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The Tibetan Terrier is a true charmer, from the top of his shaggy head to the tip of his plume-like tail. His gay, bouncy gait, his engaging personality and his lovely, shaggy silhouette intrigue dog lovers everywhere.
The Tibetan Terrier is not a true terrier. He has a much more relaxed temperament than is generally associated with the terrier breeds and has been classified by the American Kennel Club as a member of the Non-sporting Group, in keeping with the breed's principal function as a companion dog.
In appearance, the Tibetan Terrier is a medium-sized, shaggy dog with a heavy fall of hair covering the eyes. Stiff eyelashes hold up the hair over the eyes, which helps him see. Originally the hair protected the eyes from the glare of sun on snow and the blowing sands in Tibet. His body proportions are such that the measurement from the point of shoulder to the root of the tail should equal the measurement from his withers to the ground. He carries his medium-length, well-feathered tail curled gaily over his back. One of the most charming characteristics of our breed is the lovely coat with its wide variety of colours ranging from white to black, and including cream, golden, red, silver and charcoal. Tibetan Terriers may appear in parti-colour (two-colour) or tri-colour combinations. The sables have a lacing of black hair intermingled with lighter shades which may be golden, red or silver.
The Tibetan Terrier is gay and fun-loving, although he may appear more dignified in public that at home. Tibetans are curious and very intelligent. They make good obedience dogs, but must be handled gently because they learn quickly and are easily bored with the repetition which is sometimes involved with obedience training. Tibetans are very loving and devoted to their masters and families and try very hard to please. Because they possess exceptional intelligence and keen senses of hearing and smell, they make excellent watchdogs.
Small enough to live comfortably and healthfully in a city apartment, yet sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of a rural existence, the Tibetan Terrier's size, as well as its temperament, makes the breed eminently well suited for its role as a modern day companion dog. Daily walks (or exercise in a yard) are sufficient to keep the Tibetan Terrier fit, yet the stamina of the breed is such that it was able to follow along with Tibetan caravans over rugged terrain.
According to legend, the Tibetan Terrier originated in the Lost Valley of Tibet. They are known to have been in existence for more than two thousand years. Called the Holy Dogs of Tibet, they were raised in the monasteries by the lamas or priests. While they were not worshipped as the name Holy Dog might appear to indicate, they were much respected as luck-bringers thus were highly valued in their native land.
In addition to being considered luck bringers, and perhaps because of this, Tibetan Terriers were used as guard dogs for caravans and as protection for travellers. The Tibetan Terrier is not a vicious dog. His value as a guard dog stemmed from the fact that no Tibetan person would harm one of these "Holy Dogs" or anything the dog protected.
Other information indicates that the Tibetan Terrier may have been used as a herding dog or retriever of lost articles which would occasionally fall down the mountainside into a crevice. The breed is surefooted and has powerful jumping capabilities. This, coupled with its keen sense of smell, would make it well suited for such activities.
The Tibetan Terrier was, and is today, a true companion dog, devoted to family and home. Tibetan people called them the "Little People" and raised them in very close association with people for thousands of years. They should be treated today as family members, as they have always been. Truly fortunate is the family to which a Tibetan Terrier belongs.
People who become interested in our breed sometimes wonder if the abundant coat makes for difficult grooming and are pleasantly surprised to learn that such is not the case if a regular grooming routine is established and maintained. This routine consists of systematic brushing or combing in addition to nail and ear care. The TT needs, on the average, one careful grooming session each week. A small number of dogs may need to be groomed more often - perhaps twice a week - but not so frequently as to become a problem. The Tibetan Terrier coat does no shed in the usual sense of the word. Rather, the undercoat becomes loose and is caught in the outer coat. If it is not brushed regularly and thoroughly, mats and tangles will form.
There is one period in a Tibetan Terrier's life known as the "puppy blow" when the puppy coat is being cast off and the adult coat is beginning to emerge. This period occurs sometime between six and eighteen months of age. The coat suddenly mats up overnight - or so it seems. Daily grooming at this time may be necessary to avoid a difficult grooming situation. The puppy blow may last a few weeks or it may continue for more than a month, depending upon the individual dog's coat type.
In addition to the "puppy blow", some TTs tend to cast off undercoat in greater than usual quantities in the spring and fall of the year, and at these times may require a bit more grooming than normal.
The Tibetan Terrier coat is noticeably odourless, having no "doggy odour". In addition, the coat has a marvellous way of casting off dirt, so that the regular grooming procedure need not include a bath. Many TT owners bathe their dogs only when necessitated by circumstance. Others like to maintain a regular bathing schedule as part of the grooming routine.
The Tibetan Terrier is a very hardy breed and is considered be long-lived. Many Tibetans live to be thirteen to fifteen years of age. Death before the age of nine years is usually accident-related.
There are certain common defects found within the dog population in varying degrees of incidence. Defects which have been found in the Tibetan Terrier include hip dysplasia, patella luxation, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), lens luxation, cataracts, heart murmurs, and hernias, but most of these conditions are quite rare. Conscientious breeders, with the support and encouragement of the Tibetan Terrier Club of America, work diligently to minimize the incidence of these defects within the breed.
