Lhasa Apso Club
Lhasa Apso Club of the
Lhasa Apso Club information and breed history,
The Lhasa Apso is our beautiful breed and since the 1960s in Netherlands and
has so far had no own breed club. After the necessary considerations, the
initiator Frank L. van Tatenhove ecided to establish a breed club. Of course
we also want to conviviality around our roommate and involved in useful and
fun things for favourites the Lhasa Apso. But we also want to consciously
concerned with the future of this wonderful breed; so we will have to stand
in the middle of the dog world.
And that can almost only by means of a breed club for the Lhasa Apso with an
eye for now and the future.
Some history information;
The Lhasa Apso originates in the mountains of Tibet.
There is clear evidence to link the breed to Tibetan monasteries and to the
houses of Tibetan nobles, where they were kept as both guard dogs and pets.
In Tibet, the Lhasa Apso was typically given as a gift -it was viewed as a
bringer of good fortune. Lhasa Apsos were rarely, if ever, sold.
The Lhasa Apso is thought to have first appeared in the United Kingdom as
early as 1854. However, there was much confusion in the early years between
the breeds we now know as the Lhasa Apso and the Tibetan Terrier. Indeed, at
the turn of the 20th Century they were classified as a single breed - known
as the Thibetan, Bhutan, Bhuteer or Lhassa Terrier. Despite this
classification there were clearly two different types, based on size and
coat. The first recognisable 'description' of the Lhasa Apso, written by Sir
Lionel Jacob, was published in 1901 - under the name Lhassa Terrier. By 1908
the breed had Championship status on the UK show circuit, but with classes
separated by size
1934 saw the establishment of the Tibetan Breeds Association, with the aim
of drawing a distinction between the various Tibetan breeds. The Association
subsequently issued the first Lhasa Apso Standard in the same year. There
were very few 'true' Lhasa Apsos at this time. Just 12 were exhibited at
Crufts, and 14 at the Ladies Kennel Association, in 1935. And just 10 were
registered with The Kennel Club in that year.
The Lhasa Apso took some time to recover in the post-Second World War years.
New blood was imported, initially from Tibet while this was still possible
before the movement of dogs was banned by the Chinese, and later from India
and the USA. By 1956 the breed had grown sufficiently in strength for Lhasa
Apso owners to break away from teh Tibetan Breeds Association. The Kennel
Club gave approval to the formation of a Lhasa Apso Club on 18 December of
The Lhasa Apso was renamed in 1959, the name 'Tibetan Apso' bringing it into
line with the other recognised Tibetan breeds - Mastiff, Spaniel and Terrier.
Championship status was granted by The Kennel Club to the Tibetan Apso in
1965, with 9 sets of Challenge Certificates available in that year.
The name reverted to 'Lhasa' Apso in 1970, a year which also saw the formal
establishment of the Lhasa Apso Club as it is today. The Standard was
revisited and re-published in 1973, and again some years later (the 'modern'
In 1984, Ch Saxonsprings Hackensack bred and owned by Mrs Jean Blyth became
the first Lhasa Apso to win Best In Show at Crufts "hackensack was handled
by Mr Geof Gorish, - a feat that remaind untill 2012 when Ch Zentar
Elizabeth bred and owned by Margaret Anderson won best in Show at Crufts.
BIS Crufts Ch Zentar Elizabeth
Dogs from the Roof of the World circa 1930
Many unusual Breeds Found in Tibet
the Strange Land That Lies in the Clouds
By The Hon. Mrs. Bailey
Due to airship and the radio, the world is growing smaller and smaller, and
there is practically no country that is now a complete mystery to civilized
man. Probably Tibet still remains the most mysterious, although the veil
that hides this astonishingly interesting country is rapidly being torn
aside, and we are learning more and more about these ancient people who live
beyond the Himalayan Mountains. I have no intention of going into any great
description of Tibet, I am assuming that you know it is a strange land of
quaint little people, cheerful and kindly, yet hot tempered when roused. But
I do want to talk about their dogs, which are commencing to be of interest
to fanciers of both Great Britain and the United States.
Broadly speaking, Tibet has several distinct types of dogs. These have all
been seen in either England or the United States. In addition to these major
types, there a number of other breeds - many hardly known out-side of Tibet
- that I will mention a little later in my story. It quite often happens
that names mean very little when they are transplanted in another country.
As an example take the name Tibet, or, as it is sometimes written, "Thibet",
is not generally used by Tibetans. They call their country Bod, and they
call themselves Bod-pa, or "people of Bod".
