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Tibetan Mastiff: A Protective & Fearless Giant

Tibetan Mastiff: A Protective & Fearless Giant
Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. That’s why you will also often hear them being referred to as a primitive breed. But not much is known about this gigantic dog breed before the 19th century. By the middle of the 19th century first Tibetan Mastiffs were imported into England. The first two Tibetan Mastiffs in the United States were actually a gift for the POTUS in the late 1950s.

However, the breed was only recently officially recognized by the American Kennel Club AKC as a member of the Working Group in 2007. They are also recognized by other Kennel Clubs, such as the National Breed Club.

The Tibetan Mastiff or also called Himalayan Do Khyi is considered the oldest breed of dog in the East. His powerful stature and innate protective instinct still make him an imposing guardian of house, farm and cattle today. As a family dog, the Do Khyi needs an early consistent education by an experienced dog handler. Back then, they were considered wild animals, but today they make one of the best dogs for easy going and responsible dog owners. Their long hair also makes them a good choice for people who live in cold weather places.

Aristotle was already fascinated by this large dog from the distant Himalayan mountains and described him as a dog with “colossal bones, muscular, heavy, large-headed and equipped with a wide snout […]”. Marco Polo, who in the 13th century Asia, could not escape the mighty mountain dog and described him in his travelogue as “big as a donkey, with one voice as powerful as that of a lion”. That was partly also due to their long hair and large heads that gave them the lion like appearance.

Tibetan Mastiff: Dog Breed Info

Physical Characteristics

Size

Tibetan Mastiffs are large breeds of dogs and powerful animals. The minimum height of males is 26 inches, while their weight is between 90 and 150 pounds. On the other hand, the minimum height of females is 24 inches, while their weight is between 70 and 120 pounds.

Coat & breed colors

Tibetan Mastiffs have double coats with straight hair. Outercoat is long and thick, while the undercoat is soft and heavy.

Males tend to have more coats than females as well as thicker manes around the shoulders and neck.

The Tibetan Mastiff’s coat comes in several colors and various shades including brown, blue, solid black, gold with or without tan markings on the front legs, rear legs, tail, throat, muzzle, and above the eyes.

Unlike most long-haired dog breeds, the Tibetan Mastiff does not shed year-round, but rather has one great molt in late summer, early spring and early autumn. But sometimes he can have a lesser molt that lasts until late autumn as well.

Personality & Breed Traits

Tibetan Mastiff is an intelligent, loyal and alert dog. However, these dogs are also stubborn and will not always listen to you. Tibetan Mastiff is a great watchdog with guardian instincts, always alert and aloof towards strangers. Never underestimate the protectiveness of Tibetan Mastiffs. Therefore, Tibetan Mastiff is not a good choice if you have many friends coming to your house. But they would definitely be amazing guard dogs. Tibetan Mastiffs make a great protective flock and anyone would feel safe around them.

While he shows himself very lively, even playful outside, he is a quite quiet and good-natured roommate in the house who does not bark unnecessarily and also gets along well with children. However, you should never leave him alone with young children simply because of his size and strength. Caution is also required when visiting friends if things may be a little wilder between the children and the dog feels that he needs to intervene and protect “his” children. In order to control his protective instinct, socialization is essential from the beginning. The more people, animals, sounds and smells he gets to know as a young dog, the fewer things will disturb him as an adult dog.

Health & Lifespan

Tibetan Mastiffs are generally healthy dogs. However, they are still prone to certain diseases and health issues. Because they are such large dogs, a common inherited condition is hip dysplasia. That’s why you should always ask for genetic test results of the puppy before buying one.

These are the most common health issues in Tibetan Mastiffs:

The life expectancy of Tibetan Mastiff is between 10 and 12 years.

Care

Exercise

The Tibetan Mastiff doesn’t have high exercise requirements. Generally, they need moderate exercise and prefer to patrol their territory rather than play fetch. A few walks a day will do the trick. These are pretty easy going dogs that enjoy their time at home. They do enjoy being outside though, so it would be ideal if you had a fenced yard.

Keep it easy when it comes to dog sports, because these dogs really like to keep things calm.

