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shamau tibetan spaniels
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Little is known of the origins of the Tibetan Spaniel but it is thought that they were recognised as a distinct breed both in Lhasa and at the frontiers of Tibet and that they were of ancient origin and highly valued. It is thought that they were bred in monasteries and villages for many hundreds of years and may have existed in a similar form for many years B.C.

Tibet has always been a remote isolated country and both dogs and people led a very hard life. In the various books on the Tibetan Spaniel there seems to be some question as to whether the dogs were mainly bred in the monasteries and/or the villages. It is thought that they were kept mainly as household pets and watchdogs and probably lived a more protected life than some of the other Tibetan Breeds which may account for the different types of coat and their high degree of intelligence.

It is suggested that their liking for high lookout points in their homes today originated from their habit of keeping watch from the high places in the monasteries or near their homes and barking to warn of the approach of wolves or strangers. Similarly they like to snuggle up to their human companions today as they probably did in Tibet providing warmth and companionship in what was a very cold and hard environment and during long periods of meditation in the monasteries. There are records of Tibetan Spaniels being seen tucked into the capacious sleeves of Lhamas.

The first Tibetan Spaniel recorded in England was in 1895 and the first exhibited about 1895.

By 1915 the breed had almost died out. Dr. Nancy Greig who was a medical missionary in Tibet resurrected the breed when she sent Tibetan Spaniels and other Tibetan breeds home to her mother in Hertfordshire in the late 1920's. Prior to the Second World War there were supposed to be between 50 and 60 Tibetan Spaniels in England.

The breed was reintroduced into England in about 1946 with the arrival of Lama and Dolma owned by Sir Edward and Lady Wakefield and Garpon and Potala (brother and sister and full brother and sister of Lama but in a different litter) owned by Col. and Mrs. Hawkins. These four dogs together with Skyid the only remaining descendent of the pre-war imports formed the basis of the breed in this country.

Fresh blood lines were brought into the country in 1968 when Mrs. A. Wynyard (Braeduke) imported two litter sisters born in India whose parents walked out of Tibet with a group of monks taking refuge in India from the Red Chinese. In 1970 a further bitch was imported from Hawaii where she had been born. The dam of this bitch was bred in Hong Kong, her parents had come from Tibet and the sire was a dog bred by Mrs. Wynyard in England. Mrs. Wynyard imported a fourth bitch with English parents from the U.S.A. in 1977. All of the Tibetan Spaniels today come from these dogs and have formed the basis for the breed across the world.

(This information has been gleaned from the books written by Mrs. Phyllis Mayhew and Mrs. Ann Wynyard) is home of the PRA Fund and the South East & East Anglian Tibetan Spaniel Society