A Tibetan Mastiff is a large type of a dog originating from Tibet. It is a primitive breed which has been used in Tibet, Mongolia, China and Nepal as a guard dog. Due to its size, it was a perfect dog to protect the livestock from invaders. It is large enough and strong enough to protect sheep from wolves, bears, leopards and even tigers. Today, it still has the same purpose in some areas but is largely used as a family pet.
Originally, the Tibetan Mastiff is known as “Drog-Khyi”. Translated from Tibetan, this means “nomadic dog,” which clearly explains its function and purpose as a guardian dog and a type of protector.
History & Origins
A Tibetan Mastiff is a primitive and ancient breed. It dates so many years ago that recent studies have found that the Tibetan Mastiff is the forefather of many large breed dogs that we have today like the Great Pyrenees, Rottweiler, Bernese mountain dog and the Saint Bernard. But other research shows that the Tibetan Mastiff itself is connected with a gray wolf. The study also shows that these dogs were able to withstand these harsh conditions due to their connections with Tibetan wolves, with whom the dogs were obviously crossbred.
The dog was introduced away from Tibet in 1906 by King George V, when it was showcased at the Crystal Palace show. But during the Great War, the breed lost its purpose and almost died out in England. But luckily, in 1980, the breed started to gain on popularity and breeders everywhere contributed to the comeback of these dogs. They have never been so much popular, but they still hold a firm positon and gain interest from a lot of dog enthusiast.
Tibetan Mastiff Characteristics & Temperament
The Tibetan Mastiff keeps its ancestral instincts as a guard dog. It has been used as a dog that protects a herd of sheep and their flock guarding instincts are always present. If you do not want to keep the dog for these kind of purposes you have to train it well. They can be trained to be family dogs, but they are very hard to get used to an apartment. But they enjoy spending time in a fenced enclosure where they have a lot of space to roam around. Nevertheless, obedience training is necessary. These are powerful and strong willed dogs, so you have to tell them who’s boss early on. If you do not train the dog well, you might end up with a very unpredictable dog. That is why a Tibetan Mastiff is only for experienced dog owners and trainers.
A Tibetan Mastiff is an excellent guard dog. They can be aloof with strangers but they are the most alert at night. Most dogs spend the majority of the day laying around and sleeping. But their instincts and alertness kicks in at night. This is why it is any advisable for the dog to be kept close to your neighbors. If you keep it outside at night it will try to protect the area and bark and any suspects they spot. They can be trained to other animals so you can keep another dog besides this one. But due to their size, it is not advised that you keep them closer to smaller children.
Appearance, Colors, Size
Essentially speaking, there are two subgroups of Tibetan Mastiff dogs. Breeders usually recognize the Do-khyi and the Tsang-khyi. The later one is usually called the “monastery” type and is bigger, taller and heavier as it has more bone density. The Tsang-khyi also has more face wrinkles than the Do-khyi type. But what is interesting is that both types are born in the same litter and the stronger ones will be turned to heavier and more difficult jobs.
As far as their size goes, a male Tibetan Mastiff can reach a height of 83 cm. Their weight goes around 55–90 kg. There are cases of some Tibetan Mastiff dogs which are produced in Western and Chinese kennels which can weigh all the way to 115 kg.
Due to the origin of its birth and really harsh weather conditions that the dog is subjugated to, they have long and thick coats. They come in a variety of colors starting with solid black, black and tan, but also various shades of red. There are also cases of bluish-gray dogs that come with white markings. Deepening on the length of their coats, Tibetan Mastiff dogs are separated into Lion Head, smaller dogs with longer hair, and Tiger Head, larger dogs but with short hair.
Tibetan Mastiff Health
According to some research, the lifespan of a Tibetan Mastiff is between 10 and 14 years. But it mostly depends on the dog’s health and upbringing. There are some cases where very healthy dogs lived a lot more than that. But in some situations dogs of poor health and living in wore conditions lived a lot shorter. But what is good about Tibetan Mastiff dogs is that they do not have a lot of hereditary diseases.
On the other hand, there are numerous conditions that are connected with Tibetan Mastiff dogs. They include hypothyroidism, entropion, ectropion, distichiasis, autoimmune problems including demodex, skin problems including allergies, Addison’s Disease, Cushing’s Disease, malocclusion, cardiac problems, seizures, progressive retinal atrophy, cataract, epilepsy and a tendency to attract infections.
Grooming & Shedding
A Tibetan Mastiff does not have a particular shedding period. In fact these dogs shed all year long but are not heavy shedders. There are some periods where the dog will lose more hair than usually during transition periods, but it does not go so much to make a mess out of your home. Thanks to their coats, they do not create a particular dog odor that you would expect from dogs. They are generally clean and their thick coats and fur protects them and keeps them clean.
As far as grooming goes, you will have to invest a lot of time in them. Regular grooming will keep their long coats cleat. They do need regular brushing and the only problematic thing about grooming them is actually their size. They are massive dogs and can be problematic to handle. More problems occur when you have to give them a bath. Luckily, you do not have to do it as often as they are generally clean dogs.
Price and Breeders
A Tibetan Mastiff dog is very expensive to buy. This is probably the priciest breed that you would find. Quite recently there was a sale made where a single pup was sold for a price of 1.9 million dollars. But luckily you won’t have to pay so much for every one of them. On average these dogs are sold for around 1,600 dollars. When it comes to pups, the price ranges between 2,000 and 7.000 dollars. The price will depend on many factors and besides the pedigree, the type of the coat will determine the price.
Tibetan Mastiff Rescue
Even with a high price, there are still organizations which seek to help Tibetan Mastiff dogs. The cost is high but rescue groups like Tibetan Mastiff Rescue, Inc. are doing their best to find a home for dogs without one. If you are seeking for adoption contact this group or see their Facebook page for added information about the dogs that they have.