Tibetan Mastiff

tibetan mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff is one of the oldest and still preserved dog breeds of impressive heritage and looks.

History of the Tibetan Mastiff

tibetan mastiff

The breed that we call Tibetan Mastiff is over 4000 years old. The mentions of the breed appear already in the Ancient times from Chinese scripts to Marco Polo travel journals.

The dogs were used in their homeland of Tibet to guard houses, cattle and temples. They could kill a tiger and were usually let run free at night.

The name Tibetan Mastiff, given to the breed by Europeans, is an incorrect one as it’s not an actual mastiff. Tibetan Mountain Dog would be a more accurate name.

Some sources claim that the Tibetan Mastiff is a close relative of the Leonberger breed.

Appearance, Temperament and Health

Appearance of the Tibetan Mastiff

Height: 66 cm/26 in (dogs), 61 cm/24 in (bitches)

Weight: 65–78 kg/143–172lb (dogs), 45–55 kg/99–170 lb (bitches)

It is a robust but agile breed with thick double coat, a mane being its notable feature of the Lion Head variety (smaller). The Tiger Head variety is larger with shorter hair and less pronounced mane. As a primitive breed it retains the qualities that helped the breed survive in the conditions of its homeland – strong instinctive behavior, one estrus per year instead of two.


tibetan mastiffThe temperament of the Tibetan Mastiff is closely linked to its original purpose. It avoids conflicts (as a guard dog it warns by barking to prevent confrontation). It is an independent and stubborn (in the absence of the owner the dog had to take decisions and guard the family and its belongings) breed not suitable for repetitive training. It’s an excellent family guardian (quality obtained with hundreds of years of selective breeding), however, it’s not suitable for life in an apartment. It needs large open space to thrive.

The dogs tend to be dominant and they need consistent and experienced leadership.


The average life expectancy of the breed is 12 – 15 years.

Tibetan Mastiffs suffer less hereditary problems than other large breeds. One of the most common health problems is hip dysplasia. Especially at a young age these dogs need high quality food and moderate activity. They are not suitable for long runs.

Tibetan Mastiff as Work Dog

It is still used as a guard dog, especially in its homeland but not just there.

Tell us why you chose the Tibetan Mastiff if you’re a proud owner of one!