Let’s Talk Breed Education!
A Forum on THE TIBETAN TERRIER
with SuSAn CArr & ShAron LyonS
“TIBETAN TERRIERS ARE ATHLETIC, A NATURALLY APPEARING BREED AND BEAUTIFUL TO LOOK AT.”
I live in Tolland, Connecticut. I am a retired Learning Disabilities Teacher. I traveled with my hus- band—great times. I have been involved with purebred dogs for over 44 years, obtaining my first Tibetan Terrier in 1975. My hus- band and I showed the dogs from the get go. I began judging in 1996—Tibetan Terriers, Scottish Terriers and Whippets were the primary breeds.
(Photo by D. Dennis, courtesy of tibetanterriers.net)
1. Describe the breed in three words. Tibetan Terriers are athletic, a naturally appearing breed and beautiful to look at.
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“I owneD A TIbeTAn TerrIer beCAuSe when I DID A SweePSTAkeS, I FeLL In Love wITh TheIr HAPPY, TAIL-WAGGING TEMPERAMENT!”
2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? The breed is unique in having snowshoe flat feet. Double coats, square compact and powerful bodies without exaggerations are also must have traits. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? The balance is lost in many Tibetan Terriers—upright shoulders and extreme rears. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? The size today in the Tibetan Terrier is staying within the standard. Many breeders, handlers and owners are presenting their dogs well groomed without offensive scissoring or sculpturing—the two serious faults in the standard. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? New judges may be impressed with a generic show dog look instead of the form and function of a natural looking and well-balanced Tibetan Terrier. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. Tibetan Terriers are personalities. They are athletic and playful. Tibetan Terriers were bred to be companions and best friends and they take these roles seriously—from the couch to hiking in the mountains with their families. 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? It was funny when a fellow exhibitor yelled stop at us before we drove off into the sunset with our awning ripped off the van and still staked into the ground. SHARON LYONS
To date I have over 250 Champions. I still show my own dogs in the classes. My children and grandchildren are the only ones I love beyond my dogs!
1. Describe the breed in three words. Happy, beautiful dogs.
2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? Square, level topline and with an effortless side gait.
3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? I see too much sculpturing. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? Most entries I think the quality has been very good. I think the breeders have been diligent! 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? They have to get their hands on them. They should have substance, rib spring, fore chest, etc. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. I owned a Tibetan Terrier because when I did a Sweep- stakes, I fell in love with their happy, tail-wagging temperament! I think temperament is the most heritably trait, so keep up the good work!
I live in lower New York State. I’m retired, so I have lots of time to show my Dalmatians and go to all of my grandchildrens’ games. I’ve been breeding and showing for over 45 years. I’ve been judg- ing for about 25 years. I have been breeding Dalmatians for 45 years.
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THOUGHTS ON EVALUATING TIBETAN TERRIERS
By Gary & Susan Carr Salishan Tibetan Terriers
