Let’s Talk Breed Education!
UNDERSTANDING THE LHASA APSO PERSONALITY
BY JOYCE JOHANSON
T he Lhasa Apso personality is unique and prized by those who love the breed. Although the per- sonality of every individual within the breed dif- fers, most have the following characteristics to one extent or another. Independent/Stubborn: Cat owners will understand a Lhasa personality, since Lhasas have a cat-like tendency to be rather independent and sometimes stubborn. When you ask them to “come,” they often take their own sweet time about it or look at you, very regally, as if to say, “Who? Me? Come to you? Whatever for?” Sensitive: Lhasas hate strict discipline and are best trained using a reward system. If you correct a Lhasa harshly, expect some future retaliation! However, high praise and rewards (especially yummy treats) yield great results. Devoted: A Lhasa is loyal to those he loves and to those who love him in return. When we have placed adult Lhasas in pet homes, they have easily transferred that loyalty to their new owners. The same is true for our show dogs who have left us for brief periods for a sojourn with professional handlers. Lhasas grow to love those they are with, who feed and care for and love them in return. Lhasas are devoted to family and home and, although content to be with and play with all fam- ily members, will often chose one “favorite” family member. Playful, Frisky, Fun-Loving, Clownish, Spirited, Happy: You get the picture! Most Lhasas love life and have an exuber- ant attitude that shows it. Many have a sense of humor and you’d swear they were grinning after pulling one of their little pranks! Some are “rough and tumble” types, and many Lhasa owners enjoy training these dogs for agility and rally compe- titions. Other Lhasas tend to be more regal and expect to be waited on hand and foot. Most retain their exuberance and happy attitude to the end of their lives, their spirit hampered only by the ravages of time on their bodies. Alert: Remember, the breed was originally bred to be an interior sentinel. They have keen hearing and will bark when they think an alert is necessary. Some even bark when there seems to be nothing to bark about. Lhasas are vocal, but not yappy, dogs. Suspicious of Strangers: Again, their heritage calls for them to be suspicious. The descriptor “chary” in the Stan- dard refers to the Lhasa’s aloofness around strangers. Lhasas like to size up a stranger before accepting him/her as a friend. They do not like people who come on too strong when they first meet. The proper way to greet a Lhasa is to let him come to you. Do not swoop down upon him, no matter how cute or cuddly he seems. Your welcome will not be appreciated! (Of course, some Lhasas have not read the Standard and have never met a stranger!) If you visit the home of a Lhasa owner, and the Lhasa seems shy and reluctant to greet you, ignore him. Chat with the owner, hold a friendly hand out to the dog when he approaches to check you out. He’ll let you know when he is ready for a pat on the head.
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DOWNEY PHOTO BY DIANE ©
PHOTO BY DOWNEY ©
BOOTH PHOTO BY ALYSSIA ©
J O Y S L Y N ’ S L H A S A A P S O S From our first champion (1976) to our latest champion (2021), our goal has been to preserve breed type by producing Lhasa Apsos that adhere to the breed standard in structure and temperament. Pictured here are a few of our many champions through the years. est. 1973
Joyce & Lynn Johanson | email@example.com | 309-837-1665
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UNDERSTANDING THE LHASA APSO PERSONALITY
“THE BREED IS HARDY AND INDEPENDENT; DIGNIFIED AND ALOOF; INQUISITIVE AND INTELLIGENT; ACTIVE AND INTERESTED IN THE WORLD AROUND THEM.”
Smart: Lhasas are thinkers and plan- ners. (I’ve had Lhasas that are smart enough not to show how smart they are!) Lhasas remember people, places, and events. They understand what you say to them. If they could talk, they would carry on quite a conversation! Independent: Lhasas do not need constant companionship. Yes, they enjoy being with their people, but they are also happy to entertain themselves. They love toys and “chew” bones. They appreciate walks and exercise outside but, unless you happen to own one that is “high energy,” they do not need a great deal of exercise. Superior: Most Lhasas know they come from an ancient heritage where they were highly prized. They know they are
special, and they expect you to know it too! They may present a regal or aloof attitude. Not Lap Dogs! While their cute expres- sive faces and lovely coats tend to make people think Lhasas are lap dogs, their looks are deceiving. Those who expect their Lhasa to sit on a pillow and look pretty are in for a surprise. The breed is hardy and independent; dignified and aloof; inquisi- tive and intelligent; active and interested in the world around them. Most prefer being with you rather than being held (for long periods of time) by you. They want to be your companions and they certainly enjoy their share of hugs and cuddles, but make no mistake; the Lhasa Apso is not an ornament or a lap dog and should not be treated as such.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Joyce Johanson (Joyslyn’s Lhasa Apsos ROM) has owned, loved, bred, and exhibited Lhasa Apsos since 1973. Joyce earned the Register of Merit Breeder Award from the American Lhasa Apso Club (ALAC) in 1985 and is an AKC Breeder of Merit. She has owned, bred, or co-bred over 80 champions to date, including Best in Specialty winners, All-Breed Group winners, and NOHS Best in Show and top-placing winners. Joyce is a member of NAIA and OHA, one All-Breed club, the Greater Milwaukee Lhasa Apso Club, and the Twin Cities Lhasa Apso Club. She has served on the ALAC Board of Directors, as either a Director or an Officer, from 1984 to the present. She currently chairs ALAC’s Membership, Handbook, and Judges’ Education Committees and was a former chair of ALAC’s Breeder Education Committee and Nomination Committee. She is also a member of the Breeder Education and Breed Standard Committees. She is the proud recipient of ALAC’s Member of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards.
