Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Tibecot is a hybrid dog that is a cross between the Tibetan Terrier and the Coton de Tulear. The latter is a relatively rare breed, which makes their hybrids even more uncommon. Both parent dogs share similar characteristics, such as being longer than they are tall and a long coat. The Tibecot is a small to medium-sized dog.

The Tibecot is a happy fellow but requires human company to be happy. Whilst there’s no denying this is a great trait in a pet, it can also make for problem behaviours when the dog is left alone for long periods. The Tibecot is a moderately active dog, which along with their sunny personality makes them a great match for people seeking a devoted canine companion who are time-rich but energy-poor.

About & History

Hybrid breeds, such as the Tibecot, are relatively new on the scene and therefore their story is that of the parent breeds.

The Tibetan Terrier

For many centuries, the Tibetan Terrier was a well-kept secret. These endearing dogs were rarely seen outside their native Tibet, where there were known as the “Holy Dogs of Tibet”. They were so highly prized that to sell one of these dogs was said to bring bad luck on the seller. This meant they only given away as gifts, and so until around a century ago they had not been seen outside Tibet.

This changed in 1922 when an English doctor was gifted a female Tibetan terrier by the relative of a grateful patient. At a later date, the same doctor was gifted a male Tibetan terrier, which lead to the dogs being bred outside of Tibet.

The Coton de Tulear

The Coton de Tulear is named for its place of origin, Tulear in Madagascar, and their wonderful puffball coat. It’s thought the breed was the result of native dogs breeding with those that accompanied visiting sailors. As such, their heritage includes a mix of blood from the Bichon Frise, the Maltese, the Havanese, and the Bolognese. Having only reached Europe in the 1970s, the Coton de Tulear remains relatively uncommon breed in Europe.


A Tibecot pup may take after either parent or be a blend of both. The latter creates a small to medium-sized dog that is longer than they are tall, and blessed with a long coat. They have a well-proportioned skull with wideset eyes and a muzzle that is neither too flat nor overly long. The Tibecot has drop ears that reach their chin and can display a range endearing emotions. They have a long sturdy body, which is topped off with a tail that may be carried over their back and is festooned with long fur.

A physical characteristic shared by both the Tibetan Terrier and the Coton de Tulear is an abundance of hair that can grow quite long. The Coton de Tulear has a white coat, so pale coats tend to predominate in the Tibecot, with the Tibetan introducing the possibility of dark brown or black colouration.

Character & Temperament

The Tibecot is a jolly fellow that is fun to be around. They are a people-orientated dog, most especially enjoying the company of their owner. This has the potential to become problematic if the dog becomes over-attached and they may struggle to cope when left alone. The dog may express their disquiet by barking, chewing, or other unwanted behaviours.

The Tibecot has a bright mind and enjoys the mental challenge of reward-based obedience training. This is something that is often overlooked, given the dog’s small size, and yet it provides a great opportunity for one-to-one bonding with the dog.


There is a tendency to overlook the need for training with small dogs. However, this would be a mistake for the Tibecot, as they are intelligent dogs that thrive on mental stimulation. Even if their owner doesn’t perceive the need for a highly obedient dog, they should think about teaching their Tibecot a range of tricks, by way of stimulating the dog’s mind.


The rarity of this hybrid means there is little data regarding the health problems to which they are prone. To find out more means looking at the parent breeds in order to see what problems they might passed down to their offspring.

Patellar Luxation

In common with many small dog breeds, the Tibecot has a tendency to wobbly kneecaps (patellas). Clues that a dog has this condition include skipped steps on a back leg and difficulty jumping up. The abnormal movement of the kneecap has two main effects: it causes the joint to lock in the wrong position, plus when it pops out of place it rubs against bone to cause painful inflammation.

Mild cases can be managed with rest and pain-relieving medications. However, the most severely affected dogs require reconstructive surgery to realign the bones and correct the mechanical issues.

Eye Problems

The parent breeds are prone to a range of eye problems with the potential to cause premature sight loss. These include the development of juvenile (early onset) cataracts, progress retinal atrophy (thinning of the retina), and lens luxation.

Whilst surgery might be an option for lens-related issues, sadly, there is no treatment for degeneration of the retina that then leads to blindness.

Cerebellar Abiotrophy

This is a degenerative condition affecting the part of the brain involved in the co-ordination of movement. Symptoms often develop in the first year of life and include signs, such as tremors, poor balance, and a bizarre high-stepping gait. As the condition deteriorates, the dog may constantly tumble over and their quality of life becomes affected.

As a degenerative condition, there is no cure for cerebellar abiotrophy. Treatment is largely aimed at giving drugs to reduce the dog’s distress or anxiety, along with anti-oxidant supplements to nourish the brain.

Dental Disease

In common with many small dogs, the Tibecot is prone to dental disease, such as inflamed gums, wobbly teeth, and tooth root abscesses. Key to reducing the risk of dental disease is good oral hygiene with regular tooth brushing. A Tibecot owner is well-advised to teach their pup from a young age to tolerate a toothbrush, to keep their mouth in tip-top health.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Tibecot is playful and energetic but not built for sustained exercise. Their needs are best met by periods of energetic play spread over the day, such as chasing a ball or playing fetch. In addition, they will enjoy moderate walks three times a day, rather than one or two long walks. This affords them a chance to stretch their legs and explore their territory, but without being over-exerted.


To keep a Tibecot’s coat in tip-top condition requires dedication from their owner. This is because their coat is long and the hairs may be fine or silky, which makes it prone to tangling. Not only does grooming involve a daily commitment to comb out knots, but parlour visits to keep the coat trimmed, and also monthly bathing to keep their white-coat spotless.

Homecare involves spritzing the coat with a detangling mist and then carefully combing it through. Particular attention should be paid to the long fur between toes and also areas where fur rubs against fur, such as behind the ears, armpits, and groin as these places are prone to matts.

Another important part of grooming is dental care. This little dog will benefit from daily tooth brushing, which removes plaque before it can harden into tartar. This helps to keep the dog’s mouth healthy and reduces the risk of bad breath, wobbly teeth, or even dental abscesses forming.

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