The Tibetan Spaniel, often affectionately called Tibbies, is an ancient breed that hails from the high Himalayan region of Tibet. It's believed to be one of the oldest breeds, with a history that dates back more than 2000 years. Tibetan Spaniels were primarily bred by the Buddhist monks in Tibetan monasteries, who valued these small dogs for their keen eyesight and ability to see long distances, making them excellent lookout dogs. They were also revered as good luck charms and sometimes given as precious gifts to royal houses and influential individuals.
Tibetan Spaniels can suffer from degenerative myelopathy, progressive rod-cone degeneration, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA-3), and adult-onset neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL-12). They may also be affected by patellar luxation, a condition in which the dog's kneecap is dislocated from its normal position.
Tibetan Spaniels are known for their intelligent, independent, and assertive demeanor. They are affectionate with their family and tend to be wary of strangers, which makes them good watchdogs. Despite their small size, they have a large personality and can be quite adventurous. These dogs are generally sociable and get along well with other animals. They are also known for their love of high places, often perching themselves on the highest point they can reach in a room, much like a cat.
Despite its name, the Tibetan Spaniel is not a true spaniel. Its name is somewhat misleading, as spaniels are typically gun dogs, while the "Tibbie" is more similar to other Oriental breeds such as the Pekingese and the Japanese Chin.
These dogs were often kept on monastery walls in Tibet, where they would spin prayer wheels with their paws and bark to warn the monks of incoming visitors or dangers.
Tibetan Spaniels are sometimes called "little lions" due to their mane-like coat around their neck and their confident, assertive demeanor.