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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Tibetan Mastiff Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More!

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


Tibetan Mastiffs are purebred dogs that are powerful and massive, making them excellent for protection. The males stand 26 inches and can weigh up to 150 pounds. According to one of the few historical documents about Tibetan Mastiffs, these ancient dogs originated in Tibet around 1100 BC. They were bred as guard dogs and watchdogs to protect the livestock and property of the Tibetan villagers and nomads in the Himalayas. Their appearance is different from any other dog, with their lion-like manes and double-coated, dense fur.

Breed Overview


26 inches (male), 24 inches (female)


90–150 pounds (male), 70–120 pounds (female)


10–12 years


Red-gold, brown, black and tan, black, blue-gray, red gold sable, blue-gray and tan, brown and tan, blue-gray and tan

Suitable for:

Experienced dog owners, families without young children, other dogs of the opposite sex, people wanting an indoor watchdog


Independent, intelligent, territorial, reserved, calm, stubborn, devoted to family

Don’t let their large size fool you in terms of agility; they are light on their feet and will be quick to defend their home if a threat arises. They are highly intelligent but can be stubborn in regards to training. They are also loyal dogs to their humans. Keep reading to find out the specifics of this ancient and mammoth breed of dog.

Tibetan Mastiff Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Tibetan Mastiff Puppies

Tibetan mastiff puppy
Image Credit: Kat_marinina, Shutterstock

Keep in mind that the cute little Tibetan puppy will grow to an enormous size when it reaches adulthood. The males can weigh up to 150 pounds, so be prepared to have a canine comparable to the size of another human living with you. If you’re looking for a watchdog, this breed is worthy of a look. If you live in an apartment, this breed is not for you due to its large size.

They are generally a healthy breed, but it’s important to consider the health issues they are susceptible to. Make sure to find great quality dog food for them, especially when they’re puppies so they can grow into healthy and happy dogs.

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff is highly intelligent, loyal, and protective. They were bred as guard dogs and watchdogs, so their protective instincts are high. It’s important to know that this breed has a strong independent side, and they are not suitable for first-time dog owners. Stubbornness also weaves itself into this breed, making training a bit challenging. You, the owner, will need experience in showing leadership with this breed, and this needs to be established when they are a pup.

They are calm dogs that don’t show aggression unless the need arises. If a stranger enters your property, the Tibetan Mastiff will bark so loud that you’ll more than likely jump. Their bark is loud and powerful, and any intruder will likely flee if they come face to face with this monstrous beast. It can be a bit of a challenge when new people come over, and you’ll need to have a firm grip on the situation. Once the Tibetan Mastiff realizes the new person is of no threat, they will retreat their guard.

These dogs will form a strong bond with their owners, given the right home, the right owner, and the right environment. They will protect those it loves to the fullest degree, and they make excellent watchdogs.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

These dogs make good family dogs; however, they are not recommended for those with small children. The screams and yells of small children may confuse the Tibetan Mastiff, and it may consider the noises a threat, resulting in a call to action. In an attempt to avoid this, they need to be socialized and around young children early on.

They are loyal and loving family dogs, and once they trust you, they will form a strong bond. This breed will not do well in a home where there is a lot of yelling or fighting. They will interpret this as a threat and become aggressive. They are also not suitable for first-time owners due to their stubbornness and independent sides.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

They get along with other pets; however, it’s best to have dogs of the opposite sex in the home. For example, having two males or two females together will prove challenging and a lot of stress for you if early socialization is not exercised. Keep in mind, though, that if your Tibetan Mastiff is raised with other pets and you practice constant, supervised socialization, the Tibetan Mastiff can and will get along with other pets.


Things to Know When Owning a Tibetan Mastiff:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Surprisingly, the Tibetan Mastiff doesn’t eat as much as you’d think, considering their massive size. They do fine with 4–5 cups of high-quality kibble divided into two meals daily. Some experts believe they can handle smaller rations due to their history of living in Tibet, where food was scarce. Puppies will require more food daily, around 3 meals a day.

Exercise 🐕

Tibetan Mastiffs do not require an extensive amount of exercise. Still, they do need moderate daily exercise, usually in the form of roaming their territory or some other type of responsibility. They are part of the Working Group, so they’re not fetch-playing dogs; rather, they are happy with work-related tasks.

Taking your Tibetan Mastiff on daily walks twice a day is also ideal for exercise. Since the Tibetan Mastiff is territorial, you’ll want to change the route often, so they don’t get protective. They’ll need to be on a leash at all times to ensure safety. It’s also ideal to have a fenced yard so they can roam about freely.

Training 🎾

These dogs are intelligent but can be on the stubborn side when it comes to traditional methods of training. They are not treat-driven and will ignore commands they feel they already know because they may feel there’s no need to repeat them. They learn quickly, but some have been known to do well during a training class, only to completely ignore the same commands from their owner once at home.

