Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lhasapoo on trial

Exhibit A. The Lhasapoo.

I won't lie. I don't actually like Lhasa Apsos all that much. They look very much like Shih-tzus to me, and it makes me suspicious. That's prejudice for you. I comfort myself with the thought that they probably don't like me either. (I know Shih-tzus don't.)

Like the Shih-poo, the Lhasapoo is a classic example of a Muppetpoo. Note the woolly, 70s shag rug texture and tan fur colour. (Also the tear staining. This crops up now and then in Muppetpoos.) And, like many other poos, there is no good reason for it to exist.

THE PROS: These dogs are capable of getting along quite well in an apartment. Not to say they won't need their daily walk; but they'll typically burn off steam by motoring around the home on those little legs of theirs, and apartments can satisfy this habit just fine.

They're capable of being decent family dogs. Of course this hinges on the socialization they receive, and the temperament of the dog in question, as it's not a consistent thing.

And lastly, unlike their Lhasa parents, their coat is relatively low-maintenence, though you're advised to take it to a professional groomer every now and then.

THE CONS: The big one? You have no reason to be crossing Lhasas. They are already low-shedding, and as far as breeds go, they're pretty healthy. Plus, they have a long lifespan (14-15+ years!) without being crossed.

Lhasas also come with some of the strongest wills in the dog world. They look like lapdogs, but they're more like cats - cranky, snobby cats. They're cunning, manipulative, obstinate and fearless, which can be a nightmare to train if you're not prepared for it. Corrections may not be welcomed, so you've got to be careful, because putting a hand on the dog can get you snapped at: they'll correct you right back! For this reason they're not considered very good around kids. They won't be teased or roughhoused with.

All this is why Lhasa devotees don't seem so enthused about the idea of mixing Lhasapoos. Like with many mixes, it's a bit of a roulette game. You can get a watered-down Lhasa, or a dog as headstrong and aggressive as its parent.

HEALTH CONCERNS? Underbite. Eurgh. This is due to the Lhasa's short muzzle. People keep saying that breeding a poodle to a brachycephalic dog will give you a longer muzzle and a proper bite, and I'll keep not listening.

Both Lhasas and miniature poodles share keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or "dry eye" in common. This is a painful disorder of the eye that can cause blindness over time. To be fair, nobody's quite sure how it's inherited, but both parent breeds are predisposed to it, and affected dogs should not be bred.

Also occurring in both parents: Patella luxation, which we see when you breed small. Retinal atrophy, for which there's no cure. And a skin disorder that acts like allergies, and can be treated but not cured.

So: Will this breed take off? Common sense says no. Lhasas are doing great on their own, provided we keep those muzzles long enough, and I just can't see a huge market for Lhasapoos ever happening. Come on, Lhasa breeders, you can do it! Beat those poodles off, and be proud that you've kept your breed out of crisis. They're cute, smart, and healthy enough to stand alone.


megan colleen said...

I gotta admit. My first dog as a kid was a lhasa apso, I got her when I was 4. Her name was Ruffy. Great dog. My second dog that I got at age 6 was a Lhasa-Poo (before they became a fad) named Sparky. Fortunately for Sparky I wasnt' a roughhouser. I was happier roaming the woods on my horses, and reading books than dressing him up in doll clothes. Sparky lived to be about 16 developed allergies, and had a lot of breathing problems for the majority of his life. And he was never housebroken despite A LOT of trying on our part. Sweet dog though... gentle but neurotic.

His favrotie way to nap was to pile all the throw pillows in the house one on top of each other on the end of the couch. he would then climb carefully on top and curl into a ball. We nicknamed him "The Prince and the Pea," after the fairy tale.

That all being said - I can see your points though. :)

Barb said...

"People keep saying that breeding a poodle to a brachycephalic dog will give you a longer muzzle and a proper bite, and I'll keep not listening."

That is so well-said, it is BRILLIANT!!

Noemi said...

I never knew what a Lhaso Apso was or whether I liked them or not until I got one 4 years ago. My Chloe has become the love of my life. She is an amazing dog. Smart, sweet, loving, loyal, and fun to play with! As a bonus, Chloe happens to be very beautiful physically. Everywhere we go, and she does go everywhere with me, she gets crazy amounts of attention! I toyed with the idea of getting Chloe a sibling, but she does not like the company of other dogs. (I'm not sure she knows she's a dog. LOL!) Check out her pictures and you'll agree she's a beauty!