Tibetan Terriers are highly intelligent, sensitive, loyal devoted and affectionate dogs who are said to originate in the Lost Valley of Tibet, where they were bred and raised in the monasteries by lamas almost 2,000 years ago. The breed evolved over many centuries, surviving in Tibet’s extreme climate and difficult terrain, and developing a protective double coat, compact size, unique foot structure and great agility. They were known as “Holy Dogs” and “Luck Bringers,” and were never sold, but presented to visiting lamas to bring peace and prosperity to their monasteries and safeguard them on their journey home. On rare occasions, they were given to lay people out of gratitude for favours or services rendered, and slowly the breed spread to other parts of the country and beyond. Tibetans called them the “Little People” and treated them like children.
Tibetan Terriers in the Western World
Tibetan Terriers were brought to England back in the 1930 by Dr. Agnes Greig, an English surgeon working in India. Dr. Greig was given a female Tibetan Terrier puppy after she operated on a Tibetan woman who had an ovarian cyst. The puppy was given as a token of gratitude by the woman and her family. Dr. Greig named the puppy Bunti and became so fascinated with Tibetan Terriers that she obtained more dogs and eventually managed to get the breed recognized by the Kennel Club of India. When she returned to England, Dr. Greig brought her TTs with her and, together with her mother who was already an established dog breeder, started to breed Tibetan Terriers. 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. Today, most of the Tibetan Terriers of the western world are descended from the early dogs of Dr. Greig.
Tibetan Terriers in North America
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 and the Kalai Kennels Was established. Alice Murphy continued to breed her Tibetans at Kalai until her death in 1976. During the last twenty years of her life, she worked tirelessly to promote the breed in the United States and Canada. She and her husband founded the Tibetan Terrier Club of America (TTCA), which was established in 1957. The TTCA acted as the registration organization for Tibetan Terriers until the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), encouraged and promoted purebred Tibetan Terriers, and protected and advanced the interests of the breed in the USA and Canada.
In 1963, the breed was allowed to participate in AKC licensed shows in the Miscellaneous Class. Ten years later, Tibetan Terriers were permitted to register in the AKC Stud Book and given regular show classification in the non-Sporting Group at AKC shows. The breed was officially recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in March 1974.