Dog Breeds

Everything You Need To Know About The Tibetan Mastiff

November 1, 2017 — by Carol Reddy0

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Dog Breeds

Everything You Need To Know About The Tibetan Mastiff

November 1, 2017 — by Carol Reddy0

Did you ever think a dog could be both stubborn and loyal? Intimidating and loving? Well its time you become aware of the Tibetan Mastiff...

Its hard to know every dog breed, and unless you’re a dog specialist you might have skipped over the Tibetan Mastiff.

It might not be as well known as the Pitbull or Chihuahua, but make no mistake…

The Tibetan Mastiff is one of the most unique, protective, loyal breeds there are.

They may look terrifying, but for the most part these dogs are gentle giants.

In this article we’ll discuss everything you need to know about this unique and wonderful breed.

So, if you’re ready to learn everything there is to know about the Tibetan Mastiff, lets get started.

Tibetan Mastiff History

Tibetan Mastiff China

The Tibetan Mastiff is truly a captivating breed, large in size, character, and utility. Originally, the Tibetan Mastiff was bred to guard villages and protect livestock from predators including leopards, wolves, tigers and bears.

Although powerful and intimidating the Tibetan Mastiff is a gentle giant, and its guard dog qualities make it a perfect companion to have around.

The origin of these dogs is still unknown, but we do know that they are thought to be one of the most significant ancient dog breeds.

These dogs are considered to be a nomadic breed, showing up in Tibetan, Chinese, Indian, and Mongolian cultures.

In Tibetan, the Tibetan Mastiff is better known as Drog-Khyi, meaning “nomad dog”. This name is connected to the fact that these dogs were allowed to roam free around camps/villages at night.

But, in the day these dogs would be kept inside or chained outside guarding the village and various buildings including monasteries.

Even though the Tibetan Mastiff was the ultimate guard dog, it was not worldly popular due to lack of exposure. I guess living in the mountains keeps you pretty isolated…

However, the Tibetan Mastiff was about to experience an explosion in popularity.

In 1847 a Tibetan Mastiff was given to Queen Victoria as a gift from the viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge. (A viceroy is an official who runs a country in the name of the monarch of the territory.

Not only was Queen Victoria given a Tibetan Mastiff, but King George IV was also given a pair of the breed. Its no wonder why the Tibetan Mastiff grew in popularity!

Soon it would be a popular go-to breed for royal families.

Tibetan Mastiff Weight/Size

Tibetan Mastiff Size

To be an efficient guard dog your size needs to meet certain qualifications…

The Tibetan Mastiff blows them out of the water.

Although sweet, the size of this dog would make you think otherwise.

The Tibetan Mastiff is considered a large dog breed, and can grow to surprising sizes. Males usually are always larger than the female, and that also applies to the Tibetan Mastiff.

Male Tibetan Mastiffs can weigh up to 100-160 pounds, while females weigh in between 75-120 pounds. Talk about a big dog…

Not only can these dogs reach extreme weights, they are large in size/height. Males are known to grow up to be 26-30 inches in height (at the shoulder), and females range from 24-28 inches in height (at the shoulder).

If I saw this dog guarding a building or village I would definitely be intimidated…

Size is definitely a factor in the success of any guard dog, especially if you’re guarding your family/village from predators like bears, wolves, and tigers.

But the pure size and courage of the Tibetan Mastiff is enough to handle any intruder/threat.

Tibetan Mastiff Coat/Grooming

Tibetan Mastiff Coat

A big dog, usually means a lot more hair to worry about. For the Tibetan Mastiff a lot of hair is an understatement…

Although the Tibetan Mastiff doesn’t have the longest hair out of all the dog breeds, it is definitely thick. Their medium length hair needs daily grooming, but its worth your dog having a beautiful coat.

The Tibetan Mastiff comes in various different colors, including black, tan, red, gray, and gold.

