The Tibetan Terrier
It is said, that the origin of the Tibetan Terrier, more correctly known as the Tibetan
Dhokyi Apso, began over two thousand years ago, in the Lost Valley of Tibet, 11000
feet above sea level, in the mountainous region of the Himalayas.
They were raised in the monasteries by Lamas, the Buddhist monks, hence the name
Holy Dog of Tibet, and were used for herding, guarding and companionship. These dogs
where given as gifts to visiting dignitaries, or as a token of thanks to people who
had done a great service to the Lamas.
The Tibetan Terrier was also known as the "good luck dog" or "luck bringer" and was
given to those about to undergo a dangerous journey, it was thought that no one would
harm a traveller fortunate enough to have been given one of these dogs.
Through the spans of time, the severe weather conditions of the region, have created
a dog with a heavy dense coat to protect him against the bitter cold and biting winds,
and long heavy coat falling across his eyes, for protection against the snow storms
in the winter, and the swirling dust and bright sunshine of the summer.
The Tibetan Terrier is, a strong, sure footed dog, well able to cope with the harsh
terrain, his large feet helping him to move through snow with ease, and to jump from
rock to rock with effortless agility. It is believed that the Tibetan Terrier was
quite often sent down the steep rocky slopes of the mountains, to retrieve articles
that had fallen from pack animals, and sometimes even livestock, that had slipped
from the trail.
Tibetan Terriers are well equipped to survive, and it is quite possible, that the
breed has remained unchanged throughout the centuries.
Introduction to the Western world
The Tibetan traders and merchants, would often have contact with the neighbouring
countries of Tibet, such as India, Nepal and Bhutan, and by all accounts, it was
a Tibetan merchant, that was indirectly responsible for the introduction of the Tibetan
Terrier to the western world. It is believed that the merchants wife's stomach had
been cut open, and an evil spirit removed from it, by a certain Dr Greig, and that
the spirit had never returned.
Dr Greig's first contact with a Tibetan Terrier was in 1922, while she was serving
at a hospital, in Cawnpore, India.
A Tibetan merchant arrived at the hospital in Cawnpore, and with him he had his wife,
his belongings and his animals. The merchant had heard, how a Dr Greig had removed
an evil spirit from the stomach of a friends wife, and he wanted Dr Greig to do the
same for his wife. When Dr Greig examined the woman, she found her to have a large
Dr Greig agreed to perform the operation, but the wife wanted to keep her pet dog
with her, the dog was found to be a bitch in whelp. Dr Greig told the wife that she
would keep the dog at her bungalow until the woman was well enough to have her back.
The operation was done, the cyst removed, and the wife made a good recovery, the
evil spirit had been removed from her body.
A while later, the puppies were born, two dogs and two bitches. The merchant was
so happy with the way that Dr Greig had treated them, that he offered her the pick
of the litter to show his immense gratitude. Dr Greig chose a gold and white bitch,
and called her Bunti.
The merchant told Dr Greig that the puppy was one of a breed only known in Tibet,
and that she was one of very few people outside of Tibet, to have seen one, let alone
When Bunti was about twelve months old, Dr Greig decided that she would like to show
her, and tried to register her as a Lhasa Terrier. But, when a panel of all round
judges saw Bunti, at the Dehli Show, they said that she was not a Lhasa Terrier.
Dr Greig was advised to get a male dog of the same like, and mate Bunti, to see if
the puppies were of a same likeness. A dog was aquired from the same merchant that
had given her Bunti, and she called the dog Rajah.
The Indian Kennel Club told Dr Greig, that they needed three generations of this
breed to be born, and a puppy from each litter to be kept. The puppy kept from the
second litter should be mated back to its sire or dam to create an inbred third generation.
A puppy from this litter was chosen by a Mr Medley, of the Indian Kennel Club, for
Dr Greig to keep, and when this puppy was twelve months old, she was to show all
three generations, to a panel of judges at the Dehli Show. After examination by the
panel of judges, the three dogs were declared pure bred, and recognised by the Indian
Kennel Club as Tibetan Terriers.
Dr Greig returned to England in the early 1930's, and the Tibetan Terrier became
a recognised breed by the English Kennel Club in 1937.