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Tibetan Spaniel Presentation: Who’s at Fault?

Tibetan spaniel sitting on a chair


With the openness of social media, we can “talk” to those near and far. Problems or issues abound and can scatter across the globe. Is any one person at fault, or do exhibitors, breeders, and judges all share in the problem? Exhibitors complaining about who wins or about not getting the cross-over points is not a new phenomenon… the list could go on and on.

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One issue that has reared its ugly head again among the Tibetan Spaniel fancy is the fact that our breed standard does have a section on “Presentation” and, at times, exhibitors feel this is being ignored by judges. Well, I also need to add that it is sometimes ignored by exhibitors as well.

The Presentation section from the standard is as follows: “In the show ring it is essential the Tibetan Spaniel be presented in an unaltered condition with the coat lying naturally with no teasing, parting, or stylizing of the hair. Specimens where the coat has been altered by trimming, clipping, or by artificial means shall be so severely penalized as to be effectively eliminated from competition. Dogs with such a long coat that there is no rectangle of daylight showing beneath, or so profuse that it obstructs the natural outline, are to be severely penalized. Whiskers are not to be removed. Hair growing between the pads on the underside of the feet may be trimmed for safety and cleanliness. Feathering on toes must not be trimmed.

Tibetan Spaniel Presentation

Noted in the explanation portion of the Tibetan Spaniel Club of America, Inc. Illustrated Standard it states, “…any evidence of trimming, thinning, scissoring, plucking, chalking or the removal of whiskers, the TSCA considers an alteration of the dog and should be severely penalized.

Let’s look at the statement, “shall be so severely penalized as to be effectively eliminated from competition.” What does it mean when we read those words? To me, it means just that… the dog shall not advance to the Winners competition or Best of Breed. So, if a dog in a class you are judging shows trimming/scissor/clipper marks or you check your hands after the exam and you have chalk or whatever on your hands, that dog cannot win the class or place second as (theoretically) even second can advance for Reserve Winners. Now, under AKC rules, a dog can be excused for having a foreign substance in the coat. That rule is not new.

Tibetan Spaniel Presentation

But I am not here to debate that rule today. So, getting back to the aforementioned issue in the Tibetan Spaniel standard, here you may well have a dog that is truly worthy of winning the class BUT those trimming marks go against the Presentation section of our standard and you MUST eliminate the dog from competition by placing the dog third. He does not advance, but you still recognize that he is a quality specimen.

As a judge, this is heartbreaking because the dog did not and cannot do this to himself. Now, I know that other kennelmates can chew coat, but there is a different look to that cut done by teeth. It is the owner or handler who put the judge in this position. Those aforementioned people put the judge in the position of having to effectively eliminate the animal from competition because this is what our standard says is to happen.

No judge sets out to put up poor specimens. They come to their assignment wanting to find a beautiful representative of the breed they are going to judge. As the judge, they are in control of their ring, and turning a blind eye to this section in the standard is a detriment for our breed and our breeders. All those years ago this section was included in the standard to make sure the breed stayed as a breed that was not trimmed and stylized. Ignoring this makes the breed a made-up breed and, in doing so, issues can be covered up or hidden by the skilled groomer.

No judge sets out to put up poor specimens. They come to their assignment wanting to find a beautiful representative of the breed they are going to judge.

I am the first one to tell you as a breeder that many adore the slippers that Tibbies grow on their toes. I have even been told by judges that I should trim that hair on the feet. Also, I’ve been told to take some of the ear fringe off because some puppies have a great deal of “puppy fuzz” on the outer ear and it can be unruly. Under the Presentation section of our standard this is not allowed. End of discussion. We are proud to be able to say that we want this to be a natural breed.

Tibetan Spaniel Presentation

A natural breed to me means shown clean, underside of the pads trimmed for health and safety, and well-brushed. It is disrespectful to show a dirty dog. The judge touches many dogs over the course of the day and they deserve to put their hands on a clean specimen of the breed in their ring. We, as breeders and exhibitors of Tibetan Spaniels, ask for our two minutes of attention on the table and for the judge to find a quality, moderate animal that carries itself proudly around the ring and is not mistaken for a poor example of some other breed.



Are you looking for a Tibetan Spaniel puppy?

The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder? Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.

Want to help rescue and re-home a Tibetan Spaniel dog?

Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.

Tibetan Spaniel Dog Breed Magazine

Showsight Magazine is the only publication to offer dedicated Digital Breed Magazines for ALL recognized AKC Breeds.

Read and learn more about the bright Tibetan Spaniel dog breed with articles and information in our Tibetan Spaniel Dog Breed Magazine.


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