Considerations for the Evaluation of Lhasa Puppies

by Joyce Johanson

Evaluation of a litter of Lhasa puppies is an on-going process. For many breeders, evaluation begins as soon as the puppies are whelped; others wait until the puppies are up and steady on their feet before they even think about classifying this one as a "pet" or that one as having "show potential." Even then the decision may not be final, and the breeder will want to wait until the puppy matures more before making a final evaluation. No matter at what age the evaluation is done, the evaluator needs a knowledge of the Lhasa Apso standard, an understanding of basic canine structure, and an awareness of "type" and of various developmental stages a Lhasa puppy goes through. When evaluating a puppy even as young as eight weeks, look for structural qualities you desire in an adult. Stack the puppy and check his basic structure. Remember that at any age, the basic structure is all there, but allowances must be made for puppyhood.

Some considerations:

Of course, when you evaluate you need to consider the puppy's personality, movement, and coat texture and quantity. Personality-wise, the puppy possessing an outgoing, playful, "look-at-me" attitude is a better choice for a show prospect than a shy, quiet puppy. However, I've seen plenty of quiet puppies really blossom once they were separated from overbearing littermates, so keep that in mind also. Movement is hard to evaluate in very young puppies because they always want to run, pounce, and bound across the room. It takes a careful eye to spot positive and negative aspects of movement in a young puppy, but it can be done. Separate him from littermates and observe how the puppy carries himself. Are head and tail up?

Coat texture and quantity are important; however, don't chose a puppy on basis of coat alone. Some coat textures require more care than others, and if you're making a decision between two puppies of otherwise equal characteristics, you should chose a harder-textured coat over a soft cottony one. Also keep in mind that there is such a thing as smooth-coated Lhasas (they are called Prapsos), and if you're looking for a show dog, you don't want one of them.

Puppy evaluation, especially on young puppies, is risky. Every breeder has made errors in judgment and has kept a "sure winner" that just didn't reach his potential or somehow "fell apart" during the growth spurt. And every breeder has stories of the "pet" Lhasa he sold that could have been a champion. However, there is a method to puppy evaluation and the more you study, read and learn , the more hands-on experience you have with dogs, the less chance you have of making big mistakes when it comes to evaluating your puppies.

We all know that each puppy has faults and when you are choosing a puppy for yourself or helping a puppy buyer chose one from your litter, you need to honestly balance good qualities against those less becoming qualities and ask yourself, "Do the good qualities outweigh those things I'd like to change?"

Please note: Permission to reproduce and/or circulate information in this article is granted. However, the article must be disseminated in its entirety and credit must be given to Joyce Johanson, Joyslyn's Lhasa Apsos. Thanks!

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