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Tibetan Mastiff Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Personality & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Tibetan Mastiff

Height: 24 inches and above
Weight: 70 – 150 pounds
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Colors: Black, black & tan, blue-gray, red, red gold
Suitable for: Those seeking a guard dog, experienced dog owners, older families, those seeking a companion dog
Temperament: Protective, loving, independent, gentle giant

The Tibetan Mastiff is a purebred pooch with a heart of gold and the presence of a lion. Originally, there were two types of Tibetan Mastiffs: the smaller ones, who were used as livestock guardians on farms; and the more giant Tibetan Mastiffs were used as estate protectors, usually in Tibetan temples and monasteries.

He still serves this purpose in Tibet, but here in America, he has found a new job. And that role is to be a ginormous and fluffy family companion with the side hustle of being the family guardian.

Despite his easier job description, he still carries his protective soul with him. And he will defend his family to the very end if he feels he needs to. It takes a very special family to welcome one of these guys into their life, and probably with a bit of a lifestyle change, too.

Before you commit to one of the beautiful beasts, it’s essential that you read this Tibetan Mastiff complete guide to see if you are the family that he is looking for.

It’s safe to say that the Tibetan Mastiff is not your typical dog, so let’s see if you’re up to the challenge.

Divider 1Tibetan Mastiff Puppies

tibetan mastiff puppy on grass
Image credit: Kat_marinina, Shutterstock

So, as we have mentioned, it takes a very special family to look after this pooch. And before you commit to him, there are a few things that we need to run you through. Because unless you tick these boxes, your life with a Tibetan Mastiff is not going to work out very well for you.

Firstly, you need to have experience with owning protective dogs. This guy is inherently protective and takes his role as a family and estate guardian very seriously. If he feels his family is in danger, there’s no way that anyone or anything is getting past him. If you’re looking for a guard dog, he is a fantastic choice. But unless handled correctly, this guy can become obnoxious and unruly.

Secondly, his protective nature means that he is suspicious of everyone. If you are a sociable family who has parties most weekends, with different groups of people, the Tibetan Mastiff isn’t going to approve.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Tibetan Mastiff

1. The Tibetan Mastiff is the most expensive dog in the world.

A Tibetan Mastiff pup sold for an impressive $2.2 million in China. He was a rare red Tibetan, and the breeder described him as having lions blood.

2. The Tibetan Mastiff only sheds once a year.

Unlike most other dog breeds, the Tibetan Mastiff only sheds once a year. He blows his full coat during the shedding season. Get ready for the Tibetan shedding Armageddon and arm yourselves with the right deshedding tools and brushes.

3. The Tibetan Mastiff only ovulates once a year.

The Tibetan Mastiff can only have pups once a year, unlike other large dogs who ovulate twice a year. Smaller sized dogs can ovulate several times a year. This is one of the many reasons why Tibetan Mastiffs command a higher price tag.

tibetan mastiff puppy
Image credit: olena2552, Shutterstock

Divider 3

Temperament & Intelligence of the Tibetan Mastiff 🧠

We have already run through the Tibetan Mastiff’s sticking points in the first section. So, now it’s time to learn about his soft and sweet side. Just like many big dogs, he is a gentle giant in the home and is very affectionate with his human pack. He loves to jump on the sofa (so, you best have a big one) and sit on your lap.

He is also quite calm in the home, so despite his big body, he will not jump all over the place or wreck the joint. He’ll get a little more excitable in the yard when its playtime. Thankfully, he knows his manners when he needs to.

He needs to be calm so that he can keep a watch for danger. He will always be alert and ready, just in case. Even when he is relaxing or sleeping, he will have one ear to the ground as it were.

He is independent and stubborn, but he is also a people pleaser and will love to receive praise from you. This will make him feel as though he is really appreciated. But don’t be fooled, he is a stubborn canine and does things on his own time most of the time.

The Tibetan Mastiff is intelligent and can learn a set of commands if he feels like it. But, given his stubbornness, his intelligence isn’t that noticeable. It’s essential that you keep the Tibetan Mastiff interested in you as a leader. Otherwise, he might get a bit bored and start to ignore you.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Yes, the Tibetan Mastiff can make the most incredible canine companion for the right family. You know already that he needs an experienced owner, constant company, and plenty of space to roam. And he won’t match well with a sociable family with guests coming in and out all of the time.

Although he is kind and gentle, he is not suited to families with young children for two reasons. Firstly, his size means that he could easily swipe a child over with his large derriere. And secondly, because he is very protective, he can’t handle the loud shouting and screams of younger children. He might mistake it for someone attacking his human child, and he will not allow that.

His ideal family would be one with older children who enjoy a quieter life in the country and prefer long walks over adventurous hikes. He likes to curl up by your feet in front of the fire or on your lap, living the life of Riley.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

The Tibetan Mastiff, as long as he is socialized well as a pup, will do well with other family pets, but only if he is the newbie to the family. If he is the first family pet and you want to welcome another one into your life, there is a big chance that he is not going to appreciate the change in dynamics. He might even see the other pet as a threat.

As with any new family addition, always be sure to arrange a controlled pre-meet to make sure that everyone gets along well with each other. Sometimes, for unknown reasons, no matter how friendly some dogs are, there are personality clashes. And a personality clash with a Tibetan Mastiff is something you want to avoid at all costs.

