The Tibetan Mastiff is rightfully considered the property of the mysterious corner of the globe – the “roof of the world” called Tibet. Representatives of this breed are reputed to be reliable and fearless defenders of their own, who are not devoid of a sense of dignity and independent character. This breed is one of the friendliest and most loyal. The centuries-old duet of man and mastiff taught the latter to show remarkable patience and understanding.
- Breed name: Tibetan Mastiff
- Country of origin: Tibet
- Weight: 64-78 kg
- Height (height at the withers): males from 66 cm, females from 61 cm
- Life Expectancy: 10-11 Years
- This breed is not recommended for novice dog breeders: it requires competent socialization and incredible patience.
- The impressive size of the Tibetan is not always combined with the usual apartment, so it is best to keep the dog in a private house.
- The peak of activity of mastiffs occurs in the evening or even at night: it is then that it is best to walk with a pet on the street.
- Tibetan Mastiffs cannot keep on a chain, because they are very sociable and want to spend time with their master.
- These dogs are incredibly intelligent and independent, and in some cases, you have to show toughness.
- All Tibetans have loud barks, so make sure your dog doesn’t make noise for no reason.
- Mastiffs need constant physical activity, otherwise, they can get bored and literally turn your house into ruins.
- They do not like noisy companies, because they see them as a potential threat.
- They get along well with children and, under certain circumstances, animals.
History of the Tibetan Mastiff Breed
The history of the origin of the Tibetan mastiffs is shrouded in a train of mystery since the first dogs appeared long before the appearance of writing in certain regions of Tibet. The approximate age of the breed was determined only through genetic research, initiated by employees of the Chinese University of Molecular Evolution. Comparing the mitochondrial DNA of a wolf and a dog, scientists have found that the first signs of their difference from each other appeared about 42 thousand years ago. A similar experiment with mastiff DNA showed a different result – 58 thousand years. This allows us to consider the breed one of the oldest in the world.
Archaeological finds – the bones and skulls of animals – suggest that the ancestors of the mastiffs walked side by side with people back in the Stone and Bronze Ages. As for the mentions of the breed in written sources, they date back to the first half of the XII century. In 1121, the emperor of China was awarded a luxurious gift – huge hunting dogs, outwardly resembling mastiffs.
The birthplace of the breed is Tibet – a sacred place for the followers of Buddha and his teachings. Thanks to their physical and intellectual strength, dogs have become indispensable companions in those harsh living conditions. Often, the animals showed ferocity, which is why many owners kept the mastiffs locked, letting them stretch their paws only at night: mountain villages always needed increased protection.
Mastiffs were also widely used to protect the serenity of monasteries. Then the animals worked in the company of Tibetan spaniels. The latter raised unrestrained barking at the invasion of strangers and thus called for help from the mastiffs – the heavier “artillery”. Considering the fact that these large dogs fearlessly fought even with snow leopards, monks and novices could not fear armed raids and invasions.
It was the geographical remoteness of Tibet that became the reason why the breed was able to maintain its original features for thousands of years. Only occasionally did the mastiffs “wander” to other countries – mainly as trophies or valuable gifts. According to historical data, similar dogs accompanied the army of Genghis Khan in battles, and the rest of the time they were on guard duty. The distant ancestors of the mastiffs also met in other armies of the ancient world, who fought with the Romans, Greeks, Assyrians, and Persians.
At the turn of the XIII-XIV centuries, Marco Polo, an Italian traveler, and merchant set foot on the lands of Tibet. In his writings, he mentions a mastiff – a huge and angry dog, which was almost larger than a pack donkey. Her voice was loud and booming like the roar of a lion, and her eyes were bloodshot at the slightest hint of danger. Although, perhaps, the merchant only recorded the observations of other travelers, who could embellish reality. By the way, many dog handlers adhere to this point of view, although they admit that such a colorful description excites the imagination of impressionable persons.
For a long time, the whole world was content with only fragmentary stories of travelers about the powerful and majestic dogs of Tibet. The spread of the breed across Europe began in 1847, when the future Viceroy of India, Lord Harding, presented Queen Victoria with an unusual gift – a Tibetan Mastiff, who was later named Siring. In the second half of the 19th century, Edward VII returned to his homeland with two representatives of the breed. Later they were shown at an exhibition in the London cultural and entertainment center Alexandra Palace.
These were the first glimpses of the timid acquaintance of the West with the Tibetan Mastiffs, who for several millennia were completely isolated from the outside world. The amazing breed began to gain popularity in aristocratic circles, and mastiffs were increasingly imported into Great Britain, from where they later spread throughout Europe. This process took the next fifty years.
In 1931, interest in mastiffs resulted in the creation of the Tibetan Dog Breeds Association. At the same time, the first breed standard was formulated. Its author was the wife of Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Bailey, who acquired four Tibetan Mastiffs and returned with them to England. This standard was later taken as a basis by such canine organizations as FCI and Kennel Club.
