Meet the breed: Tibetan Mastiff

Aug 3, 2014 at 7:29 a.m. ET
Image: Laures/iStock/360/Getty Images

Choosing to add a furry friend to your growing household is a long-term commitment, and picking a breed that fits your lifestyle is the key to a happy home. With over 160 American Kennel Club-recognized breeds, that decision can seem overwhelming. We're here to help you meet the breed that's right for you. If you're looking for a loyal, family guard dog, learn everything you need to know about the Tibetan Mastiff.

  • Protective
  • Smart
  • Independent
  • Family oriented
  • Very large


As the name suggests, the Tibetan Mastiff originated from the Himalayas where it worked to guard Tibetan villagers. First recorded in 1271 by Marco Polo, the breed may have even been around as early as 1100 B.C. and is considered the forefather of mountain and Mastiff breeds. An extremely large-sized dog with great strength, the Tibetan Mastiff makes for an excellent guard and family dog.

Breed standards

  • AKC group: Working Group
  • UKC group: Guardian Dog Group
  • Average lifespan: 13 - 15 years
  • Average size: 140 - 220 pounds
  • Coat appearance: Very thick and heavy double coat
  • Coloration: Black, brown, blue-gray, gold and sable. May have cream, white or red markings.
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Other identifiers: Large-sized dog with large bone structure; heavy, over-sized head that may present some wrinkling; strong muzzle; brown, deep-set eyes; pendant, V-shaped ears; cat-like feet; and feathered tail
  • Possible alterations: May have a silky or curly coat.

Is this breed right for you?

An extremely loyal breed, the Tibetan Mastiff will require good training techniques to understand who is the leader of the pack. If not provided with a strong and confident leader, the dog may growl and even bite if it does not understand its role or the rules of the household. Good with children, it makes for an extremely good guard dog that will stop at nothing to protect its family and home. With this in mind, it will need to be socialized with others to avoid problems when having visitors. Docile indoors, the Tibetan Mastiff is a very loud barker when left outside. Doing well in an apartment, it will still need to be walked daily with an experienced and strong owner to avoid any behavioral problems.

breed characteristics

A dream day-in-the-life

The Tibetan Mastiff is very relaxed when indoors with its family. Devoted, it is likely to spend the brunt of its time wherever its owner is in the home. Going in and out to keep guard on the house, you won't hear much from this big dog unless there is some type of disturbance. Satisfied with an evening walk, it'll enjoy a day filled with commandments and order.

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