LHASA APSO CANADA
A SHORT BREED HISTORY
WRITTEN IN 1979 BY LHASA APSO CANADA HONOURARY MEMBER,
BARBARA RATLEDGE OF LAS-A-RAB LHASA APSOS, CALGARY WAS
A REGISTER OF MERIT BREEDER. AMONG HER CHAMPIONS WERE
TWO BEST IN SHOW LHASA APSOS:
BIS CH LAS-A-RAB PAPPA SAN OWNED BY DEBORAH GILLESPIE &
BIS CH LAS-A-RAB LOKA MO SHUN OWNED BY SHIRLEY CLARK.
IN 1976, BABARA AND HER HUSBAND DR. ERIC RATLEDGE HAD THE
PLEASURE OF VISITING THE TIBETAN REFUGEE CAMPS IN
KHATMANDU AND SEEING THE LHASA APSOS THAT THE TIBETANS
HAD BROUGHT WITH THEM IN THEIR FLIGHT FROM TIBET.
THE ACCOMPANYING PHOTOGRAPH OF A TIBETAN REFUGEE AND
HER LHASA APSO WAS TAKEN BY DR. ERIC RATLEDGE.
From the mysterious land of Tibet came the ancestors of our modern day Lhasa Apso. The breed originated
in the villages and monasteries around the spiritual capital of Tibet, Lhasa, some 2000 years ago. The
Tibetans called the breed "Abso Seng Kye" meaning the Bark Sentinel Lion Dog because if its resemblance
to the symbolic lion of Lamanist Buddhism.
The Lhasa Apso has been bred for centuries as a special indoor sentinel, guarding against intruders, for
this country has no accommodation for travellers other than in the homes of the Tibetans. These little dogs
were never allowed outside the temples or homes and are well adapted for this sentinel work, as their keen
hearing and well developed instincts enable them to detect friends from strangers.
The Lhasa Apso has never lost this characteristic of keen watchfulness, nor has he lost his hardy nature.
These two features should always be developed since they are of outstanding merit.
The Lhasa Apso is a rare breed and as travel has always been limited in this wild mountainous country,
visitors had no opportunity to see these dogs as they were kept within the sanctity of the homes of the
mighty in the villages around the sacred city of Lhasa. For this reason they were never mentioned by the
The few Lhasa Apsos that originally came to the outside world had been given by the Dalai Lama to the
Imperial Families of China, where it was considered a great honour to receive one of these dogs as it
supposedly brought great fortune to the recipient. The Panchen Lama took with him on his travels two
favourite dogs- a golden Lhasa Apso female and a black and white male.
It has been suggested that the Lhasa Apso has a place in the religion of Tibet, but evidence for this belief
has never been brought forth.
The profuse coat which is inclined to be shaggy, is possibly the reason for the "Apso" in the name, which is
from the Tibetan "rapso"meaning goat-like. They are bred to be lion-like in appearence (in honour of the
lions which saved Bhudda's life when he was persued by his enemies).
Familiar for centuries in its native land, the Lhasa Apso was known in England many years before it was
known in this country. When Mrs Eric Bailey brought their Apsos to England in 1928, there were only a few
dogs of this breed in England. These dogs were brought from Tibet by members of the Younghusband
Expedition in 1904. At this time they were known as Lhasa Terriers. The Apso was first shown in the Crystal
Palace in England in 1909 where it won first prize in the Foreign Dogs class. In 1934 Col. & Mrs. F.M. Bailey
formed an association for the Tibetan breeds. The first chairman was Col. Colenso. Mrs. Bailey was the next
chairman holding the office until her retirement in l973. In 1975 the Lhasa Apso breeders broke away from
this association and formed the Lhasa Apso Club of Great Britain. During the formation of the original
Tibetan Breeders Association the breed was known as the Lhasa Apso. In l958 the name was changed from
Lhasa Apso to Tibetan Apso. In l970 the name was changed back again to Lhasa Apso.
In the early 1930's, Mr. Suydham Cutting of New York, interested in the natural life of the land of Tibet,
began a lengthy correspondence with the Dalai Lama and later with the Regent and received from them his
first pair of Tibetan Lhasa Apsos as a token of friendship and good will.
From their breeding came colours of black and white, grizzle and white, brown and white, golden and
honey. Over the years Mr. Cutting received additional stock from the Dalai Lama and it was not uncommon
for the Dalai Lama to be the breeder of some of the dogs exhibited in the USA. The last pair to come over
was in l950. Mr. Cutting returned the graciousness of the people by sending them such articles such as
Streuben Glass, sterling silver and other articles not obtainable in Tibet.
Published with permission of the author.
First published in SHOW RING, November 1979, Judon enterprises Ltd. Burnaby, BC, Canada
table articles - interviews
A SHORT BREED HISTORY