Get to Know the Powerful Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan mastiff is known as a gentle giant. Provided they're well-trained, they make an excellent addition to any family.
Don't believe us? Check out what makes the rare Tibetan such a desirable breed.
Tibetan Mastiff History
Tibetan mastiffs are said to be one of the oldest dog breeds, dating back to 1100 B.C. in Central Asia. They were initially used to protect Buddhist monasteries from wild animals and were bred as flock guardians in the Himalayas.
They made their way to England in the late 18th century, but during WWI and WII, the breed lost favor and nearly died out in Western Europe.
The Tibetan breed’s association created the Tibetan mastiff breed standard in 1931. The breed began gaining popularity in 1980 and was finally recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2006.
While the breed is still considered rare, it entered competition in Westminster Kennel Club in 2008 and is a family pet in many U.S. homes.
Tibetan Mastiff Basics
The Tibetan mastiff is a primitive breed and is in heat only once a year in the fall. The breed matures slowly — females reach full adulthood between ages 3 and 4, and males reach maturity between 4 and 5.
The Tibetan mastiff has a double coat all year and doesn't do much shedding until the spring and summer. They come in a variety of colors from black to deep blue and gold to deep red. They may or may not have markings.
Tibetans can reach 150 pounds and 26-inches tall at the shoulder and can live up to 15 years, which is unusual for large dogs.
Personality and Temperament
The Tibetan is highly intelligent but strong-willed and stubborn. They are also naturally territorial and protective, particularly when guarding their chosen family and property and can display dominance over dogs they don't know. When introduced to any new adults, children and animals, they should be supervised.
Because of their large size, the Tibetan needs plenty of room to roam. They make loyal family members, and when raised with small children, will become their best friends.
This dog breed is also clean and easy to housebreak. They tend to be more active in the morning and evening hours (and are prone to barking at the time) and are relatively inactive inside.
A Precious Tibetan Mastiff Puppy
Training and Socialization
Tibetan mastiffs not only need space, but they also need a fenced yard or kennel runs, as they are known to be curious and will try to roam neighborhoods. They can be very athletic and will climb high fences if they are determined enough.
Tibetans respond to training very well, if the techniques used are fun and light. But their teachers should be very patient — they are extremely independent and will respond with only people they trust.
They have high energy when motivated, so obedience is essential in light of their size.
Tibetans have health conditions specific to their breed, which can be amplified through questionable breeders. Autoimmune thyroiditis, seizures, hip and elbow dysplasia, and hypertrophic neuropathy are just some of the issues they face.
The American Tibetan Mastiff Association (the parent organization for the breed in the U.S.) participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program (CHIC). Tibetans with CHIC certifications have passed hip and thyroid evaluations from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and eye tests from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Breeders are required to have positive and negative test results published in the CHIC database.
Never purchase a Tibetan from a breeder who cannot guarantee in writing that a puppy's parents were cleared of health problems.
Tibetans Can Be Pricey
Tibetans are said to be the most expensive dog in the world, particularly in China. In 2019, a pup was sold for $1.95 million.
They do come a bit cheaper in the U.S. You can expect to pay $1,500 to $5,000 or more due to their rarity and desirability.
If you don't want to pay that, there are rescues around the country as well as dogs listed on Petfinder.com and AdoptaPet.com. Of course, you can always check your local shelter, too.