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
202 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M ARCH 2014
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