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rec.pets.dogs: Tibetan Terriers Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/tibetan-t
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Last-modified: 26 Feb 2002

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                              Tibetan Terriers
   This FAQ document is maintained by Steve Layten; originally submitted
   to Rec.Pets.Dogs.Info in October, 1995. Copyright (c) 1995, 1996,
   1997, 1998 Steve Layten and Sue Mechem. All rights reserved.
   Permission to make multiple copies is hereby granted to nonprofit dog
   clubs, humane societies, animal shelters, and rescue organizations,
   provided this copyright statement and the article remain intact.
   Check / page for the rec.pets.dogs FAQ
     * Corrected new address for Tibetan mailing list (CTM)
     * Corrected link to AKC page for Tibetan Terrier (SWL)
     * Updated publication section with info from readers (SWL)
     * Updated TTCA Secretary name (SWL)
     * Added paragraph about rescue (SWL)
     * Updated TTCA info and added link (SWL)
     * Updated Breeder Referral, TTCA Secretary, & added mailing list
     * Updated TTCA web site, CVTTC officers, rescue.
     * Updated Publication information (SWL).
Table Of Contents

     * Description
     * Native History
     * History in the Western World
     * Frequently Asked Questions
          + Why are they called terriers?
          + Are they easy to train?
          + Are they healthy?
          + Are they easy to care for?
          + Are they good with children and strangers?
          + How do I get one?
          + How do I find a breeder?
          + What do I want? Show? Pet? Male? Female?
          + What should I expect from the breeder?
          + Is there a rescue organization for Tibetan Terriers?
     * Other Information Sources
          + Publications
          + Tibetan-Breeds Mailing List
          + Tibetan-Terrier Mailing List
          + Tibetan Terrier Club of America
          + Cuyahoga Valley Tibetan Terrier Club

   The Tibetan Terrier is a rare, mid-sized (20-25 lbs.) shaggy dog which
   comes in a wide variety of colors including black, white, silver,
   cream, golden and sable in solid, parti-color, and tri-color
   combinations. He is small enough to live comfortably in an apartment
   and share your bed or chair, yet large enough to enjoy a long hike or
   romp with kids. Owners often describe them as a large dog in a small
   dog's body.
   In their native Tibet, where they have always lived close to people,
   they are called Little People. Their English-speaking friends usually
   call them Tibetans or TT's.
   The Tibetan's most obvious feature is the long, slightly wavy coat
   which covers him from his nose to the tip of the tail he carries up
   over his back and even between the pads of his large, flat
   snowshoe-like feet. The heavy coat protected him from the harsh
   winters of his homeland where temperatures remain far below zero for
   weeks on end; long heavy eyelashes hold the hair out of his eyes yet
   lets it protect them from the snow-blindness in the winter and blowing
   sand in the summer. The coat has no odor and shedding is minimal.
   Under all that hair, his body is quite solid and should look square.
   Like people, Tibetans come in a variety of personalities. Although
   often aloof with people he does not know, TT's normally have a great
   zest for life and like to participate fully in family activities. In
   general, they are intensely family oriented and often will form an
   extremely close bond with one special person in the family. Most are
   intensely curious and many will easily jump more than twice their
   height or climb, using their paws like hands, to investigate something
   they find interesting.
Native History

   According to legend, the Tibetan Terrier originated in the Lost Valley
   of Tibet over 2000 years ago. They were raised in the monasteries and
   were never sold but might be given to someone who had done the lamas a
   favor or to a visiting dignitary; this association with the
   monasteries gave them the name Holy Dog of Tibet. They also became
   known as the Good Luck Dog or Luck Bringer as they were also given to
   those about to embark on dangerous journeys or caravans; the
   traveler's safety was ensured as no one would harm anyone fortunate
   enough to have been given a Tibetan Terrier. The present Dalai Lama
   took his Tibetan Terrier, "Senge," with him when he was forced to
   leave Tibet.
   There is also evidence that TT's were used to herd as well as to
   retrieve articles that tumbled down the steep rocky mountains into
   crevices. The breed is very sure-footed and they are powerful jumpers;
   they would be well suited for such tasks.
In the Western World