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THE ALMOST PERFECT DOG COURTESY OF THE AMERICAN LHASA APSO CLUB
GUESS THE BREED A first encounter with this elegant little dog will have you admiring its beautiful coat, its regal essence and the human quality of its eyes. This dog seems to float across the floor with the balance and movement of a Thai Chi instructor! After forming your first impression, you will start thinking about whether the dog could fit your lifestyle. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” It is one of the most versatile and adaptable breeds on the planet. Its temperament is suited for tiny apartment living in the city, living in the ’burbs or romping in the open spaces of a country estate or farm. Its thick, layered coat provides the insulation needed to make it comfortable in any climate, hot or cold: romping through freshly fallen snow or basking in the sun! That’s not all about these lovable dogs! The breed is sturdy and seldom plagued with health issues. Their average lifespan ranges from fifteen to eighteen years; the oldest documented of this breed lived to age twenty-four! Many owners of these dogs will tell you stories about them living to a ripe old age while remarking about the mental and physical toughness the dogs displayed to the very end. The dog’s appearance is sophisticated and ele- gant; but underneath its appearance is a dog with endurance, energy and hardiness: a rough-and tum- ble romp with the toughest ten-year-old boy or girl finds this dog asking for more! If you are thinking about a dog that you can train to enter agility trials, the breed has established itself as agile and focused. On the flip side, this dog senses when it needs to be calm, loving and comforting. It is a great compan- ion for the elderly and is often trained as a Therapy Dog. Oh yes, it is a lap dog, too. Content to lie by your side or in your lap, the dog adjusts its behavior to that of its beloved humans. LIVING WITH THE BREED These dogs, compact and sturdy, are considered small dogs. The females usually weigh about twelve to fouteen pounds and the males are about fifteen to eighteen pounds. They are about 10 to 11 inches in height at the shoulder.
If your lifestyle includes car trips, your dog will be the first in the car. After gazing out the window, your traveling companion will quick- ly settle into a nap in the back seat and will happily take bathroom breaks when you do! Being very sociable, these dogs get along with other household crit- ters such as cats. In fact, they are happy to sleep side-by-side with other animals, assuming the introductions to other creatures are correctly facilitated by humans. There’s more! Being an excellent watchdog, he will “sound off ” his bark alarm when something is not right. These dogs exhibit an aloof and wary reaction to strangers until given the “all clear” by their own- ers. You see, the dog’s history of watching over its owners dates back to the year 800 BC in Tibet. It was bred as a sentinel and companion in the monasteries and was the revered breed of Tibetan royalty. Its genet- ics are one of the most directly traceable to the ancient gray wolf and its “Being highly intelligent, these dogs are masters of observation and are quick learners. In fact, you will often hear dog owners commenting about the extent of their dog’s vocabulary; one owner documented seventy-five words to which the dog responded.”
history makes this breed intriguing. HOW TRAINABLE IS THIS DOG?
Being highly intelligent, these dogs are masters of observation and are quick learners. In fact, you will often hear dog owners comment- ing about the extent of their dog’s vocabulary; one owner documented seventy-five words to which the dog responded. Watching them perform tricks or competing in shows and/or agility trials, you will be convinced that seventy-five words may be an under- statement. Because these dogs are so intelligent, their owners must quickly become the leaders; otherwise, the dogs will gladly become the heads of your household! So why is this dog called “almost-perfect”? Some prospective owners shy away from its multi-layered coat which, left in full coat, can be a bit
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The Almost Perfect Dog
COURTESY OF THE AMERICAN LHASA APSO CLUB continued
SUBMITTED BY JULIE TIMBERS W hat does the future hold for the Lhasa Apso? In recent years, the Lhasa Apso has become a “low breed” count at AKC con- formation shows. AKC reports that the number of registered Lhasa Apsos has decreased by 70% in the last ten years! We also know that in 2018, members of the American Lhasa Apso Club (ALAC) registered less than 40 litters, which is directly related to aging and declining membership with very little new interest in the breed. The time has come: Lhasa Apso breeders/exhibitors cannot just hope there will be a turnaround in our breed’s number and popularity...it is time to take action before it’s too late. ALAC has recently put in place, a committee to take on the taunting task of “The Sustaining the Lhasa Apso For the Future Project.” The question is how do we create interest to bring new exhibitors and breeders to the breed? The Lhasa Apso is not alone, several other breeds find themselves in the same position of declining numbers. Working together with these breed clubs, the Sustaining the Future committee has begun a marketing campaign for the Lhasa Apso. After surveying the Lhasa Apso community, it seems that many of the younger generation do not know about the breed or they are under a false impression about the breed’s temperament and personality. What is the committee’s first step? Promote, promote, and promote! Make the Lhasa Apso a visible presence on the internet through Facebook and other social media. Promote and show the public that the Lhasa Apso’s loyalty, good health and long lives make them wonderful companion and family pets. How- ever, in the last decade the Lhasa Apso has proven to be so much more than just a “non-sporting” companion. The breed has excelled in all aspects of AKC events from agility, to nosework, to barnhunt to tricks titles. The breed is also proving to be wonderful therapy and emotional support dogs. Members of ALAC want the rest of the dog world and beyond to know that there is so much loyalty, love and versatility within the Lhasa Apso and to take a minute to contact a reputable preservation breeder and find out more about this beautiful, intelligent breed before it’s too late. Contact www.lhasaapso.org or www.akc.org for more information. SUSTAINING THE LHASA APSO
