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Breed Priorities – Lhasa Apso

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214 – October, 2020

By Nikki Riggsbee

The Lhasa Apso is one of four AKC-recognized breeds originating in Tibet, the others being the Tibetan Mastiff, Tibetan Spaniel, and the Tibetan Terrier. All have a heavy coat and carry the tail over the back. The Lhasa is named after the capitol city of Tibet (Lhasa) with “Apso” meaning bearded or goatee. It is one of the oldest breeds, over a thousand years old. It served as the inside dog in the Buddhist monasteries as a sentinel to let the monks know of new arrivals. Originally, they were called the Lhasa Terrier and put in the AKC terrier group in 1935. Later the name was changed, and they moved to the Non-Sporting group in 1959.

We had planned a breed priority survey of Lhasas a while back, but delayed it while they revised their breed standard. The previous standard, one of the shorter ones among AKC’s other standards, had been approved in 1978. The new current one became effective in the fall of 2019.

We found forty-six Lhasa experts (breeder-judges, breed mentors, and such) to invite to take a survey on evaluating their breed. Thirty were reached and responded, agreeing to contribute. By deadline, twenty surveys had been returned. These experts have been in the breed for more than forty-one years on average, and those who judge have been doing so for more than eighteen years on average. Most of those who are breeder-judges have judged their national and other Lhasa specialties.

Lhasa Apso Virtues

The survey included a list of Lhasa Apso features taken from their new breed standard for the experts to prioritize. The list of virtues below is in order by the average ranks, with one being the most important.

1. Length from point of shoulders to point of buttocks longer than height at withers

2. Gait smooth, effortless, good reach, equally strong drive without wasted action

3. Skull narrow, falling away behind eyes in a marked degree

4. Topline level

5. Foreface roughly one-third total length from nose to back of skull

6. Shoulders well laid back

7. Eyes dark brown, almond shaped

8. Tail well-feathered, carried well over back in a curl lying to the side

9. Well-developed quarters

10. Well ribbed up with ribs extending well back

11. Size between 10” and 11” at shoulder for dogs, bitches may/may not be slightly smaller

12. Coat heavy, straight, hard, dense

13. Bite level or slightly undershot

14. Character gay and assertive, may be chary/aloof with strangers

15. Ears pendant, set slightly above eye level, heavily feathered

16. Heavy head furnishings with good fall over eyes

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214 – October, 2020


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