Excellent Pets and Family Companions
The generally accepted history of the TT breed says that they were raised for hundreds of years by the monks that lived high in the mountains of Tibet. The TTs were companions to the monks, and generally not working dogs, though it is believed that occasionally they worked as herding dogs. TTs were never sold, but only occasionally given to friends or travelers for good luck.
With this heritage, it is easy to see why TTs make excellent pets and family companions. They are sometimes a little shy at first around strangers, but generally very outgoing and good-natured dogs. TTs seem to adapt to the lifestyle of their family. They’re content to be couch potatoes in less active homes, but are also willing and able to participate in family activities such as hiking or camping or dog activities such as agility or obedience training.
TTs are extremely intelligent, and can be trained to do almost anything, but they respond best to positive training methods. Being as intelligent as they are, they are quick to learn how to train humans too, so consistency in dealing with them is important. Their long coats, while beautiful when neatly groomed, require frequent brushing or (if not being shown) trimming to prevent matting. Grooming can, however, become a special time of bonding if done frequently for short periods, as it is a time when the TT gets your full attention.
The AKC Standard for the Tibetan Terrier
The AKC standard is the authoritative description of the Tibetan Terrier (or TT). It describes a medium (average 14-16 inches at the shoulder and 20-24 pounds), long-coated dog of square proportions. (That is, the distance from the point of the shoulder to the root of the tail is the same as the distance from the from the highest point of the withers to the ground.) The coat is double, having a soft, wooly undercoat and a profuse outer coat. The outer coat is sometimes straight and sometimes waved. There is no preferred color, and TTs come in a wide range including white, gold, tricolor, brindle, silver, black, and many parti-color variations. Occasionally chocolate-colored TTs occur, but their chocolate noses are considered a fault, so they are almost never shown or used for breeding.
The dark, expressive eyes are covered with a “fall” of hair, sometimes making them difficult to see, but TTs have long eyelashes to keep the hair out of their eyes, and their eyesight is very good.
Unfortunately, there are instances of genetic diseases in TTs, including Canine Hip Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and Lens Luxation. For these reasons, it is important that TTs used for breeding have CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) and OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certification.
More about the health of Tibetan Terriers.