Koairley Cavaliers and Tibetan Spaniels

All About Tibbies



Group 1 (Toys)

General Appearance:

Should be small, active and alert. The outline should give a well balanced appearance, slightly longer in body than height at withers.


Gay and assertive, highly intelligent, aloof with strangers.


See Characteristics and also under Faults.

Head And Skull:

Small in proportion to body and proudly carried giving an impression of quality. Masculine in dogs but free from coarseness. Skull slightly domed, moderate width and length. Stop slight but defined. Medium length of muzzle, blunt with cushioning, free from wrinkle. The chin should show some depth and width. Nose: black preferred.


Dark brown in colour, oval in shape, bright and expressive, of medium size, set fairly well apart but forward looking, giving an ape-like expression. Eye rims black.


Medium size, pendant, well feathered in the adult and set fairly high. They may have a slight lift from the skull but should not fly. Large, heavy, low set ears are not typical.


Ideally slightly undershot, the upper incisors fitting neatly inside and touching the lower incisors. Teeth should be evenly placed and the lower jaw wide between the canine tusks. Full dentition desired. A level mouth is permissible providing there is sufficient width and depth of chin to preserve the blunt appearance of muzzle. Teeth must not show when mouth is closed.


Moderately short, strong and well set on. Covered with a mane or 'shawl' of longer hair which is more pronounced in dogs than bitches.


The bones of the forelegs slightly bowed but firm at shoulder. Moderate bone. Shoulder well placed.


Slightly longer from withers to root of tail than the height at withers, well ribbed with good depth, level back.


Well made and strong, hocks well let down and straight when viewed from behind. Stifle well developed, showing moderate angulation.


Harefooted, small and neat with feathering between toes often extending beyond the feet. White markings allowed.


Set high, richly plumed and carried in a gay curl over back when moving. Should not be penalised for dropping tail when standing.


Quick moving, straight, free, positive.


Double coat, silky in texture, smooth on face and front of legs, of moderate length on body, but lying rather flat. Ears and back of forelegs nicely feathered, tail and buttocks well furnished with longer hair. Should not be over coated and bitches tend to carry less coat and mane than dogs.


All colours and mixture of colours allowed.


Ideal weight: 4.1 - 6.8 kg (9-15 lbs)
Height: about 25 cms (10 ins)


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

Coarseness of type, mean expression Nervousness Very domed or flat, wide skull. Accentuated stop Long, plain down face without stop. Broad, flat muzzle, pointed, weak or wrinkled muzzle. Large, full eyes. Light eye Overshot mouth. Protruding tongue. Very bowed or loose front.
Straight stifle, cow hocks. Cat feet. Liver or putty coloured pigmentation.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.


To view the extended breed standard of the Tibetan Spaniel, please click here: http://www.ankc.org.au/_uploads/docs/235654Tibetan_Spaniel_BSE.pdf


The History of the Tibetan Spaniel

Originally from Tibet, high in the Himalayan mountains, the Tibetan Spaniel has been found for the past 2,000 years.  Bred carefully, and owned lovingly by Buddhist monks and lamas, "Tibbies" have been prized possessions, that were reportedly never sold.  The only way a Tibbie ever left the care of the monasteries were when they were given as precious gifts to people of high regard and esteem.   As a result of this 'trade' between the powerful powers of Tibet and China, it is likely that Tibbies share thier heritage with that of the Japanese Chin, Pekingese, Pug and Shih Tzu.

It will never be known, if some of the legends regarding Tibbies are true, including one that they were trained to turn the prayer wheels, but this is highly doubted.  What is known, is that they served the monks as constant companions, bed warmers, and importantly as lookouts.   Thier keen sight and hearing served them well, as they sat atop the high monastery walls, and barking, warning the monks, and the larger Tibetan Mastiffs whenever anything untoward approached. 

The breed remained hidden to the Western World for thousands of years, until 1898, when British troops brought the first Tibetan Spaniel to England after thier compaign in the Himalayas.  They remained little more than a curiousity, until after World War 2, when thier popularity exploded, and they were exported across the world.   Eventually, the first Tibbie made its way to Australian shores in 1974. 

 Living with a Tibbie! 

