The Tibetan Mastiff lineage dates back to a proud and impressive ancestor who was historically a guard dog for monasteries, villages, and palaces in ancient Central Asia. Today's breeders sometimes differentiate between two different types of Tibetan Mastiff. The "Do-khyi," which loosely translates as "home guard" or "door guard," which is the "nomad" type of Tibetan Mastiff, is leaner, lighter boned, and somewhat shorter than the other type, the "Tsang-khyi," which translates to "dog from Tsang" in Tibetan and is often known as the "monastery" dog. These two different types of Tibetan Mastiff are not considered two separate breeds, since both types of puppies can appear in the same litter. However, the larger, heavier "monastery" Tibetan Mastiff puppies are much rarer than the lighter, leaner "nomad" variety.
Some theories speculate that the earliest Tibetan dogs were predecessors to all molosser breeds, although most experts disagree with this. One study (again questioned by experts) performed by China's Nanjing Agricultural University's Laboratory of Animal Reproductive Genetics and Molecular Evolution found that although all dogs have wolves as their genetic ancestor, the majority of dog breeds began to evolve and diverge from wealthy developers about 42,000 years ago, while the Tibetan Mastiff originated much earlier, 58,000 years ago. Regardless, many consider the Tibetan Mastiff Dog to be the genetic foundation of all large working-breed dogs, including all Mastiff breeds and Mountain dogs. What is certain is that around 1100 BC, large dogs existed which resembled today's Mastiff breeds, a fact supported by skulls found that date back to the Bronze and Stone Ages.
Used in the armies of the Greeks, Persians, Assyrians, and Romans, Mastiff-type dogs were also companions to Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun. Although the Tibetan Mastiff stayed within its own Himalayan geographic location during this time, it nonetheless shares ancestry with these dogs but was left in its mountainous isolation to develop into today’s modern breed.
Today, nomads in the Chang Tang plateau still breed pure Tibetan Mastiffs, although these are relatively rare and are hard to find because they live at altitudes of approximately 16,000 feet. Occasionally, some are brought to market near the holy Buddhist Jokhang Temple, the Barkhor. Once sold, they serve as guard dogs for the nomads and at the gates of houses and monasteries, but still remain relatively rare in central Asia.
The Tibetan Mastiff Dog was not known to Western culture until the early 1800s, when Westerners began to travel to Tibet. Explorer Marco Polo described these dogs as "large as donkeys," and 17th century missionaries also made note of their extraordinary distinction. It wasn't until 1847 that Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, sent one of these dogs to Queen Victoria. In 1859, the first dog show in England was held, and in 1873 the Kennel Club of England designated this large dog as the "Tibetan Mastiff." The Prince of Wales, who was later King Edward VII, brought two Tibetan Mastiffs into England in 1874 to continue the slow establishment of this breed.
Finally, in the late 1950s, the Tibetan Mastiff made its debut in the United States when two dogs were presented to President Eisenhower. In 1969, several more Tibetan Mastiffs were imported into the United States from India and Nepal, and the American Tibetan Mastiff Association was established in 1974. It was approved as a foundation stock breed in 2004 by the American Kennel Club, and recorded in the AKC foundation stock service in 1996, which is often an important precursor to full AKC registration and recognition which must rely on accurate records of purebred dogs.
While the Tibetan Mastiff is large, it is not considered a "giant" dog. The AKC calls it "solemn and kindly" in appearance. These dogs can stand up to 31 inches at the shoulder, although most reach 25-28 inches and will weigh about 140-170 pounds in adulthood. The head is broad and strong, with heavy brows and some wrinkling in the facial area to give it a noble appearance. The eyes are intelligent and watchful, expressive, of medium size and brown. Ears are of medium size, high set, dropping forward close to the head. The tail is feathered and curls upward over the back. The feet are small and catlike. The coat is thick with a heavy mane at the neck and can be blue-gray, black or brown, with or without tan or white markings.
A very serene and observant pet, this dog will be very loyal to you and your family, and can be extremely courageous and protective. A breed distinguished by its excellent, smart, even-tempered and very calm traits, it serves as an exceptionally alert guard dog. It will be very eager to please you and is easy to train, although even a dog this calm can become willful and stubborn if you don't set firm boundaries. If any dog is truly a "pack animal," it is the Tibetan Mastiff, which means this dog will be much happier and healthier if you continually assert a calm but consistent authority. Also, a very active and athletic, muscular dog, it will need plenty of exercise and stimulation, both mentally and physically. If properly socialized from early puppyhood, you will find no better gentle but courageous guardian to protect you and your loved ones than the Tibetan Mastiff Dog.
As a powerfully agile dog that needs lots of attention as well as physical and mental stimulation, it is best to have at least a large, fenced yard, and if possible, a canine companion, to keep this dog company. While not well-suited to apartment living, this pet is perfect for a large family, including small children, as long as you are the one in charge at all times.
If you've chosen the Tibetan Mastiff as your pet, you're in luck. Although a very large breed, the Tibetan Mastiff can live as long as 10 to 14 years. It can be prone to hip dysplasia and bloat, as can most large breeds. Symptoms of bloat, which can include your dog’s failed attempts to vomit, as well as obvious abdominal distress or discomfort, are extremely dangerous and need to be addressed promptly. A genetic condition called Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy (CIDN) is invariably fatal, but is evident in puppies that are between the ages of seven and ten weeks old, with a life expectancy in afflicted Tibetan Mastiff puppies of only four months. Your pet can also suffer from hypothyroidism, common for large breeds, a condition you should test for on a regular basis. Your vet will advise you about appropriate medication should tests prove positive. Finally, be aware that females go into heat only once a year, as compared with other dogs, who generally go into heat twice year.
This breed’s thick dense coat will shed heavily once a year during warm weather. Brush and comb every day or even twice a day during this time. At other times, your pet will shed minimally making it a good dog to have if you suffer from allergies.
Group Classification: Mastiff
Country of Origin: N/A
Date of Origin: N/A
Body Size: N/A
Weight M: 140-170 pounds
Height M: 25-28 inches
Weight F: 140-170 pounds
Height F: 25-28 inches
Litter Size: 3 puppies
Life Expectancy: 10-14 years
Recognized By: CKC, FCI, KCGB, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR, DRA, AKC
Black and tan, blue and tan, black, grizzle, sable, cream, and brown.
Need the appropriate space for such a large dog. Though is fine inside because of a low energy level.