T he Tibetan Terrier breed has been in exis- tence for over two thou- sand years. Coming from a di ffi cult part of the world, a ff ected by extremes in climate, the dogs survived because of nature’s design. Tibetan Terriers are a strong, agile, compact and powerful medium sized breed. Th ey are in balance, with no one feature superseding any other. Nothing should be exaggerated. Th ey are a natural breed without man made attributes. As with almost any other breed, Tibet- an Terriers are examined on the table and judged on the ground. When you stand back and look at them on the table, you should look for squareness and balance, with all parts in moderation. Th ey come in many colors and markings, with all being equally acceptable and correct. Before examination, think of the essential characteristics that make this breed unique: 1. A strong, compact and agile body. 2. Unusual large, fl at feet. 3. Profuse double coat. 4. A fall of hair over the eyes and a notice- able cheekbone curve (zygomatic arch). 5. Moderate size, with the average dog ranging from 15 to 16 inches at the withers. Approach the Tibetan Terrier from the front. Lift the fall so that they can look out and aren’t startled by a quick reach in. Dark eyes with fi lled eye rims are fairly wide set. Th e ears are pendant with v-shaped leathers. A fi lled black nose is desirable. Th e cheekbones curve without bulging, but you should feel the zygomat- ic arch. Th e distance from the eye to the
tip of the nose equals the distance from the eye to the occipital bone. Th ere is a distinct but not exaggerated stop in front of the eye. Th e standard allows the Tibet- an Terrier to have a tight scissors bite, a level bite, a reverse scissors bite, or even a slightly undershot bite. Feel with your hands as you examine the Tibetan Terrier—profuse coat may hide the actual structure. Some fore chest is desirable. Forelegs are straight and strong, and the distance from the withers to the elbow equals the distance from the elbow to the ground. Th e Tibetan Terrier foot is unique, and is a primary identifying characteristic of the breed. Large and rounded, the foot is e ff ectively fl at, but never splayed. Feel that there is little or no arch. Th e Tibetan Terrier must stand well down on his pads, not up on his toes. Th e foot is fl exible and has strong, thick pads. Th e neck should have a graceful arch and should blend smoothly into well laid back shoulders. Th e upper arm is angled back so that the dog stands well over his feet. Th e mature dog is well ribbed up and the brisket extends to the top of the elbow. Th e length of the body from the point of shoulder to the root of tail equals the height at the withers. Th is allows the dogs to have room to turn quickly and move with fl exibility. Th e back is level with a slight arch of muscling rising over the loin. Th e tail is set on high and carried in a curve over the back. Moderate angulation in the rear is typical and should be in balance with the angulation of the forequarters. Th e hind- quarters are muscular and strong with well bent sti fl es, and the hocks are well let down. With the rear pasterns perpendicu-
lar to the ground, the toes will be on a line directly under the point of buttocks. Feel the Tibetan Terriers distinctive double coat, which may be straight or wavy. Correct grooming is required by the Standard. Sculpturing, scissoring, stripping and shaving are totally contrary to breed type and each is a serious fault as de fi ned by the Standard. Th ey are a coated breed, not a coat breed designed by man. Th e Tibetan Terrier should be shown naturally, clean and brushed. Th e Tibetan Terrier judged on the ground must move freely and e ff ortlessly, with a characteristic lightness and spring to its step. When viewed from the front or rear, the forelegs and hind legs travel in the same plane, with no evidence of crabbing. Seen from the side there is good extension in balance with powerful rear drive. Th e back remains steady as the dog moves—the back pads of the fl at foot striking the ground fi rst, and the weight rolling smoothly forward. Th e Standard contains no disquali fi ca- tions. Remember both in structure and in function the Tibetan Terrier remains very much the mountain dog of Tibet. BIO Tibetan Terriers have decorated the Carr’s lives for thirty five years. They have both been honored to have judged their National Specialty. Gary also co-wrote and was the illustrator of the “Illustrated Guide To The Tibetan Terrier.” Susan is a past president of the Tibetan Terrier Club of America. Together they have bred and/or owned over three hundred Tibetan Terrier champions, with seven generations of Group I winners and Best In Show.