of a challenge to maintain. It does require regular grooming and brushing. However, the benefit of owning a dog that loses its hair similar to that of humans is they are low shedding; and therefore, there is very little vacuuming of dog hair for the owner. Owners who do not wish to keep the dog in full coat can opt for a puppy cut, which is adorable, still captures the beauty of their dog and requires very little grooming. If you haven’t guessed the name of this dog by now, it is not surprising. Often, this dog, because of its appearance, is considered a “designer dog” rather than a family all- around dog. Anyone who has owned this breed will tell you that a “designer dog” is far from the truth! In fact, once you give this breed a try, you will be hooked for life, whether you own one as a family pet, show one, or do agility trials or all of the above! The Breed: Lhasa Apso. So, don’t miss a chance to own this “almost-perfect” dog! HISTORY OF THE BREED Named for the ancient city of Lhasa in Tibet, the Lhasa Apso is the dog from the top of the world near Mount Everest! These highly intelligent and robust little dogs, raised to be companions to Tibetan monks, will bring some Zen to your life. This ancient dog will offer you unwaver- ing affection, love and protection just as his ancestors did for the Tibetan monks. Gifted with a “way of being” that pro- vides them with remarkable focus and intel- ligence, a keen sense of hearing and a confi- dent and feisty personality, these dogs were partnered with the noble Tibetan Mastiff. The Mastiff guarded the outside of the monastery while the little Lhasa Apsos were inside as sentinels, devotedly alerting the monks to possible intruders! The Lhasa’s genealogy places it as one of only fourteen breeds with DNA directly linked to the ancient gray wolf. Perhaps this genetic connection to the wolf accounts for the Lhasa being so physically and men- tally tough—with few health problems and longevity, the oldest documented lived to age 24. The dogs, whether in a short, puppy cut or in long, flowing coat, move with the grace and elegance of a super model. You cannot ignore the Lhasa’s overall physical beauty, coupled with his expressive eyes, often described as human-like, his black gum-drop nose and a personality that can only be acknowledged with lots of hugs! History suggests these loyal dogs would even crawl inside the sleeves of the monks’ robes to keep them warm and protected at night. Their double coats, which are more similar to human hair than fur, equip them with the ability to comfortably endure hot WHAT ABOUT THAT BEAUTIFUL COAT?
and cold climates—just as their ancestors coped with the extreme weather changes near Mount Everest. A BREED FOR ALL SEASONS Lhasa Apsos are so adaptable to their environment that they can happily live in a small city apartment or on a large coun- try estate. They are happy with a brisk, 30-minute walk with their humans; or they can get their exercise by romping inside with another family member: dog, cat or a rough-and-tumble 10-year-old child! Once you are owned by a Lhasa Apso, you will feel like you are on top of the world!
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LHASA APSO THE
1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs? 2. In popularity, Lhasa’s currently rank #71 out of 192. This doesn’t classify him as “rare,” but does the average person on the street recognize the breed? Why do you think this is? 3. Is this popularity good or bad? Is it difficult to find breeding stock? Placing puppies? 4. We hear Lhasas have an independent streak and are often only loyal to one or two humans. Is this true? How does this make him a great companion? Any drawback to living with this stunning-looking canine? 5. What about his personality serves him well in the living room? In the show ring? 6. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthi- ness (or lack thereof)? 7. The breed requires a lot of grooming, and showing dogs is definitely not for the faint of heart. What is it that makes it all worthwhile? 8. What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? 9. What is your ultimate goal for the breed? 10. What is your favorite dog show memory? 11. Is there anything else you’ d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate. SUSAN GILES I’ve been showing and breeding Lhasa Apsos since 1973, is an ROM 1984 breeder has had multiple National Specialty Winners, multiple BIS winners, multiple BISS winners and multiple Register of Merit dogs, and has had multiple #1 dogs over the years. I live just outside of Richmond, Virginia. In the few moments I’m not at a dog show I like reading, movies, traveling, gardening and running two businesses that sell dog products. PawMarks— just about everything you need for your long-coated show dog or pet. And Russo Pet Products—show leads, kindness leads, Daffy chalk and Daffy enhancer, etc. Does the average person on the street recognize the breed? They aren’t “rare” but they are now a low entry breed. Back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, they were in the 11-12 in the popularity range. And it took around 25 for a five point major at a show. Now it only takes six. And at the shows I’m often asked what breed I’m showing. I think in general new people are not into the amount of work a Lhasa represents in keeping up the coat. And the number of people showing and breeding has diminished as more and more people are aging out. Is the breed’s popularity good or bad? I definitely think it is bad. This is a wonderful breed that I think people would really enjoy if they had the opportunity to get to know them. As more and more people are aging out, fewer and fewer dogs are available at stud, fewer and fewer puppies are available for sale. Placing puppies is often hit or miss. You have the people that can’t find a Lhasa to purchase. And you have the people that don’t know that Lhasas are one of the healthiest breeds and end up getting something like a Havanese that requires all kind of health testing by the parent club. Do I believe Lhasas have an independent streak? Lhasas are quite intelligent and can be a bit stubborn. It is important to have a Lhasa think what you are asking them to do is their idea. If you can do that you are “in like Flynn”. Some Lhasas can tend to be single person dogs but in general they are a great family dog. They usually “Love the One they’re with”. They can make you think you are the most important until
