The Tibetan Mastiff dog is an ancient breed originating from Tibet and Central Asia. It is one of the largest dogs in the world and also the most expensive.
Tibetan Mastiff Dog Facts
The Tibetan Mastiff estrus usually takes place during late fall so most Tibetan Mastiff puppies are born between December and January.
After 1980, the breed began to gain in popularity worldwide. Although it is still considered somewhat uncommon, various registries and show organizations have begun to recognize the breed.
Since AKC recognition, the number of active breeders has skyrocketed, leading to over-production of puppies, many of which are highly inbred and of questionable quality.
The Tibetan Mastiff dog is also known as do-khyi which means “home guard” or “door guard” The name reflects its use as a guardian, however, in nomad camps and in villages, the do-khyi is traditionally allowed to run loose at night.
Tibetan Mastiff Appearance
Currently, some breeders differentiate between two types of Tibetan Mastiff, the Do-khyi and the Tsang-khyi. The Tsang-khyi (which, to a Tibetan, means only “dog from Tsang”) is also referred to as the “monastery” type, described as generally taller, heavier, and more heavily boned, with more facial wrinkling and haw than the Do-khyi or “nomad” type. Both types are often produced in the same litter with the larger, heavier pups being more rare.
Males can reach heights up to 32 inches (81.28 cm) at the withers, although the standard for the breed is typically in the 25- to 28-inch (61- to 72-cm) range. Dogs bred in the West weigh between 105 lb (47.6272 kg) and 180 lb (82 kg)—although dogs in the upper range are often overweight.
Its double coat is long, subject to climate, and found in a wide variety of colors, including solid black, black and tan, various shades of “red” (from pale gold to deep red) and bluish-gray (dilute black).
The coat of a Tibetan Mastiff lacks the unpleasant “big-dog” smell that affects many large breeds. The coat, whatever its length or color, should shed dirt and odors. Although the dogs shed somewhat throughout the year, there is generally one great “molt” in late winter or early spring and sometimes another, lesser molt in the late summer or early fall.
Tibetan Mastiff Temperament
As a flock guardian dog in Tibet and in the West, it is tenacious in its ability to confront predators the size of wolves and leopards. As a socialized, more domestic dog, it can thrive in a spacious, fenced yard with a canine companion, but it is generally not an appropriate dog for apartment living.
The Western-bred dogs are generally more easy-going, although somewhat aloof with strangers coming to the home. Through hundreds of years of selective breeding for a protective flock and family guardian, the breed has been prized for being a nocturnal sentry, keeping would-be predators and intruders at bay, barking at sounds throughout the night.
Leaving a Tibetan Mastiff dog outside all night with neighbors nearby is not recommended. They often sleep during the day to be more active, alert and aware at night.
Like all flock guardian breeds, they are intelligent and stubborn to a fault, so obedience training is recommended (although only mildly successful with some individuals) since this is a strong-willed, powerful breed.
Unless they are to be used exclusively as livestock guardians, socialization is also critical with this breed because of their reserved nature with strangers and guardian instincts.
They are excellent family dogs—for the right family. Owners must understand canine psychology and be willing and able to assume the primary leadership position. Lack of consistent, rational discipline can result in the creation of dangerous, unpredictable dogs (although this is true of virtually every dog breed).
The protectiveness of Tibetan Mastiffs requires alertness and planning by the owner in order to avoid mishaps when the dog is simply performing as a guardian. The breed is not recommended for novice dog owners.
Tibetan Mastiff Health
Unlike most large breeds, its life expectancy is long, some 10–14 years—at least. Other, more closely inbred lines, produce short-lived, unhealthy dogs. The breed has fewer genetic health problems than many breeds and as with most large breeds, some will suffer with elbow or hip dysplasia.
Hypothyroidism is fairly common in Tibetan Mastiffs, as it is in many large “northern” breeds. They should be tested periodically throughout their lives using a complete thyroid “panel”.
Tibetan Mastiff History
This is an ancient breed. It has been theorized that an early Tibetan dog is the ancestor to all Molossus breeds, although this is disputed by most experts. A highly questionable study at Nanjing Agricultural University’s Laboratory of Animal Reproductive Genetics and Molecular Evolution in Nanjing, China, found that while most common dog breeds genetically diverged from the wolf approximately 42,000 years ago, the Tibetan Mastiff genetically diverged from the wolf approximately 58,000 years ago.
Most Expensive Dog Breed
A Chinese woman was reported to have spent more than 4 million yuan to buy an 18-month-old purebred male Tibetan Mastiff, which she named Yangtze No. 2.
In March 2011, a red Tibetan mastiff was reported to have been sold to a ‘coal baron’ from northern China for 10 million yuan (1.6 million U.S. dollars).
There have been other similar reports of dogs sold for astronomical prices; however, most of these appear to be breeders’ attempts to drive up the prices of their dogs.
More Tibetan Mastiff Pictures