   Dr. Agnes R. H. Greig, an English Doctor, is the person who
   established the breed in both India and England. While in India, she
   was given a Tibetan Terrier puppy by a nobleman on whose wife the
   doctor had performed surgery. Dr. Greig was charmed by "Bunty" and
   fortunately was able to procure a mate for her; she subsequently
   persuaded the Indian Kennel Club to recognize the breed in the 1920's.
   In the 1930's Dr. Greig began her Lamleh Kennels, establishing the
   breed in England where it was accepted by the Kennel Club of England
   in 1937. Dr. Greig continued her tireless efforts breeding and
   promoting Tibetan Terriers until her death in 1972. She kept a tight
   rein on her breeding stock and it was not until the mid-1950's that a
   few other breeders began to emerge using Dr. Greig's stock and a few
   other imports certified by the English Kennel Club. Among the first
   were John and Connie Downey's Luneville Kennels and Emmie Manual's
   Skellfield Kennels.
   In 1956 Dr. Henry and Mrs. Alice Murphy of Great Falls Virginia
   imported Gremlin Cortina ("Girlie") from Dr. Greig. They imported a
   mate for her in 1957 and established their Kalai Kennels. Alice Murphy
   had been involved with purebred dogs since childhood and devoted the
   last 20 years of her life to the establishment of her beloved breed in
   the US. and Canada.
   The Murphys set up the Tibetan Terrier Club of America in 1957 to act
   as the official registry for the breed as well as to encourage
   ownership, promote careful breeding and to protect the interests of
   the breed in the US and Canada. In 1963 the American Kennel Club
   admitted the breed to the Miscellaneous Class permitting owners to
   exhibit their dogs. After ten more years of hard work promoting the
   breed by the Murphys and a growing core group of fanciers, the breed
   was admitted to registration by the American Kennel Club effective
   May, 1973 and to regular (championship) show classification in the
   Non-Sporting group effective Oct. 3, 1973.
Frequently Asked Questions

