Tibetan Mastiff

"Temple Guardian"

Photo of Tibetan Mastiff


Massive dogs may have traveled with Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun to Central Asia, where those left behind provided root stock for camp guardians of nomadic herdsmen on the Himalayan plateau. In time, these large muscular dogs were also used to guard isolated villages and monasteries. The dogs were chained to gates and rooftops by day and allowed to roam free at night – and woe to any trespasser! The breed remained largely unknown outside of Asia until 1847, when the Viceroy of India sent a large dog to Queen Victoria. The Prince Wales imported two more dogs in 1874 and exhibited them at a dog show, but while the dogs elicited great interest, there was no rush to import more. With few dogs existing outside of Tibet, the breed's future was threatened after China invaded Tibet in the 1950s. Some dogs were taken to neighboring countries, and in the 1970s, stock from Nepal and India was brought to America. These dogs came from a wide genetic base, ensuring the breed's genetic health as well as a wide variance in type.


The Tibetan Mastiff has been a guardian for centuries, and she remains territorial, independent, and strong willed. While devoted and gentle with her family, she's aloof, even wary, toward strangers. She's gentle with the family children, but her sheer size can topple a youngster. Visiting children who play aggressively may be seen as threats. She is generally good with other dogs and pets. She's a calm dog indoors, but she can become frustrated and destructive when confined. She may bark loudly, especially at strange noises in the night. Because Tibetan Mastiffs used to be kept with Lhasa Apsos, they don't tend to be dog aggressive.


This is a powerful dog, slightly longer than tall, with a pronounced tucked-up belly. Her expression is solemn but kindly. The head is broad and heavy, with some wrinkling from the eyes to the mouth corner, and moderate flews (pendulous upper lips). The eyes are deep-set and almond shaped, and the ears are V-shaped, hanging close to the head. Her topline is straight and level, and her tail is set high and curled over. The coat is thick and fairly long, the hair coarse, straight, and hard. Colors are black, brown, and gray, all with or without tan markings; or various shades of gold.


Because of her size and guardian proclivities, it's essential to socialize a Tibetan Mastiff at an early age. It's also important to introduce basic obedience when she's still young and you can still control her. She needs a firm, but not rough, hand. As with all breeds, reward-based methods work best, but you have to be the one in control.

Grooming & Care

She needs moderate exercise every day, preferably avoiding any strenuous exercise in hot weather. She needs to be brushed about three times a week, more when shedding. The breed is unusual in that the females have only one estrus (heat) season each year.

Health Concerns

The Tibetan Mastiff has no major health concerns, but hip dysplasia and hypothyroidism sometimes occur. Breeding stock should have hips screened before breeding. Ask your breeder and your veterinarian about these issues.

Famous Tibetan Mastiff

In 1847, a Tibetan Mastiff named Siring was the first reported in Europe, a gift from the Viceroy of India to Queen Victoria.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 3
Schedule 5
Home 9
Children 48
Experience 51
Quick Facts
Grooming 110
Exercise 61
Challenges Needs an assertive owner.
Height 26 to 28 inches
Weight 140 to 170 pounds
Life 10 to 15 years
Home Alone 84
With Kids 86
With Strangers 113
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.