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Choosing the Right Dog - the Tibetan Mastiff

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0
Tibetan Mastiff
Credit: Pleple2000

Breed Description

The Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed originally bred to guard livestock.  They are gaining popularity as companion dogs but owning one should be considered carefully.  They can grow up to 31 inches at the withers and weigh in at up to 180lbs or more.  This, coupled with the fact they are head strong dogs who will constantly test their owners dominance, means that they should only be taken on by people willing to put in the required time and training.

They have an immensely thick, double coat and are a variety of colours with or without black markings.


As a domestic dog, the Tibetan Mastiff is generally an easy going dog, although strong willed and powerful.  They are extremely loyal to their owners but their innate guarding instinct can make them aloof with strangers.


A Tibetan Mastiff puppy bought from a reputable dealer will cost from £850 to £1,000 in the UK and around $2,000 in the US .  This is a very large breed of dog and therefore food and other costs will be high throughout the animal’s life and this should be carefully considered by potential owners.


Health and Lifespan

The life expectancy of a Tibetan Mastiff is fairly long at 10 to 14 years, unlike some other large breeds.

 The breed can be prone to thyroid problems, hip dysplasia, ear infections and skin conditions.  They can also suffer from the fatal genetic problem Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy (CIDN).  This disorder will be evident by 10 weeks of age and will cause the puppy to pass away by 4 months of age.


Exercise Requirements

Like all large breeds, the Tibetan Mastiff requires a fair amount of exercise.  Although not overly active, Tibetan Mastiffs need access to a reasonably large yard or garden, that must be securely fenced as they are good climbers and jumpers.  It should be noted that, when walked, the Tibetan Mastiff must be made to walk to heel as the dog must be reminded that the owner leads the way.  You cannot afford to have dominance issues with a breed this size.

Red Tibetan Mastiff
Credit: Yeti


Tibetan Mastiffs are extremely intelligent coupled with a very strong will.  Training of this breed cannot be taken lightly and requires a firm and dominant owner.  A consistent and loving owner will be more than rewarded with a loyal dog which will both obey and protect.  Owners of Tibetan Mastiffs must understand canine psychology and be willing to assume the primary leadership position in order to make sure that this large and powerful dog does not develop into a disobedient and dangerous dog.


The Tibetan Mastiff has a thick coat that must be brushed 2 to 3 times a week.  During the Mastiff’s annual moult grooming should be upped to a daily occurrence to ensure that all excess hair is removed and the dog does not become uncomfortable.

Children and Other Animals

Tibetan Mastiffs can be integrated into a family and can be very loving with children so long as they are socialised properly.  A well trained, well adjusted Mastiff should be generally good with other non-canine pets.  They can get along with other dogs so long as the owner correctly communicates to them that fighting is unacceptable behaviour.

Guard Dog, Watch Dog or Just Plain Soppy?

Guarding the home and family is a natural instinct for the Tibetan Mastiff.  It has an exceptional memory and will rarely forget a person, meaning that it will know who is and is not allowed within the family home.

Fun Fact about Tibetan Mastiffs

A red Tibetan Mastiff has recently become the most expensive dog in the world after being sold for 10 million Chinese Yuan, which is approximately £945,000.  He was bought by a Northern Chinese coal baron and is named Big Splash, or Hong Dong in Chinese.

In Summary

The Tibetan Mastiff is a large and powerful dog that still retains many of its primitive instincts.  For the right owner, this is an extremely rewarding dog to own but it should not be taken into a household lightly.

Please Consider a Rescue Dog

Before buying a Tibetan Mastiff puppy, please always consider whether adopting a rescue dog would suit your household.  There are many great Tibetan Mastiffs in rescue centres and shelters that would love the chance of living with a caring family.  However, also consider your situation carefully first as some rescue Mastiffs can come with issues that will need to be worked through and will need extra care and attention.



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