The beginning of the Second World War almost put an end to the distribution of the breed across the globe. The flow of mastiffs, which were brought from Nepal and Tibet, temporarily stopped, and breeders had to make tremendous efforts to preserve the breed. It is still unclear how the dogs ended up in the United States in 1950 as a gift to then-President Eisenhower. However, this gesture of goodwill was not received with enthusiasm, and the breed itself did not win the love of Americans. Gradually, the mastiffs were sent to the ranch and forgotten for twenty years.
Since 1969, dogs have been brought back to the United States – this time straight from their historical homeland. Five years later, on the initiative of the dog handlers, the Tibetan Mastiff American Line Association (ATMA) was created. It also became the main club for breed lovers. In 1979, mastiffs bred in the United States took part in the exhibition for the first time and won a dizzying success.
Today the Tibetan Mastiff is one of the rare dog breeds. So, about three hundred purebred specimens live in the UK. As for the United States, mastiffs rank 124 out of 167 in the breed ranking.
The Tibetan Mastiff belongs to large dog breeds. It is a strong animal with a heavy and sturdy bone. Despite its impressive size, the mastiff looks proportional.
The FCI standard assumes that the minimum height of a dog is 66 cm, and bitches usually grow to 61 cm and above. As for bodyweight, ideally, it reaches 64-78 kg.
Coat and Color
A dense undercoat is hidden under the hard and straight coat, which sheds in the warm season. A mane forms on the dog’s neck, which gently falls over the shoulders. Feathers are visible on the dorsum of the hind legs.
The breed standard assumes the purest possible shades (regardless of the base color). The tan varies between light and rich chestnut. Moreover, it is located mainly above the eyes of the dog, on the lower part of the limbs and tail. The presence of “glasses” is permissible. The same applies to the white spot on the chest, but on the paws, this color should not be intense. The main colors of the mastiff include sable, golden (shades of any saturation are possible), blue (with or without points), black and tan, and black.
Self-confident, balanced, and independent – these are the epithets that come to the mind of a person who first meets a Tibetan Mastiff. A dog has an indestructible sense of its own dignity and requires an appropriate attitude towards itself: not as a pet, but as an equal being. Mastiffs are not prone to show nervousness, cowardice, or unreasonable aggression like representatives of small breeds. It is a reserved and independent animal that behaves with royal dignity and never barks over trifles.
Mastiffs have excellent instincts when it comes to guarding the territory entrusted to them. For the same reason, dogs are inclined to lead a nocturnal lifestyle, because their distant ancestors gained energy and strength precisely during the daytime sleep in order to begin service at nightfall. So don’t be surprised if your Tibetan suddenly becomes restless and noisy when you go to bed. In rare moments, a dog can bark, seeing potential danger in a quiet rustle or creak. Consider this fact if you have overly irritable neighbors who will not miss the chance to express their indignation.
The attitude of the animal towards strangers is mostly reserved – especially in the presence of the owner. The mastiff will never rush to the attack first in the absence of a threat, but be sure: not a single movement of an intruder will escape his gaze. Representatives of this breed have a well-developed intuition, so a dog can put up with the society of not every person. And this is a great reason to think about whether you are really communicating with a friendly and pleasant company?
By the way, about friends … If you are a fairly sociable person and regularly invite guests to tea, the mastiff will not completely accept this fact and will make any attempts to limit the number of people in your house. Families with children should also pay attention to this fact. Overly active and loud games of a child with his friends can be perceived by a Tibetan as a threat and a manifestation of aggression. The mastiff, without hesitation, will defend its little master, and given the powerful dimensions of the dog and the impressive bodyweight, this can end in very deplorable circumstances.
Representatives of this breed show dominance in relation to other domestic animals. The exception is the pets with whom the Tibetan grew up: in this case, the dog considers them to be members of his pack. This applies equally to cats and other dog breeds. However, it is not recommended to have new animals if an adult mastiff already lives in your house. In this case, rivalry cannot be avoided.
Tibetans are friendly with their families and love to spend time with the owner, so prepare yourself to have a miniature version of Chewbacca from Star Wars at your feet every day and snore peacefully in response to dog dreams. Adult mastiffs are calm, but puppies are full of strength and energy. If not properly nurtured, these plump teddy bears will turn your home into ruins in minutes, so don’t leave them unattended for long periods of time.
Watch out if your pet gets bored! Tibetan Mastiffs tend to gnaw on anything that is within their sight. If you value your furniture, make sure you have enough toys and don’t forget to walk your dog in the city park. Tibetans will run for frisbee with puppy delight, and after the game, they will lie down with pleasure in the shade of spreading trees. The winter walk is especially appreciated by the representatives of this breed: when will there still be a chance to roll around in the snow, which so reminds of the historical homeland of mastiffs – Tibet?
Due to its independent and somewhat stubborn nature, the Tibetan Mastiff is difficult to train (especially if it does not recognize the primacy of the owner). Tact and patience are your main weapons in the process of raising an animal and teaching it new commands. Avoid harsh words and actions, otherwise, the puppy will grow into a real problem, which will not be so easy to cope with.
