Tibetan Terriers: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Tibetan Terrier temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Tibetan Terrier dog breed

Tibetan Terrier Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Tibetan Terrier Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


The good-natured Tibetan Terrier is lively and playful, yet also calm and low-key. He is a moderate dog in all respects and can adapt to any home, city or country, so long as he is given brisk daily walks and occasional romps in a safe enclosed area.

He especially enjoys playing in the snow, his large, flat, snowshoe-like feet providing traction, and his long heavy eyelashes protecting his eyes.

He is athletic and agile, a sure-footed climber, and a clever problem-solver who often uses his paws with great adeptness to open doors and hold toys.

Tibetan Terriers are family-oriented: they love to play games and participate in activities with their own people, but most are conservative with strangers. In some individuals, caution can shade into timidity or suspiciousness, so early socialization is important to develop a confident, outgoing temperament.

Most are amiable with other animals, though perhaps a bit bossy. Indeed, the Tibetan Terrier is very stubborn in general and must be shown from Day One that you are in control.


If you want a dog who...

  • Is small to medium-sized, sturdy and shaggy, a natural-looking dog
  • Is a moderate dog in all respects, being lively and playful at times, yet also calm and low-key
  • Makes a good watchdog but is not aggressive with people
  • Is usually amiable with other pets

A Tibetan Terrier may be right for you.


If you don't want to deal with...

  • Suspiciousness or timidity when not socialized enough
  • Stubbornness (mind of his own)
  • Regular brushing and combing
  • "Shaggy dog syndrome," i.e. debris clinging to the coat, water soaking into the beard and dripping on your floors
  • Waiting lists (hard to find)

A Tibetan Terrier may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Tibetan Terrier

If I was considering a Tibetan Terrier, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Stubbornness. Tibetan Terriers have an independent mind of their own and can be stubborn and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    In other words, you must teach your Tibetan Terrier to respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No." Read more about Tibetan Terrier Training.

  2. Providing enough socialization. Standoffish by nature, Tibetan Terriers need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds so that their natural caution doesn't become suspiciousness or shyness.
  3. Grooming. If you leave their coat long, Tibetan Terriers require a lot of brushing and combing (also trimming around their bathroom parts, for sanitary reasons). Consider trimming the coat short to make brushing a snap. Doesn't Ivor the Invincible look handsome in his short coat?
  4. "Shaggy dog syndrome." If you leave the coat long, you should expect leaves, snow, mud, and other debris to cling to it and end up all over your house. When a Tibetan Terrier drinks, his beard absorbs water, which drips on the floor when he walks away. When he eats, his beard absorbs food so that when he sniffs your face or presses his head against your leg, you end up dirty, too. Shaggy dogs are not suited to fastidious housekeepers.
  5. Shedding. Tibetan Terriers are often billed as "non-shedding" or "hypo-allergenic." Neither claim is true. Tibetan Terriers shed. But most of their shed hairs, instead of falling onto the floor, get caught in the long tousled coat. Whereas if you clip the coat short, that outer barrier is removed.

    It's a trade-off, you see. A long coat means much more brushing and messiness, but less hair on your furniture, while a shorter coat means much less brushing and matting and tracked-in debris, but a few more shed hairs on your furniture.

  6. Finding one. This is not a common breed in the United States, so you should expect to go on a waiting list.

To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

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