These colors can vary from dog to dog, but they all need extreme grooming to ensure the health of their coat.

The Tibetan Mastiff has a double coat with a thick, coarse top-coat and a heavy, soft, fluffy undercoat. Their top coat protects them from dirt and elements, while their undercoat keeps them well insulated.

A double coat was needed in the breeding of the Tibetan Mastiff, since they spend most of their time outside protecting and guarding their owners, livestock or villages.

Luckily, the Tibetan Mastiffs coat doesn’t only protect them from dirt, but it sheds dirt and hair so well that they don’t get that nasty dirty dog smell.

You’ll know its time to bathe your dog when they start to smell…

But the occasional bath and brushing of the Tibetan Mastiff not only keeps them clean, but happy and healthy.

Most dogs LOVE getting groomed, and so does the Tibetan Mastiff. Both you and your dog will enjoy the wonderful bonding experience.

Tibetan Mastiff Personality 

Sweet Tibetan Mastiff

Loyalty is a trait that the Tibetan Mastiff was bred for, so you can bet that they will be good company.

These large dogs are life size teddy bears that just want to make their owners proud.

But, even after all the hugs, cuddles, and kisses you might run into some issues involving the Tibetan Mastiffs behavior.

Originally the Tibetan Mastiff was used for protection as a guard dog. For the Tibetan Mastiff to be a successful guardian they needed to be able to think for themselves and be independent.

Although this trait is what made them such a successful guard dog, it can become a problem in your home.

The Tibetan Mastiff is a loving breed, but sometimes will resist listening to commands. They know that they are intelligent, and independent, and they’d prefer to be treated as an equal instead of a pet.

However, this doesn’t have to be a problem.

If you sign your Tibetan Mastiff up for doggy training you can kick this sassy trait in the butt!

Not only will a class help your dog listen to commands, but its wonderful for their socialization skills.

The Tibetan Mastiff is good company but, they are wary of strangers. Given they are naturally protective of their families.

Its important to socialize your Tibetan Mastiff as much as possible to ensure they will behave when around strangers.

Luckily, you don’t need to sign them up for a class to do this. Simply walking them throughout your neighborhood so they can see other people will help.

Also, bringing them to any stores that allow animals is great for building their social skills.

Basically bringing them anywhere with people and other dogs will get the job done.

Tibetan Mastiff Training 

Training a Tibetan Mastiff

Since the Tibetan Mastiff is intelligent but also stubborn their training should be taken very seriously.

If you’re going to get a Tibetan Mastiff you should start training them as soon as possible. Like I mean the first day you get him/her.

It is important to state your dominance above the Tibetan Mastiff, if you fail to do so they will not have respect for you.

The key in training Tibetan Mastiffs is to make them respect you.

No dog is going to want to listen to you, UNLESS they respect you, and know you’re top dog.

You might be wondering how difficult it is to get a dog to respect you. But no need to worry, its actually really easy. All you have to do is start training your Tibetan Mastiff puppy from day ONE.

The key to training your Tibetan Mastiff is consistency. These dogs will constantly be evaluating if you deserve their respect, so you always need to be on your A-game.

You need to remember that dogs have a natural pack mentality, and packs are based on levels of hierarchy.

To your dog the pecking order is essential for social organization, so you need to establish dominance over your Tibetan Mastiff for him/her to respect your commands.

Training your Tibetan Mastiff is part of the package deal of owning a dog.

It might take some effort, but the results you’ll see wont disappoint you. In the end you’ll have a well behaved companion who is happier and therefore healthier.

Tibetan Mastiff Activity Level

Active Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff is a large powerful dog, so they need mental and physical stimulation to stay healthy.

These dogs are used to being outside, and they are eager to roam properties in search of predators. This natural drive to protect and guard their family makes them more active than you’d think.

Since the Tibetan Mastiff has such a need to roam, they tend to be the most active in the morning and evening So you should be available to walk your dog during these times, and release all that built up energy.

