Introducing the Tibetan Terrier
The origin of the Tibetan Terrier is shrouded in mystery. Although the breed is said to have existed for over 2,000 years; record-keeping began in the 1930's. It is believed that they originally came from the region which is called "The Lost Valley of Tibet." Heads of monasteries visiting the valley prior to the great earthquake, which took place over 600 years ago, and which destroyed the road leading to the valley, were given a Tibetan Terrier upon their departure as a gift to bring "peace and prosperity" to their respective monasteries. Eventually the name "peace-bringer," became "luck-bringer." Later they were awarded as gifts to those who performed a great service or earned the gratitude of a Tibetan Terrier owner.
Tibetan Terriers became so highly prized that the dogs were hidden from strangers and the owners denied all knowledge of their existence. After the early monastery dogs, they began to appear in Tibetan households, where they were equally cherished and treated as children where the name given to them was "little people." As they became more readily available, they soon joined the nomads and became a part of the caravans. Because it was believed that they brought good luck, and because they performed numerous duties, the dogs became very useful and earned strong qualities of perseverance and intelligence whilst living in the harsh existence of the nomadic tribes.
Description of a Tibetan Terrier
The Tibetan Terrier evolved over many centuries, surviving in Tibet's extreme climate and difficult terrain. The breed developed a protective double coat, compact size, unique foot structure and great agility.
They are a medium sized dog and falls into 50-50- proportions. That is, his body is as long as he is tall; his skull is half muzzle and half head, measuring from the tip of the nose to the corner of the eye and from the corner of the eye to the top of the head. When looked at straight-on, his eyes are in the center of his head, much as a human's eyes are in the center of their head.
He is profusely coated, powerfully built, with a well-feathered tail that curls up and falls over his back. A fall of hair covers his eyes and fore-face. When viewed from the side, he is a well proportioned, compact square dog. His lower jaw has a small beard and his nose should be black. The mouth has three acceptable closures, with the scissors bite preferred by most; a tight reverse scissors bite (undershot) and a level bite are equally acceptable in the standard.
The reverse scissors bite must never be faulted, as it plays an important part in avoiding snipeyness. The teeth should fall into a distinct curve between the canines. The eyes should be dark, set wide apart, and eye rims should also be dark.
His neck is proportionate to the body and the head. The chest and legs should be heavily furnished. His shoulders should be sloping, well muscled and well laid back. The legs are straight and strong when viewed from the front. The feet make the Tibetan Terrier unique; they are large, flat and round, producing a snowshoe effect. For show purposes, the standard demands that the foot be trimmed level, if at all. The hind legs are heavily furnished and slightly longer than the forelegs. Hocks are low set and turn neither in or out. Dewclaws are usually removed. The Tibetan Terrier has a free, effortless stride with good reach allowing full extension. When gaiting, the hind legs should go neither inside nor outside the front legs, but should move on the same track, approaching single tracking when the dog is moving at a fast trot. He is also a dog of remarkable speed and could possible rank with the fastest of dogs.
The coat is described as double with the undercoat soft and woolly; the other coat is either wavy or straight, never curly. The coat should not hang to the ground; an area of light should be seen under the dog. Sculpturing, scissoring, stripping and shaving are contrary to the breed and are serious faults, although one sees more and more of this in the show ring.
For ease of the care and for household pets, the coat is of such texture that a professional groomer is able to put him in any kind of pattern. The coat color is also unique in the world of dogs. Every color or color combination is represented. There is no preferred colors or color combinations.
The size of the Tibetan Terrier ranges from 20-24 pounds, but may be 18 to 30 pounds. The proportion of weight to height is more important than the specific weight. It should reflect a well balanced square dog. The height of the dog is 15 to 16 inches with bitches slightly smaller; the ideal is 14 to 16 inches at the shoulder. Any height above 17 inches or below 14 inches is a serious fault.
The Tibetan Terrier is highly intelligent, sensitive, loyal, devoted and affectionate. The breed may be cautious or reserved. Extreme shyness is a fault.
Living with a Tibetan Terrier
No one really "owns" a Tibetan Terrier. They are charming little creatures with an engaging personality, which they use to the limit. One must assume that the primary function of the Tibetan Terrier in Tibet was not just as a companion, but also that he had to earn his keep. He is reported to be the foundation of the Puli (Hungarian Sheepdog), which is known as one of the most intelligent dogs in the world. He is one of the best guard dogs in existence. He is a natural retriever. He will sit at a gopher hole for hours without moving, waiting for the little fellow to pop is head out of the hole. Tibetan Terriers have been seen pointing and flushing birds. Their ability to scale deep slopes is outstanding, and there have been pictures of them sitting on fences and in trees, which must certainly reflect their native heritage. Living with a Tibetan Terrier is truly like living with a friend. They all embody unique personalities and are very adaptable when it comes to growing into the family they live with.
The climate, the terrain, the difficult harsh living conditions and the never-ending search for food in Tibet made him "the dog for all seasons." Now we put companionship at the top of the list. Here is where the Tibetan Terrier shines. He is a family dog. He wants to be with you. Your home is his castle. Everything becomes his own - the house, the yard, and especially the car. The car is his very own and he permits you to chauffeur him about. He loves to travel (his heritage?). He wants to know what you are doing and why you are doing it. He can be extremely stubborn and will tax you to the limit at times. He is best handled with persuasion and positive reinforcement, not punishment. He is not a dog to sit in the backyard and laze, although he adapts to your schedule. He loves companionship and is spirited by your friendly behavior within the family and with other people. He is a born clown and a traffic stopper. Although he is a healthy dog with a life span to 14 to 16 years, he is not exempt from some of the same afflictions that affect other breeds. Cases of hip dysplasia, hernias, subluxed patellas, progressive retinal atrophy and lens luxation have occurred, and dedicated breeders are selective in planning their breeding and genetic lineage accordingly. These dogs can be extremely sensitive to fleas and susceptible to skin irritations caused by fleas. The altitude in Tibet from which they came was 12,000 to 14,000 feet, where fleas cannot live, thus no immunity was formed.