you see them in the lap or at the feet of another person in the room two minutes later. One of the things l like about the breed as well is that they are NOT “needy”, “velcro” dogs. They are happy to be with you but they don’t have to be in your lap consistently. What about the breed’s personality serves them well in the liv- ing room and in the show ring? The Lhasa temperament is unique. They are rather calm and deliberate. Great guard dogs and are reluctant with strangers. They can be silly and clown like but they are never the fool. At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? You can start really seeing poses and outgoing attitude at three and four months. I do puppy evaluations for conformation at 12 weeks of age but wait until six months when bites have come in totally to determine who will be the show puppy and who won’t. What is it that makes showing dogs all worthwhile? I love that you get to create a picture of a beautiful creature through bathing, drying and grooming. It is quite a sense of accomplishment to have a Lhasa in full coat all groomed for the show and looking great. The fabulous hair is also something that stops the public when walking through a dog show. They are almost always enamored with a Lhasa with a beautiful coat. However, I often get the comment “I bet that takes a lot of work to keep that coat up”. The truth is a good tex- tured coat is actually easy to keep up. The other thing about showing dogs that is great is the many friendships you develop with people from all parts of the world and walks of life. What is the most important thing about the breed for a novice to keep in mind when judging? The Lhasa is a breed of moderation and elegance. It is also a breed of thirds, 1/3 muzzle to 2/3 head. The head and neck are about 1/3, the body about a third and the legs to ground are about a third. And they are about a third longer (point of shoulder to point of buttocks) than tall (at the withers). If you keep that in mind you have the basic picture. My goal as a breeder is to consistently breed healthy, well-tem- pered dogs, while trying to improve with each generation without losing the basic concept of what a Lhasa is supposed to look like. The style Lhasa that I like is a somewhat compact, energetic dog with a narrow head, reverse scissors bite, good length of neck, clean shoulders, straight front legs, level topline and a good strong rear. And of course a beautiful flowing coat. And I would like to engage and mentor younger people. The longevity of this breed requires that we do that. My favorite dog show memory? There are many great moments in showing dogs but maybe the best was winning the National Spe- cialty with an 11 year old Veteran, who showed his heart out. And then with the same 11 year old winning his third Best of Breed at Westminster. His daughter later was only the 4th Lhasa to ever place in the group at the Garden. Lhasas are also very versatile. There are many Lhasas that per- form in Conformation, Obedience, Rally, Agility, Scent Work, Barn Hunt, Herding, Trick Dogs and Fast Cat and I’m sure a few other things I’ve missed. And many have multiple titles in front and behind their names. Their intelligence lends them to be able to learn just about anything you want to do with them. Lhasas were originally breed by the monks as guard dogs in the Tibetan monasteries. Their job was to alert to strangers and dangers that would alert the Tibetan Mastiff that was outside the monas- tery walls to handle the problem. To this day that characteristic is still part of their DNA. They will bark to alert you to someone approaching the house. And their bark is usually different depend- ing on if it is friend or foe.
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A Breed Survey: LHASA APSOS
DON L. HANSON I’ve recently relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona from Anacortes, Washington. I retired from 38 years in education, mostly educational administration. Family, travel- ing and being an ardent soccer fan occu- pies my time outside of dogs. I’ve been in the sport for 40 years; my base breed is the Lhasa Apso, but I have also campaigned Schipperkes, Italian Greyhounds and Stan- dard Poodles. I’ve been a judge for 2 years. I live in Mancos, Colorado, a rural small town in southwest Colorado. Having recently retired from owning a Veterinary practice, I’m enjoying more time with the dogs and horses. I’ve been in the dog world for 46 years, showing for 42 of those years. I was registered to judge 12 years ago. CAROLYN HERBEL I reside in Oklahoma. Outside of dogs, I do very little, because as a retiree I am indulging myself mostly in many dog-related activities. I’ve been in the dog world since buy- ing our first AKC registered dog in 1956. My first experience showing dogs was when I entered her in obedience in 1959 (St. Joseph KC). My involvement in Lhasa Apsos started in 1965 and resulted in over 125 homebred champions. I’ve been judging since 1983—more than 30 years. BOBBIE J. WOOD BARBARA SCHWARTZ
I live in Portland, Oregon where for 21 years I owned and operated a chil- dren’s bookstore. I’ve been retired for 20 years or so and keep busy caring for large perennial and vegetable gardens, read- ing, piano lessons, attending the theatre and working for my parent club (ALAC), my all-breed club (Dog Fanciers Associa- tion of Oregon) and the Oregon Dog Judg-
es organization. My husband Larry and I have been involved with Lhasas for 45 years. We enjoyed breeding on a very small scale and we enjoyed showing the dogs we’ve bred. We’ve bred an all-breed BIS winner, a National Specialty BOB win- ner, Grand Futurity and National Sweepstakes winners and we are ROM breeders. I keep involved in the dog world by judging and studying about other breeds and currently judge 12 Non-Sporting breeds and 5 Toy breeds. BEVERLY A. DRAKE
I live in Glen Arm, Maryland on 11 acres. In addition to my love of dogs, I try to find time for a Red Hat Group that meets once a month. I also love to play golf and travel. I have marshaled at sev- eral PGA and LPGAs. I have had dogs my entire life. When my husband and I were married, we started out with German Shepherds. It wasn't until 1971 that we
became enamored with the Lhasa Apso. During that time, I started breeding and showing the Lhasa. It wasn't long before the desire to judge became my focus. DON EVANS I live in Huntingtown, Maryland, a remote DC suburb. I am a managing securities attorney with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. I began show- ing Lhasas in 1973 (43 years). I’ve also shown English Cocker Spaniels, Pointers, Papillons, Toy Fox Terriers, Whippets, Beagles and Greyhounds. I began judging in 1992 and currently judge the Sporting and Terrier groups as well as BIS.
