Tibetan Terriers are commonly characterized as intelligent, lively, and usually friendly. Even though the Tibetan Terrier is a small breed, they are often quite intelligent and can participate in dog sports such as agility and obedience as sport that provides physical and mental stimulation while allowing them to bond closely with their families. Although Tibetan Terriers may be stubborn, this tendency can be lessened through motivational tools such as treats and favorite toys in reward-based obedience training. Tibetan Terriers are considered good watchdogs who are cautious or reserved with strangers, which implies they have some degree of low level fear or concern about them. However, socialization can assist in minimizing any fear-based defensive aggression.
One of the most ancient breeds is the Tibetan Terrier, though contrary to the name the breed is not really a terrier. This association was given by European travellers because the dogs reminded them of dogs from home. The Tibetan Terrier was believed to be lucky and was used as a multi-purpose dog that could guard, hunt, and act as a companion. Its home, the Lost Valley of Tibet, kept the Tibetan Terrier hidden and obscure for many centuries and thus prevented extensive breeding or trading. Travellers to Tibet were often given a Tibetan Terrier as a gift and, in 1920, an Indian physician, Dr. Grieg, received one of these dogs after treating a sick woman there. He imported a few of these dogs to England and established a kennel there in 1924. The breed was faced with extinction after the end of World War II, but through extensive breeding efforts, the numbers were increased and whilst not common, it is no longer endangered. The first Tibetan Terrier did not appear in American until 1956 and the breed received official recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1973.