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the word "Tibet" came to be used
by Europeans because the great plateau with its uplands bordering the
frontiers of China, Mongolia, and Kashmir, through which the traveler
communicated with Bod, is called by natives Tu-bhot, or "High Bod" or
"Tibet"; which designation, in the loose orthography of travelers, assumed a
variety of forms. Therefore it is not at all surprising to find that the
word "Apso" is the Tibetan name for any long-haired dog. It is a corruption
of "Rapso" which means "goat-like". These dogs are, in general appearance,
not unlike the small, long-haired goats of the country, though, of course,
the dogs are smaller.
Apso dogs of many kinds are found in Tibet, but after considerable
experience with the nobles of Tibet, I was able to find out the kind
generally preferred. This, as it is purely a pet for the house, is a small
dog. Then it must, as the name implies, have long hair, the longer the
better within reason. Then, as regards colour, the commonest is black or
iron grey, but the Tibetans prefer a golden or honey-colored dog. The
long-legged dogs shown in Western countries would not be admired in Tibet.
As far as I know, the name "Apso" first appeared in English in connection
with these dogs in the Daily Mail (London) of August 19, 1929. The
difficulty that a European encounters in trying to get any of these Apso
dogs is well illustrated by my own case. In 1920-21, Colonel R.S. Kennedy
was in Lhasa for about a year as Medical Officer with Sir Charles Bell, who
at that time, was Political Officer for Tibet. In gratitude for his
treatment of his wife , the Commander in Chief (Tsarong Shape) wished to
give Colonel Kennedy some valuable present. This Colonel Kennedy refused,
but eventually accepted a pair of dogs. The male was named Sengtru and the
female Apso. These dogs he took to India, but in 1922 he retired from
Government service, and presented the two dogs to me. My husband was then
Political Officer for Tibet having succeeded Sir Charles Bell in 1921, and
we lived in Sikkim, on the Tibetan frontier, for seven years.
We visited Tibet each year, taking these two dogs with us. We tried very
hard to get more dogs of the same kind. Similar dogs are easy to find but we
were particular to get only the same type in all particulars, including
especially color. This we found impossible. In 1924, my husband spent a
month in Lhasa, seeing the late Dalai Lama frequently, and through His
Holiness and other high officers, he tried to get more dogs of the correct
type. There are, of course no shows in Tibet, and consequently breeding is
not as carefully done as with us, and he found it very difficult to get dogs
which comprised all the points Tibetan like: size, shape, length and texture
of coat, color, and so forth.
However, he found one bitch, the property of a young Tibetan officer named
Demon. The owner would not part with her, but allowed my husband to take her
away to breed from. This was essential as, up to that time, we had only bred
from the original pair, and there was danger to the strain from in-breeding.
This bitch we named Demon, as the owner called her Apso, the same name as
one we had. A litter was born from her, sired by our Singtru, and in due
course the bitch was sent back to Tibet. She was, however lost on the road
and never seen again.
My husband gave up his appointment in 1928 by which time we had still failed
to get any more of the dogs which fulfilled all our requirements. As we did
not expect to return to Tibet, it was essential to get another dog to bring
in fresh blood, and so we obtained a male dog, Lhasa, which was what we were
looking for in all respects except color. Lhasa is a white and grey dog and
not a uniform color. We took him, as he was the nearest we could find. I am
glad to say that his progeny have, so far, been of excellent color. Lhasa
was the property of the late Mr. Martin, of British Trade Agency, at Gyantse,
in Tibet, who had had him for eight years before he presented him to me.
Then he became the property of Mr. Dudley of the Kennels Brambledown,
Sheerness. In 1928 we brought to England this dog Lhasa, and also five of
the descendants of Sengtru, Apso and Demon. These were Taktru, Droma, Tsitru,
Pema and Litsi.
Speaking of the naming of these dogs, you may be interested to know that the
Tibetan word "Tru-gu " means "the young" of anything. In combination with
another word this is abbreviated to Tru , e.g. Seng-e is the Tibetan for
lion. Seng-tru ( an abbreviation for Seng-e Tru - gu ), means "young lion"
The Tibetans have very little imagination in naming their dogs, and most
dogs of the Apso breed, being the lion-dogs of Tibet are called either
Seng-tru or simply Apso.
When we started our kennel we tried to keep to the idea of the young of
carnivorous animals. Thus we got Tak-tru ," the young tiger"; Sik-tru , the
"young leopard"; Sa-tru , the "young snow leopard"; I-tru , the "young wolf"
and so on . Later, we had to forsake the carnivorae for Tsi-tru , the "young
mouse" and so forth. Owing to this difficulty of finding sufficient names
from the young of animals we finally used the names of Tibetan girls and
goddesses for the bitches among our Apso dogs.
