The Tibetan Terrier is a medium-size breed of dog originated in Tibet. Despite its name, it is not a member of the terrier group. The breed acquired its name from European travelers who first encountered the breed due to its resemblance to terriers. The Tibetan name for the breed, Tsang Apso, roughly translates to shaggy or bearded (apso) dog, from the province of Tsang. Some old travelers' accounts give the name Dokhi Apso or outdoor Apso, indicating a working dog which lives outdoors.
Bred and raised in monasteries by lamas over 2000 years ago, Tibetan Terriers were kept as good luck charms, mascots, watchdogs, and companions. In addition to herding sheep, they were also used to retrieve articles that fell below mountain sides.
Known as the Holy Dogs of Tibet, they were never sold but only given as gifts by monks to promote good fortune. As such, the early history of the breed is linked to only a handful of foundation dogs. Recent DNA analysis has concluded that the Tibetan Terrier is descended from the most ancient dog breeds.