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tibetan mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff: Breed Guide, Info, Pictures, Care & More!

If you are thinking of bringing a dog into your life, then you have a great many choices to pick from. Canines come in all shapes and sizes in this world, and this includes larger dog breeds. Among the largest and most popular breeds in the world, today is the Tibetan Mastiff. These comically shaggy dogs are famous around the world and have a great history of being the kind of dog you might want to have in your personal life.

However, owning a Tibetan Mastiff can be quite an undertaking for most people. With that in mind, we recommend that you read through this guide to get a better understanding of how this dog operates.

What is a Tibetan Mastiff?

The Tibetan Mastiff is a purebred dog that is recognized for its immense strength and power. For a dog, they can be incredibly large and they can be very strong. This makes them a good choice for anyone who wants to have a large dog that carries some form of authority. They are regarded as among the best protection dogs in the world, with their general size and bulk making them off-putting to attackers and trespassers alike.

The breed itself seems to have a long history, with historical artefacts discussing these dogs as far back as 1100BC!

Bred primarily as dogs that can provide meaningful protection of livestock and property, the Tibetan Mastiff soon became a mainstay for the people of the country. Villagers and residents alike would find it easier to sleep at night, or leave crops unsupervised, if they had a powerful dog like this sticking around to guard the location.

For many, it is easy to mistake a Tibetan Mastiff for something akin to a lion or even a bear. They have that thick, double-coated fur that looks very strong, and they have mane-like hair features. However, these are, like lions, extremely agile dogs that can get around the place with speed and can leap at great heights.

In terms of their general mood and mindset, the Tibetan Mastiff is a very intelligent dog. It is a dog that if you look after it and give it respect then it will care for you and your own.

Not sure if owning a Tibetan Mastiff would be the right choice for you, though? Then let us take a look at the history of these dogs. These incredible canines are lauded for their power and their strength, but what else do you need to know about them today?

Key Facts About a Tibetan Mastiff

What, then, are some of the essential facts that come to mind when evaluating Tibetan Mastiffs?

How much does a Tibetan Mastiff weigh? How large can it be?

A Tibetan Mastiff can become very large indeed. These are dogs that can reach sizes as large as 26” for a male, and 24” for a female. So, if you are looking for a dog that carries real authority and power with it, then this is a pretty good place to think about starting. Dogs like this are very large in terms of size, so you need to make sure that you have the space you need at home to house something like this.

In terms of weight, you should expect that a Tibetan Mastiff can weigh as much as 150lbs for a male, and up to 120lbs for a female. The starting weight, though, would be around 90/70lbs depending on the genre. Again, these are big dogs. Do not expect them to be dainty at really any phase of life; they are born big, and they remain so.

How long does a Tibetan Mastiff live?

Sadly, size can have a detrimental impact on living quality and many Tibetan Mastiffs only live for ten years. The longest average for most of these dogs would be twelve years. Some might go beyond that with a mixture of luck and an extremely good standard of living, but around the decade mark is the average that one should expect.

If you cannot bear the idea of your dog only living for a decade then the Tibetan Mastiff is not going to be a good choice for you. Such a dog as this is something that could be hard to spend time around as it gets older as their bodies age and they become less active. However, quality over quantity is the usual remit taken for those who decide to own a Tibetan Mastiff.

They might not live as long as other dogs, but they pack plenty into those years.

What kind of colors do Tibetan Mastiffs come in?

The Tibetan Mastiff can come in various colors, so if you are looking for a specific color scheme keep that in mind. The most common colors for a Tibetan Mastiff can include, but are not limited to:

  • Black or black and tan
  • Brown or brown and tan
  • Blue-Gray or blue-Gray and tan
  • Red-Gold or red-Gold sable

Colors then can be quite varied if you choose to go for this kind of dog. If you are looking for a dog that has plenty of variety in the potential colors that you can find, then, this is a pretty good place to begin your search.

Who can get the most out of having a Tibetan Mastiff?

tibetan mastiff

If you intend to own something like a Tibetan Mastiff then you should be prepared for it to be quite a challenge if you lack experience. We would suggest that the Tibetan Mastiff is a good choice for those who want an experienced dog, and thus have plenty of experience in raising a canine themselves. Do not get a Tibetan Mastiff as your first dog – they will leave a poor impression given how hard they can be to manage!

By the same token, we do not recommend a Tibetan Mastiff for those with young children or if you have other dogs of the opposite gender. The reason for this is quite simple – they are so powerful that they often do not know their strength. Though they have very good personalities as you will see below, they have a habit of being quite territorial. They can also be quite stubborn, so a child trying to take ownership of one of its toys could end up with an issue.

They are not aggressive dogs unless truly pushed and provoked, but the Tibetan Mastiff has little problem in standing its ground – with other dogs and, yes, with smaller children.

What kind of personality does a Tibetan Mastiff have?

The Tibetan Mastiff has a very reserved and calming personality. They only really spring into action if they sense danger, which their intelligence makes quite easy. These are dogs that can read a situation, so you do not have to worry about your Tibetan Mastiff overreacting to something.

They are calm dogs, but they are also somewhat territorial and a little bit stubborn. They do not mind fighting back if they feel like they are in the right. If they do not want to do something, either, convincing a Tibetan Mastiff to take part can be a lot of work!

If you want a devoted dog that can look after your family and your household, though, the Tibetan Mastiff is a tremendous choice. So long as you have the experience to deal with its rather odd temperament at times, you should have no problem at all in finding lots of fun with a Tibetan Mastiff.