THE TIBETAN TERRIER IN THE WESTERN WORLD
Dr. Agnes R.H. Greig, an English doctor, was responsible for establishing the Tibetan Terrier both in India and in England. While in India, Dr. Greig was given a Tibetan Terrier puppy by a Tibetan nobleman on whose wife the doctor had performed surgery. He told Dr. Greig she was one of the few foreigners to be given, or to even see, this rare breed of "Holy Dog". Dr. Greig was so charmed with her Tibetan Terrier that she procured a mate for her and was responsible for the recognition of the breed by the Indian Kennel Club in the 1920s.
In the 1930s, Dr. Greig established the world famous Lamleh Kennels in England where she bred Tibetan Terriers until her death in 1972. Through the untiring efforts of Dr. Greig, the breed was recognized by the Kennel Club of England in 1937, since which time it has held championship status in that country. It is from the early dogs of Dr. Greig that most of the Tibetan Terriers of the western world are descended.
In 1956, Dr. and Mrs. Murphy of Great Falls, Virginia imported the first "official" Tibetan Terrier into the United States from England. The following year a mate was imported for the bitch and the Kalai Kennels was established. Alice Murphy continued to breed her Tibetans at Kalai until her death in March 1976. During the last twenty years of her life, she worked tirelessly to promote her beloved breed in the United States and Canada. She and her husband were responsible for the foundation of the Tibetan Terrier Club of America, Inc. which was established in 1957 to act as the registration organization for the breed until it was recognized by the American Kennel Club; as well as to encourage and promote the breed of purebred Tibetan Terriers and to protect and advance the interests of the breed in the USA and Canada.
In 1963, the breed was granted the privilege to participate in AKC licensed shows in the Miscellaneous Class. After another ten years of dedication to the breed by the Murphys and others who also came to love and cherish the Tibetan Terrier, word was received that the breed had been admitted to registration in the American Kennel Club Stud Book effective 1 May 1973 and to regular show classification in the non-Sporting Group at AKC shows on October 3, 1973. The breed was officially recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club in March 1974.
Since that time, the Tibetan Terrier, although on of the rarer of the AKC-recognized breed, has become increasingly well known for its most outstanding characteristic . . . an exceptional companion to man.
PURCHASING A TIBETAN TERRIER PUPPY
Once you have decided to purchase a Tibetan Terrier puppy, try -if you can - to visit several breeders and, when there, glance around the premises. A reputable, conscientious breeder will have a clean, odourfree kennel area situated where the dam and puppies are able to experience much social contact with people. Observe the puppies in their environment, and, generally select the puppy that shows a keen interest in its surroundings, has a friendly disposition, is lively, playful and curious and moves about easily on its legs, Its coat should be glossy, its skin healthy, its eyes bright. Try, if possible, to see both parents of the puppies, or at least the dam and observe her basic personality which should be warm, friendly and loving.
Reputable breeders will usually make some arrangement with the buyer to allow the puppy to be examined by the buyer's veterinarian within an agreed-upon time and will take the puppy back if the vet finds the puppy unsuitable for sale for health reasons.
When selecting a show-quality puppy, one must consider, in addition to the points already mentioned, that the puppy must, if a male, have two testicles properly descended in the scrotum. It should have a black nose, an acceptable bite for the breed, and should be within the breed standard's requirements for size and basic body proportions. Thoughtful study of the Tibetan Terrier standard, along with some general knowledge of dog structure, and some time spent observing the breed at AKC or CKC licensed shows and discussing the breed standard with knowledgeable breeders will help you when selecting a show-quality puppy.
Optimum age to take ownership of a pet quality Tibetan Terrier is between nine and twelve weeks. At this age the pup will have enjoyed some weeks of sibling play, should be completely weaned and ready to leave its dam and have had any necessary inoculations.
It may be desirable to purchase an older puppy if you want a show-quality puppy. The older the puppy, the more certain the breeder and the buyer can be of its potential for fulfilling the requirements of the standard for the breed.
Older puppies can also make very good pets if they have been properly socialized. They will usually be exceptionally easy to house break or will already have been housebroken and trained to walk on a leash.
Regardless of how appealing and irresistible the puppy you decide to purchase may be, you must be prepared to concentrate on the business transaction which will make the puppy yours.
You should insist upon and receive a bill of sale signed by the seller giving the puppy's complete breeding information. This information should include the breed, sex, and colour of your puppy, its date of birth, the name of the breeder and complete registered name and numbers of its sire and dam. If the puppy was born in the USA, you should also receive a blue AKC registration slip that you should fill out and send to the AKC. In this case, the purchaser is responsible for the costs of registering the puppy. If the puppy was born in Canada, the breeder is responsible for registering individual puppies. The official CKC registration papers are then sent back to the breeder who then sends them to the puppy buyers (this can take several months). There is no additional cost to the purchaser for the registration of the puppy.
In addition, you should receive a health certificate from the breeder's veterinarian and the breeder should provide you with the puppy's complete medical history which should record all inoculations, and worming medications and other medical attention that the pup may have received. These are essential if you are importing a puppy from USA into Canada.
Finally, you should receive complete written instructions from the breeder on the feeding and care of your puppy for at least the first year of its life. When you take your puppy home, its coat will be easy to care for. Make certain, however, that you learn from the breeder how to care for the coat as it matures.
Most breeders will include all guarantees stated in writing in the bill of sale, and will supply a four or more generation pedigree with the registration papers.