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Tibetan spaniel: 9 most common diseases, nature and care

Tibetan spaniel, in brief tibbie, comes from Tibet, and Buddhist monks played a large role in the creation of the race. These dogs acted as guardians in Buddhist monks, and their appearance resembled small lions, which were the symbol of the Buddha.

Tibetan spaniel dog

Tibetan spaniels they were also called "lion dogs ". Their functional and visual qualities were highly valued, hence they were often offered (never sold) to rulers and noblemen from eminent families.

Their genealogy is not fully understood, but they are probably related to Japanese Chinese and Pekingese. To the west, Tibetan spaniels traveled with missionaries and travelers, where they gained the greatest popularity primarily in Great Britain. The first representatives of the breed came to the United States in the 1960s. Of the twentieth century, and the largest share in their dissemination and breeding had a churchman from New Haven - Leo Kearns, whose litter was kidnapped by one of the parishioners. Thanks to this story Tibetan spaniel gained more publicity, and Leo imported even more dogs of this breed from the British Isles. The AKC officially recognized the breed in 1984. According to the FCI classification, the Tibetan Spaniel belongs to group 9.

  • Tibetan spaniel character
  • Tibetan spaniel breed description
    • The size and weight of the dog
    • The color of the Tibetan Spaniels
  • Tibbie care
  • Tibetan spaniel disease
    • Ectropium
    • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
    • Cherry eye
    • Double row of eyelashes
    • Patellar dislocation
    • Elbow dysplasia
    • Portal lateral anastomosis
    • Respiratory syndrome of short-skulled breeds
    • Cystinuria (cystine urolithiasis)
  • Is it worth choosing Tibba?

Tibetan spaniel character

Tibetan spaniel character

Tibbie is a daring, intelligent and independent dog. He appreciates family life and is distrustful of strangers, which makes him a good guardian. He will get along with other domestic animals, and will also show a large dose of patience with children. These Spaniels are moderately active and as a daily dose of exercise they only need a long walk and play with the ball. They are not always obedient, so when you let them go you have to be prepared that they can do their own thing, e.g. chase a bigger dog, or finish a sandwich lying on the lawn, not very fresh. Nevertheless, they are very intelligent and clever dogs, so proper training will allow you to get rid of most of the bad habits.

Tibbie's are sometimes compared to cats in terms of hygiene habits, as they can often be found sitting on a chair or sofa, meticulously organizing their fur. They can also climb well and are very agile.

Due to their small size, these decorative dogs are suitable for apartments, and kept on the property should have constant, close contact with people.

Tibetan spaniel breed description

Tibetan spaniel breed description

The size and weight of the dog

The Tibetan Spaniel is a dog of short stature with an elongated body and a harmonious build. The height at the withers of an adult Tibetan Spaniel is approx. 24-26 cm with a weight of 4-7 kg.

Tibetan spaniel breed standard

HeadSmall, with a slightly convex skull and a gentle stop.
The muzzleSquare, medium length, tipped with a truffle nose, preferably black.
JawWide with a slight undercut.
EyesDark brown, oval, set wide on.
EarsPendulous, set high, medium size.
NeckStrong and short, turns into a straight back.
ChestWith well sprung ribs.
TailProfusely hairy, set high, in movement carried bent over the back.
Front limbsSlightly bent, well angulated.
HindquartersSimple and strong.
PawsHare, profusely hairy between the toes.
Breed standard

The color of the Tibetan Spaniels

Two-layer coat: silky smooth outer coat and a dense and delicate undercoat. Longer hair on the ears, back of the forelegs, tail and buttocks. Males are covered with more hair and have a more pronounced ruff. All colors are allowed.