   Why are they called terriers?
     When the English first started to classify dogs all small dogs were
     called terriers. Now the Terrier (from terre meaning ground) Group
     is composed only of dogs bred to hunt vermin from the ground. The
     TT never rooted game (though some show very creative gardening
     instincts as they satisfy their curiosity!) nor does it have the
     peppery disposition associated with the true terrier.
   Are they easy to train? 
     Tibetans are very quick learners and can learn to avoid doing
     things just as quickly as they learn how to do them - causing some
     owners to think their dog is slow. When training TT's one must
     remember they are very self-reliant and can have a very independent
     turn of mind. However, they are extremely eager to please; the key
     to successful training is earning both their love and their respect
     for you as leader.
   Are they healthy?
     The Tibetan is a very hardy breed and is considered long-lived with
     most living well beyond 12 years and many to 15 or 16 years. There
     are some defects found in the general dog population found in the
     Tibetan Terrier. Conscientious breeders screen their stock and can
     explain these problems and their incidence: hip dysplasia, patella
     luxation, hernias, progressive retinal atrophy, lens luxation and
     As with all dogs, Tibetans should have regular check-ups and yearly
     boosters for rabies, distemper, parvo and other contagious
   Are they easy to take care of?
     The TT is not a particularly high energy dog; he normally adapts to
     the lifestyle and pace of his owners, particularly upon maturity.
     The TT must be groomed on a regular basis and, to keep in good
     shape, this means a good weekly brushing. Combed, their coat
     protects them just as our clothes protect us; uncombed the coat
     becomes an unremovable wool jacket. Puppies shed their soft "puppy
     coat" while growing their adult double coat. During this "blow,"
     which may last for several days or several weeks, they need more
     frequent grooming and may appear to mat up overnight. A skilled
     groomer can comb out the undercoat or trim a TT in a variety of
     cute styles but he will look very different.
   Are they good with children? Strangers?
     Most Tibetans are more playful and outgoing with their families
     than with strangers. However, a puppy's personality depends partly
     on how it is raised - one who has met many people and faced lots of
     new situations in his first few months of life will be more
     outgoing than one who did not. A TT who does not wish to socialize
     will normally turn his back and go off by himself.
   How do I get one? 
     Try, if you can, to visit a breeder so you can meet at least one of
     the parents, litter mates and possibly other TT's. If you cannot
     visit, then get to know the breeder as well as you can by phone and
     mail. Most breeders want to know the people who buy their pups and
     are glad to talk about their puppies and older dogs. Remember,
     however, they may be busy people with things to do; try to keep
     conversations to the point and keep any appointments you make to
   How do I find a breeder?
     Most breeders find homes by word of mouth. Many have waiting lists
     and do not need to advertise.
     Breeders lists are maintained by several local Tibetan Terrier
     Clubs, by the Tibetan Terrier Club of America and many all-breed
     clubs. The American Kennel Club (AKC) will furnish names and
     addresses of breeders. Dog show catalogs list the names and
     addresses of all the exhibitors, some of whom may have or know of
     available pups or adults. In some areas of the country TT's are
     occasionally advertised in the newspaper. Several national dog
     magazines carry ads for all breeds.
   What do I want? Show? Pet? Male? Female?
     If you hope to show or breed, you want a dog of excellent quality.
     Study the most recent (1987) STANDARD, a description of the ideal
     Tibetan approved by both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the
     Tibetan Terrier Club of America. Try to see several Tibetans and
     compare them to the Standard and to each other before you purchase
     one. Do be fair to the breed and the breeder and tell him what you
     expect of your dog. It is in the best interest of the Tibetan
     Terrier - and costs no more in time or money - to breed only the
     top quality. Some breeders insist their best pups should be shown;
     others are willing to place them in pet homes. A pet quality TT
     (one who deviates from the Standard) can be just as good a
     companion as a show dog.
     There is no reason to prefer males or females. TT boys are
     unusually loving and many even enjoy watching and caring for
     puppies. Neutering either gender results in better health in the
     long term and eliminates medical and behavioral problems associated
     with the reproductive cycle.
   What should I expect from the breeder?
     You should receive an up-to-date veterinarian's health certificate
     and medical record listing all inoculations, worming and other
     treatment the dog has received. You should receive clear, written
     instructions on feeding and care.
     You should receive AKC registration papers which may be the "blue
     form" initially issued for each puppy in a litter or an "individual
     white form" with the dog's registered name. Pets are often soled
     with a "limited registration" - a special form for dogs who are not
     to be bred or shown in competition. You should insist on a bill of
     sale listing the breed, breeder, sex, color, birth date and
     registered names and numbers of the parents, particularly if AKC
     papers are not available for any reason.
     Conscientious breeders can show you proof that both parents have
     had their hips X-rayed upon maturity and their eyes have been
     cleared by a canine ophthalmologist within the past year.
     Most breeders give you a pedigree or "family tree". A contract
     which guarantees your new friend's basic health for an extended
     period of time indicates the breeder's willingness to help you, if
     necessary, down the road. Many breeders also give you some of the
     food the pup has been eating and a leash and/or collar.
   Is there a rescue organization for Tibetan Terriers? 
     The Tibetan Terrier Club of America has a rescue committee the
     chair of which is Anette Ohman (, and the
     position of National Coordinator is currently unfilled. Like other
     breed rescue organizations, they try to find good homes for Tibetan
     Terriers whose owners can no longer care for them. For a discussion
     of what you might expect from a breed rescue organization, see The TTCA breed rescue
     coordinators can be reached toll-free in the USA at (877) 790-0006.
Other Information Sources

