The Tibetan Terrier, once a monastery dog of Tibetan monks, found its way from the roof of the world into the living room at home thanks to the commitment of a British doctor. The friendly and child-loving family dog shows its Asian-reserved nature towards strangers, but towards its family it is cheerful and very affectionate.
The home of the Tibetan Terrier lies between India and China, in the central highlands of the Himalayas. The history of the Lao Khyi, which translates as hand dogs, goes back 2000 years. In Tibetan mythology, the snow lion stands for fearless happiness. The lion dog Apso was ascribed the same virtues: the sacred dogs guarded the treasures of the Buddha and were at the same time good luck charms and ambassadors of peace and happiness. The species of this region, generally referred to as such, are forerunners of the now world-famous breeds Pekingese, Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso, named after the capital.
The dogs were worshiped religiously in Lamaism, the Tibetan religion of Bhuddism, because they were seen as the rebirth of deceased priests. All Tibetan terriers are said to originally come from a breed that monks operated in the “Lost Valley”. Since the path to the remote monastery became almost impassable due to an earthquake in the 14th century, every clerical dignitary who came to visit was given a Tibetan terrier to accompany them on departure. The extremely attentive dog was supposed to protect and guide its master, and the Tibetan terriers were also given the gift of finding lost objects. Secular visitors were only granted this honor in very rare exceptions. According to tradition, all Tibetan terriers from the region around the capital were brought to remote monasteries when the Chinese attacked in 1720. One of these places was the Hemis Monastery in a remote Himalayan valley. Since it was founded in the 17th century, it has been spared enemy attacks, but has never been reached by peaceful visitors. So well shielded from historical events and from external influences, the continued existence of the race was secured.
A sufficiently large gene pool is a prerequisite for healthy offspring. The Tibetan monks handled the exchange of dogs through their own supply of products from livestock farming. Cattle breeders and nomads took care of the monastery’s own herds, and the Tibetan terriers were herding dogs. According to ancient records, the shepherds gave their smallest puppies to the monks, with gold-colored and white specimens being considered special lucky charms. They were used for breeding, as a guard dog and as a status symbol. Some animals were given to friendly monasteries for their own breeding. In return, the shepherds received the largest puppies from the monastery breed in order to train them as working dogs, because Tibetan terriers have adapted excellently to the rough terrain: climbing, jumping and excellent observation make the breed ideal for driving herds of yak and sheep up steep slopes Mountain pastures. The thick, double fur protects them from rain and cold, but also from harmful UV radiation from the sun in the high mountains (Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, is in the Himalayas). Tibetan terriers were valuable in another way as well: in winter, the dogs were shorn in order to weave warming and even water-repellent fabrics from their hair, mixed with yak wool.
British doctor Dr. Agnes Greigs was practicing as a member of the Women’s Medical Service of India in Cawn-porn’s hospital when a wealthy Tibetan sought help for his wife there in 1922. They had their dog Lillie with them. Since animals were of course not allowed to stay in hospital, the Tibetans worried about their whereabouts, because the bitch stayed by the side of her sick wife day and night and has not been touched by anyone since the illness. Dr. Greigs went to the bed on which Lillie was sitting, looked into her eyes and said a serious word: “Now be a good girl and come to me until your mom is better. We also visit them twice a day. ” Greigs picked up Lillie and the little bitch understood. The operation was successful and the Tibetan woman recovered quickly. To express their gratitude, the couple visited the doctor again later. In the meantime Lillie had had four puppies, two females and two males. From this litter, Dr. Greig Choosing an Animal: She decided on a gold and white female she named Bunti.
The doctor wanted to exhibit Bunti and in 1923 asked the Indian Breeding Association about how to proceed. The answer was that she should introduce her then one-year-old bitch as a Lhasa Terrier. This is what she did, but the judges agreed that Bunti was not a Lhasa Terrier at all. The committee and Dr. Greigs agreed to start a limited breeding program with dogs that were exactly the breed type of Bunti. Now the doctor developed great enthusiasm to found a new breed and she found the right animals. With Bunti and Gyan Tse of Lamleh, a TT bitch born in 1928 and the male Mr Binks of Ladkok, Dr Greigs laid the foundation for their breeding project based on the European model. The origin of the Indian bitch was unknown, but she achieved the important champion certificates in Karachi and Bombay, which are only awarded to dogs of a certain breed. The first litter fell in India at Christmas 1924 and was named “of Lamleh”. As agreed, the Indian breed association revoked the preliminary registration with the third generation in pure breeding and recognized in 1930 Dr. Greig’s dogs as a separate breed under the name Tibetan Terrier. Now the British Kennel Club was also interested in the new breed and opened the Tibetan Terrier Register in 1931 after the initial confusion with the Lhasa Terrier had been cleared up.
