A relatively new breed to the United States, the Tibetan Mastiff has an ancient history in Asia. Marco Polo once described this dog as “tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as that of a lion.” This large dog has a friendly disposition yet intimidating presence. Find out more about the Tibetan Mastiff in Best Bully Sticks Breed Spotlight on the Tibetan Mastiff!

History & Background: Potentially, Tibetan Mastiffs originated from Molossus breeds, an extinct large breed dog. It is known that Tibetan Mastiffs are an ancient breed that can be traced back to 1100 B.C. China. At a point, these dogs were seemingly isolated in the Himalayan Mountains in Tibet where it developed into the dog recognized as the modern Tibetan Mastiff. 

This dog was used as a guard dog for flocks, homes, tents and more. This breed was sometimes tied up to enhance aggressive tendencies. These dogs are still sometimes used a guard dogs in different parts of the world.

A Tibetan Mastiff was brought to Queen Victoria in the mid 1800s and popularity for these dogs began to rise. More were imported into England and the English began to breed and standardize Tibetan Mastiffs. The breed didn’t gain a lot of popularity in the United States until 1980. The Tibetan Mastiff was recognized by the AKC in 2006 and first shown at Westminster in 2008.

In Asia, the term “mastiff” attached to this dog’s name is somewhat of a misnomer. In many languages, including Nepali, Mongolian and Mandrin Chinese, all translations of this dog’s name simply mean “dog,” “home guard,” or “door guard.” The term “mastiff” was mostly likely used because it meant “large dog” but is suggested that a more correct name for this dog might “Tibetan Mountain Dog.”

Height: Minimum 24-26 inches at shoulder

Weight: 140-180 pounds

Coat: The Tibetan Mastiff has a profuse amount of fur because of its history living in the Himalayans. This dog has a double coat with hard and thick outer coat which helps wick off dirt and water. The undercoat is very soft, fluffy and wooly, which keeps the Mastiff warm in the cold weather. Overall, the hair is fine, straight, stands off the dog’s body and is fairly long. The neck and shoulders have much more hair than the rest of the body, giving the dog a sort of mane. In very mature dogs, this hair can create somewhat of a lion’s mane, with hair standing straight out. The hair on the head is much shorter. The tail and hind legs are feathered. Usually, males have more of a coat than females but for all dogs of this breed, the quality of the coat is much more important than the length.

Color: A Tibetan Mastiff can be black, brown and blue/grey with tan markings. Gold markings from pure golden to red gold can also be present. White markings on the feet and chest are sometimes present as well.

Appearance: More than impressive in size, Tibetan Mastiffs are a large breed dog, but not a giant breed. This Mastiff breed is shouldn’t be overly intimidating in size and should have a kind appearance. Standing alert and strong, a Tibetan Mastiff is well muscled and big boned. The head is large with eyes in shades of brown and ears medium-sized, V-shaped pendants placed high and folding down. Tibetan Mastiff’s have a broad head with a low, furrowed brow. The muzzle is broad as well and should be almost square when in profile view. The nose is usually black, but can sometimes be blue/grey. As mentioned before, the neck of the Tibetan Mastiff is very thick and full of fur. Dewlaps, or loose hanging skin, around the throat can be present as well. A Tibetan’s body is a little longer than tall. The tail is fairly long and usually curls up onto the back, but when relaxed, the tail can be carried down.

Temperament: Very intelligent and independent, the Tibetan Mastiff is protective of his owners and his property. Usually calm and even-tempered, yet at times stubborn, the Tibetan Mastiff is easy to train with a leader who is consistent and firm. This dog is great with children but can be aloof toward strangers. Socialization is very important for this dog and work well in most any situation. These dogs are pack animals and are best trained from puppyhood. Because of their size and need for constant socialization, these dogs aren’t suggested for apartment living. However, if they are exercised enough, can thrive in apartment living. Overall, this dog is easy going and friendly and a great addition to a family needing a guard dog or intelligent companion.

Health & Grooming: Tibetan Mastiffs can sometimes be afflicted with hip dysplasia and thyroid problems. They also deal with ear problems because of small ear canals and skin problems related to allergies. These Mastiffs can sometimes have teeth issues such as over or under bites and missing teeth. Heart problems, epilepsy, cataracts and even some autoimmune illnesses can be present in this breed. However, healthy Tibetan Mastiffs have a longer life expectancy than most dogs their size. They usually live around 10-14 years.

Grooming this dog is a matter of constant attention. This Mastiff needs brushing several times a week, if not every day. This will help their allergy issues as well. In the late winter, early spring, this dog usually sheds its winter coat. However, shedding can happen in smaller amounts during season changes.

Product Suggestions: A large dog needs a large treat, so BBS suggests the Australian Monster Bully Stick. They are thicker than your average full cane bully stick. Australian Mega Bully Sticks range in length from 25 – 36 inches!

The Tibetan Mastiff is a very intelligent dog so why not challenge this dog while playing? The Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Mazee is a fun, long-lasting dog ball that is a puzzle; a brain teaser that is also rewarding. You simply fill it with dog treats and your dog will play and play. The treat dispensing hole in combination with the unique maze inside the dog ball will randomly dispense dog treats.

Do you own or know a Tibetan Mastiff? Tell us your favorite Tibetan Mastiff story in the comments section!