Tibetan Mastiff Breed Guide

Breed Group:
Working Dogs

Middle Age: 5 years

Senior Age: 7 years

Geriatric Age: 10 years

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Health Issues Associated with this Breed:

Tibetan Mastiff History & Background

With roots in the Himalayan Mountains and Central Asia, the Tibetan Mastiff is thought to have stemmed from interbreeding with Tibetan wolves during prehistoric times. A natural defender and guardian, Tibetan Mastiffs traveled with traders and armies alike to protect their masters from predators. Brought to Europe in the mid-1800s and then to the United States in the 1970s this rare breed is known for its protective nature and unwavering loyalty.

Tibetan Mastiff Temperament & Behavior

Known for being extremely reliable guard dogs, you may be surprised to learn that Tibetan Mastiffs are not overly aggressive. Protective in nature, they take their time to size up strangers and are distinctly alert, always waiting with a watchful eye. Both loving and affectionate they aren’t emotionally needy which makes them great for owners who prefer a more independent dog. Tibetan Mastiffs often sleep during the day and are awake throughout the night ready to guard your property and home.

A rather dominant though affectionate breed, Tibetan Mastiffs may not be fit for families with young children given their size and guardian-like disposition. At the end of the day, Tibetan Mastiffs adapt to their surroundings and can assume a more relaxed role when needed depending on their training and home environment.

Training a Tibetan Mastiff

Given their independent personalities, Tibetan Mastiffs should not be trained by first-time dog owners and may require professional obedience training. Naturally dominant, they can assume they are in charge, leaving their owners feeling frustrated and worn out. Properly training them requires a good amount of time and patience. Being consistent and firm is extremely important to ensuring that they are obedient and well-behaved.

Even if you have had many dogs in the past, if you don’t have experience training a dominant breed, it’s recommended that you seek professional support in setting your Tibetan Mastiff up for success from day one.

Exercise Requirements for Tibetan Mastiffs

When Tibetan Mastiffs are younger they tend to have more energy and require more exercise. However, as they grow older they begin to mellow out and sleep a good amount throughout the day. Despite their mellow disposition, it’s important to ensure they are either walked every day or allowed to roam around outside. Walking is particularly important if you have them inside the house all day. Generally

Generally speaking, this is not recommended as it can cause them to become depressed and restless. Remember that every dog is different and their energy levels will vary but it’s important to keep your dog feeling healthy and happy at all times. As puppies, Tibetan Mastiffs will often enjoy running around and playing fetch but as noted above this desire to run around will decrease with age.

Tibetan Mastiffs Lifespan & Longevity

Tibetan Mastiffs generally live to be 12 to 15 years old.

Are Tibetan Mastiffs Popular?

A rare breed, Tibetan Mastiffs are not known for being particularly popular ranking 135th by the American Kennel Club in 2016. While there have been increased trends in their popularity from time to time, they have maintained a relatively low popularity.

Food Requirements for Tibetan Mastiffs

As they are larger dogs, Tibetan Mastiffs eat a good amount each day. Of course, portions will vary dog to dog but about 4 to 6 cups of food a day is expected.

Grooming a Tibetan Mastiff

A longer haired breed, Tibetan Mastiffs need to be brushed at least once a week to remove any loose hair and separate the coat so it doesn’t get matted. When their coat becomes matted it can cause the skin underneath to become unhealthy, especially during warm summer months. To prevent things like yeast and bacterial or fungal infections from forming under their skin be sure and brush them regularly. When it comes to grooming, it’s best to brush your pet out beforehand and work through the coat in little sections, starting at the lower half and letting more hair fall out as you go. If you plan to do all the grooming yourself, you’ll likely want to purchase a few tools to help you work through knots and tangles. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you are keeping an eye on your Tibetan Mastiff’s ears, nails, and teeth. In order to groom your dog at

When it comes to grooming, it’s best to brush your pet out beforehand and work through the coat in little sections, starting at the lower half and letting more hair fall out as you go. If you plan to do all the grooming yourself, you’ll likely want to purchase a few tools to help you work through knots and tangles. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you are keeping an eye on your Tibetan Mastiff’s ears, nails, and teeth. In order to groom your dog at home, you’ll likely want to invest in a grooming table that puts them a waist high so you don’t find yourself bending over during what can be a somewhat lengthy process.

Are Tibetan Mastiffs Good With Children?

As they are larger dogs, it’s not typically recommended to get a Tibetan Mastiff if you have small children. However, if your children are a little older and comfortable around dogs you shouldn’t run into too many issues. At the end of the day, training is key here and if properly trained when they are puppies, Tibetan Mastiffs can be great around children. It all depends on the owner’s level of experience with dogs and the disposition of the dog. As they are affectionate and protective, it could be a great match, it just depends if their training has mellowed out their domineering nature.

Health Concerns for Tibetan Mastiffs

  • Hypothyroidism: Unfortunately, hypothyroidism, which reduces hormone production, affects one-third of Tibetan Mastiffs. This disease can cause weight gain, fatigue, infections and more. Given the larger nature of Tibetan Mastiffs, they can make them naturally prone to obesity and hyperthyroidism can amplify the problem.
  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: Hip and elbow dysplasia occur when the dog’s bones don’t develop properly and cause degeneration within the joint over time. Often caused by genetics, larger dogs are at risk for more osteopathic disorders. Symptoms can occur in puppies as young as four months and can develop in older dogs as well.
  • Ear Infections: Due to their narrow ears, Tibetan Mastiffs are prone to ear infections. Be sure and regularly clean your dog’s ears to lower the risk of infection.
  • Eye Conditions: There are a few key eye conditions to be aware of for Tibetan Mastiffs. One of which is progressive retinal atrophy, which causes the retinas to slowing wear down and leads to blindness. Additionally, Tibetan Mastiffs can be prone to lingering pupillary membranes, strands of nutrient providing tissue that normally disappears when a puppy is 4 to 5 weeks old. If they persist the can impair the dog’s vision. Tibetan Mastiffs are also prone to cataracts which can cause anything from hazy vision to blindness.
  • Additionally, entropion is an eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. This typically occurs in younger dogs and can come from spasms in the eyelid. If left untreated this will result in the eyes being held shut and can cause the eyelid to tear. Unfortunately, the main treatment for this condition is surgery.
  • Skin Infections & Diseases: Given the thick nature of the Tibetan Mastiff coat it is constantly at risk for becoming matted and home to mites and parasites that can thrive under their coat. Without regular brushing, your dog can be at risk for skin irritations and infections. Mites can also prove to be a challenge if they have a reaction to them (some dogs don’t).
  • Pyoderma: Pyoderma, a bacterial infection, can also occur on or below the skin. With this one, you can look for lesions on the skin, pimples, and open sores. Seek help from your vet if you are unable to resolve this one with a topical cream as it may be symptomatic of a larger health problem.
  • Gastric Torsion Symptoms: of this stomach issue which is sometimes referred to as “twisted stomach” are bloating, pacing, heavy breathing, uncontrolled drooling, gagging and more. This occurs in many larger dogs and can result in them going into shock or collapsing.

Other Resources

National Breed Website: American Tibetan Mastiffs Association

Rescues: Tibetan Mastiff Rescue, Inc