Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan Mastiff book

The Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed developed in the Himalayan mountains as a protector and flock guardian. The Tibetan Mastiff may well be the source from which most modern working breeds descend.

Skeletal remains discovered in China place the dog’s ancestors in the Stone and Bronze Ages. There are many accounts of Tibetan Mastiffs accompanying the Greeks, Romans, Assyrians, and Persians’ armies.

Tibetan Mastiff taking a break

The first dogs to be sent to England arrived in 1847 as gifts to Queen Victoria, and it was there that they adopted the breed’s current name. The first known Tibetan Mastiffs to enter the United States did so in the late 1950s as gifts to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, though it is to imports from the 1970s that current-day breeders trace their lines.

Tibetan Mastiff relaxing enjoying the scenery

The breed standard begins “Nobel and impressive,” which well captures this dominant, large dog. Slightly longer than tall, the Tibetan is well muscled and substantial, with a sturdy, level back, a rather deep chest, straight legs with significant bone, round feet, and a well-feathered, medium-length tail carried over the back.

The head is wide and enormous with a square muzzle and deep-set, almond-shaped eyes, giving it a solemn, watchful expression. The ears are medium-sized, thick, high set, V-shaped, and hanging close to the head.

Tibetan Mastiff Breed Facts

Energy levelWatchdog ability
Exercise requirementsProtection ability
PlayfulnessGrooming requirements
Affection levelCold tolerance
Friendliness toward dogsHeat tolerance
Friendliness toward other petsFriendliness toward strangers
Ease of training
tibetan mastiff dog looking like a lion
  • POPULARITY: Uncommon
  • FAMILY: Mastiff
  • DATE OF ORIGIN: Ancient
  • TODAY’S FUNCTION: Guardian, companion
  • OTHER NAME: Do-Khyi

Activity level: Tibetan Mastiffs are very active outdoors. Because they have a low tolerance for heat, do not exercise them in hot weather. They are escape artists who must have secure fencing. Therefore, never walk them off the lead. Tibetans may not come when called and will meander if they can. The breed is independent by nature.

Year of AKC recognition: 2006


Weekly brushing; more often during the substantial annual shedding period

Cost: The immense, harsh-textured double coat is weather-resistant, comprising an outer layer of long, coarse guard hairs and a dense, soft, woolly undercoat. The Tibetan Mastiff has a massive mane on the neck and shoulders, heavy feathering, and a thick coat on the tail and britches.

Color: Black, brown, or blue/gray with or without tan markings


Two Tibetan Mastiff puppies sitting and behaving themselves

This dog is an ancient guardian breed. Tibetans are very independent, strong-willed, reserved toward strangers, territorial, and protective of their pack and may not allow visitors into your home. They are calm house dogs, though they may bark at night. This dog is a large, energetic breed. Therefore, obedience training is essential.

These dogs have minds of their own and are sensitive. Puppies need extensive socialization, attention, and a structured daily routine. If bored or unsupervised, they can be destructive. Tibetan Mastiffs do well with cats and small dogs, especially other Tibetan breeds.

Health Issues

  • Major concerns: CHD, elbow dysplasia
  • Minor concerns: hypothyroidism
  • Occasionally seen: entropion, seizures, canine inherited demyelinative neuropathy
  • Suggested tests: hip, thyroid, eye, (elbow)
  • Life span: 11-14 years
  • Weight: male: 90-150 pounds; female: 80-110 pounds
  • Height: male: 26 inches; female: 24 inches minimum

Tibetan Mastiff Buyer’s Guide and Advice

This dog is a complicated large breed that is not the right choice for first-time dog owners. You can find a breeder’s referral page on the parent club’s website.

Parent club: American Tibetan Mastiff Association; founded in 1974

Rescue: Tibetan Mastiff Rescue, Inc.

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