given by the Tibetan Spaniel is elegance without exaggeration…a study in moderation—From What Makes a Tibbie a Tibbie?

…the ideal weight range is between nine and fifteen pounds…height is ten inches, more or less, at the shoulder.  Ideally, he is longer than he is tall, so that, when viewed from the side, his outline is rectangular…only slightly longer than tall…—From Size and Proportion

The Tibbie has a double coat… two layers: a short layer close to the skin to insulate and a longer overlay of hair to keep water and dirt away from the skin… As the puppy matures, longer hair grows from the ear leathers (fringes), around the neck (mane or shawl, on the back of the forelegs, from the tops of the toes and between the pads (gloves or toe fringes), and from the buttocks (trousers, skirts or culottes).  The plume of the tail also fills out and lengthens….—From Coat

A Tibbie’s coat comes in all colors: black, white, gold, cream, red, or silver (gray or blue) and all shades of these colors—From Coloring and Marking

Since it gives him his characteristic monkey face, the head is the most distinctive of the Tibbie’s features. The skull is slightly rounded… the muzzle looks firmly attached to the skull but not pushed into it.  The best muzzles are medium-length… and blunt, rather than tapered or pointed…  The ideal eyes are oval-shaped—From Head

Ideally, the Tibbies’ forelegs are slightly bowed….  The perfect Tibbie paw is called a harefoot. Since the middle toes… are longer than the outside toes, the Tibbie paw appears elongated and flat-footed rather than rounded and arched… Tibbies are sure-footed and often use their forepaws like hands—From Body Features

When excited or happy, a Tibbie lifts his ears, rounds his eyes and “smiles.”  His expressive face communicates eloquently—From Head



While listening to people describe the Tibetan Spaniel’s personality, I am struck with how often they juxtapose seemingly contradictory adjectives.  In the same breath, Tibbies are characterized as endearing but exasperating, dignified but clownish, affectionate but manipulative, enchanting but stubborn, and smart but mischievous.  They are likened to a “big dog in a small body” and then called “cat-like”… It is his very complexity, tinged with inscrutability, that his owners find fascinating and, at the same time, challenging—From Personality

“They’re all so different!” is a comment often made by people who own several Tibbies.  Just as variety in the Tibetan Spaniel’s appearance defies a cookie-cutter description, a blend of intelligence, independence, intuitiveness, sensitivity and affection puts an individualistic spin on each Tibbie’s personality—From Individuality

“Biggles” (J. Marjason Stamp) displays his “tibbitude”

There is a wonderful saying that a Tibetan Spaniel is dog, cat and monkey, all rolled into one.  It is a good way to describe the breed’s enigmatic personality.  He possesses the faithfulness and watchfulness of the dog, the independence and curiosity of the cat, and the cleverness and mischievousness of the monkey—From Dog-Cat-Monkey

Intelligence is usually defined as the ability to solve problems.  The Tibetan Spaniel is highly intelligent.  In fact, owners sometimes remark that their Tibbies are “too intelligent” and explain using verbs such as “plan,” “scheme,” “figure out,” or “manipulate”…From Intelligence

Tibbies are highly communicative dogs…[they] vocalize with a variety of grunts, chirps, squeals, trills and whines—From Tibbie Talk


“Darcy” Aust Supreme Ch Aztlon Rioli (Imp NZ) greets “Yabs” Aust Ch Fernybrook Melissa Rose (P. Dunlop)

If any breed deserves “I Did It My Way” as its theme song, it is the Tibetan Spaniel—From Independence

When first meeting a stranger, a Tibbie may respond with an aloof rebuff—refusing eye contact and turning away slightly or even turning up his nose…Aloofness is just another outward sign of independence.  Once his owner assures him that the stranger is acceptable, the Tibbie’s sociability soon overwhelms his independence—From Sociability

Owners universally agree that the Tibetan Spaniel forms a bond (or as one says, a “mind meld”) with you.  He instinctively knows what you are feeling and thinking…In fact, the breed’s success in therapy work is ascribed to the ability to sense and respond to human emotion.  If Tibbies were human, we would label them as compassionate or tender-hearted—From Intuitiveness and Sensitivity


“Eos” Strømkarlens Eos  (A. G. Thy)

According to tradition, the Tibetan Spaniel in Tibet surveyed the surrounding countryside from atop the roofs of monasteries or houses.  Owners universally agree that their Tibbies gravitate to high places where they patiently watch for, well, whatever catches their interest.  Every Tibbie owner in the world can tell a story about his or her Tibbies’ love of heights, whether he perches atop a sofa or walks up a mountain, or…climbs a tree—From Acrophilia (Love of Heights)