The Tibetan Mastiff is very loyal and protective of its family. From the breed’s years of working closely with people, it does not struggle to understand people, and it has a devotion to its job as a guardian.
This breed is strikingly handsome, with features including a noble size and stance, long coat, full tail and beautiful colourings. The Tibetan Mastiff’s large size makes the breed an excellent choice for a guard or watch dog to protect the household. They are recommended for more experienced owners due to their powerful and athletic nature, which requires more exercise and training.
While the Tibetan Mastiff can be affectionate towards their family, the breed is not recommended for a first-time dog owner or for a family with young children due to their size and overly protective nature. The Tibetan Mastiff would best suit an experienced owner who is knowledgeable about the particular breed and can spend a considerable amount of time training and teaching obedience.
Height: 24-29 inches (61-74cm)
Weight: 85-140 lbs (38.5-63.5kg)
Average Litter Size: 6-12 puppies
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Kennel Club Classification: Working
Good with Children: No
The Tibetan Mastiff has a generally dense, long coat with a full mane around the shoulders and neck. Colourings include black, golden, brown and blue-grey. Tibetan Mastiffs often have tan markings in many differing shades, as well as occasional white markings around the face.
During the colder seasons, Tibetan Mastiffs are double-coated, while their coat will become more sparse in the warmer seasons.
Due to the Tibetan Mastiff’s woolly and dense undercoat, using a wire slicker brush to remove loose hair and get rid of any tangles or mats in the mane is recommended one to three times a week, however this breed is not known for having a coat prone to excessive shedding. Getting used to being brushed from an early age will also strengthen the bond you have with your dog and will make them more comfortable with being handled by people. This breed requires washing around once a month, or when necessary.
Other grooming requirements include brushing the teeth at least two or three times a week to maintain dental hygiene. Trimming your Tibetan Mastiff’s nails is also recommended once or twice a month, or when necessary, to prevent any overgrowth or splitting that may cause pain. Ensure to also check their ears regularly for debris or any inflammation that may cause irritation to your Mastiff.
Tibetan Mastiffs are a generally healthy breed and are usually kept in good condition. However, there are some health conditions that may be helpful to be aware of if you’re purchasing a Tibetan Mastiff for the first time.
Health issues can include hip and elbow dysplasia, panosteitis and eye complications. Most issues are due to their size and growth rate, which can cause pains in joints and bones. However, buying from a responsible breeder, having regular veterinary check-ups and maintaining good care at home can hopefully reduce the risk of these problems.
The Tibetan Mastiff is highly intelligent and will often be described as ‘difficult’ due to their independent and, every so often, stubborn nature. They have a need to please people, but will be expected to be treated as equals within the household.
In the correct home, this breed will be a trusted, loyal companion. Their disinterest in people’s affection and fuss can often be mistaken for hostility or aggression, however they feel obliged to be protective of their family, being known for taking their job as ‘protector’ very seriously.
Tibetan Mastiffs can often be quite stubborn when it comes to training, as they often don’t enjoy being told what to do. However, with the correct and consistent training techniques, the Tibetan Mastiff can be quite easily trained due to their high levels of intelligence. Again, an experienced owner is recommended for training, especially as early socialisation and household training is key for the social and obedient development of this breed.
Even though the Tibetan Mastiff can often be strong and powerful during training, avoid using harsh techniques that may threaten them and cause them to act aggressively. Instead, have a firm but calm approach, using treats and rewards to motivate your Mastiff.
An hour of daily exercise is recommended for the Tibetan Mastiff, with additional training sessions and some off-lead roaming in the garden. However, it is essential that they are not overly exercised as a puppy, as this can lead to joint strains and problems when older.
Mental stimulation, alongside physical, is essential to keep your Tibetan Mastiff from misbehaving as a result of boredom.
The Tibetan Mastiff, which is believed to date back over 3,000 years, is one of the oldest dog breeds originating from Tibet, and it has often been referred to as the “guardian dog of Tibet”. Early written accounts of the breed were rumoured in 1100 BC from China, but the first known documentation was in the 1700s.
The genetic heritage of the Tibetan Mastiff is argued amongst many breeders and enthusiasts, and there is still no official information regarding the origin of the breed. However, it is believed that Tibetan Mastiff dogs developed from two types of mastiff dogs – the Do-Khyi and the Tsang-Khyi. The Do-Khyi would travel with shepherds, assuming the role of flock protectors, while Tsang-Khyi dogs would guard Tibetan Buddhist monks and Buddhist teachers, called Lamas, who lived in lamaseries.
After the first dog from Tibet was imported to England as a gift to Queen Victoria in 1847 by Lord Hardinge of India, England’s Kennel Cub officially recorded the Tibetan Mastiff in 1873 into the stud book. Tibetan Mastiffs were particularly popular among the Royal Family – King Edward VII, the Prince of Wales, imported two more dogs of this breed in 1874, and they were then displayed in the 1875 Alexandra Palace Show. In turn, this created renewed awareness and stimulated imports of these dogs into England and other parts of Europe. This surge of interest motivated the creation of the Tibetan Breeds Association by Mrs. Bailey in 1931.
A similar situation occurred in the United States, with two Tibetan Mastiffs being gifted to the president in the 1950s, leading to the formation of the Tibetan Mastiff Club of America in 1974.
Now, in Tibet, a purebred Tibetan Mastiff is rare to find, however they are sometimes seen travelling with traders and guarding livestock.
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