Lhasa Apso The End of Authenticity

The difference between the modern Lhasa and the genuine one is obvious.
The way its type has evolved during the last sixty years reminds us how the English Cocker has become in the United States the dog known today as the "American Cocker ".This breed is beautiful; it has lots of fanciers, but wisely enough the genuine English Cocker has been maintained.

Satroma Type moderne
Cocker moderne

Which reasons have caused this evolution?
• 1° - the fashion,
• 2° - the breeders,
• 3° - the judges

• The Fashion

The fashion requires big, hyper sophisticated and long-coated dogs, perfectly adapted to the ring, the " Show dog" in all its splendor.

All the rest is but accessory.
Provided the fur is heavy and opulent, no matter :

• round or domed skulls;
• round, large ,protruding and sometimes too light eyes,
• falling and too short noses,
• too long necks,
• chests set under the elbow,
• arched forequarters,
• tails set so high that they seem to come from the middle of the back,
• low ears,
• woolly and silky furs,
• sizes far above the standard limits,
• atypical gaits,

characteristics which according to the Standard should be considered as a faults for an authentic Apso-Seng-Kyi.

Lhassa Apso

• The Breeders

How were breeders induced to create this type of dog ?
Comparaison To be successful in the SHOWS they had to follow the fashion. The Americans have then set up a showy dog, much fitted for the ring than the genuine Lhasa. With this purpose, they have first selected the biggest puppies from litters then have added the features they needed by means of outer unions.
Soon the supporters of the authentic type got eliminated and they gradually turned towards the new dog. This prototype exclusively created to be shown on a ring has met with the Judges’ approval, but not with M. Jigme Taring’s one; (Tsarong Shape ‘s son-in-law), acknowledged by the l4th Dalai-Laina as an authority in the Lhasa Apso breed; was writing to Mrs. Carolyn Herbel on December 28th 1990 :

"So with my experience and after seeing numbers of books on Lhasa Apsos, I have come to notice that there are two distinct types of Apsos in foreign countries. This might perhaps be due to the change in climate, food and better care they get than in their native land or could it be a hybrid of some sort is a mystery to myself. On the whole, I do appreciate and admire your work on Lhasa Apso, especially at the time when this breed is in danger of being diminished after the Chinese occupation of Tibet."

(Réf- The New Complete LHASA APSO – Norman and Carolyn Herbel)

Famille Taring et M.D'Aoust
Mr. and Mme. J.Taring
and Mr. D'Aoust
• The judges

Why judges have not reacted at such a drift ?

When the " look " is so important, it may be difficult to resist to brilliance, difficult to downgrade dogs that have been made champions and impossible to go against the trend, at the risk of not being appointed for judging again !

No matter the Standard! Otherwise, how could we explain the champions which exceed ten inches high and with some defects indicated above ?
There is no doubt that judges are highly responsible for the present evolution of the breed because they dared not put the Standard against the fashion. Besides, most of them have not known the authentic dogs and have no much knowledge about this Asiatic breed and its history. These dogs belong since several centuries to the Tibetan cultural inheritance and consequently they should be respected in their authenticity. It's a great pity that the small sentence that was set up as an epigraph in the First Official Standard of 1935 :
"In judging these dogs, breed characteristics are of paramount importance" has been deleted from the successive revisions.


Is there any process today, to preserve this breed ?
None, apart of a few fanciers who hardly try to be listened. A prompt solution is nevertheless urgently required because the situation is serious: an authentic breed is merely and simply disappearing to the benefit of another new one.

M.D'Aoust During the eighties, we had an opportunity to saved the breed. M. Gerald D’Aoust, after his three trips to Nepal returned to Canada with sixteen authentic dogs of the best type and of eight different lines, originating from Drepung monastery and Tibetan refugees. Unfortunately Mr. D’Aoust received no support whatsoever neither from the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) nor from the American Kennel Club (AKC) to register them.
For the twenty last years he has been fighting and facing the worst difficulties to keep his genetic stock alive. Tired and abandoned, he has finally given up. In view of the Lhasas present situation , the ostracism in which he has been maintained, remains incomprehensible when his dogs could have brought fresh blood to a breed that needed it so urgently. Lhasa Apso
In fact this breed has been developed for more than fifty years with the genes of the first dogs brought by Mr. & Mrs.Cutting from Tibet to which, as everybody knows, were added some Shi-Tsus, imported from England, and registered as Lhasas by the AKC. It was a unique and unexpected opportunity to regenerate the breed.
Dorothy Cohen
Mme. Dorothy Cohen
& Hamilton Chang Tru
At the end of the seventies, some time before she died, Mrs. Cohen (Karma Hamilton) realized that the breed could not be restocked because, after the Chinese invasion, Tibet, had become inaccessible. She therefore declared :
" If you are lucky you can have a fac simile of Karma but there never would be another Karma ".
It is very difficult to understand why those who are in charge of defending and improving the breed have ignored this inestimable gene potential.

We can but regret CKC & AKC’s behavior and the fact that they have done so little for the preservation of the breed ! The high of absurdity is that the American UKC (United Kennel Club), who is the only one to register Gerald D’Aoust’s dogs in the USA, is not recognized by the FCI for the Lhasa breed. Only the AKC is acknowledged, yet, the AKC is not belonging to the FCI ! !

So, when we see how Mr. D’Aoust’s dogs have been left out, we are entitled to think that something has changed between the pioneers’ spirit and their successors one, who did not see the essential or maybe, they did not want to see it !

Where can we find other stocks? And other sources ?

In Tibet? Impossible.
In Bhutan? With much difficulty and scantily.

In any case, considering the actual regulations, there is no solution to register dogs imported from their native country and it seems difficult to expect a new opportunity such as D’Aoust’s one.


Therefore, we should adopt the selection method followed by Tibetans themselves since many centuries, that is to say, a selection by the smallest and more typed of the litters which were the most appreciated.

All testimonies of those who have known the breed in its original country testify it.

Hon. Mrs. Irma Bailey in November 1978 wrote to me:
" I consider that the small size that you have in France is essential for the true
Seng Kyi. Which country is contesting you the small size ? In Tibet , all dogs
of Apso type (which are called Lhasa Terrier in Great Britain and in the United States) are simply called Apsos, but the authentic little lion-dog is called Apso Seng Kyi"
. (Seng = Lion, Kyi = dog)
Lettre Mrs Bailey
Graham Newel " During my stay in Mussorie I also had the pleasure of meeting Dsela Dorje, who was a very aristocratic Tibetan lady and the widow of late Prime Minister of Bhutan. From her I learnt that the Tibetan Aristocracy did occasionally have Apsos but they were only the very smallest ones. This was considered a quality to Strive for when breeding."

(Copy of page 60 of "Voyage d'une Vie" de Graham Newel, given by Melle. Dupont).

To persist in the same actual way would lead us, as I already said, to have more than a thousand years authentic breed erased by another atypical one.

Let the " American Lhasas " go on their way and let us come back to the authentic little "Tibetan Lhasa Apso Seng Kyi".

This would , at least, have the merit of maintaining the two breeds, like it has been done for the English and the American cockers.

Yolande De Zarobe
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