Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Writing on the Wall

Elizabeth, the Lhasa Apso deserves hearty congratulations for her Best in Show win at Crufts 2012.

The Lhasa Apso is closely related to the Pekingese, the Shih Tzu and the Tibetan Spaniel, and a bit further removed is the Tibetan Terrier, the Pug and the Japanese Chin. In fact, sometimes different-coated dogs known popularly as "Prapsos" (perhaps Apsos) are born in Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso litters. These dogs have different coats, shorter and straighter, and they look nearly identical to a Tibetan Spaniel. 

This is a clue to the close genetic relationship these breeds share. Historically, it is believed by some that the Chinese used the most extreme short-faced Tibetan dogs to develop the Pekingese. Some people believe it happened the other way around; that the Pekingese gave rise to those other breeds, but either way it is obvious that the Peke has been interbred with and is closely related to the various Tibetan breeds.

Elizabeth, and indeed her breed in general, escaped the intense scrutiny of being on the "High Profile Breed" hit list. At least for this year.

This despite the close relationship to other breeds under fire, and sharing some of the much-criticised "extreme" features. The Lhasa Apso has a coat that dusts the floor. And hair that cascades over the eyes. And an undershot lower jaw. And is brachycephalic.
The AKC breed standard states:

The preferred bite is either level or slightly undershot....Heavy head furnishings with good fall over eyes, good whiskers and beard.

The KC standard specifies:

 Head furnishings with fall over eyes, but not affecting the dog's ability to see....Muzzle.....length from tip of nose roughly one third total length from nose to back of skull...reverse scissor bite.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't find fault with the standards. I'm simply anticipating future criticism by the nannying animal welfarists. A short muzzle, with an undershot bite? Dentition is probably suboptimal. Isn't all that hair a bit too "extreme"? That has been an oft-repeated criticism of the Pekingese....too much coat. Will the Lhasa be next to be criticised for their coat? At least the coat of the Pekingese doesn't fall over the eyes!

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
  Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
  Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
But helpless pieces in the game He plays,
  Upon this checker-board of Nights and Days,
He hither and thither moves, and checks ... and slays,
  Then one by one, back in the Closet lays.

Lhasa apso littermates, "Prapso" on the right


  1. you rock Blogger..these people won't be happy until every dog looks like a wolf.. and then they will ban wolves..

  2. What happened, this year is a very bad thing for the show breeder. PETA, I am sad to say, is winning. I honestly never thought that I would see this in my lifetime.

    Back in the early 90’s, PETA’s motto was “Better Dead than Bred”. What they did was send out their volunteers, to dog shows, and release show dogs (from crates or xpens) and drive them out into traffic, to be killed. I was at a show in South Carolina where this happened. It was in the afternoon and I thought a bomb had gone off. I’d never seen a reaction in a show like that. Even the Rings stopped. There was a massive backlash on PETA for their campaign (what happened at that show made National news). That was when they changed tack’s and began a slow campaign of infiltration.

    It has taken twenty years but their slow campaign is working. They spend massive amounts of money now blaming us. I am, honestly, at a loss on how to countermand this when the Kennel Club and Crufts (such high profile events) put us out to dry. This was a huge boost for PETA and a _very_ significant loss for us. The Kennel Club is trying to appease a group of people that can not be appeased. Their entire goal is to drive dogs, cats and every other domestic animal to extinction. They are so radical that they feel the planet would be better if people were extinct. This is who the Kennel Club is trying to pander to and they lost, the moment that they caved in to them.
    Yes, I am sad to say, that there are some show breeders who breed without consideration for health (I was a victim of two of those) but they are the minority. The majority of us clear our dogs before breeding. We do everything that we can to breed healthy dogs. The owners of the Clumber sent all the documentation of clearances with her and it didn’t matter. Crufts needed to show that they were concerned about dog health and DQ’d her. It was a travesty and I have a terrible feeling that, now that this has started, it will not end with just the Crufts show this year.

  3. This AR idiocy is damaging, possibly destroying top breeders/exhibitors of some of the oldest and most established dog breeds that currently exist. When some entity (in this case a vet and a bogus AR kennel club oversight group) financially harms another without any provocation on nothing more than a perceived, and apparently un-provable (a clear 12/2011 CERF and no documentation of the supposed eye problem with photographs) whim, in most instances, people hire legal reps and sue for every penny and every perceived penny lost.
    I, for one, would contribute to a legal fund for the breeders who denied their entry into the Group Rings, especially if there was a way to make it a Class Action, and bring EVERY Crufts breeder and exhibitor in. Somewhere, somehow, the AR'S need to start getting hit where it hurts.....and their wallet is as good a place as any to hit back.

  4. Extremists are always to be avoided. But while the AR/PETA crowd would like to insist that NO DOG is "acceptable", one does have the situation that few of these dogs look as they did in the 1890s. "more and more" is pushed. There are photos of the first Pekes and they had nowhere near the coat or short faces they have now. Why was the original "wrong"? why did it need to be "improved"? We want the right to breed and exhibit our dogs -- but with that comes the responsibility to know if something is "too much" and to learn what is/isn't healthy or sound and to avoid excess. If the dog can't breathe after running up and down in a show, there is something wrong there. If the coat is so excessive that only special care preserves it and the dog can't stay clean when it has bowel movements, there is something wrong. It is like obedience -- ARs would have it that any correction /compulsion is wrong. They are extremists. But so is the person who feels that beating a dog half to death or choking it by stringing it up is "ok". Somewhere in the middle is reality.