Although the Tibetan Mastiff was originally left outside for long periods of time, you should not leave your Tibetan Mastiff outside, ESPECIALLY all night.

These dogs are companion dogs and need to be with their family, and being outside will bring out their guarding nature.

If you leave your Tibetan Mastiff outside at night, he will let you know through his loud barking that he is on the job/guarding your property.

So, its best to leave your Tibetan Mastiff inside, especially at night. Besides these dogs are calm in the house anyways.

The best way to exercise your Tibetan Mastiff is through walking. Not only is this psychical stimulation, but it is more than enough mental stimulation for your dog.

Walking your dog provides them with exercise but also socialization. If you go on walks you are bound to run into other dogs and their loving owners!

However, the Tibetan Mastiff is a protective territorial breed, so make sure to NEVER walk your dog off the leash. If you allow your Tibetan Mastiff to walk without a leash they will be more likely to show aggression towards other dogs.

Also, its a good idea to frequently change up your walking routes, this ensures that your Tibetan Mastiff will not become territorial over a certain route.

Tibetan Mastiff Nutrition 

Tibetan Mastiff Nutrition

When it comes to your dogs nutrition you have to decide what route you want to take.

The common choice for a dogs nutrition is between dry dog food and wet dog food.

Dry dog food is convenient to have but isn’t that tasty or nutritious for your dog. Adding wet food to your dogs dry food will make A LITTLE better by adding some much needed flavor.

Feeding your dog strictly canned food can become expensive, so the mix between the two is best.

But still, even if your dog is eating the proper amount of dry/wet dog food (between 4-6 cups) they still aren’t getting the proper amounts of nutrition.

However, if the nutrition of your dog is top priority there is another option.

If you want you can make homemade cooked meals for your Tibetan Mastiff. Doing so will ensure that your dog gets the proper amounts of

  • Protein
  • Whole Grains
  • Vitamins/Minerals
  • Essential Fatty Acids

Cooking homemade meals for your dog might seem different or difficult, but that isn’t a reason to not give it a try.

If you’re concerned that your homemade meal wont have the proper amounts of nutrition you can easily find homemade dog food recipes to follow.

Making your Tibetan Mastiff meals from home is your best option if you want to have a happy and healthy dog.

Not only will your Tibetan Mastiff benefit nutritionally from these meals, but you have endless options! You can make a variety of different meals with basically every kind of meat.

Somehow it became okay to feed our dogs commercial “dog food”. When in reality dogs, just like people, should be eating REAL food.

Their taste buds, body, health, and attitude will benefit from being on a homemade food diet.

Tibetan Mastiff Health

Tibetan Mastiff Health

The average life expectancy of the Tibetan Mastiff is between 12-15 years old, which is good for a dog of their size.

All dogs are prone to health issues, especially if they are purebreds. 

Unfortunately the Tibetan Mastiff is prone to many health issues including

  • Hip Dysplasia 
  • Elbow Dysplasia 
  • Panosteitis 
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans  
  • Hypertrophic Neruopathy/Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy (CIDN)
  • Autoimmune Hypothyroidism 

Some of these health issues are developed over time but others can be present since birth.

Although hip dysplasia is common in large dogs, it can affect all dogs.

Hip Dysplasia is the abnormal development of the hip socket, which can later bring arthritis and lameness to the joints.

Elbow Dysplasia is a disease of a dogs elbow joint, being caused by a disturbance in growth.

Even though hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are occurring in different joints, they both have the potential to cause your dog immense pain depending on the severity.

Panosteitis is a painful condition that affects the bones in your dogs legs.

Unfortunately any dog can develop panosteitis, but it occurs most in medium or large working breeds between the ages of 5 – 18 months.

Dysplasia of the elbows and joints are some of the most common health issues for large dogs to experience, but it is not the only joint condition the Tibetan Mastiff is prone too.