It can take about two years to fully train a Tibetan Mastiff. If you do not have enough time and experience, it is best to turn to specialists who will not only teach the dog basic commands but also share effective advice on raising this furry giant.
An important aspect is imprinting – a set of techniques aimed at teaching an animal to trust its owner unquestioningly. Remember to pet the puppy and be affectionate. You may even have to sacrifice your own clothes for this: the mastiff loves to “chew” a person, thereby expressing his affection and desire to start another fun game. If this does not happen, and the laces on your sneakers are still intact, think about it: the puppy simply does not trust you and in the future will not become a devoted friend.
Early and correct socialization is very important for representatives of this breed. Already from the seventh week, the mastiff should be among people and other animals and thus get used to the fact that the whole world does not revolve around his person. For the same purpose, it is recommended to invite guests to your home so that the dog gradually gets used to strangers on its territory and does not show aggression towards strangers.
When walking, do not stick to one route. First, your pet will quickly get bored and soon stop enjoying the walk. Secondly, a change of place will allow the mastiff to understand that he does not own the whole world, and thereby make the animal more tolerant of other creatures.
Care and Maintenance
Huge size and long hair – that is why caring for a Tibetan Mastiff takes so much time and effort. Particularly noteworthy is the dog’s thick coat, which has a dense undercoat. Despite the fact that mats are rarely formed in representatives of the breed, regular combing is still necessary. It is carried out no more than three times a week, using a metal brush. Before brushing, it is recommended to spray the coat with diluted conditioner or water: this will make it a little easier.
If you still find tangles – they mostly appear on the ears, neck and hind legs of the animal – use a collar cutter and a special spray to gently remove them. Please note that Tibetan mastiffs molt profusely in spring and autumn.
It is strictly forbidden to shorten the dog’s coat with a hair clipper! This is fraught with a violation of thermoregulation and, therefore, frequent inflammation of the lungs.
The Mastiff is not a breed that needs regular bathing. To maintain cleanliness, it is enough to arrange a bath day for the animal once every three months. In addition, frequent water procedures hypertrophy the dog’s skin glands, which is fraught with the appearance of a specific and well-known smell of “dog”. An excellent alternative to bathing can be dry shampoo, which is rubbed into the hair of the Tibetan Mastiff, and then carefully combed out.
Use a large dog nail clipper to trim the nails and a nail file to smooth sharp edges. Pre-soak the pet’s paws in warm water to facilitate the procedure. It is repeated once a month. At the same time, the hair between the fingers of the Tibetan Mastiff is carefully cut, and the pads of the paws are oiled. This will avoid cracking that can cause significant discomfort to the dog.
Brush your animal’s teeth twice a week. Use a brush or a special attachment on your finger and in no case “share” your pasta with the Tibetan: there is a special one for this for dogs. In addition to a plaque, tartar can form in the pet’s mouth, so you need to take care of the presence of special toys and solid food in the dog’s diet. Thanks to them, the teeth of the mastiff will retain their strength for a long time.
The ears of the Tibetan also need your attention. To keep them clean, wipe your ears once a week with a damp cloth. During the winter season, do not take the animal for a walk until its ears are completely dry. The same goes for the eyes.
The health of the Tibetan Mastiff is largely determined by a balanced diet. In the first months of a dog’s life, it is necessary to take care of a sufficient amount of calcium: the joints of such a massive giant give in to a great load every minute. Otherwise, the best way to feed a Tibetan is premium dry food or natural food. Please note that combining the two foods can cause digestive problems in your dog.
Do not include the following foods in the Tibetan Mastiff diet:
- river fish (in any form);
- spicy and salty foods;
- tubular bones;
- flour products;
- fat meat;
- smoked meats;
- raw eggs;
Natural food is always served fresh and not hot. The same goes for drinking water.
People from snowy Tibet are distinguished by excellent health. So, adult mastiffs practically do not get sick. However, there are diseases that are characteristic of all representatives of this breed:
- decreased thyroid function or thyroid disease;
- dysplasia of the elbow or hip joints;
- hypertrophic neuropathy;
- inflammation of the tubular bones;
- ear infections;
Visit your veterinarian on time and remember that a vaccinated pet is a healthy pet.
How to Choose a Puppy
It is best to buy a Tibetan Mastiff from nurseries that breed this breed. If pedigree matters to you, ask the breeder to provide all information and photographs of adults who will later produce offspring. In this case, you can book a puppy from a certain pair of mastiffs or take your favorite baby four weeks after his birth.
Puppies should be kept in a spacious and carefully tidy environment, playful and healthy curiosity. Examine the baby’s skin and mucous membranes carefully. The eyes and nose should be clean and free of painful discharge. Pustules and other irritations are ideally also absent. A small Tibetan should be moderately heavy and well-fed, wide-faced, and fat-footed. The thicker the coat, the better. Please note that the puppy should not be cowardly or aggressive.
Listen to your heart – and it will not deceive you!