Breed Spotlight – Tibetan Mastiff

The origin of the noble Tibetan Mastiff is shrouded in mystery, as this ancient breed was developed in the long isolated land of Tibet. These dogs are considered to be the progenitors of all the modern mastiff breeds and for thousands of years stood guard at the homes and gates of dwellings in the Himalayas. 

The breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2006 and although not classified as a giant breed, their size can be intimidating. The males stand a minimum of 26 inches and weigh between 90 and 150 pounds, with female weights betweens 70 and 120 pounds. Their average lifespan is between ten to twelve years.

These dogs have mellow personalities but they can be quite intimidating to strangers as they are generally aloof and territorial with anyone they don’t know. The Tibetan is very devoted to his human family.

You might think because of their size, that these gentle giants would require a lot of food but that would be wrong. These dogs generally eat much less food that their size would predict, only requiring between two and four cups of quality dog food a day. 

Tibetan mastiffs do not shed, but rather “blow” their coat all at once annually. They are exceptionally intelligent dogs which leads to boredom if they are not provided with plenty of mental stimulation and physical exercise. This tendency to boredom, paired with their strong jaws, can lead them to get in trouble with destructive chewing of household object, especially anything made of wood.

The Tibetan people believe that these mastiffs have the souls of the nuns and monks who were not quite good enough to be reincarnated as human beings or to be admitted to the heavenly realms. But for devotees of this breed, Tibetan mastiffs are angels in their own right!

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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