I live in Cranford, New Jersey. Now that I am retired I must say that I am pretty much “in” dogs more than when I was working. However, my profession was as a sound effects artist so I love the- atre, movies and TV. I got my first Lhasa Apso in 1968, given to me by a good friend. I bred her to a Champion owned by a friend who showed and she encour- aged me to show. So I have been showing
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and breeding dogs since 1971. I waited until I had received my Breeder Register of Merit status from the American Lhasa Apso club to start judging. I was approved to judge Lhasas and juniors in 1982 and really enjoyed it. 1. Describe the breed in 3 words. JB: Assertive, smart and affectionate. BD: The breed is loyal, smart and funny—not necessarily in that order. DE: Sturdy, elegant and intelligent. DH: Even though our breed has one of the shortest stan- dards, it is difficult to edit that down to three words, but I will give it a try: balance, head and coat. CH: Independent, natural and coated. BS: Elegant, agile and sturdy. BW: Beautiful, hairy and balanced. 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? JB: The right balance/profile, a beautiful head with a soft expression, sound structure and a sturdy body under the coat and a level top line while moving out effortlessly and with purpose. BD: The traits I most look for in breeding and judging are structure (which, when correct will give fluid movement in the breed), outline with level back, slightly longer than tall and most of all, excellent temperament. DE: Head and expression, balance, level topline. DH: I am looking for a Lhasa, a sturdy little dog, that is prop- erly balanced, a rectangular—not square—box; a head that is properly proportioned which results in a pleasing expression; proper coat texture; and balance front to rear resulting in freely moving smooth gait with level topline and good carriage. CH: Although it is a short standard, size, proper coat tex- ture, head proportions and tail carriage are the traits that best describe the Apso. Because the Apso is a survival- developed canine in its country of origin, Tibet, all these traits must be in concordance for survival in such a rug- ged, extreme environment. BS: Proper longer-than-tall proportion; correct expression; correct coat texture; free flowing, balanced movement with tail carried over the back. BW: A beautiful, correct head with a soft expression, good coat texture, a well-balanced dog both standing and mov- ing and a smooth gait with equal reach and drive. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? JB: I haven’t noticed any recently. BD: The one thing that is becoming exaggerated in the breed is a high kick in the rear, which is not correct. As a judge, I would like to see more consistency in breed type. Also, I would like to see better balance and a smooth moving gait. DE: Overall I believe that the breed has remained relatively consistent over the years with only minor bumps in the road. At this point in time, I do not see any particular trait that I fear becoming exaggerated in the foreseeable future. DH: I believe Lhasa breeders are being conscientious in breeding dogs that adhere to the standard. In the past
there have been issues that appeared problematic, but recently I have not observed any traits that consistently appear. If anything I would suggest the fancy needs to pay attention to shoulder layback and rear angles, which result in limited reach and exaggerated drive and questionable toplines. CH: Too much emphasis on growing long hair, too many baths which makes the coat very soft. Using products to make the softened coat more manageable makes it hard to assess the proper texture, which would be an asset for survival in Tibet. With all this attention to coat, much has been lost in structure. Faults are hidden by excessive coat, judicial trimming or being unable to assess struc- ture because of so much coat. The structure should be what is essential for a small, normally built trotting dog. To be correct there should be no exaggeration in struc- ture or movement. BS: In recent years there appears to be a tendency toward more refinement in bone and body. Over angulated rears and lack of proper front angulation and fore chest are also concerns. Coats are quite glamorous, and it appears that a great deal of emphasis is placed on coat, rather than structure. BW: I see a lot of different heads and I worry that certain heads are becoming the norm rather than the exception. Our standard calls for a narrow back skull and a 1/3 to 2/3 length on muzzle to back skull with a moderate stop. I am also surprised that so many dogs these days have incorrect toplines. Although it is not mentioned in our standard, there are many dogs that are high in the rear and are being rewarded with important wins. They do go through growing stages, but most breeders are agreed that the topline should be level at maturity both standing and moving. 4. Do you think dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? Why or why not? JB: Since I’ve only been judging a short time, I don’t see that they are better or worse. Years ago, there were many more Lhasas being shown and the breed had many out- standing breeders. Thus, the competition may have been stronger—more Lhasas, more to choose from—whereas today there are fewer truly outstanding examples of the breed being shown. BD: I think, overall, structure has improved. We are seeing a much straighter front. I am sad though, to see how we are losing the forechest. Heads also seem to have improved, although I am still seeing a short length of muzzle, in some instances. DE: Although I believe that certain aspects of the breed, such as attitude and bites, have improved since the 1970s, I do not necessarily believe that the dogs of today are substantially better than when I first started judging in 1992. While grooming has, over the years, become more of an art, the dogs themselves have generally maintained the functional characteristics of the breed. CH: Yes, heads are better proportionally. When I started many heads looked like poor Shih Tzu heads—i.e. too short muzzle, too broad heads, too deep stops and too undershot bites.
