About Tibetan Mastiff

Ancient history of the Tibetan Mastiff


TM TM is a distinctive and exceptionally rugged breed of dog and is also considered to be one of the oldest breeds in existence today. It has its origins in Tibet and China, where the dog tasks for millennia has been to guard the nomad family and livestock. The original name of this dog is do-khyi, meaning "dog that can be bound."


TM is a breed that which has changed very little over thousands of years, proven by bone finds from various eras in addition to ancient drawings, photos and writings. It is believed that one of the first mentions of the breed derives from Aristotle (384-322 BC). In the 13th Century Marco Polo told to have seen these mastiffs during their travels to the fare East. Marco Polo described TM as "tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as that of a lion."


TM was probably the breed that was presented to Alexander the Great of an Asian king to use against lions and elephants and in this connection also achieved fame in arenas and circus in ancient Rome. It is known that Alexander the Great was accompanied by so-called molosshunder during its journey from Tibet to Europe, molossian dogs which is hardly anything other than TM. Thus TM has, as breed, most likely contributed to the many different Mastiff breeds. TM is also found in Arabia and Syria and to these areas it must have come by following the Asian invasions. It is claimed that TM was used as guard dogs in China from around 1000 BC.


In the 1800s the breed was about to die out, but the British interest probably saved it from extinction. Queen Victoria of England got one of these dogs as a gift from Lord Hardinge in the mid-1800s. King Edward VII of the United Kingdom imported two such dogs to England in 1880. The first litter known in Europe was born in Berlin Zoo in Berlin, Germany and dates from 1898.


It didn't take long before more dogs were imported to England and the road forward to own established breeding was short. In the U.S. company established in 1970 the basis for further breeding of the breed with import of TM from countries like India, Nepal, Ladakh and Afghanistan. Ironically enough, TM a rarity in Tibet these days, but is becoming more popular in both the U.S. and Europe.

Health and temperament



TM is brave, fearless, self-restrained, quiet and thoughtful. It has a strong guarding instinct and loves its family. Has a tendency to bark at night if left outside, but will mostly remain calm indoors. First and foremost, it has a natural instinct as a guard dog, but it is also a very good as livestock guardian and farm dog. TM are easy to get housebroken, but mature later in life than the average dog.


It is important to emphasize that TM is not a dog for first time owners. Its size, stubbornness, determination, obstinacy and strength requires owners that are clear, patient and showing good leadership. For example is forcing a dog into submission is a sign of poor leadership and it often creates unsafe dogs, usually ends well. If you try this on a TM is usually does not end well. This breed needs educating with special respect and love. If you manage that you will be rewarded with a wonderful companion for you and your family through thick and thin.


It is natural for TM to guard his family and property. A stable, well-adjusted, and trained TM is for the most part generally good and loving with other pets. They go well with other dogs, even when it comes to TM males and other male dogs. The prerequisition is that owners can communicate with their dog and know what it takes to curb any unwanted behaviors. When humans live with dogs, we belong to the pack and the pack has a hierarchy that everyone abide with one leader at the top. There are few dogs that will obey an owner who does not appear with natural and quiet "authority" both in voice and behavior. For TM this applies to an even greater extent than most other breeds, and it is thus one of the reasons why you do not recommend TM as first time dog.




TM is a several thousand years old breed and is known to have good intelligence equally with most ancient breeds. TM have normally a lifespan of between 10 and 14 years which is unusually long for such large dog. The size is usually between25 - 28 inches at shoulder height. The weight varies usually between 140 - 170 pounds, but there are even larger specimens of the breed. TM can not be considered fully grown until they are at least 3 years old.


TM has medium sized hanging ears. It has a solid body with a large and powerful head. The muzzle is square with thick lips and strong chin. The eyes are brown, oval, slightly oblique and sits relatively far apart. The body is longer than it is tall and very powerful. Powerful neck with thick mane. The feathered tail is curled over the back. The front legs are straight with feathering. The feet are cat-like and may have feathering between the toes. TM has sturdy bone structure and powerful round and compact paws.



Care and health issues

TM sheds once a year, requiring regular brushing during the worst period. Like all extra large dog breeds, TM also need a well adapted and nutritious diet to avoid health problems. This is especially important during the long growth period these dogs have. TM is however a very healthy ​​breed with few illnesses and ailments. A consequence of this is that TM is significantly cheaper to insure than other large breeds. A curiosity is that TM hardly emits dog smell.


The Tibetan Mastiff needs to be taken on daily walks. Be careful that the bones, muscles and joints of the young dog are not overworked during the growing stage by not overdoing the physical side of its life. However, they will still need to walk each day to satisfy their migration instinct.

Living with Tibetan Mastiff

It's a TM and not an ordinary dog


Published with permission from: Monika Wastedt, Bod khyi


The bitch comes into heat once a year and often in late autumn.


The breed matures slowly. Bitches at three, four years of age and males up to a year later.


The dog has a double coat and sheds the undercoat in the spring or summer. The shedding takes about eight weeks. You need to brush regularily. After shedding, the dog still has got its long cover hair for a while. Towards the fall the under wool begins to grow. The dog need to be brushed regularly especially during the shedding.


Because the breed has been use for guarding cattle and house it still has got a habit for guarding and barking both when it is outside or inside. The breed has been used as a cattle and guard dog which makes them excellent to watch our homes. When a TM is outside its own territory the willingness to guard is not that pronounce.


It is patient with children, provided that consideration is mutual.


A TM is a good and loyal family member who hates to be away from its pack.


TM is an intelligent breed with a good ability to adapt to different circumstances. A TM is not always prepared to follow his owners will just to please.


A TM can be extremely resolute and go its own way if it feels it is necessary. A TM can be trained in obedience. But the breed's good intelligence and independence makes him not always want to perfom as other breeds might do.A TM learns quickly. But hate repetitive exercises that are repetitive and boring.


A TM is often dominant to unknown dogs. But works well together with both animals and people if they are presented properly.


A TM is usually more active in the evenings and early mornings and more active outdoors than indoors.


Several TM is known to climb over fences and shows almost athletic scills when it comes to cross barriers. A TM is very much acting like a cat in the sense he is a free spirit and also the way he uses his paws.


Not a dog for those who will be upset by:

You will probably never be able to have your TM off leash during your walks.


A TM would probably explore the entire world and not just the route you want to walk.


You will own a dog that will come when called those times hes has not got anything better to do.


You may never get a TM to obey as other dogs can be trained to obey. It simply has no desire he is a free soul!


You must always present new visitors to the dog if you want them to enter your house and sphere. Otherwise your TM to take them for intruders.


You have to be aware of that your TM, especially as a youngster, suddenly gets the idea that something is dangerous and should be avoided. That does not matter if you declare that this is not the fact.


You have to realize that angry discussion in the family upsets a TM. Therefore you must be able to educate your children and discuss with your partner without your TM thinking it is unpleasant.


You must be willing to work hard with your dog's socialization from the beginning otherwise the dog after two, three years will be 50 kg strong watchdog and not 50 kg family dog.


You must be prepared off that the dog, especially as young, until the age of at least 3 years old, can be extremely destructive. In its search for chewing training it can get through the doors, banisters and wooden furniture in a very short time.


You have a dog that loves to dig tunnels under fences, holes in the garden, hardwood floors and discounts. Digging is fun and a TM dig fast and very short time.


A TM barking deep and strong and often at night.


A large dog that sheds all the undercoat of 6-8 weeks will give you a lot of cleaning to do.


Your dog will fuss with the food and refuse to eat now and then without being sick of feeling bad about it.


A final advise; If a TM lies in you path - walk around!

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