The Tibetan Mastiff is the very essence of a friendly giant. And, interestingly enough, he’s not even really a Mastiff at all.
A Brief History of the Tibetan Mastiff Dog Breed
This dog breed gets his name from early visitors to Tibet, who misnamed all large dogs as “mastiffs.” This dog breed is not a true Mastiff, as Mastiffs are known today.
Early Tibetan Mastiffs were used as guard dogs. They would be tied up outside the home to protect their masters.
Today, the dog is still used as a guard dog in Tibet to watch over sheep. He protects them from all kinds of animals – from bears and wolves to leopards and even tigers!
These lovely giants weigh 100–160 lbs (males) / 75–120 lbs (Females) and have a height of 26–30 inches (males) / 24–28 inches (females)
Tibetan Mastiff Temperament and Personality
The three must-know traits of the Tibetan Mastiff temperament are:
- They are intelligent.
- But also stubborn.
- And they are protective.
Personalitywise it’s no surprise that the Tibetan Mastiff is so devoted to his masters. It’s in his blood to protect them.
With his height and weight, it's no wonder that he would be able to scare off intruders!
It’s only when someone appears to be encroaching on his territory that he’ll get his dander up. In general, he is even many times cool with cats.
Training the Tibetan Mastiff can be, in a word, a nightmare. This is because he feels he already knows all there is to know, and that there is nothing new you could teach him.
And, because he is prone to respond strongly to a threat, he will ignore you if you yell at him or resort to hitting him to correct his behavior.
It is therefore highly recommended that you bring him to obedience training while he is still a puppy. This way, he can learn everything he needs to know while he’s still young and before he becomes set in his ways.
Caring for a Tibetan Mastiff
One thing’s for sure: caring for this dog breed is just as interesting as the other aspects of his personality.
Despite having such a heavy coat, the Tibetan Mastiff actually doesn’t require much grooming.
Brushing two to three times per week, along with a run-through with a detangler comb, is sufficient.
Tibetan Mastiffs will also “blow”, or shed their entire coats once a year – usually during late spring or in the summer.
When this “blow” occurs, you can help it along by brushing the dog with a de-shedding tool.
As is to be expected, the Tibetan Mastiff will go insane with unused energy if he’s trapped in the house all day.
You don’t need to take him for a mile run twice a day, but an average level of exercise will suffice.
As you should expect he won’t do well in smaller living spaces, like apartments, and they hate the heat.
It’s also important that you don’t over-exercise your Tibetan Mastiff while he’s still a puppy. He actually needs the excess weight and energy that will help his bones grow stronger.
You may think that a Tibetan Mastiff, being a larger dog, must need to eat a ton just to keep up with his daily calories. This is not true.
Two to four cups a day of high-quality food is all he needs to satisfy his hunger.
Tibetan Mastiffs are very good at only eating when they’re hungry and have been known to skip a meal entirely from time to time.
Here’s something interesting: when a female Tibetan Mastiff is in heat, the males may refuse to eat for up to a week. This can cause weight to drop by as much as 10 to 15 percent.
Health of a Tibetan Mastiff
The lifespan of a healthy Tibetan Mastiff is between 10 and 14 years. There are a host of health concerns that can affect this breed in particular. Such conditions can include:
- Panosteitis – inflammation of the bones
- Osteochondrosis Dissecans – abnormal cartilage growth
- Hip or Elbow dysplasia
- Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy (CIDN) – a condition that affects the nervous system
- Autoimmune Hypothyroidism
Most of these conditions are hereditary, so it is important that you have your dog screened before you buy or adopt him.
Panosteitis goes away as the dog gets older, and hypothyroidism is a condition that presents in older dogs.
A dog suffering from Osteochondrosis Dissecansmay require surgery, and it can show up in Tibetan Mastiff puppies as young as five months old.
Finding the Perfect Tibetan Mastiff Puppy
If you're in the market for a Tibetan Mastiff puppy, you may want to consider adoption over purchasing a puppy.
This breed is not in high supply. They are in fact quite rare which can make the price of a Tibetan Mastiff incredibly high.
Tibetan Mastiff Puppies for Sale
The Tibetan Mastiff price tag may surprise you. Because these dogs are so rare, especially purebreds, you're looking at spending between $2,500 and $3,000 for a puppy.
However, prices vary, depending on the part of the country you're in and the breeder you select.
Speaking of rare, back in 2011 there was a Red Tibetan Mastiff – “Big Splash” – who became the world's most expensive dog when he sold for $1.5 million!
Tibetan Mastiff Rescue and Adoption
When it comes to Tibetan Mastiff rescues, this Delaware company (Tibetan Mastiff Rescue, Inc.) is the expert.
Formed in 2003, the organization is the only one of its kind in the U.S. dedicated to rescuing this specific breed.
Because the breed is so rare, you may need to go through a specialty service like this one in order to adopt a dog.
If you're considering adopting a Tibetan Mastiff, you may want to adopt an older dog, rather than a puppy. There are two reasons for this:
- He will already be housebroken.
- An older dog will be past his destructive puppy phase.
Tibetan Mastiff Breeders
When you're dealing with a breeder, you always want to make sure you use someone reputable. This is especially true when dealing with Tibetan Mastiff breeders, considering the cost of the dog.
The American Tibetan Mastiff Association (ATMA), a member of the American Kennel Club, can help you find the perfect breeder.
However, despite their breeder referral program, the ATMA advises anyone who decides to purchase a puppy from a breeder to put in writing any and all promises or guarantees made by the breeder.
The breeder should also provide you with a purchase contract, which also provides a promise that he or she will fulfill all of his or her responsibilities for the life of the dog.
A Final Word about the Tibetan Mastiff
Despite the enormous size of a Tibetan Mastiff dog, this gentle giant is a love – unless, of course, you try to intrude upon his home or threaten his family.
He's also a rare breed, so if you're interested in buying one, they can be pretty expensive.
And because he's so rare, it may be more difficult to find one available to adopt. A specialty service like Tibetan Mastiff Rescue Inc. can help.
There are several health problems that plague the breed, but if he's in good health, he can be expected to live between 10 and 14 years.