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ЖJasa aRso q&A
with jAn Bruton, Beverly A. drAke, don evAnS, don l. hAnSon, CArolyn herBel, BArBArA SChwArtz & BArBArA (BoBBie) j. wood
BS: Unfortunately, no. There are fewer Lhasas being shown and many of our master breeders are no longer breed- ing. I miss seeing Lhasas that float when they move with beautiful head and tail carriage and flowing coat. BW: Yes, I do feel that Lhasas are better than many years ago in many ways. I have seen a great improvement in balance. Years ago there was a tendency to breed dogs that were too square, but at this time the balance is far more consistent with the standards request for “Longer than tall” or rectangle. I also think bites have improved over the years as I see far fewer scrambled bites. Also the size has become more consistent with most dogs falling into the 10- to 11-inch requirement. I know that we have lost many excellent breeders either through retirement or passing but the breeders that had their bloodlines have continued to produce dogs that are true to their mentors. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand? JB: Because our numbers are so few, I think it is difficult for new judges to get experience with really good dogs. They seem to have trouble with coats/coat texture. Is it perhaps because correct coat texture is not found on every exhibit so they get very little experience with it? They also need to pay more attention to the expression under the head fall. We don’t like to see down faces, prominent round eyes, close set eyes, too short or too long muzzles, bites too undershot—and the heavy head fall covers up a lot of these head faults that effect expression. BD: New judges tend to judge on how much coat is on the dog and how well it is groomed, instead of correct coat texture, structure, head type and movement. Think also of what this breed was doing in Tibet. Judges should be putting up medium boned dogs, capable of climbing the steps of Tibet. DE: A judge new to Lhasas should not be under the impres- sion that the brevity of the Lhasa standard indicates a lack of important characteristics that are not specifi- cally addressed in the standard. A prime example is that of movement. Although not currently addressed in the standard, a Lhasa should exhibit a smooth and free-flowing gait. There should be no tendency toward hackney or exaggerated lift in the front and there should be good drive from the rear, in balance with the front, without exaggerated kick-up. In addition, one should remember that the breed is a sturdy and moderate one; it is not a Toy breed and should not exhibit Toy charac- teristics. A judge new to Lhasas should also review the ALAC Illustrated Guide to the Standard and if they have questions contact an ALAC-approved breed mentor and/ or the Chairman of the ALAC Judges Education or Breed Standard Committee. DH: One thing in our breed, particularly for new judges who are not familiar with coated breeds, is that our breed can be very illusionary. They can look different on hard sur- face than on the grass; the balance can appear different on the table and on the go; and careful attention must be given on the go—both side gait and the down and back. Judges should always make sure to verify what they find under the hair on the table is realized in movement. CH: New judges may not understand that the coat is double with a distinct difference between the outer coat,
which is hard and heavy, and the undercoat, which is short and soft and will shed seasonally. The gait should be normal; it is not supposed to have a high head carriage. BS: There is far more to this breed than coat. You must put your hands on the dogs to appreciate the underlying structure. BW: At this time, I feel sorry for new judges trying to learn our breed, as entries have fallen so far that often they will have none to judge. When they do have some, it’s more like just handing out ribbons to what’s there. New judges need dogs to judge and make decisions based on their knowledge of the breed. They need to see good heads so they know when they see a good head. They need to see correct balance and feel correct coat texture. I know that we have a very brief standard but it does say what we think is important about the breed. It doesn’t mention movement or backline but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t move or have a normal level backline. Exhibitors have complained that judges have told them that they didn’t need to move as it wasn’t mentioned in our standard and that is incorrect. Based on our structure described in the standard, they should have a normal, smooth gait with equal reach and drive. 6. Is there anything else you’d like to share? JB: Our standard is light on detail so I think it is important for those trying to learn our breed to study our Illustrated Guide. I personally like to keep the picture of the moving Lhasa Apso on our ALAC logo in my mind, always hoping to find it in the ring—every now and then I do! BD: Anyone owning a Lhasa Apso will tell you, that they are like children. They require consistent discipline. But, what a joy to have in your home. They are very dedicated to their owners and make wonderful companions. DE: The Lhasa should have a good depth of chest extending to or slightly below the elbow and the prosternum should be well developed. With respect to the Lhasa tail, and as presented on the ALAC website (www.lhasaapso.org), the Lhasa Apso has a tail set high enough to enable the tail to be carried well over the back. One should note that tail carriage may be dependent on attitude as well as struc- ture. In the standard, reference is made to "a low carriage of stern is a serious fault." This means the tail should be up and carried well over the back under normal circum- stances. When moving, a Lhasa Apso should carry the tail well over the back, to indicate that the tail can be carried high, but may drop the tail when standing or otherwise bored. The tail should, however, immediately flip up over the back as soon as the Lhasa Apso begins to move. DH: I am extremely fond of this breed. I honor the Lhasa heritage from Tibet and the purpose the breed served. They are extremely smart, and often will get ahead of their owners if not properly trained. But they make wonderful companions and live long, healthy lives. Show dogs need to be properly conditioned, resulting in a fit, properly muscled dog with well-maintained coat. They are wonderful at home and at the show. CH: Often the Apso Standard is referred to as very short and “doesn’t say anything”. My observation is that the precise things that are listed in the standard are not adhered to, so why would more descriptive adjectives be of benefit
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ЖJasa aRso q&A
