By Sally Ann Vervaeke Helf, published in Lhasa Lore
Occasionally, there is an "odd" occurrence during whelpings. It is not restricted to Lhasa Apsos, but occurs in other breeds as well. This is the whelping of a smooth coat, or as the Australians call them, a Prapso.
When the first Prapsos occurred, it must have been quite a shock for the breeders involved. Most tried to keep these puppies a secret, but the news leaked out. It does appear to have been worldwide phenomenon which occurred after World War II. These Prapsos were not restricted to one line of Lhasas, but seemed to affect many.
The Australian breeder took "the bull by the horns" and determined to find the cause, if possible. Mrs. Joan Beard started searching for information both in Australia and overseas. All identification of material was kept confidential, and the information was forwarded to CHART, an organization in England which researches animal abnormalities. Genetics worked on the charts prepared by this organization.
Facts about Prapsos started to become apparent. Test matings ruled out straight dominant or recessive genes. CHART's report indicated that the cause was quantitative characteristics.* This type of inheritance results from the interaction of numerous genes affecting each other in different degrees. Although much additional research has turned up new knowledge about genetics, no recent information on this problem has been located.
Since the passing of alleles to offspring is accomplished in a random manner, there are several possible explanations for the results of quantitative characteristics. One is the inheritance of mutations, genes whose chemical structures have been slightly altered or changed. These mutations could have been spontaneous in nature, or the could have been caused by exposure to either chemicals or to radiation. During the period when many of these Prapsos occurred, new pesticides such as DDT were quite popular. Now it is known that these
may cause gene defects.
Another possibility is that there may have been a protein shift in that one of the amino acid bases of those genes which order coats. This chemical change might then have changed a gene or genes which in some way affect coat characteristics.
This small bit of genetic knowledge may help breeders to do a better job until the exact gene on the exact chromosome may be located. There is, for instance, no reason to rule good Lhasas out of breeding programs because Prapsos have been produced. However, they must be used with care. Such breedings should not be repeated. The bitch owner should use judicious care in subsequent breedings. Most bitches that produced Prapsos when bred to one sire did not when bred to others.
Much responsibility lies with the owner of a stud that has produced Prapsos, as a stud can sire many more puppies than one bitch can produce. The owner of the stud should keep accurate records, should examine carefully the pedigrees of the bitches to be bred, and should the potential of Prapsos be present, either refuse the breeding or clearly explain the potential to the bitch's owner. Such a stud will be able to produce his many good characteristics if care and discretion are practiced.
Prapsos have several characteristics which are apparent quite early. One aspect is the muzzle hair. On a Lhasa puppy it grows like a chrysanthemum's petals, spreading out using the nose as a focal point. The muzzle hair on the Prapsos is smooth. In the coats of the Prapsos there will be shiny, stiff hairs which are like coarse guard hairs. The Prapsos may have no hair between the pads, a distinguishing factor of Lhasa Apsos, and may have hare feet, a sparse head fall, no feathering on the fronts of the legs, and abruptly short coats. It is also said Prapsos cut their primary (baby) teeth by four to four and one-half weeks, when the average Lhasa may be just starting to cut his.
There are several factors to remember: avoid repeat breedings of those resulting in Prapsos; sell Prapsos as pets on neutering contracts; keep complete records; and use discretion.
* Joan Beard, Asian Breeds Bulletin, Sydney, Australia, May 1970, pp. 4, 5.
Permission to reprint this copyrighted material has been granted to Monique van Boxtel by Sally Ann Vervaeke Helf, author, and by Rainbow Publishers. This material may not be reproduced by any means by anyone else. Lhasa Lore is available from Rainbow Publishers, P.O. Box 1545, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, USA.