They are independent and may feel they do not need guidance from you. They can bond with their humans, but that doesn’t mean they will always obey you.

Because of their independent nature, patience during training will be a necessity on your end. Nonetheless, if they respect and trust their owner, they’ll be somewhat obedient, form a strong bond, and protect you with their life.

Grooming ✂️

Tibetan Mastiffs shed little shedding during the fall and winter, but shedding increases during the spring and summer months. With having a heavily-coated, coarse fur, grooming requirements are surprisingly minimal. Usually, once a week will suffice, and you’ll want to use a slicker brush for the maximum effect. When shedding is at its highest during the spring and summer, an undercoat rake or de-shedding tool works best.

Health and Conditions 🏥

All dogs are prone to some type of health condition. While the Tibetan Mastiff is a relatively healthy breed, there are a few conditions to watch out for.

Serious Conditions:

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: These conditions are genetic and more common in large-breed dogs. They are skeletal conditions where the ball and socket in the joint do not fit properly. These conditions are quite painful, and improper nutrition and weight management can make the predisposed condition worse.

Canine Inherited Hypertrophic Neuropathy: This neuropathy was discovered in Tibetan Mastiff pups after the weaning stage, around 7 to 10 weeks of age. Symptoms involve a loss of bark, weakness in the extremities, and decreased reflexes. They will have sensory functions but may develop an inability to walk. There is no cure for this disease.

Minor Conditions:

Hypothyroidism: This condition is common in medium to large-sized breeds and usually strikes between the ages of 4 and 10. The thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones, resulting in weight gain. Symptoms may also consist of a dull coat, flaky skin, excessive shedding, lethargy, and inactivity. There is no cure, but thankfully, the condition is manageable through treatment by your veterinarian.

Entropion: This condition is where the eyelid rolls inward, irritating the cornea. Surgery is required to correct the issue. Several surgeries may be necessary to correct the problem, but the prognosis is good.

Ectropion: This condition is where the eyelid rolls outward, causing the eyelid to droop. It can cause conjunctivitis and be quite painful. Lubricating drops are usually the form of treatment. Surgery may be required for severe cases.

Minor Conditions
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Entropion
  • Ectropion
Serious Conditions
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Canine Inherited Hypertrophic Neuropathy


Male vs Female

Males are bigger than females, but not by much. A female can weigh up to 120 pounds and reach a height of 24 inches (males reach up to 150 pounds with a height of 26 inches). Females tend to be more sociable than males, and males tend to be more aggressive. Females mature earlier than males and can be more affectionate.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Tibetan Mastiff

1. They have wolf genes.

There’s a reason why Tibetan Mastiffs thrive in the Himalayan Mountains. Tibetan Mastiffs are comfortable at high altitudes because they have a few wolf genes. Tibetan Villagers used these dogs for companions and to protect their flocks of sheep, all at an altitude of 15,000 feet or higher. Other dogs do not have this ability due to the lack of oxygen, but the Tibetan Mastiff is well equipped to handle such high altitudes.

Research indicates that the Tibetan Mastiffs have a protein on their red blood cells that carries oxygen at a 50% more efficient rate than other breeds of dogs, allowing them to survive in high altitudes. In contrast, any other breed of dog would perish. Scientists believe that Tibetan Mastiffs and Mountain Wolves bred at some point to survive extremely high altitudes.

2. Female Tibetans go into heat only once a year.

For other dog breeds, the female goes into heat twice a year, sometimes three for smaller dogs, but not the female Tibetan Mastiff. The cycle usually begins in the fall, which in turn, Tibetan Mastiff puppies are always born in December and January.

3. One Tibetan Mastiff sold for 1.5 million dollars.

A red Tibetan Mastiff, known around the world as “Big Splash,” sold for 1.5 million dollars. A wealthy Chinese businessman forked the bill for the pooch in 2011. At 11-months old, the Tibetan Mastiff weighed in at a whopping 180 pounds.

If you can believe it, another Tibetan Mastiff sold for 2 million dollars at a Chinese “luxury pet fair” in Zhejiang. In China, the Tibetan Mastiff symbolizes success and wealth, so if you have millions of dollars lying around, you too can purchase a Tibetan Mastiff in China and become one of the elites.

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Final Thoughts

While this breed is an excellent watchdog, they’re not for everyone. One must have a firm grasp on training these dogs, and they are not suitable for first-time dog owners. They are independent, territorial, calm (unless provoked), reserved, and strong-willed. They do well with other pets if socialized early on, and they form strong bonds with their family members once they trust you.

Obedience training is essential due to their stubbornness and sensitive side, but with patience, perseverance, and devotion, a Tibetan Mastiff can bring a tremendous amount of security to your home, as well as loyalty and love.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit by: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Shutterstock

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