L et me tell you about my breed, they come from the highest region in the world— there- fore they have a double-coat and a very keen sense of hearing. They were sentinels in the Potala Palace (locat- ed in central Lhasa, Tibet) as well as mon- asteries, warning the monks when an intruder appeared. They also have large chests and lung capacity to accommodate the thin air. Their heads are not round and neither are their eyes. They are almond- shaped and they can have an undershot or level bite with nice cushioning under the chin. The muzzle is straight. A Lhasa is 10" to 11" tall and slightly longer than tall—long and low is not a good description of my breed. The Lhasa has not changed very much over the years. I think that most breed- ers do not have the time, money—or patience—for this breed anymore. In the society we live in today it seems everyone wants instant success. This is not possible with the Lhasa Apso. Lhasas are difficult to keep beautifully groomed and clean, but they are a very hardy breed. I never had a sick one! But as time consuming as they might be, everyone who’s ever been in love with a Lhasa will attest that they’re definitely worth the time and effort to keep this noble breed in tip-top shape. Vive the Lhasa Apso! About the Author I am from Sarasota, Florida. I have been judging since the 70s and attained all breed status in 1997. I bred Lhasas and was fortunate to show and finish 57 of them. Six of those dogs were all- breed BIS winners, plus my favorite bitch named Potala Keke’s Yum Yum won back-to-back National Special- ties—a very special accomplishment, particularly for a bitch. KEKE KH AN on the lhASA ApSo
in making evaluations? Please elaborate. It may be helpful to know that the basis of the Lhasa Apso Standard was describing the difference between the Lhasa Apso and Shih Tzu in England when in 1933 it was discovered at the Ladies Kennel Association show that these two little long haired dogs were not the same breed. The original US standard was virtually copied from the 1934 English standard, thus the emphasis on describing head properties because at that time the major difference between the two breeds was the heads. BS: Lhasas are an intelligent, stubborn breed. They can be wary of strang- ers so approaching them from the front is always desirable. Lhasas originated in Tibet. They are agile and sturdy, neither Toy like nor mas- sive in bone. Ideally, they move with level toplines and should possess good shoulder layback, reach and drive. Condition involves more than coat—they should have a strong loin with well-developed rear quarters and good spring of rib. BW: In our breed standard, it states that Lhasas are “chary of strangers”, which we are always asked about in our judges seminars. Chary (or suspicious) is a characteristic of the breed that reflects his heritage of seclusion in Tibet. Exhibitors work hard training on the table so when a judge approaches the dog to examine the head, the dog is steady as a rock. The Lhasa is a wonderful breed that I have been happy to share my life with for the past 50 years. They are very intelligent and can be very stubborn and independent. About 10 years ago I started training my dogs in Obedience and Rally and we are having a wonderful time earning more titles. 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? BD: I was given the honor to judge at the 50th Anniversary of our National. In between the dogs and bitches, several members of the club dressed up in various outfits with dogs on various types of leashes, etc. It is hard to describe the expression on my face when the class was called into the ring. Another time, at the Westminster Dog Show, I was grooming my AM/CAN/Finish CH Misti Acres Kopper Penny, when a reporter and photographer appeared by my side. While I was grooming the headpiece of the dog, the reporter was asking questions of the dog at the opposite end. Without flinching, I immediately told the reporter he would probably get better answers if he asked the questions at the cor- rect end. Within a couple of weeks friends were calling me from all over the States saying they saw me on television on a comedy network. It was shown off and on for over a year. CH: The funniest thing I saw was while watching this independent little breed perform in obedience. The most memorable is many years ago and the third year obedience was approved to be held at the National Specialty. A stylish little lady rather advanced in age entered the ring with her Apso and as she was instructed to start each exercise the Apso would look out at the spectators and just before the little lady looked to see why there was no response to her command the Apso did as told. You may have had to be there to find it as amusing as did the spectators, but it was a definite display of the independent nature of the Apso. BS: Without a doubt, the adult handling classes at the German Shorthaired Pointer Club’s National Specialties. The creativity of all of the exhibitors ranged from hilarious costumes for both dogs and exhibitors to perfor- mances by the “Pointer” sisters to “human” dogs lifting their leg on the judge with Tootsie Rolls ® strewn behind. BW: I was judging in Schipperkes in Florida and I had a large specials class. I called them into the ring and as they came into the ring the lead on one of them broke. Well that dog never missed a beat and gaited all the way around the ring without its handler, stopped perfectly and looked up and his handler wasn’t there. He just stayed perfectly stacked until its handler caught up. Just cracked me up! Our dogs can do it without us!
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THe LHASA APSO HoW BiG is Too BiG?
consider faults. The AKC’s standard con- tains no such statement. This seems the correct place to stop and ask, Should it? Maybe something a bit more to the point, such as, “The foregoing descrip- tion is that of the ideal Lhasa Apso. Any departure from the above described dog shall be penalized to the extent of the deviation.” I am okay giving a great deal of leeway to a judge who just happens to be a long time, highly successful breeder of the Lhasa Apso. But, what are your thoughts of the judge whose primary breed is the Saint Bernard, Whippet or Irish Setter and now wants to get their ticket punched for the Non-Sporting group? Since the breed’s recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1935, there has been a great deal of improvement in the Lhasa Apso. Clearly, the credit should go to the passionate and dedi- cated member breeders of the Ameri- can Lhasa Apso Club who have worked so diligently to standardize the breed in size and coat. Over the course of the past three decades, the quality of very good Lha- sas has been rewarded with numerous group placements, Non-Sporting Group wins and Best in Show victories. A Lhasa of correct size and conformation, shown in good physical condition and well groomed, possessing showman- ship and presented competently always stands to excel in both the breed and group rings. Although credit for the breed is gained with every show ring triumph, the true value of a highly successful Lhasa goes far beyond his or her show ring record. If, as a sire or dam, a Lhasa with genetic prepotency is able to pass on to his or her superior attributes to succeeding generations they will have contributed far more to the betterment of the breed. by William Given
