Do Khyi – The Tibetan Dog from the Reports of Marco Polo

Tibetan Mastiffs (also known as Tibetan Mastiffs or Do Kyi) have long been thought to be the ancestors of all mastiff-type dogs. In fact, they evolved independently of the European Molosser type, descending from the Mongolian wolf. The weatherproof shepherd dogs with the golden heart play a special role in Buddhism and still live in the heights of the Himalayan mountains, where they are irreplaceable helpers.

Recognize purebred Tibetan Mastiffs: The Shepherd Dog with the Broad Mane

The Do Khiy is large, powerful, and equipped with strong bones. You can tell right away that it was made for working in the cold. The dense undercoat falls out in summer and the dog appears significantly slimmer than in winter. The FCI breed standard describes him as majestic and imposing: males have a minimum height of 66 cm, bitches should measure at least 61 cm at the withers. A specific weight is not specified.


  • The head is large, broad, and heavy, with a strong occipital spine. A wrinkle that runs from above the eyes to the corners of the mouth is typical.
  • In front, the wide muzzle is almost square, well filled, and deep. The nose is also broad and should be colored as dark as possible. The teeth are straight and the rows mesh perfectly.
  • The oval eyes are set wide apart and set at a slight angle. They are medium-sized and should be colored as dark as possible, the expression is dignified.
  • When alert, the lop ears are directed forward, which are rather short-haired compared to the body.
  • On the strong neck, the topcoat stands out stiffly and forms a clear mane that can reach the back of the head and the ears. Males have a slightly thicker mane than females.
  • The straight and muscular back transitions into a broad and fairly flat croup. The ribs are well sprung, giving the chest a heart shape when viewed from the front and reaching low to the elbows.
  • The forequarters are straight with well-laid shoulders and strong bones. The paws are very large in front and behind, round and compact. The limbs are very powerful behind, without the muscles protruding too much. The powerful hock is low, and dewclaws appear.
  • When excited and on the move, the medium-length tail is carried loosely curled over the back. It starts very high and is richly feathered.

The weatherproof hair – sometimes sparse, sometimes dense

The amount of hair in Tibetan Mastiffs varies depending on the season and gender: males have much more hair than females and usually have a clearly visible mane around their necks. The stick hair is very dense in the winter months, in the summer the undercoat falls out to a large extent and the dogs appear significantly narrower. The protruding top hair is very fine and thin, but it feels hard and stays in shape even when wet.

Colors: the purer the better

  • White markings are only allowed in the form of a star on the chest or paws.
  • Tan marks appear on the eyebrows, legs, underside of the tail, and muzzle in dark coats.
  • Primary colors are black, blue, gold and sable.

History of the Tibetan Mastiff – Why Doesn’t the Breed Mind Thin Air?

The Do Khyi is used by monks and drovers throughout the Himalayas and can still be found at altitudes above 3000 meters in Tibet. Compared to other Chinese farm animals, the breed has adapted extremely quickly to the difficult conditions in high mountains: it has been determined that, in addition to Mongolian wolves, an unknown indigenous wolf species also contributed to the emergence of the breed. The Do Khyi most likely inherited the ability to work hard in thin air with low oxygen levels from this unknown Himalayan wolf.

Relationship between European mastiffs and mastiffs

Tibetan Mastiffs are not related to all of today’s Molossers, but they are direct ancestors of European mountain dogs such as Saint Bernards, Patou, and Bernese Mountain Dogs and also of all hound types. The name Tibetan Mastiff has prevailed in Europe because they resemble Mastiffs in some respects. However, there is no direct connection, as is the case with the Tibetan Spaniel (which is not a Spaniel) and the Tibetan Terrier (which is not a Terrier).

From Tibet to the whole world

  • Do Khyis have been common in Mongolia for thousands of years. They are also found on ancient depictions of the Wheel of Life, which has played an important role in Buddhism for more than 2,500 years.
  • Marco Polo traveled to China around 1271. The Tibetan mastiff was first described in detail in his reports.
  • At the beginning of the 20th century, George V imported the first Tibetan mastiffs to England.
  • Since the 1980s, the Tibetan Mastiff has been propagated by dedicated breeders around the world. About 20 puppies are born in Germany every year.

The Being – A Born Night Watchman

The Do Khyi was bred to be a protector of livestock and family and seeks to do this around the clock. Owners and breeders report that the breed is very alert at night. Any unusual noise will be barked. The mountain dog is therefore not suitable for city life in a cramped apartment. Families with a large property can easily keep the peaceful guard dog with the mane together with other pets and other pets.

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