Tibetan Mastiff

Independent giants that will always protect you

Tibetan Mastiff

Toni Grzunov - Last updated on May 31st, 2021

All you need to know about the Tibetan Mastiff

If you are looking for a large, intelligent, stubborn, and independent pet that will entertain you with constant mood swings, look no further than the Tibetan Mastiff.

Living with these impulsive, fuzzy, and adorable pups can be quite an adventure. Once they are fully grown they become determined, powerful, and massive guardians of your home. Physically, they resemble lions and can look quite impressive.

These pups are very smart and willful, and will easily learn new skills and whatever you want to teach them. They are known to be fiercely loyal. However, they can be stubborn and moody, and sometimes they will simply refuse to obey your commands.

If you have a good sense of humor you will get along well with Tibetan Mastiffs. Still, these large dogs are quite uncommon in the United States.

Fast Facts

Group - Working

Weight - 140-170 Pounds 

Height - 25-28 Inches

Hair Length - Medium

Shedding - Moderate

Lifespan - 10-14 Years

The Appearance of the Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiffs are massive dogs that closely resemble lions because of their gorgeous mane. Males are usually a bit larger than females, although both are impressively big.

The breed has a thick double coat with a coarse outer texture. The inner texture of the coat is soft and resembles wool. Tibetans also have a fluffy, feathered tail that will arch over their backs in a curl. Their eyes always look dignified, serious, and alert, as if they are on a constant lookout for danger. They can be any shade of brown and are set apart.

The body of these dogs is well-built and powerful. There is a certain gravity to the way they hold themselves. The head of a Tibetan Mastiff is impressive, large, and heavy. It has a deep and broad muzzle with strong, rectangular jaws. 

These dogs have large teeth that form a scissor bite. You definitely don’t want to be on the receiving end of their bite, ever!

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What colors does a Tibetan Mastiff come in?

According to the breed standard, Tibetan Mastiffs can come in a wide variety of colors. The most common ones include:

  • Black
  • Black and tan
  • Blue
  • Blue and tan
  • Sable
  • Gold

However, if you plan for your pet to compete in dog shows, it can only come in specific colors. These are black, brown, gold, and blue/grey. All of these are allowed to have some tan markings above and around the eyes, on the sides of the muzzle, on the throat, and on the legs.

Some white markings are allowed on the chest and feet. All other coat colors such as cream, sable, and brindle are disqualified from competitions.

Still, we believe that the coat color won’t stop anyone from loving their pet Tibetan Mastiff. Unless you are really into dog shows, pick any coat color you like.

All about the Tibetan Mastiff personality

First thing’s first - Tibetan Mastiffs are not well-suited pets for first-time dog owners. They require some previous knowledge and experience with dog training. Also, you will need to be extremely patient if you want to be able to handle the temperament of these dogs.

They are independent, stubborn, and aloof. When combined with their high intelligence, this makes for a dangerous combination that not everyone can handle. These pups won’t look for your direction as their owner and prefer to decide things by themselves. Some people don’t like this and can be put off by this breed.

By nature, Mastiffs are guardians. They are used to guarding property and people and are extremely adamant about their job. They will require a lot of obedience training, but don’t expect that to solve your problems. Even with it, they will often do what they want.

It is not uncommon for one of these pups to perform perfectly in a training class, only to start behaving independently once you return home and ignore those exact commands. 

Also, don’t expect Tibetans to be affectionate. They don’t really need attention, and won’t care for it. They are territorial and behave almost like cats when it comes to humans. They will protect their owner from anything if necessary.

Tibetan Mastiffs actually get along nicely with other animals. If your Tibetan has another large dog to play with it will be extremely happy. 

They also like children and can make really good family dogs, but you need to watch out for certain things. Tibetans can be a bit overprotective when it comes to children.

These dogs have a strong guard dog nature which can be problematic whenever you have guests over, especially new ones. Tibetan Mastiffs won’t like to see strangers coming into your house or walking over your yard.

Is a Tibetan Mastiff easy to train?

You probably have already assumed that Tibetan Mastiffs are not easy to train. And yes, that definitely is the case.

Training these pups can be extremely difficult. They are intelligent but do not excel in obedience tasks. They might perform them well if they feel like it, but most of the time they will ignore them.

What they decide to learn they will learn extremely quickly, but they hate repeating what they already know, so remember that. If you manage to get the respect of your Tibetan Mastiff, it will do what you ask it to. However, if the command is not clear and there are other options, it will always decide for itself.

These dogs are driven by their instincts, not training. You should never trust your Tibetan Mastiff off a leash if you’re outside. They don’t have a good recall, and since they are quite large it might be dangerous. Always keep them on a leash.

