A brief history of the breed
The breed, Tibetan Terriers (TT), is more than two thousand years old. Its history is long and full of secrets, which gives these dogs a special touch of mystique, which permeates the whole land of Tibet, where they originate from. It is proven to be one of the oldest breeds known to man. There is a legend that these dogs originate from an area called "The Lost Valley", which was practically cut off from the rest of the world by earthquakes and landslides centuries ago.
Over the centuries, the rough weather conditions prevailing on the heights of the Tibetan plateau have shaped the dogs' bodies and senses, which allowed them to adapt and survive. A double hairy coat protects them from the cold and the winds, the large round paws allow a safe step in moving around the rocky and snowy terrain. The natural selection has developed and sharpened their senses, including the sense of balance. A dog with a poor feeling or balance could quickly fall off the rocky overhang, and that could cause the incapability to reproduce.
Through the generations of TTs living in monasteries, the warmth and gentle care of the monks have formed the distinctive character of the breed. The monks treated them very gently because they believed that they are the reincarnation of the sinful monks. The Tibetans value TTs extremely and the dogs have been treated like children in their families for a long time. They called them "little people". They believe that the dogs bring good luck. Therefore, TTs were usually not for sale. Puppies were given as gifts, as an expression of gratitude and good wishes. The dogs accompanied the caravans of nomads. Nowadays, people still connect their enthusiasm over the long walks, hikes, searching and travelling. They are extremely friendly and gentle, attentive to the people and a bit reserved to strangers. TTs are watchful guards, non-aggressive, but not cowardly at all.
There were hints that some Tibetan Terriers had arrived to Europe by sailors from India long before. Still, the official credits for their arrival to the European ground go to Dr. Agnes Greig, who saved the life of a Tibetan woman in a surgery during her work in India. As an expression of the family's appreciation, she received a lovely bright female TT, called Bunti, in 1922. The same family helped her to get a male dog a few years later and then she started breeding. The English Kennel Club registered dogs in 1931 as Tibetan Terriers. In twelve years of service in India, Dr. Greig carried to England more TTs which were the foundation of her breeding. Until her return to the UK, she bred the dogs under the auspices of Ladkok Kennel, owned by her mother. Dr. Greig later registered her own Lamleh Kennel. The first kennels for breeding Tibetan Terriers signed up in England were: Ladkok (mother of Dr. Greig), Lamleh (Dr. Greig) and Luneville (family Downey).
Dr. Greig based the breeding on indigenous dogs which primarily originated in Tibet. But the basis for the Luneville Kennel's breeding was a puppy found between the port docks of Liverpool. The puppy was suspected to have jumped from the ship, arriving from India. The puppy was later recognized as Tibetan Terrier by the experts. They named him Troyan Kynos. The dogs bred by Lunville Kennel matured faster, they had richer hair and were intended primarily for exhibitioning, which was Downey family's occupation. Lamleh TTs matured later and the main difference is their hair which is usually softer and developes a little later. Nowadays, a pure Lunville line practically does not exist anymore because the Downeys themselves later mated females with Lamleh males. There have always been noticeable differences between the lines which blurred considerably over the decades, but all over the world, there are still numerous proud breeders of pure Lamleh line who nurture the respectful memory of Dr. Greig with their work. During her life, she already sold her best dogs abroad (India, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the USA, Scandinavia ...) since she was convinced that the English dogs are bred just for exhibitions. Before her death in 1972, a lot of her dogs had been sent across the world.
After the death of Dr. Greig, most of her about 100 remaining dogs were killed. Only a few were saved by the friends and the Beesley family, whose members were the keepers of the estate of Dr. Greig. The Beesleys later continued breeding under the name Lehlam Kennel.