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The Tibetan Terrier is not a member of the terrier group, the name being given to it by European travelers to Tibet who were reminded of terriers from back home when they first encountered the breed. Its origins are uncertain at best, as some sources claim them to be lucky temple dogs, whereas others place them as general use farm dogs.
The Tibetan Terrier is a dog with many uses, able to guard, herd, and also be a suitable companion dog. Their utility in Tibet meant that the first examples of the breed available in the west were generally given as gifts, as the Tibetan Terrier, along with other Tibetan breeds, were too valuable to the people who owned them to casually sell. As such, the early history of the breed is linked to only a handful of foundation dogs.
The Tibetan name for the breed, Tsang Apso, roughly translates to “shaggy or bearded (apso) dog, from the province of Tsang”. Some old travelers’ accounts give the name “Dokhi Apso,” or “outdoor” Apso, indicating a working dog which lives outdoors. Other “Apso” dogs from Tibet include the smaller and more familiar Lhasa Apso (called the Lhasa Terrier in the early 1900s) and the very rare Do Khyi Apso (bearded Tibetan Mastiff, sometimes considered as a TT/TM mongrel)
Recent DNA analysis has concluded that the Tibetan Terrier is one of the most ancient dog breeds.
One of the more unusual features of the Tibetan Terrier is the broad, flat feet, not found in any other dog breed. They are ideal for climbing mountains and act as natural snow shoes.
Temperament The temperament has been one of the most attractive aspects of the breed since it was first established in the 1920’s. They are amiable and affectionate family dogs, sensitive to their owners and gentle with older children. As is fitting a dog formerly used as a watch dog, they tend to be reserved around strangers, but should never be aggressive nor shy with them.
Suitable for apartment living, the Tibetan is still an energetic and surprisingly strong dog, and needs regular exercise. Their energy level and intelligence is well suited for dog sports such as agility. They are steadfast, determined, and clever, which can lead to them being stubborn. Some dogs of this breed can often be jealous, which can make it hard to live with another pet.
Though not yappy, the Tibetan Terrier has an assertive bark, likened to a rising siren.
Health The Tibetan Terrier enjoys the long life span often associated with small dog breeds, and generally lives from 17-20 years (info from Wikipedia).