Sign in or
Make a page for your Tibetan Mastiff.
Share Tibetan Mastiff rescue stories.
Know about these dogs? Click EasyEdit to add info anywhere on this page.
Short History of the BreedThis is an ancient breed, descended from very early large Tibetan dogs from which most, if not all, of today's Mastiff-type and Molossuses are descended. Some of the modern breeds thought to have Tibetan Mastiff ancestry include the St. Bernard, Leonberger, the Newfoundland, the Kuvasz, and even the toy dog breed, the Pug, which itself was a well-established breed before the 1500s. Marco Polo encountered the large Tibetan dogs in his travels and described them as "tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as that of a lion." They were used as guard dogs outside the sacred city of Lhasa.
The breed originated in Tibet as a flock dog and guard dog and it makes an excellent family protector. In the early 19th century, King George IV owned a pair, and there were enough of the breed in England in 1906 to be shown at the 1906 Crystal Palace show. However, during the war years, the breed lost favor and focus and nearly died out in England. Then, with the 1959 occupation of Tibet, the breed became nearly extinct, with a chosen few exported in the 1960's and 1970's to found the American and European based bloodlines that thrive today.
Gaining in popularity worldwide, there are more and more active breeders, although the breed is still considered somewhat uncommon. Initially the breed suffered because of the limited genepool from the original stock, but today's reputable breeders work hard at reducing the genetic problems through selective breeding and the international exchange of new bloodlines.
Physical Description and SizeThe Tibetan Mastiff is among the largest breeds. It is found in a heavier mastiff type and a more moderately sized mountain type. Its sturdy bone structure and large, wide head makes it appear considerably more massive than other dogs of a similar height. It can reach heights up to 31+ inches (80+cm) at the withers, although the standard for the breed is typically in the 25 to 28 inch (61 to 72 cm) range. History records the largest of the breed weighing over 200lb (90kg), but dogs in America are more typically between 100lb (45kg) to 160lb (72kg).
Its double coat is long and found in a wide variety of colors from solid black, to black and tan, various shades of gold (light to dark) and occasionally the dilute gray and brown are also possible. In Tibet, a white patch or star on the chest signified a brave heart.
Like other types of mastiffs, the larger variety can have greater size, a heavier head and more pronounced wrinkling, while the mountain type has a smoother rather than wrinkled brow with less jowling, giving them a drier mouth than other mastiff breeds. They are also hypoallergenic with a thick double coat that only sheds once per year.
Tibetan Mastiffs are separated by chinese breed-standard into two categories - Lion Head (relatively smaller in size, exceptionally long hair from forehead to withers, in which creates a lion mane alike head) and Tiger Head (relatively larger in size, shorter hair).
TemperamentThe native strain of dog, which still exists in Tibet, and the Westernized breed can vary in temperament. Elizabeth Schuler states, "The few individuals that remain in Tibet are ferocious and aggressive, unpredictable in their behavior, and very difficult to train. But the dogs bred by the English are obedient and attached to their masters." Others claim that the ferocity of those in Tibet is due to selective breeding and their training as guard dogs, more than companion dogs. Many breeders throughout Asia are now seeking to preserve and breed the larger, original, more protective Tibetan Mastiff while Western breeders have sought to stabilize the temperament, in both size varieties.
As a flock guardian dog in Tibet, it is tenacious in its ability to confront predators the size of wolves and leopards. As a socialized, more domestic Western dog, it thrives in a spacious, fenced yard with a canine companion, but it is not an appropriate dog for apartment living. Still, the Western-bred dogs are generally more easy-going, although somewhat aloof with strangers coming to the home. Through hundreds and hundreds of years of selective breeding for a protective flock and family guardian, the breed has been prized for being a nocturnal sentry, keeping would-be predators and intruders at bay, barking at sounds throughout the night. So, leaving a Tibetan Mastiff outside all night with neighbors nearby is not usually recommended. The Tibetan Mastiff is known as "the defender of women and children" in its native land, and is reliable with children in a family home.
Like all flock guardian breeds, they are intelligent and stubborn to a fault, so obedience classes are recommended since this is a strong-willed, powerful breed with great size potential. Socialization is also critical with this breed because of their reserved nature with strangers and guarding instincts.
Dog Care(exercise, grooming, diet)
Health Issues and Life ExpectancyUnlike most very large breeds, its life expectancy is relatively long, some 10-14 years. Due to natural selection the breed has relatively lower comparative incidence of genetic health problems, but cases can be found of hypothyroidism, entropion or ectropion, skin problems including allergies, missing teeth, malocclusion (overbite or underbite), cardiac problems, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and small ear canals with a tendency for infection. As with most giant breeds, some will suffer with elbow or hip dysplasia, although this has not been a major problem in the Tibetan Mastiff. Canine inherited demyelinative neuropathy (CIDN), a rare inherited neural disease that appeared in one bloodline in the early 1980s but it is believed that this problem has been all but eliminated in contemporary breeding lines.
- Tibetan Mastiff Online Community - DogBreed.org
- Tibetan Mastiff Club of America
- American Tibetan Mastiff Association
Tibetan Mastiffs on WikiFido
Latest page update: made by
, Nov 27 2007, 9:42 AM EST
(about this update
About This Update
2 words added
- complete history)
More Info: links to this page
There are no threads for this page. Be the first to start a new thread.