You can see what Tibetan Spaniel puppies look like in the video below:

Tibetan Spaniel puppies playing
Watch this video on YouTube

Tibbie care

The care of the tibbie is not very complicated. His coat should look natural and there is no need to trim it. Instead, brush it regularly, paying attention to where the hair is longer to prevent tangling. Only the hair between the toes may need to be shortened to make it easier for the dog to walk. We bathe the Tibetan Spaniel when it is needed. Periodically, we shorten the claws, clean the ears and teeth.

In the feeding of the Tibetan Spaniel, we use ready-made dog food or prepare the dog's meals ourselves, remembering about the appropriate balance of ingredients.

Tibetan spaniel disease

Tibetan spaniel disease


Ectropium is a defect of the eyelids, which consists in their eversion, which widens the eyelid fissure, and the conjunctiva is exposed. It is accompanied by redness and inflammation of the conjunctiva, lacrimation and keratitis. Treatment consists in the use of moisturizing preparations such as artificial tears, and with high intensity of symptoms, surgical plastic surgery of the eyelids is necessary.

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a term referring to a group of inherited eye diseases that involve the progressive degeneration of the eye's retina. Damage to the suppositories and rods leads first to impaired vision after dark, and later also during the day.

The diagnosis of the disease is based on an electroretinograph test that allows the assessment of the receptors' responses to stimulation with light stimuli. PRA detection is also possible thanks to genetic testing with the use of molecular diagnostic techniques - PCR. This disease in a Tibetan spaniel is incurable.

Cherry eye

Cherry eye, i.e. cherry eye appears most often in young dogs up to 2 years of age. Its essence is the prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid, clinically manifested by the presence of shiny and spherical tissue protruding from under the third eyelid in the inner corner of the eye.

The treatment of choice is sewing in the gland. If, despite surgical intervention, it falls out again, it is removed, which, however, may result in the occurrence of the so-called. dry eye syndrome.

Double row of eyelashes

The double row of eyelashes (distichiasis) is a congenital hereditary defect consisting in the presence of an additional row or individual eyelashes on the inner edge of the eyelid margin. These eyelashes irritate the surface of the cornea, which results in abrasion or damage to its surface.

There is an increased production of tears and frequent squinting of the eyelids. Treatment consists of either cryoepilation or electroepilation.

Patellar dislocation

Patellar dislocation is the dislocation of the kneecap to the lateral or medial side of the knee joint, most often due to a too shallow femoral block. A dislocation can occur in only one of the pelvic limbs, or in both. The most common symptom is spontaneous, transient and recurrent lameness. The severity of the dislocation is determined on a four-point scale:

  1. Lameness is absent or rare.
  2. Temporary lameness.
  3. Permanent lameness - the kneecap can be adjusted, but it falls out spontaneously.
  4. Permanent lameness - the kneecap is out of the block and cannot be adjusted.

First degree cases can be physiotherapy, but severe lameness qualifies the Tibetan Spaniel for surgery.

Elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a genetic defect consisting in incorrect development of the articular surfaces of the elbow joints. It consists of the following subunits:

  1. unattached ulnar appendix (UAP).
  2. osteochondrosis of the medial epicondyle of the humerus (OCD).
  3. fragmentation of the medial peak process (FCP).
  4. articular mismatch (EI).

The defect is usually visible in Tibetan Spaniel puppies from 6 to 12 months of age. You experience various degrees of lameness, stiff gait and reluctance to move. The elbows can be painful and swollen. X-ray is mainly used for diagnostics. The treatment of choice is surgery, depending on the type of lesions present in the joint.

Portal lateral anastomosis

Portal collateral anastomosis is a congenital disease and its essence is disturbed blood flow through the liver, resulting from connections between systemic venous vessels and the portal vein. Physiologically, the liver is supplied in large percentage with nutrients via the portal vein. Omission of the portal circulation causes hypoxia and dysfunction of this organ, and toxic substances that immediately enter the systemic circulation cause symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy. Dogs with anastomosis are observed to:

  • delayed growth,
  • polydipsia and polyuria
  • ammonium urate crystals in the urine,
  • diarrhea and apathy.

