The Tibetan Spaniel was highly prized by Tibetan monks and served its monastery-bound masters as alarm dogs. This breed, also called “Little Lion Dog” for its furry mane, likes to sit on high vantage points to observe everything from above. With its keen eyesight, it makes for a valuable watchdog. Its warm, fur-encased body was used by monks as body warmers.
Given as gifts to nobility, the frequent exchange of canine presents between Tibet and China diversified this breed. As such, it shares a similar parentage to the Shih Tzu, Pekingese, and Japanese Chin.
Although the Tibetan Spaniel is an ancient breed, it was only introduced to the West in the late 19th century. It was first brought to England by Mrs McLaren Morris. Sir Edward and Lady Wakefield also brought over a few of them. The Wakefields’ Tibbies were said to be the foundation stock of all such dogs in the UK at present.
In 1959, The Kennel Club acknowledged the Tibetan Spaniel as a distinct breed. This was two years after the Tibetan Spaniel Association was created.