Mountain Mastiff tibetan
Image credit: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterstock

Divider 4Things to Know When Owning a Tibetan Mastiff:

Here are a few more things to consider before welcoming a Tibetan Mastiff into your life.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Tibetan Mastiff needs between 4 to 6 cups of food a day. He isn’t particularly energetic, so he won’t need much more than this. He can become overweight very quickly, so be sure to stick to the package instructions and feed him according to his age and weight.

Be sure to feed him a high-quality kibble that will provide him with a well-balanced diet. The ingredients list should be full of meat protein, carbohydrates, fiber, omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Because he is a large breed, you must feed him a kibble that is designed specifically for large breeds. This is particularly important during his puppy stage.

The Tibetan Mastiff puppy grows at a rapid rate, and large breed kibbles have the optimum calcium and phosphorus ratio, which helps to control the speed at which his bones grow. Without controlled bone growth, the chance of him developing bone diseases is increased. So, nothing other than large breed or giant puppy food will do here.

Many giant breeds like the Tibetan Mastiff are prone to suffering from a condition called gastric torsion, also commonly known as bloat. This is where his stomach twists and distends, and it can be fatal if left untreated. Do not feed your Tibetan immediately before or after exercise, because this is when he is most at risk.

Exercise 🐕

The Tibetan Mastiff needs around 30 to 45 minutes of walking every day. It shouldn’t be intense exercise, because the Tibetan will not be interested in this. Instead, a brisk stroll around the neighborhood will be enough to get this guy’s heart pumping and staying healthy.

Avoid long walks with Tibetan Mastiff puppy, because his bones are still developing until he reaches the age of 1 year old. More frequent but shorter walks are the trick with giant puppies because it’s still crucial that you keep him active.

He’ll also like a little bit of playtime in the day too. Interactive games such as fetch and playing with the water hose will be some of his favorite games with his family. This will keep his intelligent mind ticking over, and help to strengthen your bond with him even more.

brown tibetan mastiff
Image credit: Liliya Kulianionak, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

As soon as you get this guy home, it’s essential to take him to obedience classes. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it’s necessary that you start training with him immediately so that he knows who is boss straight away. Obedience training will instill discipline, and you’ll have professionals trainers to hand if your Tibetan is proving to be stubborn.

Secondly, it helps to socialize him with both dogs and unfamiliar humans. This is essential for the Tibetan, who can quickly become overprotective and obnoxious if not mixed with others outside the family unit. We don’t advise professional obedience training for all dog breeds, but with this guy, we do.

It’s also important to expose him to unfamiliar situations and sounds as much as you can. For example, if you like to go for a stroll into town at the weekend, or a local pub, be sure to take him with you as a pup so that he gets used to it. Loud sounds such as walking along the sidewalk, or the hoover, will help to build his confidence around these things.

You must leash train this guy because he’s going to be challenging to handle if he doesn’t walk nicely for you. It will also help if you have a bit of strength behind you too because just with all dogs, there will inevitably come a time when you have to keep a hold of him.

The Tibetan Mastiffs grooming routine is also a mammoth task, so it’s essential to get him accustomed to this when he is a puppy. Make his first few grooming experiences as pleasant as possible with lots of treats, and he’ll soon come to love the pampering. Without this, he’ll put up a fight when its time to groom him, and he’ll be like a bucking bronco.

Grooming ✂️

As you probably expect, the Tibetan Mastiff needs a helping hand with his grooming. He needs to be brushed most days to prevent his coat from matting and becoming tangled with the leaves and dirt he’ll pick up along his away. It will also help to spread his natural coat oils around, assisting it to stay healthy.

With his big floppy ears, he will need regular ear cleaning. Giant dogs like the Tibetan get quick buildups of wax and bacteria, that can quickly turn into infections if not cleaned often. It’s not the best job in the world, but someone’s gotta do it.

He will only need a bath once every 6 weeks or so, but this is more than most dogs. If this is something that you are going to tackle yourself instead of sending him off to the groomers, you need a bath that you can walk him into.

We also advise that you invest in a natural but concentrated shampoo, which will help to penetrate through his lush coat and reach his underlayer. Standard shampoos will not do much for this guys lion mane.

Health and Conditions ❤️

The Tibetan Mastiff is a relatively healthy dog who lives between 10 and 12 years. This is a decent lifespan for a dog of this size. Good quality nutrition, regular exercise, regular trips to the vet, and lots of love will keep this guy as healthy as possible.

Here are the main concerns that affect this breed, so you must research them thoroughly and take note of their associated symptoms so you know what to look out for.

Minor Conditions
  • Epilepsy
  • Hyperthyroidism
Serious Conditions
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia

Divider 5Male vs Female

The male Tibetan Mastiffs are larger than the females in both height and weight. They also have a thicker coat, especially around their neck, which looks like a lions mane.

When it comes to personality, there is little evidence to suggest that males and females are much different. The primary influence on their characters is training, a happy environment, and regular exercise to keep their minds stimulated.

Divider 3Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, everything you need to know about the Tibetan Mastiff in all his lion glory. In all honesty, the Tibetan Mastiff is not suited to the majority of homes. It takes a very special kind of family to take this chap on and live happily ever after.

If you are experienced in handling protective dogs, have the time to give him and the space to have him, he might just be your canine match made in heaven. It’s a great idea to meet your breeder in person and spend some time with them and their dogs.

Inviting a Tibetan Mastiff into your life will require a change in lifestyle for most, but for those who have done it, say that it was the best thing they ever did.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterstock

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