Grooming

Tibetan Mastiffs have a low-maintenance coat that doesn’t shed much at all. Therefore, weekly brushing is all you need to keep the coat in good condition.

Even in grooming, less is sometimes more. Excessive bathing or shampooing is not only unnecessary, but also harmful. Only do it if your dog is visibly dirty. However, the situation is different in the shedding season. Especially in spring, when warmer temperatures are outside and the dense undercoat is shedding. Then you have to brush your dog daily. You also have to reckon with some hair in your apartment during this time. Apart from grooming, you should check and clean your dog’s ears and teeth at least once a week. Depending on the growth, the claws should be shortened once or twice a month. And don’t forget to clean the ears as well.

Nutrition

Of course, good preparation also means that you are thinking about the nutrition of your Tibetan Mastiff. In conversation with your breeder and with other owners, you will certainly receive numerous tips for optimal feeding. Most breeders also provide their buyers with an accurate nutrition plan for the first few weeks in their new home. After about half a year, the puppy food should finally be gradually switched to adult food. This is important because it gradually reduces the energy density of the food and avoids excessive growth of the dogs. It will also reduce weight gain.

As with any healthy diet, choosing the right food for your adult dog is not about quantity, but about quality. Despite its size, the Do Khyi manages with surprisingly small portions, provided that it is supplied with all important nutrients in sufficient form. Small portions also reduce not only possible gastrointestinal problems, but also the risk of dreaded stomach rotation. Just because they need less food, doesn’t mean you have to make it less nutritious.

Diet should be balanced and suited to the dog’s age and activity level. Also, make sure your Tibetan Mastiff always has fresh water available.

Trainability

Tibetan Mastiffs are intelligent dogs and quick learners. However, they are also independent and stubborn dogs. Generally, Tibetan Mastiffs are very capable of learning new things. However, they don’t respond well to obedience training and will not repeat the trick if they don’t feel like it. 

Don’t forget that socialization training is one of the most important things when owning a Tibetan Mastiff. These large dogs need some warming up to before becoming the ideal family pets. They are overly protective and have a hard tome around strangers.

Commonly Asked Questions

Are Tibetan Mastiffs expensive?

Because of years of selective breeding to make the ideal guard and family pet — Tibetan Mastiff puppies are quite expensive. The average price of a puppy is between $2000 and $4000. In fact, the most expensive dog in the world is a golden-haired Tibetan Mastiff puppy. This puppy has been sold in China for an incredible $2 million at a dog sale. The previous owner of the dog was a breeder named Zhang Gengyun. As you can tell, they aren’t cheap at all. And the costs don’t stop there either. You will also have to pay for groomers, visits at the vet, good quality dog food…

Can Tibetan Mastiff be left alone?

When left alone Tibetan Mastiffs can get bored, destructive, and territorial. While they do enjoy to have much freedom at their paws, they still like their owners to be around. If you are working from home, or spend a lot of time at home, this is the ideal pet for you. They will just chill around in a corner of the room letting you do your thing.

Interesting facts

The Tibet Mastiff is not only a stately dog, but also an animal that

  • Rarely barks.
  • Despite his beefy body stature, reacts very gently to interpersonal tensions, for example to family conflicts.
  • Looks similar to a full grown lion
  • He is on the list of potentially dangerous dog breeds in some states.
  • Has a preference for hunting birds.
    physically matures extremely slowly (up to 7 years can pass before the physical maturation process is completed).
  • They are one of the rare breeds comfortable living in incredibly high altitudes. That’s pretty obvious as they originated from the Himalayan mountains. But these versatile pups can also live on lower altitudes.

Shannon Desmarais

Friday 6th of May 2022

The picture shown of a Tibetan Mastiff is not a true Tibetan Mastiff. The dog shown is of chinese breeding whose bloodline is breeder manipulated and does not present the true Tibetan Mastiff breed.

James Kirkland

Saturday 7th of May 2022

Hi Shannon,

Thank you for your comment. We will check that one right away and check the pictures we used for this breed. We appreciate your time and comment and feel free to help us in the process of representing all the breeds correctly in the future. :)