Bearing a passing resemblance to their smaller cousin, the Lhasa Apso, Tibetan Terriers reside at the lower end of the range of medium-sized breeds, standing about 16 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 20 and 30 pounds. A breed hallmark is the beautiful and profuse double coat—wooly underneath, with a long, fine topcoat. Tibetan Terriers are unique among dogs for their large, flat “snowshoe” feet, adapted over centuries to help them negotiate the snowy, mountainous terrain of their homeland.
Answering this question, owners of this scarce breed will immediately describe the TT’s humanlike qualities. One breeder says, “Tibetan Terriers behave like another member of the family, not a dog.” Another warns, “If you don’t train them, they’re smart enough to take over.” And just like us humans, TTs don’t like to be scolded. They respond best to conversational tones and are bored by repetitive training. TTs are athletic, loving, low-shedding best friends—a difficult breed to find, but well worth the search.
The Tibetan Terrier does require frequent bathing and grooming. This mischievous Tibetan breed can be bathed and groomed as frequently as once a week up to every 4 weeks depending on the activity level of the dog and the length of coat. The Tibetan Terrier has a profuse double coat that is wooly underneath with a long, fine topcoat. The coat does mat and tangle easily. It is essential to select the proper products to match the pet’s needs in order to allow the TT to have an enjoyable grooming experience and maintain healthy skin and coat.
There is an art to bathing the Tibetan Terrier in order to minimize tangling during the bath process. After the coat is wet, apply the shampoo by squeezing it through the coat in a downward motion. This can also be achieved using a rubber curry with cylinder type teeth to help penetrate down to skin and thoroughly clean the entire coat. The same technique is used when conditioning the coat. Make sure you thoroughly rinse the coat. It is a good idea to slightly cool the water temperature down for the final rinse to ensure the coat is completely free of any product. Once the bath is finished, blot the coat with a towel and squeeze excessive water from the ears, legs, and tail. Always use a downward motion to remove the excess rather than a circular motion in order to keep the coat from further tangling.
Finally, it’s time to dry the TT. If the dog is in full coat, it is best to lay the dog on its side and dry in layers or line dry the coat. Be sure to completely dry the area you are working on before moving onto the next area. Pay particular attention to the insides of the legs and behind the ears and any areas of friction.
Finishing the Dog: Tools and Finish Grooming
The coat should be mat and tangle free. The coat hangs straight and is light and airy. The Tibetan Terrier is parted from head to tail. Stand the dog on the table then stand directly behind him to set the basic part. Use a parting comb or the end of a metal comb to set the part. Begin at the base of the neck and run the comb straight down the spine allowing the hair to fall on either side. Then part the head so it meets the part at the base of the neck. Once the basic part is set make sure it is straight down the spine and make any necessary adjustments a few hairs at a time. Then spray the part with a hydrating conditioner and gently pat the coat. This sets the part and helps the hair fall back into place once the dog “shakes” after grooming. The TT also has an eyefall. It is important to pull the eyefall back using barrettes or even braiding the hair. The grooming on the Tibetan Terrier is neither inefficient, overdone, nor overexaggerated. If you are unable to keep up with the long, flowing coat with weekly bathing and brushing, by all means choose to have your TT groomed into a shorter trim. A sporting or modern trim still needs routine maintenance with bath and brush outs every 1 to 2 weeks. It is easier to do more frequent brushing sessions that only take a short period of time than spend hours dematting and trying to brush out your matted TT.
General Health Care
Prep work is the foundation of all grooming. Prep work includes ear cleaning, nail trimming, trimming the pads, and proper dental hygiene. Master these skills sets the professional pet stylist apart from the rest. Prep work should be done before every bathing and grooming appointment. All dogs need to have their ears checked and cleaned on a regular basis. Some need to have the hair plucked from the ear canal. This allows the ear to have proper air circulation. It is not necessary to remove all of the hair in the ear, as some serves as a barrier to foreign debris. It is imperative that you are properly trained to pull ear hair before attempting this endeavor. Proper nail care is also very important. Long, unsightly nails are uncomfortable for the dog, as well as anyone they might jump on. Long nails also compromise the shape of the foot. Trimming the pads of the foot helps give the dog good traction on different surfaces and can minimize the amount of dirt the dog tracks into the house. It also affords the opportunity to treat and condition the paws from cracks and abrasions. Good dental hygiene is essential for a healthy pet as well.
In order to maintain healthy skin and coat as well as overall health, it is important to provide good nutrition to your dog through a well-balanced diet, vitamins, and healthy treats.
Do they require a lot of grooming?
Yes, they do require routine grooming. As a young dog, it is imperative that you get the dog used to regular grooming. A full brush out 2 to 3 times a week is best with baths every 1 to 2 weeks. Never brush a dry coat, always lightly mist with a hydrating spray. If the TT is kept in a shorter trim, weekly brush outs are still preferred. Routine baths ranging between 1 to 4 weeks is desirable. Never wait until your TT is matted to groom your dog. This is a breed that requires their caring owner to stay on top of routine maintenance.
What is a common problem in a Tibetan Terriers?
TT’s are a hardy breed, but like other breeds they do have some issues. Hip dysplasia, patellar luxation (loose knee), and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) have been seen in the breed.
Does the Tibetan Terrier shed or cause allergies?
TT’s do not shed much, it is more seasonal shedding. Less shedding equates with less dander in the environment. One key to keeping dander levels low is frequent bathing and brush outs. However, before bringing a Lhasa Apso into your home if you have allergies, you should spend some time around this breed to make sure you do not have a reaction.
Are Tibetan Terriers good with children?
TT’s are great with children. It is difficult to generalize about the breed, but most are very playful and have a sense of humor. Sometimes, a TT “has its own agenda.”
What if I have a show dog?
Whether you have a show dog or a companion dog, the same basic care is given regarding nutrition, socialization, and hygiene. The difference is the grooming maintenance and conditioning for the show ring. It is always helpful if your breeder is willing to help mentor you to lead you in the right direction upon entering the show ring. A great place to start is with the national breed club like the Tibetan Terrier Club of America, www.ttca-online.org.