Many kennels have the Lamleh part of their name, but what does that mean? With this term, breeders indicate that their animals are direct descendants from the first TT kennel of the same name of the breed founder Dr. Agnes Greigs are. The translation from Tibetan is ambiguous as the spelling is likely colored by regional dialects. There is the similar word “Lamlee”, which means “construction work” or “road construction”. It may be alluding to the long, arduous walks to the monasteries or the steep, rocky pastures, the original habitat of the Tibetan terriers. From a religious point of view, the wheel of reincarnation could also be meant.
The head is neither too wide nor too big in relation to the body. Set high, V-shaped lop ears are not too close. The large, round eyes of dark brown color are wide apart and have black lids. A clearly pronounced stop goes into the strong muzzle, which houses a scissor bite or a reverse scissor bite. The muscular, medium-length neck allows the head to be carried above the back line. The compact, strong body has a square building and runs with a straight back line. The medium-length, high-set tail is carried happily and curled up over the back. Arched ribs form the rib cage, which extends back to the elbow and far back. The limbs are of good length and run parallel. On the hindquarters the hocks are set low. Front and rear paws are flat and not arched. They are large, round and richly hairy between the pads. The double coat also forms a fine, dense undercoat and, especially on the ears and tail, lush outer coat that should be fine, but not silky or woolly. It can be straight, long, or wavy, but not curly. Any color except liver or chocolate brown is allowed: gold, white, cream, black, smoke gray, also two or three colors.
The name Tibet Aspo would be appropriate, but it was decided to name the breed Tibetan Terrier. This is misleading because there is no physical or character resemblance to terriers. If you watch the TT in the garden, you can tell that it has a herding dog mentality. He loves to sit on the roof of his hut and watch his territory – a terrier, on the other hand, prefers to hunt through the borders and dig deep holes in the ground. He does not miss any movement in his home area, so arriving visitors are accompanied with a lot of barking to their master or mistress, only then is the watchdog job done. The TT loves long excursions into difficult terrain, where it can jump and climb without a leash, because its low ankle joints are designed for these movements. He also likes dry snow, where he uses his big, round paws like snowshoes – a holiday in the mountains, where he accompanies his people on cross-country skiing or hiking, would be ideal. Water and swimming are not really his thing. The TT gets along well with children, unless they are annoyed too vigorously, in which case it demands respect. Consistent but loving upbringing is necessary from puppy age so that the house dog does not think that it has to take over the leadership of the family pack. The owner should therefore already have some dog experience and appropriate assertiveness. A well socialized TT is real sunshine with an extremely friendly demeanor. He needs close contact and communication with his people, for example to express his need for a fixed daily routine. His internal clock is incorruptible when it is time for food or the walk.
The thick, double coat is cared for with fine and coarse-toothed metal combs, natural hair and wire brushes. Tangles can be loosened with a little baby oil, otherwise the strand is cut out. Painful, pressing knots of hair can also form between the pads. Ear hair at the entrance to the ear is plucked to counteract inflammation and in summer it must be checked for awns. Tweezers will help remove it. The puppy has to learn to keep still during the grooming routine and the owner should ideally have a dog hairdresser show him how to comb and brush correctly – trimming or cutting is not necessary. However, some dogs are happier with a short haircut on their head, which is immediately reflected in increased activity. The TT likes to live out its joy of movement and intelligence in dog sports such as agility, targeting, dog dance or flyball – this counteracts its tendency to become overweight at the same time. Genetic diseases can also occur in Tibetan terriers. In hip dysplasia (HD) and patellar dislocation (displacement of the kneecap), the joints and the skeleton are affected. In the eyes, death of the retina (progressive retinal atrophy), cataract or lens dislocation is also hereditary. Another known hereditary condition is congenital vestibular syndrome, an inner ear disease that is associated with deafness and imbalance. The hereditary disease canine ceroid lipofuscinosis (CCL) is damage to the body and nerve cells. Today genetic tests are carried out on breeding animals in order to avoid the occurrence of these hereditary diseases.
The Tibetan Terrier at a glance
Origin: TibetPatronage: Great BritainAlternative names: Tibetan Terrier, Tsang Apso, Doki-Apso, Tibet-AspoFCI Standard No. 209, Group 9 Society and Companion Dogs Section 5 Tibetan Dog BreedsWithers: Males approx. 36 – 41 cm, bitches slightly smallerWeight: not specifiedFur colors : All colors except liver brown and chocolate brown are permitted, including two or three colors Eyes: round, large, set far apart, dark brown with black lids Ears: V-shaped, hanging, medium-sized Build: medium-sized, robust, square building Use: companion dog, guard dog, therapy dog Character: Affectionate, lively, good-natured Health Risks: Hip Dysplasia (HD), Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Congenital Vestibular Syndrome, Canine Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CCL) Life expectancy: approx. 12-15 years
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