   How to Raise and Train a Tibetan Terrier by Alice Murphy, 1964. T.F.H
   Publications, Inc., Jersey City, NJ. This book is no longer in print,
   but may be available at some libraries. Its part of a series covering
   different breeds. It has some breed-specific information, and other
   gernerally useful guidelines for dog care.
   THE TIBETAN TERRIER by Anne Keleman. (1994) TFH Publications (KWIK
   Series); Jersey City, N.J. ISBN 0-86622-758-X. 192 pp, many photos and
   illustrations. (The author has shown and bred Tibetans since the late
   The Tibetan Terrier Book / Second Edition by Jane Reif, 1996. This
   book can be ordered from the author at 6 Yellow Pine Circle,
   Middletown, CT 06457. Price as of this writing is $40. (US Dollars,
   includes Shipping and handling, for shipment in the US. Contact Mrs.
   Reif for prices to other countries.) This is the second printing of
   the second edition of Mrs. Reif's book, the first of which was
   published in 1984, and had four printings. Mrs. Reif has been an
   active supporter of the Tibetan Terrier breed since the early 1970's.
   Reflections on the Tibetan Terrier - Second Edition by Jane Reif,
   1995. A collection of writings for those new to the breed or who
   missed the original writings. This book can be ordered from the author
   at 6 Yellow Pine Circle, Middletown, CT 06457. (Cost as of 2/99 is $24
   US Dollars including postage and handling to US destinations. Contact
   Mrs. Reif for prices for other countries.)
   TIBETAN TERRIER CHAMPIONS 1973-86 Camino Publications. (919 Incline
   Way #20, Call Box #17, Incline Village, NV 89450 - $29.95 + $1.50
   Postage in US.)
   The Tibetan Terrier by Angela Mulliner, 1977. Oxford Press, England.
   The ultimate history of the TT, Vol 1 is on the TT in general, Vol 2
   has pedigrees of most of the Lamleh dogs (very well done) and also
   most other older British lines. Useful as it shows most of the dogs
   exported from the UK in the early years, good for tracing pedigrees to
   origin. Also articles on obedience and agility. Vol 1 ISBN
   0-9506021-0-8; Vol 2 ISBN 0-9506021-1-6. The books are currently
   available through the Tibetan Terrier Association (UK) at Visit their website for more information.
   YOUR GUIDE TO THE TIBETAN TERRIER by Emmier Manuel ( 1984). Ballinger
   Rawlings; Watford, Hertfordshire, England. ISBN 0-9509840-0-0. A book
   on the development of the British Lines from Dr Greig.
   Goldthorn Press, Ltd.; Bilston, England
  Tibetan-Breeds Mailing List
   There is a mailing list devoted to dog breeds with their origins in
   Tibet. The list is administered by Liz Bartlett
   (, and is dedicated specifically to
   Kyi-Apso, Lhasa Apso, Sha-Kyi, Shih-tzu, Tibetan Mastiff, Tibetan
   Spaniel, and Tibetan Terrier. For more information, go to the mailing
   list homepage at
   You can subscribe by sending email to with a body
     subscribe tibetan-breeds
  Tibetan Terrier Mailing List
   Unlike the list above, the focus of which is on multiple breeds of
   dogs having origins in Tibet, this mailing list is focused entirely on
   the Tibetan Terrier. To subscribe, send a message to You can also subscribe by going
   directly to and following
   directions there.
  Tibetan Terrier Club of America 
   The TTCA is a national group of owners and fanciers. They sponsor a
   National Specialty Show, encourage responsible ownership and breeding,
   promote the breed and try to educate owners, fanciers and the public
   about the breed. They have a number of publications including a
   newsletter, an annual YEARBOOK and information on TT ownership and
   care. The current secretary is:
   Carol VanPelt
   15247 S. Michael Drive
   Plainfield, IL 60544
   The breeder-referral contact person for the TTCA is:
   Diane Revak
   3936 NW 89th Ave.
   Coral Springs FL 33065
  Cuyahoga Valley Tibetan Terrier Club
   The CVTTC is composed of TT owners and friends in the
   Cleveland-Akron-Western Pennsylvania area. In addition to 4 yearly
   business meetings (at moderate priced restaurants or members' homes)
   we have several activities with our dogs including a spring hike along
   a local nature trail, a summer Fun Day and picnic and a late summer
   match or show.
   Please contact the CVTTC president for further information on the
   breed or club activities. The current president is:
   Lorraine Mangine
   Broadview Heights, OH 44147
    Tibetan Terrier FAQ
    Steve Layten,
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