If you are looking for an extremely intelligent dog then this would be a good place to start. They are guard dogs so they are naturally quite intelligent and instinctive. However, they are also quite stubborn as we mentioned as they have the intelligence to be quite independent. This means that training can become quite a challenge, you should try and work with someone who can train your dog from a young age.

This is another reason why owners need experience; the Tibetan Mastiff is unlikely to listen to a master who cannot control it. Things like ensuring that the Tibetan Mastiff does not overreact to strangers, or other dogs, are a vital next step in your training. They will eventually grow to love you if you can win their respect, but again this is why you should never have a Tibetan Mastiff as your first dog. They will run all over you – literally!

Owning a Tibetan Mastiff

If you choose to go on the route of owning such a dog, then, you should let yourself know what you are going to be in for. Given these can reach such massive sizes, what matters when owning a Tibetan Mastiff?

The cost of a Tibetan Mastiff

First off, you should be made aware that this is NOT a dog that is going to be cheap. You cannot pick up a Tibetan Mastiff for a few bucks from the local pet store. They are very rare and this rarity is added to the cost, especially if you live in America. If you happen to find a Tibetan Mastiff then the lowest cost you should expect to be paid would be around $1,500. Indeed, one Tibetan Mastiff even went for as much as $2m in China so these can reach eye-watering sums of money in the right company.

Given the Tibetan Mastiff is regarded as among the most expensive dog breed in the world, though, prices as high as $5,000 are not unheard of. They are good dogs, great even, but you should be prepared to pay for one!

Living with a Tibetan Mastiff

Remember that this dog can reach a massive size, so it is more akin to living with a big furry human as opposed to most other dogs. Therefore, you need plenty of space for it. While the Tibetan Mastiff is a natural indoor watchdog, they do like to be outside semi-regularly. They also do not like to live in cramped spaces, so if you live in an apartment block we do not recommend having a Tibetan Mastiff.

If you live in a large(ish) house with an outdoor garden, though, the Tibetan Mastiff could be a great choice for a watchdog. However, you will also find that you are going to need to give it lots of living space. Many find that allocating a room to their Tibetan Mastiff does more benefit than giving it just a small space in the living room or dining room.

If you happen to bring a female Tibetan Mastiff into your household, then you might be happy to know they only go into heat once per annum. It typically begins in the fall, so you should expect that if your Tibetan Mastiff does have puppies it will be around about New Year’s time.

Tibetan Mastiffs and children

We mentioned before that those with young children might wish to avoid the Tibetan Mastiff. That is pure because they can be quite powerful dogs. Children love to play and thus enjoy running around screaming and having fun; this can alert a natural watchdog like this, and it could spring into action when it has no need. You would need to have a puppy Tibetan Mastiff around the children from their youngest days together to try and get over this issue.

If you have teenage children, though, or children who are close to teenage years, the Tibetan Mastiff is a tremendous family dog to have around the place. If you have a harmonious family household, this is the ideal dog. However, be honest with yourself: do you spend much time arguing with your spouse, children, and/or housemates? If so, avoid a Tibetan Mastiff.

Again, they will spring into their typical reaction mode and become aggressive. And you do not want to have to try and calm down a dog of this size; once they get aggressive, it takes a lot of work to defuse the situation.

What does a Tibetan Mastiff eat?

Diets are tough for dogs, but this is a dog that should enjoy a pretty consistent diet. 4-5 cups of kibble split into two meals should satisfy the surprisingly small stomach of this kind of canine. They might need three meals per day at puppyhood, though, so try and keep that in mind. Given their history of being bred in Tibet, though, where food is not as plentiful as it is elsewhere, these are dogs that have an instinct for rationing. Still, 4-5 kibble cups per day should be enough to keep this big dog well fed.

What about exercise?

If you want to get a Tibetan Mastiff then you must be able to give it some exercise, though not loads. They need a decent length walk each day or at least some kind of roaming responsibility that allows them to get out there on their feet. If you can fit in two walks per day of decent size that should be more than enough to keep your dog nice and happy.

Try and change routes, too, as going over the same routes can kick in that territorial instinct. This could make the dog more likely to start thinking that it owns the various routes that it takes on. If you have a garden, then let it roam around your garden as much as it wants – just make sure it has a large enough fence to keep it in your garden so you do not have to worry about the neighbors!

Training and grooming

As noted before, they can be difficult to train thanks to a natural stubborn streak. They tend to ignore commands already taught to them as they do not feel the need to play games and repeat commands just to get a treat. However, that stubborn nature means they can sometimes learn from a trainer with ease, and then fail to listen to you when you ask for the same treatment at home. Again, leadership is key.

In terms of grooming, you should be looking to get them groomed once per week with the use of a slicker brush. Shedding is most common during spring and summer, so you might also want to prepare for this with a suitable de-shedding aide.

Health issues with Tibetan Mastiffs

Sadly, these are dogs that can run into some specific health issues. Like most dogs of a large size, hip and elbow dysplasia is commonplace and is genetic so it is hard to avoid. You should also keep an eye out for problems like hypertrophic neuropathy, hypothyroidism, entropion, and ectropion (both eyelid conditions that can limit their visibility).

Overall, the Tibetan Mastiff is a tremendous canine and one that you should love having as part of your life. However, one thing to remember is that they need experience, they need patience, and they need you to be pretty confident. You have to show leadership, you need to accept them for what they are, and you have to appreciate their specific needs. If you can do that, though, having a Tibetan Mastiff in your life is going to be an absolute dream for just about any experienced dog owner.