What is a "Landrace"

A landrace is what the name implies: a race of animals intimately connected to a particular region.  Example: The lean, long legged Saluki of the Arabian desert.  This greyhound type is connected with desert hunting for thousands of years in The entire Middle East.  The Saluki's relative, the Afghan was developed a bit further north and east.  The Borzoi developed in the arid steppes of Russia and the Caucasus.  Then we have the Arctic breeds, very little changed from their arctic and sub arctic precursor, so well adapted to the environment, the Wolf.

In Southern/Central Asia, especially in the high plateaus, we find Nomadic pastoral people who keep horses and flocks of sheep and goats. A group of long-haired herding dogs was developed there which include the Tibetan Terrier and Apso. The Puli is probably derived from this original long-haired landrace.  Another group of livestock guardian dogs was also developed, - the Tibetan Mastiff, from which the Komondor, Kuvaz, Great Pyrenees, St. Bernard, Swiss Mountain Dog and other Molosser breeds are thought to originate.  The "landrace" in this case is the Tibetan Mastiff.

The earmark of a landrace is it's adaptation to the environment, both physical and human, and because of that, the stable phenotype over time.  These animals developed their "type" from adaptation to a mix of function and the demands of the particular physical environment.  These phenotypic traits are maintained naturally so long as the function and environment are maintained, but are degraded as soon as these breeds are transplanted to an exotic environment.  (Certainly the showring in Western Europe, North America, and the Southern Hemisphere qualify as "exotic" for an animal from the Himalayas)  Very tight control by selective breeding is needed to conserve the ancestral traits that made these breeds so attractive in the first place.

Unfortunately, breeders who are only looking to make a "pretty" dog for the showring, are constantly degrading the majority of landrace breeds into a kind of "generic showdog".  We see this happening in all breeds.  It is doubtful the show Saluki could catch an Arabian Hare if his life depended on it.  Most show sporting breeds would race aimlessly in a bird field until trapped in the brambles by their excessive coats.   And most modern American and European apsos would expire at 16,000 feet with their narrowed, shortened and obstructed airways, and their short, slab sided thoraces.

Preservation of a landrace is a challenge that can only be met by breeders dedicated to study of the anatomy and physiology of the breed and judges who are educated and aware of the importance of landrace characteristics.