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LIVING WITH THE TIBETAN TERRIER by ANDREA REIMAN
I f one seeks to understand the rug- ged, versatile, charismatic Tibetan Terrier, it is helpful to know about the place from which they evolved, for the country that is Tibet is embodied in the personality, demeanor, and phy- sique of the TT. Having lived thousands of years in a geography of extremes is no incidental matter when considering how such a landscape might have impacted the TT temperament. Would not an environ- ment with wide altitude variations, harsh temperatures, and precipitation extremes have favored a dog with an adaptable, nuanced personality? Historically used as caravan dogs, as guards for livestock and monasteries, and as traveling companions, TTs are well- suited for the multi-tasking demands of contemporary life. A ff ectionately called “little people” in Tibet, they are a discern- ing, clever dog, deeply bonded to their family, but often possessing an array of contradictory behaviors. Are they very active? Well yes, and no. Do they like people? Again, yes and no. Are they easy to train? Most definitely yes, but not likely in the way you imagine. Are they sensitive? Well yes, but they also are quite tenacious. Are they hardy? Yes! Th ey are an extremely robust dog, but a pine needle caught between the back legs on a walk can be a “man down” event. Th ey are drama prone, but also stoic. Th ey absolutely love snow but abhor rain. Th ey will push the boundaries with their ornery, mischievous antics, but sincerely want to do the right thing. Are you get- ting the feel of life with a TT yet? Read on to determine if this might be a suitable companion for you and your family. Are they very active? Indeed, they enjoy vigorous walks or jogs, can hike tirelessly in challenging terrain, and engage in ath- letic, acrobatic style chase games with fel- low housemates. But they are also content to lounge around the house or o ffi ce with their people, entertain themselves quietly with a toy, or happily take a place on the chair or sofa beside their person. Th ey
generally adapt to the energy level of their household, satisfied to do whatever it is their people are doing. Do they like people? Most definitely! Th ey may be one of the most people-orient- ed dog breeds, bonding deeply to their fam- ily, and specifically to their person. Con- versely, they are generally not a breed with an innate drive to make friends of strangers. In this regard, they are classic introverts, preferring a meaningful conversation with one person at a gathering rather than small talk with dozens of persons. Th ey are often sparing and cautious of strangers, and many are not even mildly tempted to take food from an unknown person. Are they easy to train? If you have proven yourself worthy of their trust and established a relationship of cooperation, you will find few breeds as quick-witted as the TT. But in the final analysis, and exe- cuted with classical TT humor, you will at some point realize that it was they that have been training you. Among the most versatile of breeds, the Tibetan Terrier can be found competing in conformation, rally, obedience and tracking events. Th e first TT obtained its Barn Hunt Title in 2014. TTs, who love to run and chase, are perfect candidates for the AKC Coursing Test. Countless TTs have earned their Canine Good Citizen title and excel in therapy work at hospitals and schools. Tibetan terriers (who are not terriers by definition) are sensitive, intuitive beings. Th ey learn quickly and find repetition to be soul crushing. If you have aspirations of training a performance TT, it will be ben- eficial to develop a taste for the unexpected, possess a healthy dose of humility, and have a good sense of humor. Th e best training sur- renders any aspect of imposing your will and requires an attitude free of narrowly defined outcomes. Come show day (conformation, rally, obedience, agility) rest assured your TT knows what it knows, and what is expected. Any doubt on your part conveyed by exces- sive drills and nervous blather is likely to backfire. Th ey will always be there to remind you (and wonder why they have to repeat
it!) that trust is essential, few things are to be taken so seriously, and the best memories created are those that bring laughter. Th e soft side of the TT is counterbal- anced by a curious mix of tenacity, mischie- vousness, and an independent mind capable of creative, often amusing, problem solving. Th ere is a TT that ascends the long hard- wood staircase leading up to the bedrooms backwards—rear legs first! Th e owners, unsure how this behavior developed as it began when they were gone, suspect it was a response to the slippery surface of newly refinished stairs. Another TT took a trea- sured wedding bracelet outside and buried it in the snow while her owner was on a business trip. Fortunately when spring thaw came, it was rediscovered out in the yard, along with several other pieces of jewelry the TT had safely buried. In describing life with TTs, a metaphor might be useful. Consider classic themes in books or movies where the authority fig- ures (often parents) are uncomprehending of their unorthodox, freethinking coun- terparts (their o ff spring). A TT could be easily cast as the actor (we’ll assume this is an animated movie) that plays the aspiring musician son of a banker father who instead wants him to go to law school. Th e inevita- ble drama plays out, and if it is a happy end- ing, the TT/son becomes a successful rock star, reconciled with the now proud father who finds a new place managing his son’s vast monetary assets—or some such twist. Th is is a way of explaining that the TT is not the breed for everyone. Th ey really lack a typical modern canine personality in many ways, have many primal canine behaviors intact, and possess more than a few feline characteristics. Th is may be why many creative people make an excel- lent match for a TT companion, as they inherently sympathize with an out-of-the- box soul. But just like the banker father in the above scenario, many others will have their staid world cracked open should they make the choice to live with a TT. Cheers and peace to all who share their lives with this remarkable breed from Tibet!
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