THE LHASA APSO OF TODAY STILL A TRUE TIBETAN BREED?
THIS IS a question
breeders have to ask themselves, I think.
Lhasas that first made their appearance at British shows at the beginning of
the 20th century possessed
the unique qualities that enabled them to survive and thrive in the very
inhospitable climate of their native country, Tibet. I
do not mean that they were just heavily coated but that nature had given them
the skull shape, natural lung capacity and very sound natural compact balance
needed to cope with the dramatic climatic conditions of a high attitude home
and primitive lifestyle. Recently I judged a club championship show and was
dismayed to find a high proportion of incorrect broad skulls and ribcages,
plus really poor front construction on a lot of young males. This was made
equally more surprising by the high quality of the young females, although
even their fronts could generally have been better.
My findings made me
reflect on whether, as a breed, we are doing enough to instruct new breeders
on the very definite points of the Standard, and
the necessity of them.
This year our club ran a
very successful symposium, together with a seminar that committee members and
knowledgeable people in the breed were involved in. Luckily, these were well
attended and we tried to emphasise both the written and unwritten Standard.
However, I know other
Lhasa clubs who had to abandon planned teach-ins through lack of support. Why
is this? Are we becoming apathetic and complacent? Can a Lhasa win without
necessarily possessing the breed type our
Standard calls for? Unfortunately I think that this is very possible and feel
it is up to our specialist judges to be vigorous in the protection of our
I personally believe it
is possible to breed Lhasa Apsos that are true in type to their Tibetan
forefathers and have the glamour and showmanship that is necessary to take
them to the top in the modern show ring.
Perhaps more care should
be taken in the selection of show puppies, and planned matings. A careful,
honest list of your bitch’s virtues and faults would be a first step -
after all if you mate broad skull to broad skull you
will perforce produce puppies with broad skulls (this, basically, is how to
create a new breed - by
doubling up on certain features). These puppies in turn will be more certain
to throw broad skulls, even when mated to a dog with a moderately
It is the
same with poor fronts, bad mouths, round ribcages etc... You should look to
mate your bitch to a dog that possesses strength of features where yours is
weak. Take advice from more experienced breeders on the quality and selection
of your stock.
My mother and I believed
that a young male had to be of excellent quality to even consider keeping him -
he had to possess a good front, head and ribcage
because he would be required to sire more puppies and throw his type much more
than a bitch who would possibly have just a couple of litters.
Having just been
involved in a Shih Tzu symposium I feet even more strongly that care must be
taken to keep the right balance, skull and ribcage on
the Lhasa Apso. For centuries the Lhasa lived in Tibet. If after just 100
years in this country it degenerated into a poor replica of another breed, I
would be totally ashamed