Osteochondritis Dissecans is a joint condition where the bone and cartilage break after dying due to lack of blood flow.

Hypertrophic Neruopathy also known as Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy is a recessive inherited disease commonly found in Tibetan Mastiffs.

Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy is a neurological disease where the neurons in the nervous system are damaged.

Usually puppies between the ages of 10 and 18 weeks old are affected by this condition.

Unfortunately there is no treatment known for Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy, and dogs diagnosed with this disease are euthanized.

Another health concern of the Tibetan Mastiff involves Autoimmune Hypothyroidism.

Autoimmune Hypothyroidism is a disorder in which your dogs thyroid glands aren’t producing enough thyroid hormone, therefore being under active.

Not only does Autoimmune Hypothyroidism have to do with the failure to produce hormones, but failure to function properly.

Another way your dog can end up with Autoimmune Hypothyroidism is through immune system disorder known as autoimmune thyroiditis. This condition leads to your dogs body attacking his own thyroid gland tissues.

To make restitution for this attack, your dogs body will try to produce more thyroid hormone, known as thyroxine

But after a while this hormone will run out, and your dogs thyroid will ultimately be depleted of its hormones.

Without the proper levels of thyroxine your dog will experience disruptions in their growth, metabolism, and resistance to infections.

Luckily with proper medical care a dog with autoimmune hypothyrodism can still live a happy/healthy life. They will just need to be on medication.

The Tibetan Mastiff Is Happiest When… 

Happy Tibetan Mastiff

Although the Tibetan Mastiff is not the type of dog to regularly be playing fetch (like a White German Shepherd), they do enjoy stimulation.

But this stimulation seems to be more mental than physical.

Now, don’t get me wrong…

The Tibetan Mastiff DOES enjoy playing, but just that alone doesn’t unlock their natural instincts.

Remember, these dogs are guard dogs, that are very smart and independent. This makes them have pride in their work, which is guarding their owners.

The Tibetan Mastiff will be happiest on his/her home turf, so they can know where everyone is at all times, and be familiar with the grounds they are protecting.

Your Tibetan Mastiff will want to be home walking your property line, making sure everything is in order.

After checking your property for possible threats the Tibetan Mastiff will be excited to get inside and relax. These dogs are actually pretty calm, and will love winding down with you at the end of the day.

Bottom Line On The Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff

If you’re considering getting a Tibetan Mastiff make sure to do your research, because there’s a lot of things that might make or break your decision.

Taking care of a Tibetan Mastiff is no joke, they need special attention for grooming and especially training.

If you like the idea of having an ancient dog breed, that’s pretty cool. But these dogs are wise and will think they are smarter than you, which can lead to problems down the line involving their personalty and training.

But if you know what your signing up for and are okay with daily grooming, and early enlisting in training programs, you shouldn’t have any problems.

The Tibetan Mastiff is a large breed, and needs a lot of physical stimulation to stay healthy. So, if you don’t have time in your schedule for their exercise maybe a Tibetan Mastiff isn’t right for you.

Not only is it important that you have time for physical activities, but due to their massive size you’ll need some time to prepare home made cooked meals for him/her.

Although it calls for a little extra work, you can never go wrong with cooking your dogs food. It will ensure the longevity of your dogs life, along with their happiness.

I wont lie to you, the Tibetan Mastiff seems like hand full. But if you are dedicated to training, exercising, and caring for this dog, they will reward you with endless love and protection.

You might get a little back sass from your Tibetan Mastiff, but that is just his character.

He is trying to decide whether you deserve his respect, so if you’re ready its time to step up to the plate.

We hope you enjoyed reading about the Tibetan Mastiff.  Do you have anything to add about the Tibetan Mastiff?  Comment below…

Carol Reddy

Hi, I'm Carol Reddy, Founder and Editor of CommonPaw and Pawthentic. When I'm not sharing my love for and knowledge of dogs, you can usually find me at the gym or the beach, living a healthy lifestyle.