Despite all of this, make sure to sign up for training classes if you own a Tibetan Mastiff. It is necessary for you to get used to your dog’s protective instincts. You should always be firm and kind when dealing with a Tibetan Mastiff.

Early socialization is something that will be tremendously helpful. These dogs should get used to being around people outside your family early on. They learn by observing the world around them more than in training classes, so make sure to surround your pet with lots of love.

Oof, that sounds like a lot of work! Well, once you fall in love with a dog it won’t be a problem. Next up - grooming.

How much Grooming does a Tibetan Mastiff need?

When it comes to grooming, Tibetan Mastiffs are moderately demanding. Their heavy double coat doesn’t shed too much.

Brush the gorgeous coat two or three times a week and it will be in excellent condition constantly. You may need to wash these dogs occasionally, but only about every six or eight weeks. In general, you won’t need professional grooming when it comes to the coat.

Since they do shed somewhat throughout the year, but also shed quite profusely twice each year, avoid these dogs if you suffer from allergies. They are not hypoallergenic!

Tibetan Mastiffs have extremely strong nails and you might have trouble clipping them due to their thickness. They are also dark and can get lost in the coat. This is why it is preferred to have the clipping of the nails done professionally.

Either a groomer or a veterinarian can help you with that. These dogs also have rear dewclaws that won’t get worn out when they are walking. This means they can grow quite long and pierce the skin. Always make sure to check all of the nails of your Tibetan Mastiff. 

The Living Environment of the Tibetan Mastiff

All that Tibetan Mastiffs need to be happy is a yard they can roam and protect. One good thing about this breed is that they don’t mind being alone. If you have a yard you can leave them by themselves all day with no problems.

Keep in mind that the yard would need to be fenced. A strong fence is basically a must-have with this breed because they can wander off and never come back. They are just that independent. 

They can also learn how to open the door or a gate by watching humans do it. Be careful and make sure to lock the door behind you or your pet might escape!

These pups are usually quiet but can get loud during the night with their barking. They have a strong, deep bark that will be heard quite far away. The best thing to do is to keep your pet inside of the house to avoid any issues with your neighbors.

Never keep Tibetan Mastiffs inside of a dog crate since being inside of a cage prevents them from acting protective. This may lead to severe issues with the behavior of your pet.

The Health and Nutrition of the Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiffs are generally considered to be a healthy breed but can be prone to certain issues that impact larger dogs.

These issues include elbow and hip dysplasia, eye issues, and hypothyroidism. Hip dysplasia is extremely common in large dogs and is an inherited abnormality that can cause the lameness of the hind limbs. 

  • Hypothyroidism refers to the reduced levels of the thyroid hormone. This can lead to excessive weight gain, lethargy, and sudden changes in behavior. Since these dogs already can react suddenly and aggressively because of their protective instincts, this can be dangerous.
  • Another condition that can be quite common is von Willebrand’s disease, which is a clotting disorder that makes even minor injuries bleed heavily and for a longer period of time.

When it comes to food, these dogs will require a lot of it, which is something you probably already guessed yourself. Try to keep the quality of the food high, and always measure it, so your pet doesn’t become overweight.

It is best to consult with your veterinarian about the best food. They will also be able to help you with the correct daily amount. It will depend on the age of your dog, as well as its daily activity levels.

Where does the Tibetan Mastiff come from?

Tibetan Mastiffs originally served as guardian dogs in the Himalayan mountains. It is believed that most other mastiff breeds are actually descendants of this Tibetan giant.

However, what we do know is that the Tibetan Mastiff definitely is one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. This was confirmed by several genetic studies. It is possible that these dogs actually diverged from wolves tens of thousands of years ago.

The breed was largely unknown in the western world until the 19th century when explorers of the Himalayan mountains stumbled into it.

We don’t know for sure when they arrived in the United States, but we do know that two Tibetan Mastiffs were sent to US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958 as a gift from the Ministry of Nepal. A few years later more of these dogs were imported to the US from India and Nepal and they started becoming more common as pets.

The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2006.

10 Tibetan Mastiff Mixes you would like to know about*

Dog crossbreeds or mixes are sometimes called designer dogs. The name fits since you are “designing” a new dog by mating two purebred dogs. It has become popular in recent times, and more and more breeds have several noteworthy crosses we could write about.

The thing with mixed puppies is that it is hard to know which characteristics they will inherit from their parents. You should research as much info as possible on the parent breeds to understand what you can expect. This way, you will find a mix that has all of the characteristics you want and love.

Read on to see the most popular Tibetan Mastiff mixes:

*Not all breed mixes are equal in quality! neither condones nor endorses any example of unethical and unhealthy crossbreeding. We encourage everyone to research in detail before they choose to get a crossbreed. 

  • +Are Tibetan Mastiffs dangerous?

  • +Is a Tibetan Mastiff illegal in the USA?

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