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The Tibetan Mastiff is a powerful and large dog that is highly capable of guarding livestock and households. The breed belongs to the Working Group. The Tibetan Mastiff dog is also known as the Tibetan Dog, Thibet Mastiff, Thibet Dog, and Tibetaanse Mastiff.
Despite the Tibetan Mastiff’s giant and seemingly intimidating physique, he is gentle and mellow when around his family. His strong loyalty to his human companion leads him to be indifferent towards strangers.
Are you interested in welcoming a Tibetan Mastiff puppy to your family? Here is a brief background of this large working dog breed.
The Tibetan Mastiff is one of the ancient dog breeds in the world. This large dog breed originated in Tibet. He is a descendant of Tibetan guard dogs that existed 5000 years ago. It is believed that this working dog breed was created as early as 1,100 BC.
Back in the day, Chinese villagers developed 2 types of Tibetan Mastiff guard dogs. They are called Do-Khyi and Tsang-Khyi.
The first type of Tibetan Mastiff, Do-Khyi, served as a flock guardian dog and travelled with nomadic shepherds. According to Chinese documents dating to 1,121 BCE, Do-Khyi means ‘tied dog.’ He was often leashed in the daytime but was given the freedom to prowl around at night.
Meanwhile, the second type of Tibetan Mastiff, Tsang Khyi, means ‘dog from Tsang.’ He was trained to be a guard dog in lamaseries to protect llamas and even monks. In 1800, a captain named Samuel Turner wrote in his memoir about the use of huge dogs in Tibet. Apart from the dogs’ size, he did not mention additional details about them.
The Tibetan Mastiff was the first dog from Tibet to be imported to England in 1847. He served as a present from Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy of India, to Queen Victoria. In 1873, the Kennel Club of England was established. It did not take long for the Tibetan Mastiff dog to be an officially registered breed.
A year later, the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII, imported another 2 Tibetan Mastiffs. These large dogs were displayed at the Alexandra Palace Show in 1875.
The first Tibetan Mastiff breed club was created in 1932. The American Tibetan Mastiff Association was established in 1974 in the United States.
Tibetan Mastiff breeding, unfortunately, became difficult when World War I struck. In 1976, the importation of this working dog breed to England resumed again. In 2006, the breed was officially registered in the American Kennel Club.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a large dog with a well-boned and muscled body. He measures around 66–76 centimetres in height and weighs about 40.8–68 kilos.
The Tibetan Mastiff matures very slowly since he is a large breed. A Tibetan Mastiff puppy becomes a full-grown adult dog physically once reach about 4–7 years of age. Note that the female often matures quicker than the male.
The Tsang-Khyi type tends to be taller, heavily boned, and wrinkly around the face. The Do-Khyi type is leaner and less wrinkly than the Tsang-Khyi.
Despite the Tibetan Mastiff’s hugeness, he is still very agile. His body is somewhat longer than tall. He has a wide and strong head with noticeable wrinkles. His square-shaped muzzle is broad with a large black nose.
The Tibetan Mastiff dog’s upper lip commonly covers the lower lip. His teeth intersect in a level bite. He has medium, almond-shaped eyes that are deep-set and slanted.
The Tibetan Mastiff breed’s eye colours may vary in shades of brown. He possesses V-shaped pendant ears that droop forward near to the head.
The Tibetan Mastiff dog’s neck is heavily muscled with several dewlaps. The male has more conspicuous dewlaps compared to the female. He has a bushy tail that curls backward. His catlike feet have feathering between the toes.
The Tibetan Mastiff owns a thick double coat. He has a long, dense, and rough topcoat and a heavy, downy, and fluffy undercoat. He has a heavy mane around the neck, shoulders, and tail. The male has a more prominent mane than the female.
As stated in the Kennel Club breed standard, the Tibetan Mastiff should have a straight coat and never curly or wavy.
The Tibetan Mastiff’s coat colours come in black, blue, brown, and gold. The coat may be with or without tan markings on the lower areas of the leg, the muzzle, the tip of the tail, and above and around the eyes. There may be white markings too, but they should only appear on the dog’s chest and feet.
