Colin Fernandez, The Daily Mail | August 2, 2015
It has long been a cause celebre among actors and musicians.
And now those fighting for the rights of Tibet have found an unlikely champion in a bastion of Middle England – the Kennel Club.
The organisation has become embroiled in matters of diplomacy over a seemingly innocuous question – the origins of the Shih-Tzu dog.
China has insisted that the tiny dog, which was first bred in Tibet, is officially reclassified as Chinese.
Its arguments have won favour with the dog world’s international governing body, which is now facing a revolt from the UK Kennel Club.
China has controversially ruled the mountainous country since invading it in 1950.
The Dalai Lama, the country’s spiritual leader, has been a figurehead for resistance to Chinese rule since he fled the country in 1959.
The Tibetan cause has been backed by celebrities such as Sting, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush and Joanna Lumley.
China is highly sensitive to criticisms of its role in the country, which it claims to have ‘peacefully liberated’.
But the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) has triggered uproar by its decision to reclassifying the origins of the dog by removing the word ‘Tibet’ from the description.
The ruling also affects a host of other breeds originally from Tibet, including the Tibetan Mastiff, Tibetan Terrier, Tibetan Spaniel and Lhasa Apso.
Shih Tzus were first bred in Tibet and became favourites with Chinese emperors after being given to them as gifts by Tibetan monks.
The Kennel Club said there has been a strong ‘outpouring of objection’ by breeders of Tibetan dogs in the UK over the changes.
Hazel Chadwick, the puppy co-ordinator and committee member of the Shih-Tzu Club, founded in 1933 said yesterday that her fellow Shih-Tzu members were up in arms about the change.
Miss Chadwick, who has bred the dogs for 30 years, said: ‘We are of the opinion that Shih-Tzus are Tibetan, not Chinese. The Shih-Tzus came from Tibet in the first place, then they went to the Chinese emperors from Tibet. Feeling among the club members is very strong about this.’
Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko has written to FCI executive director Yves De Clercq suggesting the wording for the Shih-Tzu and other Tibetan breeds should keep the name of Tibet in their origin and be listed as: ‘Tibet, now part of the People’s Republic of China.’
Mrs Kisko told Dog World magazine: ‘We do feel that the changes made to the country of origin of the Tibetan breeds should be reconsidered, particularly since we would assume that this is a matter simply of geographical status.
‘As a result, therefore, our suggestion should not present any issues.’
British breeders have made one victory however. An attempt by Chinese dog breeders to take over control of breed standards, or ‘patronage’ has failed and this will remain British for all Tibetan breeds except the Tibetan Mastiff.
The FCI General Committee have promised to consider the protests.
FCI president Rafael de Santiago wrote to its members saying: ‘The Kennel Club (England) remains the country of patronage…
‘While the FCI general committee has approved the China Kennel Union’s proposal to indicate China as the country of origin… the patronage, ie the right to alter the Standard and the name of the breeds, remains the privilege of the Kennel Club (England), as England traditionally is considered to be the country that played the biggest part in developing the breeds in question.’
The Kennel Club said in a statement it ‘remained cautious of the situation’ adding: ‘The Kennel Club is concerned to hear of the changes made to the country of origin of the Tibetan breeds.
‘In addition to this, the suggestion that the country of development for these breeds may be reconsidered is a concern to us. The Kennel Club would strongly resist such a change since the facts are clear – these breeds were developed in the UK and this should not be altered.’