T he current standard for the Lhasa Apso states that size is “variable, but about 10 inches or 11 inches at the shoulder for dogs, with bitches slightly smaller.” Under body shape the stan- dard states that “the length from point of the shoulder to the point of the but- tocks should be longer than the shoul- der height of the dog.” Although the Lhasa Apso is not a member of the Toy Group, he is in the same size range as the Havanese and the Shih Tzu. So, how does one, especially a judge, fix in his or her mind the correct size of the Lhasa Apso? And, just how much longer than high should the Lha- sa be? The standard does not say. One inch, two inches or even ten inches? Maybe the standard should read, “The Lhasa Apso should be slightly longer than the height at the withers.” Many standards read that way. That still gives judges plenty of leeway when adjudicat- ing the dogs entered under them. Then we have to ask ourselves, “How much flexibility do we want judges to have in interpreting the standard?” Now back to the height of about 10 inches or 11 inches. Does the use of the word “or” make 10 inches just as cor- rect as 11 inches, and if they are equally correct, does that make 10 ½ inches ide- al? Does the use of the use of the word “about,” make 9 inches or 12 inches fully acceptable? The British standard for the Lhasa Apso is a bit more exacting than is ours. It calls for a height of dogs to be 25 cen- timeter (10 inches) at the shoulders, bitches slightly smaller. In both coun- tries you can find some truly good dogs and bitches at the 10 inch mark. For the sake of argument only, let me state that I am one who tends to fancy those dogs at, and even slightly over the 11 inch mark. There are two reasons for this. First, at 11 inches, I believe the
Lhasa Apso is less likely to be confused with the Havanese or the Shih Tzu. In no way do I want the Lhasa be to be mis- taken for a member of the Toy Group, do you? Second, some of the smaller 10 inch dogs and bitches, lack elegance in movement and it could be that their legs simply are not long enough to give them that smooth gait so important to the sharp looking Lhasa Apso. In any discussion about the size of the Lhasa Apso, there should also be consideration of his weight. Although the Standard is entirely lacking any mention of his weight, scrutiny must be given to weight. The Lhasa Apso is not a Toy, so it seems expected that he should possess good substance without being massive. A Lhasa in proper weight will be neither too fat or too thin. The aver- age weight of the Lhasa is in the range of 13 to 16 pounds. Some young dogs, not yet in full coat, may at first glance look a bit large as they have a tendency to look high on the leg and lanky in body. However, a Lhasa that is in full coat may look larger than he really is because of his coat. On occasion, as in all breeds, a very coarse specimen may appear and if measure- ment is applied and the dog being more than 11 inches high it will be on the large size. At times, a dog with very heavy coat might look as if he is large but would measure in. Let us go back to the British stan- dard for a moment. It includes the fol- lowing: “Any departure from the fore- going points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded is in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.” Although, possibly a little ver- bose, it does provide the judge with clear instruction as to how they are to
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JUDGING THE LHASA APSO
By Barbara Schwartz & Jan Bruton
s the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover. And you can’t judge a Lhasa without putting your hands on the dog. A long haired
magnificently groomed glamorous dog may turn out to be simply that—what is under the coat is of great importance. Th e Lhasa originated in Tibet where the elevation is about 12,000 feet—far greater than most of us have experienced, but if you are familiar with the feeling of being unable to breathe due to altitude, you will understand that the Lhasa needs to be a sturdy mountain dog. His structure must reflect an ability to traverse steep inclines. He is a rectangular dog, well ribbed up— meaning a longer ribcage to accommodate lung capacity needed at altitude. A strong loin is also required—again - suitable for the terrain of his country of origin. As with all Tibetan breeds, nothing about the Lhasa is ine ffi cient or overdone or exagger- ated. Th e Lhasa must be agile and is nei- ther overly coarse nor overly refined. Th e overall look of the Lhasa is that of a well-balanced rectangular small (about 10-11 " tall) dog—neither too much back length but not square either. Th e neck rises smoothly from the shoulders and a long straight heavy coat on the head and body with a feathered tail over the back complete the picture. Th is coat can be any color or combination of colors. Of course puppies and youngsters will not have the coat length of the more mature dogs. Lhasas are judged on the table. Most judges will start by looking at the side view of the dog and an exhibitor will appreci- ate a reasonable amount of time to get the dog prepared for examination. Always approach a Lhasa from the front—the head fall precludes peripheral vision, and Lhasas are chary (suspicious) of strangers. So a careful slow approach is appreciated. Never examine the Lhasa on the ground.
If you wish to re-examine an exhibit at any time, ask the handler to put the dog back up on the table. If you wish to compare two exhibits, both may be placed on the table, but never attempt to compare more than two at a time. Start your exam with the head by plac- ing your hand under the muzzle. Notice first the expression. Framed by the heavy head furnishings, a Lhasa possesses a soft but wise expression. Th is expression is achieved with a combination of a dark brown frontally placed medium sized oval eye with a minimal, if any, white visible, a muzzle ⅓ the length of the skull, and a black nose and eye rims. Th e skull is nar- row, not quite flat, but neither domed nor apple shaped. Ears are pendant and heavily feathered, and they are set near eye level. To evaluate the narrowness of the skull, gently push the hair toward the back of the skull. Th is allows you to evaluate the narrowness of skull without the illusion of width created by head fall. Th ere should be a strong, but not prominent underjaw, with no indication of snipiness. Th e pre- ferred bite is level or undershot. Breed- ers strive for a reverse scissors bite with
su ffi cient width to accommodate full denti- tion. Most important is that the bite should not interfere with the correct expression for the breed. Undesirable to the expres- sion are large round bulgy eyes or close- set small beady eyes, lower teeth showing, down-faced muzzles, and muzzles that are too short or too long and snipy. To evaluate the front, run your hands down both front legs. Th e standard asks for straight forelegs. Th e vast majority of Lhasas will have a slight bow and the front feet will toe out slightly. Th e brisket is level to or slightly below the elbow and there is a prominent pro-sternum. If you place the palm of your hand between the front legs there should be a width of three or four fingers. Both front and rear assemblies of the Lhasa are that of a normal canine. For the front assembly, the length from point of shoulder to elbow and point of shoul- der to withers are equal. Proper shoulder placement (well laid back) is essential for support, balance, and smooth transition from neck to topline. Th ere should be only a slight (1-2 fingers) space between the shoulder blades. Th e neck should be strong
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