Speaking of names, mastiffs in Tibetan are called Do-Kyi , which means " a
dog you can tie up ". Do-Kyi are kept by every nomad and sheek- or yak-herd
to guard the tents. Marco Polo, in the account of his journey into Tibet in
the fourteenth century, mentions these dogs and remarks that they are as
large as donkeys. This has always been considered as an absurd exaggeration
on his part, but as the donkeys in Tibet are abnormally small this is not
such an inaccuracy as one might think.
Besides guarding tents they are very often also used to guard houses. To
make them fierce, the people keep these mastiffs tied up all their lives
from the moment they are about a month or two old. One result is that the
mastiffs in villages are sometimes rickety with twisted, deformed limbs,
while the hind-legs especially may be poorly developed. The nomad's or
shepherd's dog has occasionally to move camp with his master and avoids this
trouble in an exaggerated form, but in Tibet they are not active dogs,
except when actually carriyng out the military precept that attack is often
the best form of defense. They are, of course, quite unsuited to hunting
game in any form.
As to approach a Tibetan encampment, the first sign of life is usually the
barking of dogs. On this, the owners come out their black yak-hair tents and
inspect the cause of the alarm. They, or more usually their children, then
see that all dogs fastenings are secure, and often hold the dogs down while
it strains to reach the stranger. Although fierce, as the result of being
tied up from puppyhood, these mastiffs are very affectionate and good
tempered with the people they know, and one often sees the smallest children
handling and calling them off from their attempts to attack the intruder
with perfect ease and safety. The mastiffs, and sometimes the hunting dogs
also, wear a large fluffy collar of wood dyed bright red. This red collar
can usually be seen in pictures of scenery by Tibetan artists.
Tibetan mastiffs are usually black in color with tan points. One of the high
officials of His Holiness the Tashi Lama once had some entirely black ones,
of which he was very proud, but tan markings are more usual. Not frequently
red dogs are found in a litter. The dog is very heavily built with a thick
coat. The head is particularly heavy and the flews so pendant that the red
of the eye is conspicuous. This, in a country like Tibet, subject to dust,
wind and glare, often leads to diseased eyes owing to dirt and lack of care
and cleanliness. The whole head is large and heavy, but the heads of females
are notably smaller and lighter than those of males. The Tibetans especially
admire a deep-voiced bark.
In 1928 we imported five of these mastiffs. The best one was undoubtedly
Tomtru ( meaning "young bear"), a village dog. Then there was Rakpa, whom we
bought from a caravan of mules traveling in Tibet. He was a fine red dog
which was given first prize for Foreign Dogs at the Kensington Show some
years ago, and was also a winner at Cruft's and the Kennel Club shows. An
imported bitch was the black and tan Gyandru. These mastiffs seem quite
impervious to cold. On a winter's day with a high wind and the temperature
well below fvreezing, they will elect to lie out on a patch of snow if they
can find one.
Tibetan mastiffs were shown at the Alexandra Palace in 1875. More than a
quarter of a century elapsed before the breed again appeared, when one was
brought to England from Lhasa after the Younghusband Mission in 1904. This
dog can now be seen in a glass case at the Natural History Museum in London.
The dog known in England and the United States as the Tibetan spaniel has,
as far as I know, no special name in Tibet. There seem to be more of them in
the Chumbi Valley than in other parts of Tibet. Claude White, who was the
first political officer in Sikkim, had a fine kennel of these dogs many
years ago. My husband got a very nice dog of this breed when in Lhasa with
Sir Francis Younghusband's Expedition in 1904. This dog accompanied him on a
journey of more than 1,000 miles through Tibet to Simla and the photograph
on page 7 was taken on that expedition while crossing a high, snowy pass.
This dog was called "Lhasa" and was given to Mrs Frank Wormald who brought
him to England in 1905. He was shown, and won prizes, and died at the age of
I was given six of these dogs, some cream, black and red, but I parted with
them and confined my attention to Apsos. Besides the known breeds I have
mentioned, there are two other very distinct breeds of Tibetan dogs. The
first is the hunting dog, known in Tibet as Sha-Ky i- Kyi being the Tibetan
for dog. This dog is about the size of an Airdale. In color it is creamy
gray with thick coat. The tail may be carried curled over the back but also
sometimes down. The head is long and is a smoky black shading into the
creamy gray of the body. The ears hang forward. The dog is used for killing
game. He is taken on a leash to within sight of the game - Bharal (wild
sheep), must deer, serow etc.. and slipped. When the quarry is pursued, it
adopts its natural defense against a wolf by getting into a cliff, where it
turns to bay and attempts to butt the dog over the precipice. This is where
the quarry is wrong, for the dog does not go in and attempt to kill as a
wolf would presumably do, but keeps barking in complete safety and distracts
the attention of the quarry while the hunter comes up and shoots the animal
at close quarters with his primitive matchlock.
