The Tibetan Terrier (Lhasa Terrier) or Tsang Apso (Dhoki Apso, Dokhi Apso) is an ancient companion and working dog that originated in the Himalayas, Tibet. The breed is several thousand years old, and was probably developed from the small mountain wolf that was domesticated around 800 BC. Experts believe that the Lhasa Terrier is the ancestor of all other Tibetan breeds, from the Lhasa Apso to the Shih Tzu or Tibetan Spaniel. In other words, this is quite possibly the oldest of all Tibetan dogs, even though the Lhasa Apso was for a long time considered the same breed. Anyhow, Tibetan Terriers were bred and kept as companions and watchdogs by the Bhuddist monks (Lamas) in the lamaseries for over 2.000 years. Monks considered them sacred and held them with the highest regard. However, unlike its little brother, the Lhasa Apso, the Tibetan Terrier wasn’t only limited to life with the monks and nobles. On the contrary, some of these dogs were often gifted by the monks to the locals and herdsmen of Tibet, who used them for various purposes – from guarding to herding. Just like monks, Tibetans treated these dogs with the highest respect, almost like children. That’s why they were often called “the little people” by the villagers.
The Tibetan Terrier, together with the Lhasa Apso, belongs to the group of 14 ancient dogs that are considered purest and oldest of all known breeds. These ancient dogs, including the Chow Chow, Siberian Husky, Samoyed, Basenji, Saluki, are also the closest relatives of the wolf. This just proves how special this breed really is. For a long time, Tsang Apsos were never sold to anyone. The only way to get one of these dogs was to receive it as a gift of gratitude or as a luck charm, either from the monks or the herdsmen. That’s why they were also known as the Luck Bringers or Holy Dogs of Tibet. How convenient! This is actually the main reason these TTs remained a well hidden secret for so long. However, in 1920s the British doctor Agnes H.R. Greig, who practiced in India, was gifted a female puppy named “Bunti” from a grateful man whose wife she saved. She later acquired a second male puppy called “Rajah” and brought them both to Europe in 1922. The pair had its first litter in 1924. Today, the majority of these dogs in the west are actually descendants from the pairing of Dr. Greig‘s dogs. The Tibetan Terrier is recognized by the FCI in the Tibetan Breeds group, Companion and Toy Dogs class, not in the Spitz and Primitive Types class.
Tibetan Terrier Temperament And Personality
The Tibetan Terrier is a lively, alert and intelligent dog that is best known after its watchful nature and great loyalty. Even though this breed is known as the Terrier, it doesn’t have much in common with other Terrier breeds, especially not in temperament. Actually, the only reason this dog is called like that is because of its Terrier-like size and appearance. So, if you are looking for a true Terrier dog, I suggest you look elsewhere. With that being cleared, let us see what kind of dog this really is. The Tsang Apso is a very powerful dog for its size, who is loyal, amiable, dedicated, fun-loving, cheerful, sensitive, charming, diligent, and eager to please its master. A true friend :) This is first and foremost an excellent family companion that literally thrives on human attention. Indeed, you will have to dedicate a lot of time to your TT and make sure that you never leave him alone for a long period of time. Otherwise, he can become really anxious and miserable. The Tibetan Terrier is not a one person dog and is equally affectionate and loyal to all family members. On top of that, this dog is very sensitive and good at reading human emotions. So, if he finds you are stressed or sad, he will do anything possible to cheer you up and make you happy again :)
The Dhoki Apso is considered a wonderful playmate with the children, but is primarily recommended for families with older children (6+ years). Now, you probably wonder why when this is such a kind and warm dog to its family. Well, it certainly is true, however, the Tibetan Terrier is not one of those dogs that will tolerate any kind of abusive behavior. And we all know that small kids (toddlers included) are often unaware of their actions and can definitely annoy and abuse the dog unintentionally – i.e. they can pull his tail or they can poke him while feeding. In situations like this, the Tsang Apso will sometimes show off his bad side and will nip or even bite the abusive child. Also, another problem in the case of children is that this dog has a strong sense of hierarchy, and will naturally be loyal and submissive only to the higher ranked members of the pack (family). In other words, there is a strong possibility the Tibetan Terrier will hardly ever accept small children as pack leaders, which means that he probably won’t respect them. That’s why it is absolutely mandatory that you raise your dog with the children as well as to socialize him extensively with the people of all ages. On top of that, you should educate your kids how to treat a dog nicely and with respect.
