Tibetan Mastiff Mastiff: Facts and Personality Traits

The Tibetan Mastiff, also known as the Tibetan Mastiff, belongs to the FCI group 2 of the Molosser and has its origins in Tibet. The local term for this breed is “Do-Khyi”, which means “a dog to be chained”. According to the breed standard, the shoulder height of the Tibetan mastiff should be at least 61-66 cm and the weight should be between 50 and 60 kg. The Tibetan mastiff has a thick coat with medium-length hair and a pronounced undercoat.


Regular grooming by brushing from an early age is absolutely necessary. Thanks to its thick fur, the Tibetan mastiff is insensitive to the weather and is happy to be able to play outdoors even at temperatures of -30°C.

Coat color can vary widely, from jet black to black and tan to brown. But also different shades of gold, gray, gray with gold-colored markings, blue-tan, and other colors are possible. For the Tibetans, a white patch on the chest is a good sign, for them, it is a symbol of a brave heart.

And to make the dogs appear even bigger and more menacing, but also as a sign of protection, the Tibetans make them a red-dyed woolly collar from the finest hair of a yak’s tail. A typical feature of the breed is that the bitch’s cycle occurs only once a year.

History of the Tibetan Mastiff

The origin of the breed dates back to the beginning of recorded history and even further, so it is safe to assume that the Tibetan Mastiff is the ancestor of several modern dog breeds. It is very likely that this breed is the missing link between the Mastiff breeds and the large livestock guardian dogs, after all the stock for the Old Mastiff also comes from Tibet.

However, in contrast to these, the Tibetan mastiff carries its tail curled over its back and also has a longer coat. The Greek poet and philosopher Aristotle already wrote about the Tibetan mastiff that it was equipped with “… colossal bones, muscular, heavy, large-headed and with a broad snout…”. They came to Europe from Tibet with Alexander the Great, where they became the progenitors of many of today’s mastiffs and livestock guardian dogs.

The famous Venetian Marco Polo, a traveler to Asia, wrote in the Middle Ages that the Tibetan mastiff was “…big as a donkey, excellent for hunting, especially the wild oxen (yaks)…”.

Although the Tibetan mastiff is a typical mountain herding dog, which is excellently adapted to both the harsh climate and the impassable terrain as well as the cattle it has to protect and their enemies, the bears and big cats of prey, it has been featured in dog literature ever since commonly described as the frighteningly large ancestor of all fighting and herding dog breeds.

Today’s breed may have arisen because the Tibetans mixed the original type with other breeds. However, since there are neither stud books nor other written records about it, the exact origin of the Tibetan mastiff has not been 100% clarified to this day. What is certain, however, is that the original inhabitants of Tibet and their religious leaders, the lamas, knew and used two different types of mastiff.

The first type was an agile livestock guardian dog and was referred to as “Bhotia”, the other type was called “Tsang Kyi” and was a very large dog that guarded the estates of nobles and religious communities for many centuries. From the age of two months, these dogs were chained during the day to make them more aggressive.

Chaining and restricting the dogs’ natural range of movement increased the animals’ aggression to such an extent that they got the reputation of wanting to protect an entire city.

Nature of the Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff is bold and resilient with a strong outward protective instinct. Despite this, she is very gentle towards her family.

The prerequisite for this, however, is early socialization and training as well as close and understanding contact with people, because after all, cute puppies that are very similar to teddy bears will eventually become very large and powerful adult dogs with a strongly developed territorial instinct and defense instinct.

Given this necessary education, they can become well-meaning and loyal household members who are very patient with children. In their homeland, the Tibetan Mastiff is even controlled and guided by small children.

The Tibetan Mastiff is suspicious and aggressive towards strangers. Since this intelligent dog possesses the innate autonomy of a herding dog, it must learn obedience through consistent and sensitive training.

Experienced breeders recommend mating only from genetically healthy animals. In addition to these physical characteristics, breeding animals should also have a strong guard instinct while observing a balanced and family-oriented nature.

In order to avoid the problems that are so typical of the large Tibetan Mastiffs, breeders also recommend a controlled environment, slow weight gain during growth, and sufficient exercise. Since the Tibetan mastiff is not sensitive to the weather, it naturally loves to be outdoors.

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