Ligne du dos

Comte Henri De Bylandt

Back not too short and with a slight arch at the loin.

Lionel Jacob 1901

There is a tendency in England to look for a level top and a short back. All the best specimens have a slight arch at the loin, and the back should not be too short

Standard 1935

Strong loin.

Standard 1960

Strong loin

Dr Guy LESCURE 1961


“The body is lengthened and the paws rather short ; the forequarters are a little shorter than the hinquarters “ (page 28 )

“The top line is straight, but slightly sloping forewards, the hight at the hinquarters is slightly bigger thant the hight at the forequarters“ ( page 37 )
Hamilton Katha
Hamilton Katha

“The rear paws are higher than the front paws. A dog measuring 24 cm at forequarters, will be 25,5 cm hight at the hinquarters” ( page 39 )

Standard 1972

Level top-line. Strong loin

A.K.C. Standard 1978

Strong loin

C.K.C. Standard 1982

Topline level

A.N.K.C. Standard 1987

Level top-line along back and strong loins.

F.C.I. Standard 1987

Level topline. Strong loin

F.C.I.. Standard 1998

Back : Level topline. Loin : Strong.

2003 Kennel Club

Level topline. Strong loin

"amongst the characteristics of a pure breed Apso, one can note that their body is rather lengthened and their fore paws a little bit shorter than the after paws."

(notes on the Tibétains Dogswritten by J. Taring and found in the Dalai Lama’s Blibliotheque by Nicole Mukholy)

Tsarong Shape’s daughter married Jigme Taring, Tibetan,speaking English and educated in the Indies. " Highly respected Tibetan, for eighteen years

Mr TARING served as a high-ranking government official in Lhasa and following his exile became Director of Tibetan Education until his retirement in 1975 "

(page 162 – " All About The Lhasa "- Juliette Cunliffe)

"Mr Jigme TaringTaring House, was recommended by the fourteenth Dalai Lama bo be an authority on Lhasa Apsos... Mr Taring was taken as a special breed judge of Tibetan breeds on the panel of FCI judges and judged at leats three ILAA dog shows."

(page 255-256 – " The New Complete LHASAAPSO "
- Norman et Carolyn Herbel.

All this for me is a sufficient proof of the expertise of Mr Taring in Lhasa Apsos

Lady Frieda Valentine, who acquired her first Lhasa in the early 30's and judged many of early dogs, felt that this was an important aspect of Lhasa type. In her judging in the last few years of her life, she often complained that the dogs had lost their "poops". (referring to the raised poop of a boat).


In her wonderful analysis of Tibetan-Lhasa "Made in Tibet " writes :

"Likewise, no mention is made in the standard
of a level topline. Almost everyone seems to
find the level topline desirable. Indeed, there
is a tendency lately to desire a sloping topline
like a setter.
Hamilton Samada
Hamilton Samada
But before we make the level topline a sine qua non of quality, we ought to ask what use this would be to the animal. A general consideration of the construction needs of jumping animals would suggest that efficient conformation for a Lhasa would include being a little high in the rear. Do you suppose that is why we see this "fault" so often ?

"The History of Lhasa Apso Standards ":

....”In fact, no animal should have a “level” topline - only a very small part os the vertebral column should be “level”.


Moreover this characteristic gives the Lhasas "The slightly hoppy Apso Action"

Lhasa is not the only dog to have this characteristic. Already Ronsard when the huntsmen of its time sought to produce the best dogs of pack wrote:
"et la jambe derrière plus longuette un petit que la jambe première "

The authentic type has a straight topline but not parallele to the ground. As Lady Freda Valentine says, the "poop" should be slightly higher than the "bow" (frontarms) . This is a characteristic of the genuin type. For me if it is not so, the dog is not pure breed. Now of course everybody is free to like it or not but the authentic dog is so.

As Docteur Marley, very rightly points out , this poop is often considered by the Judges as a "fault". Nevertheless it remains a characteristic of the breed, made and moulded by the seroundings, and in my opinion, it is an error of our western way of conceiving things to get rid of it in particular if we also read Gigme Taring.

The first Hamiltons had this characteristic as well as the French Lhasas whose origine came from Xeres (Tibet import) and Hamilton Kangmar.

The SHOWS have changed the dog to such an extent that today Lhasas walk like American Cokers.


Before studying this point, we must take into consideration two very important things :.

1 - There are three main types of backs in the canine breed :

1 - The level back = straight
2 - The roach back = overly arched, convex topline.
3 - The saddle back = sunken, concave topline, swayback

2 - Whaterever the dog is a Chi-ouah-ouah or Saint Bernard, it has:

cervical vertebras = neck
thoracic vertebras = back
umbar vertebras = loins


Body :
Level topline
Strong loin

This means that the Lhasa topline must be of n° 1 type : “level back” = straight, not roach, nor saddle back type.

As to the “strong loin”, well muscled, it is normal it be slightly arched.

- Comte Henri de Bylandt (1894-1904): with a slight arch at the loin
- Lionel Jacob(1901) : All the best specimens have a slight arch at the loin.

Any other interpretation would seem wrong.

Here are examples concerning " topline", in some other breed standards .

Top line : level. - Type n° 1.
Loin : short, slightly arched.
Croup: level.

Back: level - Type n° 1.
Loin: Well coupled and sturdy.

Back: level, broad and strong. - Type n° 1.
Serious Faults: roach back
Faults: narrow back, weak back.
Loin: short, well developed and muscular.
Serious faults: extremely long loin
Croup: broad, muscular, slightly sloping
Faults: too flat, too steepor too narrow. In mature dogs, the croup as high or higher than the withers.

Withers: protrude in height and width – especially in males – and thereby determine the rise of the topline.
Back: short and hard, of good width and well-muscled.
Loins: of good width and well-muscled. The bitch can be slightly longer in the loin area, as this would be conducive to carrying puppies.
Croup: should slope slightly, but hardly visibly from the hipbone to the base of the tail. It thereby appears well rounded, is neither straight, nor extremely sloping.
Good width and well muscled.

RETRIEVER (Chesapeake Bay)
Topline not roached, but rather approaching hollowness. Type n° 3.

Back short, strong, slightly hollowed; loins broad and muscular. - Type n° 3.

Dorsal-lumbar line: with a slight concavity of the back and a convexity of the loin.
Type n° 3 on the back and type n° 2 on the loins

It is interesting, to note that reference to the "topline" only appears in the 1972 standard, whereas "strong loin" is mentioned in the 1935 standard and even earlierby De Bylandt and Jacob.

There is also another type of back which is admisible for some breeds : “the plunging back” where the croup is slightly higer tnan the withers. This should be the case for the Lhasa Apso according
to Dr Lescure, Jigme Taring, Lady Freda Valentine, Dr.C. Marley and Dr.S. Shama.

Shar-peï also belongs to this “plunging back” type of dogs.
Topline: Dips slightly behind the withers; then it rises slightly over loin.
Back: Short, strong.
Loin: Short, broad, slightly arched.
Croup: Rather flat
Topline being formed by the withers, back, loin and croup,