Tibetan Spaniels are intelligent, alert, and usually friendly dogs. Their small size lends itself well to their living in places with limited space such as apartments, and also makes them attractive to children. However, as with all dogs, extremely close supervision is needed to prevent accidental injury to the dog and its subsequently developing fear-based defensive aggression. Tibetan Spaniels are described as being stubborn or sensitive dogs, both of which require a reward-based approach to training using motivational tools such as treats and favorite toys. The Tibetan Spaniel is considered a watchdog due to its tendency to bark to defend itself, especially as its small size means it may be easily intimidated by other dogs and try to appear fearless when it is actually afraid. This barking could lead to confrontations with other dogs leading to injury.
The Tibetan Spaniel is an ancient breed that traces its roots to Buddhist monasteries possibly more than 3,000 years ago. The Tibetan Spaniel is believed to have shared ancestry with the Japanese Chin as well as the Pekingese. While they do not represent a typical spaniel, they are known to be great watch dogs and are very comfortable with heights. It was not uncommon to see them sitting atop the walls of the Buddhist temples while scanning the countryside. In addition to watching over the monasteries, the Tibetan Spaniel was used to turn the monk's prayer wheels. The breed became a favorite among Chinese royalty, where they were known as "little lions". The first true reference of the Tibetan Spaniel being bred in America is in 1965, when a litter was produced from two dogs that were acquired from a monastery in Tibet. By 1971, the Tibetan Spaniel Club of America was formed and finally, in 1984, the Tibetan Spaniel was accepted into the American Kennel Club as a non-sporting breed.