The Lhasa Terrier is truly an outstanding watchdog that is on the guard even in his dreams. There are several reasons why this is such a good sentinel. He is by nature very suspicious, reserved and distrustful toward strangers. Also, this is an incredibly alert and territorial dog that will at any given time be aware of everything that’s going on in and around the owner’s property. He will instinctively react to any change in his surroundings with loud and aggressive bark. There is no way anybody can sneak up at your property without being announced by this “living alarm.” Unfortunately, the TT‘s super sensitivity can often prove quite annoying because he will literally react to every sound or suspicious movement around him. In other words, he is quite prone to obsessive barking, which can be really, really frustrating not only for your neighbors, but for you and your family too. So, observe your dog carefully from day one and do everything you can to prevent or correct this annoying behavior. The good thing is that the Tibetan Terrier is not an aggressive dog, so you won’t have to worry he will hurt anybody. However, he can become too standoffish with strangers, which is why it is necessary that you socialize your dog with different people as well as sounds at an early age.
The good nature of the Tsang Apso does not only benefit his human family, but all other pets around him. This dog is neither a dedicated hunter, nor is he a vermin exterminator, which is really a nice thing in the case of other pets. Of course, there is always a chance he will chase a cat like every other canine, but it will be more of a game than the actual hunt. The only precondition to successfully befriend your dog with all other pets is that you raise them together. Such Tibetan Terriers will hardly ever cause any trouble with other pets (not even with hamsters or guinea pigs), but still some of these dogs can be jealous of them, especially when it comes to food. So, make sure that you feed them separately. The Dhoki Apso usually gets along nicely with other dogs too. This dog is neither fierce nor grumpy, but can naturally exert a dominant and aggressive behavior with dogs of the same sex. This is, of course, nothing alarming, but such behavior needs to be corrected in time. The best way to deal with it is to raise your TT with another dog. Also, an extensive socialization with other dogs is always a welcome thing not only for this, but for every other breed. On top of that, you should, just in case, put your TT through obedience training as soon as possible.
Tsang Apso Training
The Tibetan Terrier is one of those rare primitive dog breeds that are quite easy to train with proper techniques. This is an incredibly intelligent dog with good memory, that is able to easily comprehend and learn everything you want him to know. What’s even better, the TT is not extremely stubborn, even though he is an independent thinker, who will test your leadership abilities from time to time. However, this is something you will always have to deal with when it comes to primitive dogs. Fortunately, the Tsang Apso is not one of those breeds that will push you to the limit. In fact, the TT will happily join you in daily activities, even if that means his training. That’s why we can safely say this dog is recommended not only for experienced dog owners, but for novice owners too. Of course, to successfully train a Tibetan Terrier you will have to respect certain rules. The best time to start training a puppy is at 8 weeks of age. During the training, you will have to be consistent, calm and patient, with the firm attitude of a true pack leader. Training sessions should be short (30 mins) and interesting, but never repetitive. Positive reinforcement methods will give the best results. So, prepare some tasty treats, fill yourself with positive energy, and enjoy your time with your cute TT puppy.
Other Characteristics And Traits
Main Tibetan Terrier characteristics are high intelligence, loyalty, alertness, agility, strength, athleticism, swiftness, tenacity, independence, playfulness, cheerfulness, liveliness, inquisitiveness, emotional sensitivity, and dynamism. This is a very agile and energetic dog of great strength, that can be active for long periods. However, the TT is not one of those restless and tireless breeds. Nonetheless, he will require a good amount of daily exercise to stay healthy in every way. Long daily walks are always recommended, but if you’re too busy for some reason, at least take your dog for a few short (15-30 mins) walks whenever you can. Daily jogs or hikes are also a good way to exercise your TT, so don’t forget to take him with you. Of course, some interesting games are welcome as well, such as hide-and-seek, find the treat, fetch game, etc. The general rule is that you keep your TT occupied as much as possible, even if that means some interesting job or any activity that can challenge him mentally and physically. This way you will be sure your dog will stay happy and satisfied, which will be a sort of guarantee that he won’t make some mess in or around your house. The proper exercise is particularly important if you keep a TT indoors.
