• Dogs of TIBET

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    March 14th, 2012Laura P (Editor)Dogs Of The World

    Every November, The Kennel Club hosts Discover Dogs at Earls Court in London. This is an opportunity for dog lovers to attend seminars and demonstrations, socialise, do some shopping, and, most importantly, meet and greet almost 200 different breeds of pedigree dog.

    In association with his event, and the Discover Dogs stands at Crufts in March, Dogs In The News aims to give you a brief preview of some of the dogs you might meet with our new “Dogs of the World” series.

    Today, in honour of the Lhasa Apso which won Best In Show at Crufts 2012, Tibetan dog breeds get the spotlight:

    There are just four breeds of dogs which can lay claim to origins in Tibet.

    The Lhasa Apso is the first of these breeds; pictured is Ch. Zentarr Elizabeth, the lucky bitch who took home the Best In Show trophy at Crufts 2012. A typical Lhasa, her long glamorous coat and dark soulful eyes are classic breed features. Elizabeth will probably enjoy the red carpet treatment which she can expect after her big win; these dogs were originally bred as interior sentinels in the Buddhist monasteries and would have lived a life of luxury as companion dogs and bed warmers for the monks.  Lhasa Apsos also acted as watch dogs, with a deep bark to alert their masters to the presence of intruders.

    They worked in partnership with the much larger Tibetan Mastiffs, the next breed in our spotlight, which patrolled the monastery perimeters and acted as guard dogs and unwanted visitor deterrents!  This large, powerful breed is relatively rare in the UK, but is perennially popular in its native Asia. Last year, the breed made headlines when a red Tibetan Mastiff became the priciest dog in the world after being sold for 10 million Chinese yuan, or £945,000.

    Money never used to change hands for our next breed, the Tibetan Terrier: historically they were too valuable to their owners to be bought casually and puppies were only ever given as gifts to those who were deemed worthy. The TT, as it is affectionately known, has been in the public eye quite a lot in recent years, due to being the breed of choice of TV presenter Clare Balding, and the winner of the Crufts trophy in 2007. Despite its name, this dog is not actually a Terrier and instead was probably used as a farm dog.

    In fact, confusion over breed titles seems to be a theme with our Tibetan dogs – our next breed, the Tibetan Spaniel is, again, not a true Spaniel at all, but actually kept the Tibetan Mastiffs and Lhasa Apsos company at the monasteries, earning their keep turning the monks’ prayer wheels. The Tibetan Spaniel is likely the predecessor of many Oriental toy breeds, including the Pekinese and the Japanese Chin.  These baby-faced little characters are highly intelligent and are popular pets all over the world.

    (It should be noted that the FCI also counts the Shih Tzu as a Tibetan breed, although the modern breed was almost certainly developed in China.)

     We hope you have enjoyed our little tour of the dogs from Tibet. Don’t forget you can visit all these breeds and over 196 more at Discover Dogs at Earls Court in November and at Crufts in March each year.

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