Tibetan Mastiff Overview

Dog Breed:
Tibetan Mastiff
Breed Group:
Working Group
Stubborn, intelligent, alert, defensive, affectionate with family
Males=26 inches; Females=24 inches
Males=90-150 pounds; females=70-120 pounds
Life Span:
10-12 years
Coat Colors:
Black, blue gray, brown, red gold, red gold sable, cream, and cream sable. Any of the aforementioned colours can contain tan. White markings are acceptable.
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Experienced dog owners
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Tibetan Mastiffs
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Tibetan Mastiffs

Tibetan Mastiff Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Tibetan Mastiff

  • An independent thinker

  • Extremely stubborn

  • Not a dog for the novice owner

The Tibetan Mastiff is an impressive dog breed to behold. A dog that draws attention wherever it goes, the Tibetan Mastiff is a large breed dog that requires an experienced owner. 

A breed that is characterized by its affection, patience, and docile nature with people it loves, the Tibetan Mastiff is a loyal family companion. A dog that was intended to function as a guard dog, the Tibetan Mastiff takes its role as protector of home, hearth, and family very seriously. The ideal Tibetan Mastiff is a willing worker and in possession of great bravery. By virtue of the breed’s size alone, the Tibetan Mastiff is quite intimidating

A dog breed with a mind all its own, the Tibetan Mastiff is not a pooch that takes direction well. An independent thinker, the Tibetan Mastiff enjoys the companionship of its family but views obeying their commands as optional. The breed is well renowned for being obstinate and is not well-suited to team activities such as obedience, Rally, or agility. 

Tibetan Mastiffs are not known for being a noisy breed except if they feel their housing and nutrition are not up to their standards. If allowed to remain outdoors, the breed will bark until brought inside the home. Master escape artists, Tibetan Mastiffs are renowned for finding novel ways of escape outside fenced yards. The breed should be supervised when outdoors with yard time kept short to prevent digging and/or guarding of the property. 

A breed that can be patient with the smallest members of its family, Tibetan Mastiffs are not a breed that is particularly fond of children in general. Tibetan Mastiffs do not like noise and often misinterpret the normal play sounds children make for aggressive behaviour. 

The Tibetan Mastiff does not enjoy the company of new people and will attempt to restrict visitors from accessing its home and people. Early socialization can help the dog to learn to view other animals and people as friends; however, in general, this dog type is not a fan of strangers or other animals. 

A highly intuitive breed, Tibetan Mastiffs understand people and form instant opinions of them. Their gut instincts about a person are usually correct. 

Tibetan Mastiffs are not a breed that can be trusted of lead at any time. If walked the same place repeatedly, this dog type will take ownership of the route and will begin to guard it from other people and dogs. 

A wonderful breed, the Tibetan Mastiff is only suited to life with a very experienced dog owner. The breed does not do well in an apartment, preferring a securely fenced yard in which to burn off energy. The breed has high energy requirements and will need lots of daily exercise to remain physically and mentally satisfied. 

Tibetan Mastiff Breed History

  • Developed in Tibet

  • Intended to function as guardians

  • Little is known of the breed’s early history


As this dog breed’s name suggests, the Tibetan Mastiff traces its roots to the country of Tibet. Very little is actually known about this breed’s history. However, the Tibetan Mastiff is believed to be one of the world’s oldest breeds. 

Evidence exists which pinpoints the origin of the dogs of Mastiff descent as far back as 5,000 years ago in Tibet. It is believed that the Tibetan Mastiff is likely a product of the dogs dating back to that time.  Early prototypes of the breed were divided into two distinct versions: the Do-Khyi and the Tsang-Khyi. The main differences between the two dogs were their size and the focus of their guardianship. 

The Do-Khyi was the smaller of the two dogs. They were primarily owned by shepherds that favoured a gypsy-like existence. The dog’s role was to protect their livestock on their journeys. By comparison, the Tsang-Khyi were larger dogs whose purpose was to provide protection for the monks that dwelled on the land. 

There is no recorded history of the Tibetan Mastiff which predates the year 1800. The first documented account of the breed occurred in Captain Samuel Turner’s book, detailing his life and work. In this work, the breed was referenced only as “huge dogs.”

The year 1847 saw a dog from Tibet sent to Queen Victoria as a present. The gift was bestowed upon her by Lord Hardinge, whose official title was Viceroy of India. By the year 1873, the breed was included in the stud book of the English Kennel Club, and the official title of Tibetan Mastiff was adopted

In subsequent years, the Prince of Wales, later renamed King Edward VII, brought more specimens of the breed the country to participate in conformation events. The breed increased in popularity with a breed club instituted in 1931. 

Following World War II, most breeding practices were disrupted. However, in time, dogs were brought back into England again to continue the lines of this beloved breed. 

In the mid-20th century, two Tibetan Mastiffs were bestowed as a gift to the then President of the United States. However, the dogs did not remain in the president’s care, and it is not known what happened to them. Interest in the breed flourished in 1970, and importation of breeding stock began then

The breed received official recognition by the American Kennel Club in 2007. 

Tibetan Mastiff Size & Weight

  • Males stand 26” and weigh from 90 to 150 pounds

  • Females stand 24” and weigh from 70 to 1230 pounds

  • The Tibetan Mastiff requires an authoritative owner


An adult male Tibetan Mastiff stands 26” at the shoulder and weighs between 90 to 150 pounds. Females reach 24” in height and weigh from 70 to 120 pounds when fully mature. 