This Tibetan Mastiff has a low-maintenance coat that sheds light. 1–2 times a week of brushing is enough to get rid of dirt, mats, and tangles. Use a slicker brush to remove grit and debris on his coat. Then brush his tail, mane, and breeches with a wide-toothed comb to clear away tangles.
The Tibetan Mastiff dog blows his undercoat when seasonal shedding starts. This may occur around the end of spring or summer. It is best to use a de-shedding tool or undercoat rake when brushing his coat.
Avoid trimming the Tibetan Mastiff’s long, thick coat as it is meant to be shown naturally. Moreover, the fur protects the dog from heatstroke during warmer months and hypothermia in very cold weather as it aids in regulating his body temperature. However, clipping the furs on the feet may be allowed to give it shape and present a neat appearance to the hocks.
A Tibetan Mastiff should only be bathed when it is required. Frequent washing can dry out his skin and coat, which can lead to skin problems.
Trim the Tibetan Mastiff’s nails at least once or twice a month. Since he has floppy ears, inspect and clean his ears weekly to prevent ear infections. If there are signs of redness or inflammation, be sure to consult the vet.
Brushing the Tibetan Mastiff’s teeth must be incorporated into his grooming routine. If this is not feasible, twice or thrice a week will suffice. Brushing his teeth is the most effective way to prevent periodontal disease, which is one of the most prevalent health issues in dogs.
The Tibetan Mastiff has worked as a guard dog for thousands of years. Thus, he is naturally loyal and protective of his family. He is deeply affectionate and gentle with them, but aloof with strangers. If this large dog senses a threat, he will turn into a fierce and courageous protector.
Whilst this Tibetan Mastiff trait is what makes the breed admirable, it has a downside as well. He can become overprotective and aggressive if he is not properly socialised.
For this reason, a Tibetan Mastiff puppy should be socialised at an early age. Allow him to explore his surroundings and meet various people and pets to help him develop into a friendly and approachable dog.
The Tibetan Mastiff fits well in a family with children, but he should be supervised when interacting with younger ones. His large build can easily topple small children if he gets too excited whilst playing. Moreover, he may mistake their games for fighting and end up getting overprotective.
Children must also learn how to handle dogs correctly, such as not pulling their tails or fur. Young children should also understand the dangers of approaching a sleeping or eating dog.
The Tibetan Mastiff gets on well with dogs and cats if they are raised together. If not, they can still form a strong and friendly bond, but it may take some time before your pets can completely get along.
The Tibetan Mastiff breed may exhibit aggression towards same-sex dogs. But neutering the dog can help lessen his aggressive tendencies.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a highly intelligent dog, but he can be very independent as well. Thus, he is prone to being stubborn and doing things his way, and this can make training very challenging. Hence, the Tibetan Mastiff is more suitable for experienced owners.
Patience in training is also needed, as he may disobey your command if he feels like his way of handling things is a better option.
The Tibetan Mastiff can be very adamant. However, never use punishment methods as a way to urge your dog to listen to you. This will only backfire and lead him to become more stubborn.
Instead, always stick with positive reinforcement. Give him praises and treats, or let him have a fun dog activity when he does well in training. It will greatly motivate him to put in more effort during training.
Feed your Tibetan Mastiff with premium-quality dog food that fits his life stage. It will provide him with sufficient amounts of vitamins and nutrients that are appropriate for his age.
The basic nutrients that every dog needs are protein, fats, carbohydrates, water, vitamins, and minerals. Since the Tibetan Mastiff breed is not highly active, his diet does not necessarily require high proteins and carbohydrates contents.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a more primitive breed compared to other dog breeds. Thus, experts suggest that his diet should include raw or fresh food. This includes lean meats, fresh vegetables, eggs, fish, and fruits. Make sure that fresh, clean water is available for your dog throughout the day too.
