CHOOSING A PUPPY FOR SHOW

Sorry, there is no foolproof way of choosing a puppy for show in this breed- I've found Lhasa's very difficult to analyse at around 8 weeks, as they go through many stages of development before full maturity.

If you have both parents, or know them and their ancestors, this is a big advantage, as you will have an indication of general skull and eye shapes, pigment and coat texture etc.

I just like to watch puppies as a whole eating, playing, even sleeping; this will tell you much more than endeavouring to 'set them up' to assess them.  Usually there will be one that I'll  say,  "I like that ," not having a definite reason why - it just seems to look right and everything fits together well.  Therefore, it is balance that is very important factor in the breed - the height to length ratios must be correct, otherwise the puppy will look too long or stuffy in neck.  Assuming we've selected 'the one,' we then come down to the 'tricky' bits. Mouths;  As we are striving to produce an abnormality (i.e. a reverse scissor bite ) all sorts of horrors can happen.  You need to look for a broad lower jaw, lower lip just visible, and teeth in a straight a line as possible.  I've found that if the expression looks right at 8 weeks, the mouth will usually finish correctly.  You can usually spot a scissor bite without opening the mouth as there will be lack of underjaw, thus spoiling the expression.

Don't forget to count the incisors, of which there should be six ( these can be seen as little bumps in the gum before the baby teeth erupt ).  If the lower baby canines are on the outside of those in the upper jaw,  chances are the bite will be the required reverse scissor.  Lhasas can be slow with dentition - it can be quite normal for puppies to be 5-6 months old before the second teeth are through.  When changing teeth, they will settle back correctly when teething is complete.  Tight reverse scissor bites are ideal but difficult to maintain in a breeding programme - personally I wouldn't penalise a dog for being a little undershot, as long as the lower teeth are not permanently visible.

Poor pigment:  This can be a big problem, and a definite 'no-no' in my book.  I find puppies whose noses are black when their eyes open will stay black.  Breeding out lack of pigment can take up to five generations - it is much better to avoid this problem;  our standard makes no provision for 'winter nose'.

Coats:  Again the parents can be a good guideline - good will beget good.  Gold and cream coats with no brindle factor can be huge and soft at the puppy stage but usually harden as the dog matures.

Basic structure:  we are looking for a sound, sturdy frame with no exaggerations.  The puppy who looks right standing and moving will, on examination, be the one with a good lay of shoulder, correct length of rib and strong hindquarters.  Short upper arms and upright shoulders will not give the required arch of neck flowing into a level topline - they will result in a stuffy neck and short, choppy front action.

Look for a nice long ribcage extending well back, giving a shortish loin area.  Short ribcages that do not extend far enough back will result in a poor top line and weak loin, making the hindquarters look like they belong to another dog! And movement will be uncoordinated.  I look for a puppy with a natural head carriage - so much easier than pushing and pulling into shape.

Assuming we have straightish front legs, it is advisable while the puppy is still growing to restrain it from climbing stairs etc, or jumping on and off settees - and only take the puppy for short walks.  To develop properly, Lhasa puppies need lots of rest periods.

In a nutshell, I would advise learning as much as possible about the breed - visit shows (particularly breed club ones) , talk to exhibitors, read about the breed, and just look at Lhasas.  If you do this you will get a picture of the lines you like- sort out in your mind what are the chief factors you must have (and the ones you need to avoid) and then be positive and go with your gut instinct.  You will inevitably get faults as well as virtues but you should end up with a puppy free from any major faults, full of character who can give you many years of pleasure and perhaps a few red cards along the way.

Above all, don't be afraid to ask for advice - we are all really quite approachable (if you choose the right moment - i.e. not just before going in the ring!).  I can well remember taking my first litter to Ann Matthews (Hardacre) for her assessment.  She was so kind and advised me well - and they weren't even by her dog! On another occasion, a puppy I thought was the bees knees was seen by my dear friend Jean Blyth (Saxonsprings); she said, "well, I wouldn't want him any longer", which made me look at him again.  If I look at photos of him now I cringe - he really was very long.

We all have to start somewhere, so look, learn and try to be positive.  Good Luck!

Madaleine Lewis