Showsight Presents the Tibetan Spaniel

JUDGING THE TIBETAN SPANIEL by LINDA C. FOILES TSCA Judges Education Coordinator

T he Tibetan Spaniel, like other Tibetan breeds, was one that was looked upon as a cherished gift to friends and was never sold. They lived in a cold, rough terrain and were a hardy breed. They are somewhat cat-like in nature and independent even though they do thrive on human companion- ship. It is by their terms they allow us to care for them! This breed has prov- en hardy for many generations. Even today they remain a long lived breed with numerous individuals living past 18 years. That is a fact we breeders are proud of sharing. This is not to say they don’t have some health issues but our breeders do their best to protect this breed. The breed is comical in many ways using their feet like a cat might. This fact can get them into trouble, at times. We owners need to think faster than a Tibbie to outsmart them. They keep us on our toes, that is for sure. Often, we need to make them think what it is we want them to do is “their idea”. Getting things accomplished can sometimes be challenging to say the least. God bless anyone that is successful in obedience with this breed. I, myself, was humbled by this about-ten-inch breed in the obe- dience ring many years ago and I con- tinued to raise and show them. That is how unique they are and can be to those that adore them. The Tibetan Spaniel standard uses the word moderation in all points and that one word “moderation” should lurk in the back of your mind while you judge this “well kept secret” of the dog world. This very intelligent breed is devoted to family and friends but may be aloof with strangers. The breed may not look you in the eye when judging them and does not like to be swooped down upon. At first glance, the Tibetan Spaniel or “Tibbie”, as we affectionately call them, should appear to be a small, active and well-balanced breed, free from coarse-

ness; being only slightly longer than tall when measured from the point of shoul- der to the root of tail. One needs to be mindful of this fact and train the hands and eye to automatically go to those points for measurement. The Tibetan Spaniel outline should never fit into a “square box” from the vantage point of point of shoulder to root of tail and the dog should be balanced without any exaggerations. ( The Tibetan Spaniel ; Miss Phyllis Mayhew, U.K.). The overall balance of this breed’s, about-10-inch package, is extremely important and the top-line is to be level. Moving the tail out of the way to check the top-line is a must, as tail hair can mask the top- line. Too often handlers and breeders alike are draping the tail to reach the shoulders, which is not normal for the breed. Naturally, the tail rests on the back or falls to the side. The head is the hallmark of the breed, however, do not confuse this as a “head” breed alone. The entire pack- age is necessary to fulfill the balanced, moderate dog or bitch. The head should appear small in proportion to the body, free from coarseness or wrinkle. The coloring of the hair on the head and muzzle can sometimes fool the eye into thinking there is a wrinkle on the muzzle when there is none. Because of this fact, you must feel for the wrinkle and not rely on your eye for this assess- ment if the word “wrinkle” pops into your thoughts. It was said recently, “A wrinkle can only be round.” I am not one who cares what shape it is; if it appears to be a wrinkle and you can feel it with your fingers—be it round, flat or otherwise, it is a wrinkle. The skull is broadest at eye level and slightly domed of moderate width and length. The dark eyes, oval in shape (almost triangular) meeting the well-cushioned blunt muzzle of about 1 ½ inches, being measured from the inner corner of the eye to the tip of the nose. The blunt- ness of the muzzle assures the cor- rectness of bite, being ideally slightly

undershot but level mouths are permis- sible providing the chin has sufficient width and depth to preserve the blunt appearance. The teeth should be evenly placed and the lower jaw wide between the canine tusks. The teeth should not show when the mouth is closed. We ask that you please have the handler show the bite in this breed. If you have a ques- tion of bite, chin depth and width, later while judging please re-examine on the table and remember to have the handler show the bite once again. This breed does not care for their mouths to be examined so it is best to ask for the bite to be shown by the handler. Ignoring this fact can ruin a youngster for show- ing later. Please be mindful. When judging the overall look of the head on the table, cup your hands behind the dog’s ears to see how the skull, dark brown eyes, ears and muzzle all fit together. Pay close attention to ear placement. The ears should be set fairly high and may have a slight lift from the skull but never fly. They are pendant, well feathered in adults and of medium size. The black nose is preferred and with the eyes set fairly well apart gives an ape-like expression. When judging the head in profile on the floor, the head should not be down faced, snipey, roman or long and narrow. Pay close attention when evaluating the oval, dark brown eyes of this breed as you can find specimens with blue marks or blue eyes in the breed, which is a fault. Also, pay attention to a large, full eye, light eyes or mean expression which detracts from the ape-like expression of this breed. To further complete the picture, the neck is moderately short, strong and well-set and the head may be car- ried high when on the move. The neck should not give a stuffy appearance. The body should be well ribbed with good depth, have a strong loin and a level back. The ribs should be well sprung, but not barrel and carried well back towards a short loin. The tail is set

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2017 • 249

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