The Tibetan Mastiff dog breed has an average lifespan of 12–15 years. Although he is a hardy breed, he is still susceptible to some health conditions, such as:
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
The Tibetan Mastiff dog is greatly at risk of these health problems due to his large size. Hip dysplasia is the deformity in the bone and socket formation on the hips, whilst elbow dysplasia is a similar health problem occurring at the elbow joint.
Both conditions in the Tibetan Mastiff breed can be caused by genetics, but environmental factors can also hasten their progression.
For instance, over-exercising your Tibetan Mastiff puppy can exert too much pressure on his hip or elbow joints. This makes him more likely to develop these conditions. Medical and surgical treatments are available to cure these osteopathic disorders.
30% of the Tibetan Mastiff breed is afflicted with thyroid problems. Lack of overproduction of the thyroid hormone can affect the physical and mental state of your dog.
Your Tibetan Mastiff will experience a lack of energy, difficulty in learning, weight gain, exercise intolerance, and skin issues. In severe cases, these conditions can cause congestive heart failure and even cancer. Early detection and treatment will stop the progression of thyroid issues.
The Tibetan Mastiff’s eyelids curl inwards if he has entropion. It is a very uncomfortable condition as the hair on the eyelids brushes against your dog’s cornea. Repeated irritation of the cornea can result in corneal ulcers and mucoid discharge in the eyes. Entropion can be treated through surgical correction.
The Tibetan Mastiff, being a large and giant breed, is very vulnerable to bloat. It is a life-threatening gastric problem that causes the stomach to fill with gas, food, and liquid, leading it to contort. If your Tibetan Mastiff puppy has a distended abdomen, bring him to the vet without delay to save his life.
Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy
This is also known as hypertrophic neuropathy, which is a congenital disorder that is common in the Tibetan Mastiff breed. It causes the hind limbs to weaken and negatively affect the reflexes. Dogs 6–14 months old are more likely to suffer from this health problem. Although dogs can recover from this disease, there is a big chance that they may develop this condition again.
There are several preventative measures that you can do to make sure that your dog remains in optimal health. Start by completing all of his necessary initial vaccines, health tests, and yearly boosters. Then regularly bring him to the vet for check-ups. In this way, the vet can keep track of his health status.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a massive dog, but he only requires minimal exercise. 30 minutes to 1 hour of walking and other fun dog activities are sufficient enough to tire him out. Since the breed can be aggressive towards other dogs, especially those of the same sex, it is best to walk your Tibetan Mastiff on a lead unless he is properly socialised.
Make sure to change your every-day routes for walks to prevent him from becoming territorial of the areas. It is also worth noting that over-exercising a Tibetan Mastiff, especially a puppy, can damage his joints and muscles. So be sure to limit strenuous activities to avoid this from happening.
If you are interested in buying a Tibetan Mastiff puppy, be ready to go on a waiting list, as this large dog breed is rare in the UK. The price for a well-bred pedigree puppy from a reputable breeder can cost £1,500 –5,000. You can also try visiting a shelter or rescue home that specialises in Tibetan Mastiffs if there are dogs or puppies available for adoption.
Feeding your Tibetan Mastiff with high-quality dog food can set you back another £58–£65 a month. Annually, you will need to spend approximately £690–£780 for his dog food. You also need to factor in the basic accessories and equipment, which can cost up to £96 initially. These include food bowls, collar and lead, bed, grooming kit, and toys.
A Tibetan Mastiff’s initial vaccinations and neutering or spaying have a one-time cost of £350–£1000. After that, it will cost £350–750 a year for routine checks and preventive care. These figures do not include major treatments and confinement in case of health emergencies.
Insuring your Tibetan Mastiff dog will set you back a monthly premium of £60 for a basic cover and £115 for a lifetime cover. These prices will depend on your dog’s age, health, and location in the UK.
On average, caring for and raising a Tibetan Mastiff will cost £106–£217 a month.
A purebred Tibetan Mastiff dog is extremely rare, thus the high price. Be aware that there are unscrupulous breeders that cross the breed with other dogs. Thus, buying a puppy from a Kennel Club-assured breeder is advised to ensure that you have a healthy purebred Tibetan Mastiff puppy.
Are you sure the Tibetan Mastiff is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
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