These dogs are very keen sighted, I once saw a pair which spotted a herd of
Ovis Ammon at a very great distance, but the owner would not slip them as he
explained that there was no suitable place to which the wild sheep could be
turned to bay.
I have attempted to keep these dogs. Those obtained when adult where
tiresome in attacking strangers. A hunter once told me that they trained
these dogs by tying the pup to the mother and letting her go after game when
she forgot everything but her hunting. The puppy was dragged and bumped
along after her. This made them fierce and keen! Attempts to keep young ones
were difficult as I found them delicate. There is no doubts, however, that
this distinctive dog would be most attractive and if breed from imported
parents would, like the mastiff, be a quiet house dog. There is no trace of
wolf in them as the drooping ears testify.
Another very distinctive breed in Tibet is the Kongbo dog, and has never
been exported from Tibet, as far as I know. Kongbo is a province in
South-eastern Tibet. This dog is on the lines of a schnauzer, with small,
prick ears. I have only seen two of these dogs, and both were reddish in
color I was once given one by a Tibetan friend. I did not keep him as he was
very old and in bad health.
When in Tibet, I kept Finnish spitz and Tibetans, on seeing these, would
always point with surprise and say : "Kongkyi" (i.e. Kongbo dog) The
Kongkyis I have seen are much heavier in build than Finnish spitz, with
coarse hair like a schnauzer and the ears are shorter.
Another very popular dog in Tibet is called Gya-Kyi, which means simply
"Chinese dog". This is more like a smooth-haired Pekinges than anything else.
I believe this dog to be the Chinese pug. This dog is, I think, the same as,
or akin to the Chinese ha-pa dog, which was shown in England a few years ago.
His Holiness the late Dalai Lama once gave me one of these dogs which I kept
for some time. It was a very nice, affectionate pet. This dog usually has a
collar of colored cloth (often red) on which bells are sewn.
I have said that "Apso" in Tibetan means "any long haired dog" Do-Kyi means
a "tied dog" or mastiff. The late Dalai Lama, himself, kept many dogs, among
them one described as "Do-Kyi-Apso" which may have been cross between a
Tibetan mastiff and the dog known in Tibet as the large Apso, which are
called Tibetan Terriers in England. My husband took a photograph of this
dog. It was the only one that he ever saw of this breed.
Tibetan have, of course, not standardized types. This results is no very
specialized, or, as one might perhaps say, unnatural dogs, being bred there.
If you wish a dog for a pet in the house, it should be small, lively and
faithful; for hunting fast and courageous; for a guard, large, strong and
fierce on occasion..
However, breeding is not entirely haphazard as can be seen from the dogs
which come from Tibet. After all, the points of breeds were only
standardized in England about a hundred years ago, when dogs shows were
first held. As in other eastern countries, every Tibetan village contains
stray dogs, which make a night's rest almost impossible. Some of these are
quite fine dogs, as indeed they must be to stand the rigorous winter climate.
On the Ling-Kor, or sacred road on which pilgrims circumambulate Lhasa, are
numbers of dogs of all descriptions which are fed by the pilgrims as an act
of piety. This has nothing to do with the dogs being sacred. All talk of
sacred dogs bred only in monasteries is nonsense. But the Buddhist theory of
reincarnation encourages kindness to animals, especially in a sacred place
like Lhasa. It must not be imagined that native dogs are the only ones seen
in Tibet. Occasionally one finds pure-breed from England or the Continent in
the homes of Tibetans. I know that a former Dalai Lama kept English
greyhounds, and his favorite dog, which was always with him in the house,
was a dachshund. This goes to prove that we all like things that are not
native to our own soil. That is why you might be interested in owing one of
the dogs that are indigenous to Tibet, that strangely interesting country
which lies up in the clouds.
For any questions feel free to contact our board;
Mrs Sylvia van Tatenhove
Mss Anoek Geleedst, Secretary
reference; English & American Lhasa Apso Club and Mrs Sylvia van Tatenhove
English Lhasa info To become a member
Ch Saxonsprings Hackensack