The Tibetan Terrier is a type of dog that can equally well adapt to all living conditions, but only if you are able to devote him enough attention. The human companionship is mostly the only thing necessary to keep this dog happy. So, if you think you and your family can dedicate a lot of time to your TT, then I can tell you have the necessary qualification to own this dog. In other words, doesn’t matter where you live – in an apartment or a house with huge courtyard (urban or suburban setting), the Dokhi Apso will feel fine everywhere as long as he is in the company of family members. However, it would be best that you keep your TT indoors/outdoors, but only if you can be around him almost all the time. If not, it would be just fine to keep him indoors, where you can always have an eye on him. The Tibetan Terrier is generally a good indoor pet since he’s very clean and has no doggy odour. However, even though he’s generally easy to train, this dog can prove a hard nut to crack when it comes to housebreaking. It will require a lot of patience and dedication, especially when it comes to potty training. That’s why it is highly recommended that you start with the crate training to prevent possible mess.
There is also another thing you will have to take care off regularly if you wish to keep your Tibetan Terrier indoors. It’s not hard to guess what it is, just look at these pics. Yeah, you’re right – the thing in question is its long hair. There’s absolutely no excuse, you will have to brush it and trim it on a daily basis, unless you want incase your home with “another layer of insulation” :) Of course, this is absolutely mandatory if somebody in the family is susceptible to allergies. That’s why I think the Lhasa Terrier is best suited for homes with at least some kind of yard. However, you must be aware that you should never leave for long your Tibetan Terrier alone in the yard. If bored, this dog will really get on your nerves, either by obsessive barking, chewing things, or something equally naughty. Besides, the TT has all the qualities of an escape artist! This dog is a skillful climber, a diligent digger and a great jumper. When you add into the mix his curious nature, there’s no doubt the TT will gladly take a chance to escape and explore the neighborhood. So yeah, you will be able to let your dog play out in the yard only if you take certain precautions – i.e. that your fence is high enough and deep-set.
Dhoki Apso Health
The Tibetan Terrier lifespan is around 12-15 years. Even though this dog is very agile, active and lively, used to life in the harsh mountainous environment, it cannot be said that this is one of the healthiest breeds you can find. Indeed, the TT is susceptible to various kinds of health problems, such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, hypothyroidism, pathologic heart murmurs, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, lens luxation, as well as allergies to certain types of food like grain and milk. These dogs can also suffer from a specific genetic disease known as the canine ceroid lipofuscinosis (CCL). This disease affects the eyes and nervous system. The one of its first symptoms is blindness in low light. As the disease progresses, other symptoms start to show, such as uncontrolled aggression, epilepsy, dementia, problems in certain motor abilities, etc. There is no cure for the CCL, but fortunately you can test the DNA of a puppy at three weeks of age and see if there’s predisposition for it. That’s why it is of utmost importance that you buy a TT puppy only from a reputable breeder, one who can provide you with the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals (OFA) clearance and the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certification that the puppy if completely healthy.
Lhasa Terrier Physical Characteristics And Appearance
The Tibetan Terrier is a smaller medium sized dog of square shape – the proportions of the length and height at the withers are approximately the same. Its body is well muscled, strong and compact, covered with the long, shaggy double coat that parts along the middle and flows nicely down. The undercoat is soft and woolly and the top coat is lavish and fine, with the texture similar to human hair. The hair can be either wavy or straight – both types are accepted. With such profuse coat, the Dhoki Apso is well protected from the elements and can adapt nicely to every climate, but is more suited to colder climates. Of course, it is perfectly clear this long coat requires a lot of grooming. Usually, you will have to brush your dog a few times per week to remove matts and loose hair. However, you have to know that even though the TTs have a light, human-like hairfall all the time, they still shed the undercoat profusely in the spring and autumn. When that happens, it is necessary that you thoroughly brush your TT once or twice a day. Also, you will have to bathe him at least twice a month to keep his coat nice and clean. Main Tibetan Terrier colors are white, black, grey, gold, etc. Almost all colors except the chocolate and liver are accepted. Any color pattern is allowed – solid, parti-color, tricolor, brindle, etc.
