About Tibetan Terriers
No one really “owns” a Tibetan Terrier. They are charming little dogs with engaging personalities. The Tibetan
Terrier is happy and fun loving, although he may appear more dignified in public than at home. Tibetans are
curious and very intelligent. They make good obedience dogs but must be handled gently because they learn
quickly and are easily bored with the repetition that is sometimes involved with obedience training.
Tibetans are very loving and devoted to their masters and family and try very hard to please. Your home is his
castle. Everything becomes his own; the house, the yard, and especially the car. He loves to travel (due to his
heritage?). Because they possess exceptional intelligence and keen sense of hearing and smell, they make
Small enough to live comfortably and healthfully in a city apartment, yet sturdy enough to withstand the rigor of a
rural existence, the Tibetan Terrier’s size, as well as its temperament, make the breed eminently well suited for its
role as a modern day companion dog. He is not a dog to sit in the backyard, although he adapts to your
schedule. He loves companionship, both animal and human. He is a born clown and traffic stopper.
The Tibetan Terrier was, and is today a true companion dog, devoted to family and home. Tibetan people called
them “Little People” and raised them in very close association with people for thousands of years. They should
be treated today as family members as they have always been. Truly fortunate is the family to which a Tibetan
Origins of the Tibetan Terrier
According to legend, the Tibetan Terrier originated in the Lost Valley of Tibet. They are known to have been in
existence for more than two thousand years. Called the Holly Dogs of Tibet, they were raised in the monasteries by
the lamas or priests. While they were not worshipped as the name Holy Dog might appear to indicate, they were much
respected as luck bringers; and thus were highly valued in their native land. In addition to being considered luck
bringers, and perhaps because of this, Tibetan Terriers were used as guard dogs for caravans and as protection for
travelers. The Tibetan Terrier is not a vicious dog. His value as a guard dog stemmed from the fact that no Tibetan
person would harm one of these “Holy Dogs” or anything the dog protected. Tibetan Terriers became so highly prized
that the dogs were hidden from strangers and the owners denied all knowledge of their existence. They were
awarded as gifts (never sold) to those who performed a great service or earned the gratitude of the Tibetan people.
Other information indicates that the Tibetan Terrier may have been used as a herding dog or retriever of lost articles
that would occasionally fall down the mountainside into a crevice. The breed is sure-footed and has powerful jumping
capabilities and this, coupled with its keen sense of smell, would make it well suited for such activities.
Dr. Agnes R. H. Greig, and English doctor, was responsible for establishing the Tibetan Terrier both in India and
England. While in India, Dr. Greig was given a Tibetan Terrier puppy by a Tibetan nobleman on whose wife the
doctor had performed surgery. He told Dr. Greig she was one of the few foreigners to be given, or to even see, this
rare breed of “Holy Dog”. Dr Greig was so charmed with her Tibetan Terrier that she procured a mate for her and
was responsible for the recognition of the breed by the Indian Kennel Club in the 1920’s. In the 1930’s, Dr. Greig
established the world famous Lamleh Kennels in England where she bred Tibetan Terriers until her death in 1972.
Through the untiring efforts of Dr. Greig, the breed was recognized by the Kennel Club of England in 1937, since
which time it has held championship status in that country. It is from the early dogs of Dr. Greig that most of the
Tibetan Terriers of the western world are descended.
In 1956, Dr and Mrs. Murphy of Great Falls, Virginia imported the first “official” Tibetan Terrier into the United States
from England. The following year a mate was imported for the bitch and the Kalai Kennel was established. Alice
Murphy continued to breed her Tibetans at Kalai until her death in March 1976. During the last twenty years of her
life, she worked tirelessly to promote her beloved breed in the United States and Canada. She and her husband were
responsible for the foundation of the Tibetan Terrier Club of America, Inc. This organization was established in 1957
to act as the registration organization for the breed until it was recognized by the American Kennel Club, to encourage
and promote the Tibetan Terrier breed and to protect and advance the interest of the breed in the U.S.A. and
Canada. In 1963,the breed was granted the privilege of participating in AKC licensed shows in the Miscellaneous
Class. After another ten years of dedication to the breed by the Murphy’s and others who also came to love and
cherish the Tibetan Terrier, word was received that the breed had been admitted to registration in the American
Kennel Club Stud Book effective May 1, 1973. It was granted regular show classification in the Non-Sporting Group at
AKC shows on October 3, 1973. Since that time the Tibetan Terrier, although one of the rarer of the AKC recognized
breeds, has become increasingly well known for its most outstanding characteristic – an exceptional companion to man.