Tibetan Spaniels are an absolute joy to live with.  They are fun, generally fearless, and exceptionally playful. They are very independent though, and can show thier stubborn side,  so therefore do need early training.  We have found them to be incredibly clean and easy to housetrain, and incredibly 'cat-like- in thier personal grooming style.   Modern Tibbies tend to love being up high, like thier ancestors who patrolled the high walls of Tibet's monasteries.

 They are a relatively 'new' breed in this country, and therefore have retained a great many traits lost to many breeds in the dog world.   Thier temperment is warm and friendly to those who it considers family, but can be 'aloof' or slower to adapt to strangers. They weigh anywhere between 4-7 kg's with the top height of 10 inches.  They do not need a great deal of exercize, but are a natural watch dog, and love to watch at the window on 'patrol' for any 'danger'.    They love, and guard thier family with great devotion, and are ever alert.  They can be noisy, when alerting you of said 'danger' and therefore need to be taught from a young age how much barking you consider appropriate.  



Tibbies have a double coat, consisting of a fine dense undercoat, and a silky, longer overcoat.  They are fairly low-maintenance, but we groom thier ear featherings each day, and give a good brush through about twice a week, obviously more if they are going to a show.   If they are not going to a show, they would be bathed about once a fortnight, to once a month, depending on thier activities.  We personally enjoy grooming, as a time to bond with the dogs.  We have found our Tibbies like to be clean, and will clean themselves a way a cat does.  They can be filthy, covered in mud from an 'adventure' one minute, the next they have cleaned themselves up so well you would not even know they had stepped outside. This, however, does not make our jobs as groomers obsolete, and no matter how clean your Tibbie keeps itself there is always regular grooming to do.


Grooming Products we use for our Tibetan Spaniels

An Aloe Vera based, soothing and conditioning shampoo for ‘normal’ washes

A blue whitening shampoo for ‘show washes’, diluted down a bit, so it’s not harsh on the coat. Even for the Tibbies that are not white, we find that the shampoo accentuates highlights within their coats.

If there is a lot of time between ‘show washes’, we also use a conditioner to help the coat keep top condition, and not go dry and frizzy

A good brush…. For everyday brushes we use a soft pin and bristle brush, we also use a ‘polishing brush’ for show grooms, as well as a metal comb for feathering and ears. A good brush is a wise investment.  A harder pin and bristle brush is sometimes required for those ‘tougher’ knots, but on the whole we find that Tibbies coats are easy to keep clean and knot free in part due to their personal hygiene regime.

A Conditioning Grooming Spray which helps to preserve the coat during regular brushing. Brushing can damage the coat, so you need to protect it, much like you would do with your hair.

We don’t use a blow-dryer after bathing, but many of our ‘Tibbie’ friends find this a useful tool to help dry the coat quicker.

Tibbies are an untrimmed breed, and their coat is easy to care for, but you do need to cut back the hair on the underside of the pads to stop the coat overgrowing, and splaying the toes. For this you need a pair of blunt nosed scissors.

We also use a ‘dry-cleaning’ spray, an anti-static spray, and sometimes a Dry Shampoo for those times when you’re Tibbie gets dirty in between regular baths, which sometimes they do.




 As long as you begin training as early as possible, training a Tibbie is a fun, and very rewarding experience.  Because of thier independant, and often stubborn streak, it can be more difficult than training more biddable dog breeds. But if you are consistent, fair, and reward only the positive behaviour you wish to encourage, you will find them more than willing to respond.

Training any dog takes paitence, regular and routine practice and time. No dog is born 'trained'. Most people find that house breaking a young pup is one of the hardest things to do.  We have found that 'crate-training' (that is teaching a dog that it's crate is it's home/bed/safehaven) is very useful. Because dogs hate spoiling thier living area the principle works that the more precious the space to them, the less they will dirty it. This combined with regular toileting breaks, after sleep, play, and eating, along with ignoring 'mistakes', no matter how heartbreaking, we have found to be exceptionally successful! We have also found crate-training a great tool for when our dogs travel with us. We have found Tibbies like thier environment to be clean, just like themselves.  In fact, sometimes we get the impression that our tibbies find some of our other puppies 'mistakes' truly 'disgusting'.