Tibetan Spaniel vs. Pekingese

Written by Janet F. Murray
Updated: January 23, 2023
© Elisa Putti/Shutterstock.com
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The Tibetan Spaniel and the Pekingese are both ancient dog breeds thought to have originated in the monasteries of Tibet and China. With their fascinating history, we compare these ancient breeds in size, diet, temperament, and more. So, if you love small dogs and want to understand the Tibetan spaniel vs. Pekingese, read on.

Tibetan Spaniel close-up
Tibetan spaniels grow to 10 inches, weigh up to 15 lbs., and can live for 15 years. Pekingese grow to 9 inches tall, weigh up to 14 lbs., and have the same lifespan.


Comparing Tibetan Spaniel vs. Pekingese

Tibetan SpanielPekingese
Height8 – 10 inches6 – 9 inches
Weight9 – 15 pounds7 – 14 pounds
Lifespan12 – 15 years12 – 15 years
Country of OriginTibetChina

Tibetan Spaniel vs. Pekingese: Size

The Tibetan spaniel is quite a small dog breed, reaching heights of only 8 to 10 inches and weighing between 9 and 15 pounds. And there isn’t a big difference between males and females. These dogs have long legs, a slight build, small heads with a longer muzzle than the Pekingese, and pointy ears. Although they are relatives of the Pekingese, they are a separate breed. Additionally, the Tibetan spaniel is a companion breed. Monks in Tibetan monasteries kept them as guard dogs, but Europeans keep them as lapdogs.

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The Pekingese is a toy breed. Pekingese are usually between 6 to 9 inches tall and weigh between 7 and 14 pounds. These dogs grow to various sizes, such as the standard, mini, and sleeve sizes. They are sturdy with short legs, bigger heads than the Tibetan spaniel, a short flat muzzle, and round ears. Pekingese are known for their distinctive rolling gait.


The Tibetan spaniel typically lives between 12 and 15 years. But, this period depends on their quality of care and any underlying or congenital illnesses.

The lifespan of the Pekingese is the same as that of the Tibetan spaniel. However, Pekingese are susceptible to breathing difficulties, which can negatively affect their lifespan.

Tibetan Spaniel vs. Pekingese: Coat

The Pekingese coat is longer than the Tibetan spaniel, which tends to shed more than the Pekingese. Neither breed is hypoallergenic.

The Tibetan spaniel has shorter fur than the Pekingese, although their coat is not hypoallergenic like some other breeds. Besides this characteristic, Tibetan spaniels are prone to shedding.

Pekingese have longer coats than Tibetan spaniels, and like the spaniel, its hair is not hypoallergenic. Nevertheless, Pekingese shed less than Tibetan spaniels but still need regular brushing and grooming to maintain their coats in top shape.

Tibetan Spaniel vs. Pekingese: Origin

The Tibetan spaniel was bred in the Buddhist monasteries of Tibet with a history that experts trace back to around 2,000 years ago. Notably, the Buddhist monks and wealthy citizens used the Tibetan spaniel as a guard dog.

Additionally, the Tibetan spaniel was known as the “little lion” because of the furry mane around their faces. Monks also gave these spaniels to royalty as gifts to show reverence. Also, the monks favored the Tibetan spaniels to warn them of approaching strangers.

Tibetan monks also needed dogs as guards, yet small enough not to intimidate visitors. They chose well as the Tibetan spaniels sat on top of monastery walls and as lookouts with keen eyesight that allowed them to see for great distances. They provided an excellent warning system.

The Pekingese is believed to have been bred from the Tibetan spaniel. These adorable pets were favorite companions of royalty, who often carried them around. And even royalty used them as guard dogs in palaces and was often called the “lion dog” because of their courageous natures. However, Pekingese are stubborn little dogs and often do their own thing. But because of their attributes, only members of the royal family were entitled to own a Pekingese.

Tibetan Spaniel vs. Pekingese: Intelligence

Tibetan spaniels are intelligent dogs, observant, capable of picking up on the slightest noise, and are also not very stubborn. However, neither are they people pleasers, having very independent natures.

Likewise, Pekingese are pretty intelligent and can be little vocal dogs when they perceive anything as suspicious. However, unlike the Tibetan spaniel, they are much more stubborn, precisely knowing what they want.


Tibetan spaniels are highly adaptable little dogs. This flexible nature served the Tibetan monks well. As a result, Tibetan spaniels are generally “happy” little dogs.

Tibetan spaniels are highly affectionate towards their family members and friendly to others. In addition, they are playful and make good companions for first-time dog owners. Fortunately, these pets don’t need a lot of exercise and do well in apartment buildings.

Pekingese were bred as companion dogs because of their loyalty and affectionate personalities. However, the Pekingese are very stubborn and not afraid to communicate their likes or dislikes.

Like the Tibetan spaniel, the Pekingese don’t need strenuous exercise. They also love to play, which is often enough exercise for them. Because they are small and don’t need a lot of activity, the Pekingese also do well in apartments.

Tibetan Spaniel puppy playing on the grass.
According to the AKC breed standard, Tibetan spaniels can have one of eight different coat colors. White or parti-colored markings are also acceptable.

©Lambos Pavlides/Shutterstock.com

Tibetan Spaniel vs. Pekingese: With Children

Tibetan spaniels do well in families with children because of their friendly and outgoing natures. Besides, they love children and are usually very patient and gentle. Nevertheless, you should always supervise children when playing with any pet.

Similarly, Pekingese love and adore children. They are not as patient and gentle as the Tibetan spaniel but are very good with children. However, parents must teach their children not to pick up Pekingese, as they are small and can be hurt easily.

In Legends

According to a popular Tibetan legend, Tibetan spaniels were trained to spin the monks’ prayer wheels. However, it is unclear if this is true. Nevertheless, they were companions to the monks, lamas, and royalty.

There are two legends about the Pekingese origin. One tells the story of a lion and a marmoset who fell in love. However, because of their size difference, their love couldn’t be. So the lion went to see the Buddha. When the Buddha heard the lion’s story, he shrank the lion to the marmoset’s size. The lion and the marmoset were happy. The Pekingese were the result of their union.

According to another legend, a butterfly and a lion fell in love. They knew that the size difference was a problem. So they went to the Buddha. The Buddha allowed them to change, to meet each other in the middle. The Pekingese was the result.

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Calmest dog - tibetan spaniel laying in the grass
The Tibetan spaniel is very aware of its owner's emotions.
© Elisa Putti/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with more than eight years of content creation experience. My content writing covers diverse genres, and I have a business degree. I am also the proud author of my memoir, My Sub-Lyme Life. This work details the effects of living with undiagnosed infections like rickettsia (like Lyme). By sharing this story, I wish to give others hope and courage in overcoming their life challenges. In my downtime, I value spending time with friends and family.

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