Tü-Bo in the Shadows
The logic by which immortality is bestowed is a fickle one, in dogs and humans alike. In many Molosser breeds, there are touchstone dogs who died decades, even centuries ago, who are nonetheless remembered today. Caligola (arguably a shade hypertypical, he nonetheless propelled Neapolitan Mastiffs onto the international stage, going Best in Show at the World Show in 1992), Thorneywood Terror (an early Bullmastiff type who never lost the challenge of bringing down a man in Victorian gamekeeper trials), Crown Prince (who gave 19th-Century Mastiffs their type and, some argue, took away their soundness in the bargain) – all are remembered in the collective consciousness of their respected breeds.
But what of Tü-Bo?
In 1977, this Nepalese-bred German import was one of the first of his breed to arrive in modern Europe, along with four dogs from India that went to Holland. With the Tibetan plateau sealed behind the Red Curtain, Western breeders made do with lesser imports from India and the southern Himalayas, many of which stretched credulity as far as their purebred status was concerned. Several “types” of Tibetan Mastiffs were promoted as the ideal during that period. But Tü-Bo, with his exceptional construction and strong type, soon became the paradigm for the Tibetan Mastiff in Europe and beyond.
Tü-Bo, prototypical TIbetan Mastiff. Source: Molosser Magazin/photo courtesy Christofer Habig
Tü-Bo sired some of the first litters in Europe – two in the Netherlands and one in his adopted home of Germany. It was with this last litter, out of Langtang Shu-Khen Chung, an American export bred by Anne Rohrer, who had established the first American breeding program several years earlier, that Tü-Bo cemented his legacy. Two of his sons from that breeding – Yi-Dam Amban and in particular Yi-Dam Akbar – were widely used, ensuring that Tü-Bo appeared in nearly all subsequent European pedigrees.
As successful in the show ring as he was the whelping box, Tü-Bo won the breed at the World Dog Shows in 1979, 1980 and 1981.
Tü-Bo soon become “the symbol of European breeding,” wrote Molosser Magazin publisher Christofer Habig in the January 1985 issue devoted to the Tibetan Mastiff, with Tü-Bo on the cover, calling him an “important transmitter” of type and a “guiding line” for breeders in Europe, where he had “earned himself the central place in the youngest history of the Tibetan Mastiff.”
Today, however, the situation could not be any more different.
“No, Tü-Bo is forgotten,” Habig says. “As there has been so little ‘esprit de corps’ among Tibetan Mastiff folks during the last twenty-odd years, there are no common values, nor common heroes left.”