As the disease progresses, neurological symptoms develop, such as:

  • astigmatism,
  • aggression,
  • seizures.

The basic indicator in diagnostics is the level of ammonia in the blood and the bile acid stimulation test. A Doppler ultrasound examination is necessary for the final diagnosis. Treatment for the Tibetan Spaniel can be symptomatic or causal. Symptomatic treatment consists of the use of low-protein dog food and oral administration of lactulose to reduce the absorption of ammonia in the digestive tract. Surgery is performed in specialized centers, but not every type of anastomosis qualifies for surgical treatment.

Respiratory syndrome of short-skulled breeds

The respiratory syndrome of brachycephalic races includes several anatomic defects associated with a shortened visceral skull, which are:

  • narrowed nostrils,
  • too long soft palate,
  • eversion of laryngeal pockets,
  • underdevelopment of the trachea.

These defects can occur simultaneously. Since the air flow through the constricted airways is significantly impeded, there is secondary insufficient oxygenation of the tissues and the development of respiratory tract infections.

Difficult breathing symptoms worsen in Tibetan spaniels after exercise and are favored by the dog's over-excitement and high temperature. Recurrent respiratory infections as well as vomiting and dysphagia are observed. The constricted portions of the airways can also cause snoring in the Tibetan Spaniel. Treatment consists in symptomatic fighting of secondary infections, and in the case of defects that qualify for surgery, they are repaired by this method. Overweight dogs should be slimmed down, as excessive weight puts a strain on the respiratory and circulatory system.

Cystinuria (cystine urolithiasis)

Cystine stones in the bladder is the formation of cystine stones as a result of a congenital defect in the renal tubules. The symptoms are:

  • hematuria,
  • difficult urination,
  • possible obstruction of the urethra,
  • pollakiuria.

Stones in a Tibetan spaniel are visible on ultrasound, and cystine crystals are observed in the urine sediment. The stones are surgically removed, or an attempt may be made to dissolve them using potassium citrate and a suitable diet. Surgical treatment is recommended in case of severe symptoms, in particular related to blockage of the urethra.

Is it worth choosing Tibba?

For whom the Tibetan spaniel will be the perfect dog?

Tibetan spaniels are dogs cheerful and sociable, they feel best in a house full of household members, where they will get a lot of attention and tenderness. They can sense their owner's mood and respond to them appropriately, but they often follow their own path, making their own decisions. These dogs like children, but due to the small size of dogs, we do not leave the Tibetan spaniel unattended with younger children who, not knowing how to deal with the dog, may accidentally hurt him. Tibbie gets bored quickly and we can expect a variety of destructive behaviors if we do not provide them with activities or leave them home for a long time. One such ungrateful hobby can be excessive barking, which will be difficult for your dog to untrain.

Due to its short paws, the Tibetan Spaniel is probably not a competitive athlete (like most small Asian breeds), although it can amaze with its durability. He likes long walks and eagerly runs after the ball or wanders among the grass, and spends the rest of the day comfortably on the couch. Like other dogs, they require proper socialization so that dogs will not be fearful in the future.

Tibetan spaniels they are not very popular in our country, but there are several Tibetan spaniel kennels in Poland where we can buy a purebred small dog.

  • How many Tibetan spaniels live?

    The Tibetan Spaniel dog lives for about 12-15 years.

  • What do Tibetan spaniels suffer most often??

    The most common diseases of Tibetan spaniels are ectropion, PRA, cherry eye, lash double rowness, patellar dislocation, elbow dysplasia, portal-lateral anastomosis, short-skulled respiratory syndrome, cystinuria (cystine stones).

  • Is the Tibetan spaniel suitable for living in a block of flats?

    Yes, a Tibetan Spaniel is suitable for housing, but it is a breed that gets boring quickly and a Tibetan Spaniel left alone for long periods may exhibit destructive behavior.

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