Is a Tibetan Terrier Right For You?

Owning a Tibetan Terrier (or as some might say, being owned by a Tibetan Terrier) can be a wonderful experience. However, when you bring a TT puppy into your life, you are also making a big commitment. TTs can live 15 or more years, so you are wise to consider your choice carefully.

Is Your Personality Suited to a Tibetan Terrier?

It is hard to make generalizations about a breed’s temperament. Tibetan Terriers, like people, each have their own unique personality. Tibetan Terriers are often playful and many seem to have a sense of humor. They bond closely with their families, and often seem to be unusually attuned to their owner’s emotions. The negative side to their close bond is that some may suffer from separation anxiety.Although some may be friendly or even exuberant when meeting people, it is not uncommon for a TT to be aloof with strangers and some may be protective of their owners.TTs tend to have an independent streak. Although some may be perfectly happy sitting with you to be petted when they want to be, other times they may prefer to leave you to pursue other activities. One person we know describes TTs as “having their own agenda.”TTCA Proudly powered by WordPress

Do You Have Time to Properly Train a Tibetan Terrier?

The Tibetan Terrier is an intelligent breed, however, intelligence is not always directly correlated to obedience. They may learn how NOT to do something that they find undesirable as easily as they can learn how TO do something that is appealing. Unfortunately, what we humans see as “undesirable” and “appealing” are sometimes completely different than the dog’s interpretation. For example, jumping on the kitchen table and eating the Thanksgiving turkey may be VERY appealing to a TT, whereas such an act is probably quite undesirable to you!

TTs respond to positive reward-based training. “Traditional” methods of obedience training using force, alpha rolls, etc. are not effective as training methods, and in some cases, can make situations worse. On the other hand, with positive motivational training, the dogs are taught that if they do what we want, there will likely be good rewards in it for them. Keep things positive (training with treats and play), and you will find very willing workers.

However, TTs do have minds of their own. If you desire a dog that will always do what you say, when you say, because you said it….you might want to reconsider your choice of breed!

Beyond Training, Do You Have the Time to Devote to a Tibetan Terrier?

Although people do successfully raise TTs while working full time, please consider if your schedule really allows for you to devote the time necessary to interacting with your dog. If you are away from home for long periods, you may need to hire a dog walker to take your puppy out for a walk (or a few walks.) But remember, when you come home at night, even if you are tired or have other commitments, your puppy has been resting all day and will need attention. Puppies often have a lot of energy, and if the puppy has been crated all day, the puppy may very well be extremely energetic just at the time you are feeling the least energetic!

Leaving a TT puppy outside in the yard all day while you are at work is not a viable alternative. Some TTs are agile climbers, and can climb (or dig) out of an enclosure if left unsupervised. TTs are known to climb trees, scale chain link fences, or squeeze through a tiny hole in a fence. They may also develop bad habits (such as nuisance barking) if left unsupervised in a yard, not to mention the very real possibility of dog theft. Of course, a TT may enjoy spending time outside for periods during the day while you are home, they should not spend all of their time outside with limited interaction.

Can You Give a Tibetan Terrier the Exercise it Needs?

Tibetan Terriers are adaptable dogs, suitable for apartment living. However, they do require exercise. Do you have a securely fenced yard or can you commit to a regular leash walking routine (regardless of weather)?

Most TTs cannot be trusted off leash and will run off if allowed to “run free.” If you do not have a fenced-in area, and are hoping to just open the back door and let your dog out to do its business, please seriously reconsider your choice of breeds.

Do You Have Children?

If you are considering getting a TT “for” your child, please be aware that in the vast majority of cases your child will not be the one taking care of the dog. This job (regardless of what the child promised before you brought the dog home) invariably will fall to the adult. If you are not willing to assume the ultimate responsibility of the dog yourself (as the adult), please don’t bring a puppy home.

Common sense dictates that children need to learn to be watchful of basic things such as not allowing a puppy to escape out a door when the child is coming/going, and not to leave their valued toys where the puppy can reach them. However, children also need to be taught how to properly interact and be respectful of a dog and its space. TTs can be fairly independent, and although many love children, they also may have limits as to how (and how much) they want to interact with the kids. Children need to be mindful of this.

Although older children may be taught to be considerate of a dog’s needs, infants and toddlers clearly can not. In our opinion, young children and dogs need to be supervised at all times when they are together. If you are not able to provide such constant supervision (which understandably can be difficult, especially in a hectic household), you may want to consider waiting until your child is older before bringing a TT into your home.

In addition, some TT puppies can be quite mouthy, and may jump on children and knock them over. Jumping and playing using their mouths are things that come naturally to a puppy, so the puppy will likely need to be taught to interact differently with people (including children, whom TTs will often view similar to “litter mates”) than it would with dogs. Manners aren’t taught overnight, and all family members should train consistently.

Can You Commit to Regular Grooming?

Tibetan Terriers naturally have a long, double coat. The type of coat and actual amount of grooming needed may vary from dog to dog and line to line, but they all require regular brushing to keep from getting matted. Puppy coats are generally easy to care for, and many people are lulled into the false sense that grooming a TT will be simple. However, when the puppy hits adolescence and the coat begins to lengthen and change to its adult texture, you will find your dog matting more and more. You may find that your dog needs to be groomed daily. This coat change may take weeks, or months (or longer). The adult coat is generally easier to care for than the adolescent coat (but rarely as easy as the puppy coat!) Often people opt to put their dogs in a “puppy cut” to minimize the amount of time that they will need to spend grooming. However, unless the dog is shaved in a very short style, even the shorter hair of a puppy cut may still form mats. In addition, unless you are willing to do the “puppy cut” yourself, such a style still requires periodic trips to the groomer.

Do You Have Allergies?

Some people find that TTs are less aggravating to their allergies than many other breeds. However, this is not universally true. Allergies are a very individual thing and what affects one person may not affect another. We highly recommend for allergy sufferers to spend some time with an adult TT before deciding to purchase one.

Still Think A Tibetan Terrier is Right For You?

We recommend talking to as many people as you can about the breed. This article is an opinion of the breed based on experience. Breeders and owners may offer different insights. Seek them out. Go to dog shows. Ask questions. Read some of the many books on the breed. Then, when you are ready, find a responsible breeder, or consider contacting Tibetan Terrier Rescue. This breed is not for everyone, but for many devoted TT owners, there is no breed that compares. After having Tibetan Terriers, you will not want to live without a shaggy, amusing TT companion.