The Tibetan Terrier has a well furnished, fairly narrow head with the moderate skull that is neither flat nor domed. The strong muzzle is of similar length like the skull. The teeth can meet in a scissors bite, a reverse scissors bite or a level bite. All three are accepted. The nose should be always black, doesn’t matter what coat color. The tight lips and eye rims should be dark or black. The rounded, large eyes should be dark brown and set wide apart. The pendant, heavily feathered ears shouldn’t be carried too close to the head, neither too large. Both eyes and ears should be inspected and cleaned at least once a month. The medium-length neck is very muscular and strong, nicely attached to the shoulders. The chest is relatively deep, reaching the elbows, with the ribs sprung backward. The stomach is nicely tucked up and the loins are short, strong and slightly arched. The back is strong, flat and level. The moderate, well feathered tail is set high and carried curled atop the back. The forelegs are straight and parallel. The hind legs are well muscled, strong and powerful. Both pairs of legs are well feathered. The relatively large feet with hard pads and fur between the toes are well hidden beneath the profuse hair. The Tibetan Terrier has a smooth and effortless gait.
Tibetan Terrier Size And Weight
– Height between 15 and 17 inches (38-43 cm)
– Weight between 22 and 26 pounds (10-12 kg)
– Height between 14 and 16 inches (36-41 cm)
– Weight between 20 and 24 pounds (9-11 kg)
Good Herding Dog
For centuries, Tibetan Terriers have been used for livestock herding and guarding in their native land. They were, in fact, highly prized by the nomadic herdsmen because of their good herding instincts. Of course, unlike some other primitive herding dogs (the Finnish Lapphund, Lapponian Herder or Swedish Vallhund), the Tsang Apso is not an outstanding herder by nature, but still it can be a valuable helper on every farm, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. Indeed, the TT is a dog that shares many qualities with aforementioned herding breeds. He is extremely smart and clever, he’s also very agile, jumpy and athletic, can quickly get accommodated with other dogs, can successfully work in every climate, on every altitude, and can easily cope with the harshest of terrains. On top of that, the TT has loud and annoying bark, excellent recall, and keen senses, including a great sense of orientation. All of this just proves that this dog actually is a true potential when it comes to herding. Naturally, it will take some time to prepare a Tibetan Terrier for this job, but once you’ve done with the proper training, you will definitely get an excellent herder and livestock guardian. Besides, a well-trained TT can also quite successfully compete in herding trials, but only after its herding instincts are tested in noncompetitive herding events.
Herding, however, is not the only duty the Tibet Terrier can perform well. There is so much more potential in this dog waiting to be put in use with adequate approach and quality training. First of all, the TT is a top-notch watchdog with extremely sharp senses. There is literally no way anything can get past this dog unnoticed. Also, if you read previous paragraphs, then you know that the TT thrives on human attention and companionship. Well, this incredible affection and devotion is the reason Tsang Apsos are often used as therapy dogs. With proper training, they can as well compete in various dog sports, such as agility, obedience, rally obedience, flyball, tracking, and showmanship. But above anything else, this dog is a faithful companion that will follow his owner(s) on every step. Whether you are hiking in the wood, jogging in the park, or just watching the TV from the comfort of your bed, the Tibetan Terrier will always gladly join you. That’s why many people share the opinion that this is literally an ideal dog for every person who is willing to devote much of his/her time and attention to a pet. If you think you are such a person, then move your arse and buy this dog! Trust me, you will be grateful to yourself for having done so.