Tibetan Mastiffs are a lot of dog and require a firm and authoritative owner. They are not a dog breed for weak leaders or those that prefer a more obedient pet. 

Tibetan Mastiff Personality & Temperament

  • Highly intelligent

  • Prone to obstinate behaviour

  • Territorial of home and family


The Tibetan Mastiff is not an easy breed. A dog that has an independent spirit, the Tibetan Mastiff possesses a high intellect but can be very obstinate. This breed does not view itself as a pet, believing it should be on an equivalent plane with the humans in the household. 

Though the Tibetan Mastiff does try to make its people happy, the breed is driven by its own desires and often will refuse to submit to simple commands. A breed that is loyal to its core, the Tibetan Mastiff views its work as protector with great importance. Tibetan Mastiffs do not enjoy the company of new people and will approach them with wariness. 

The Tibetan Mastiff can live peaceably with families whose children are in their teenage years. However, it is not recommended that this dog breed live with small children due to its immense size and strength. In addition to this, the Tibetan Mastiff is intolerant of excess noise and rowdy activity. The breed loves its family and can be prone to protecting its littlest members; particularly if they are roughhousing, and the dog mistakes the behaviour as threatening. 

Tibetan Mastiffs can cohabit peaceably with other pets if they live with them from the time they are just pups. Since the Tibetan Mastiff will guard its property, it is best for all introductions of new pets into the home to occur on neutral ground. 

The breed requires room to roam, and thus, is not suited to apartment living. The Tibetan Mastiff bonds closely with its family, eagerly expressing affection for them. For this reason, the breed does not enjoy much time spent alone. 

The Tibetan Mastiff does well in cold weather but does not enjoy hot temperatures due to its thick coat. 

Tibetan Mastiff Health & Grooming

  • Typically healthy

  • A moderate drooler

  • Sheds lightly


The Tibetan Mastiff is a breed that typically enjoys excellent health. However, as with any breed, this dog type can be prone to certain health conditions. To help prevent the spread of inherited disease to future generations, all breeding dogs should be properly screened prior to mating. Among the diseases that can befall the Tibetan Mastiff are canine hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, panosteitis, osteochondrosis dissecans, canine inherited demyelinative neuropathy, and autoimmune hypothyroidism. 

A breed that has a thick coat comprised of two layers, the Tibetan Mastiff sheds year-round but not a large amount. To help keep hair out of the home environment, the Tibetan Mastiff should be brushed several times per week and more often when blowing coat, a practice which typically occurs twice per year. 

The Tibetan Mastiff’s coat consists of wiry topcoat and a plush undercoat. During bouts of warm weather, the undercoat is less dense. This dog breed should have straight hair. 

The breed should be bathed only on an as needed basis. Nails should be trimmed once a month at a minimum. Regular dental care and ear cleaning are also important. 

The Tibetan Mastiff can be prone to gaining weight if overfed. Carefully measure all meals and monitor all food intake to maintain a good body condition. 

This breed is only a moderate drooler

Tibetan Mastiff Training

  • Not willing participants in training exercises

  • Can learn quickly but stubbornness is an obstacle to learning

  • Can be very mouthy


Tibetan Mastiffs do not enjoy training and are not usually cooperative. A breed with exceptional intelligence, the Tibetan Mastiff acquires new skills readily but is not a fan of practicing them or exhibiting a behaviour when asked to do so. In order to learn, the Tibetan Mastiff requires a firm leader who will establish boundaries and enforce them consistently

The Tibetan Mastiff can learn the basic obedience commands in as little as two weeks. However, due to the breed’s penchant for stubbornness, it may take up to six months for the dog to regularly display the desired behaviour when asked to do so. 

The breed is not particularly fond of food as a motivation for learning. The Tibetan Mastiff is well renowned for stubbornness which is often displayed through an eagerness to display learned tricks at one time then an obstinate refusal to comply at another. The breed cannot be trusted off-leash at any time

The Tibetan Mastiff is a very mouthy breed and must be taught not to nip. This is best accomplished through redirection of the dog’s mouth to a toy, bone, or ball when it attempts to nip or bite. 

A breed with a moderate prey drive, the Tibetan Mastiff will wander if given opportunity to do so. A securely fenced yard is a must with this breed

The Tibetan Mastiff is not a particularly vocal breed

Tibetan Mastiff Exercise Requirements

  • Not willing participants in training exercises

  • Can learn quickly but stubbornness is an obstacle to learning

  • Can be very mouthy


Tibetan Mastiffs are a breed with moderately high activity requirements. This breed is not well-suited to families that prefer a more sedentary lifestyle. To keep the Tibetan Mastiff mentally and physically satisfied, this dog breed should be walked for a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes each day

Tibetan Mastiffs are also known to engage in activities that are based on work such as patrolling fence lines in protection of their property. This can help the dog to expend its reserves of energy; however, care must be taken that the dog does not respond aggressively to those approaching the home. 

A breed with a heavy double coat, the Tibetan Mastiff prefers to be active when the weather is cool

Tibetan Mastiffs are a very playful breed and enjoy spending time with their family in active pursuits. 

Tibetan Mastiff Diet & Feeding

  • Puppies should eat puppy food

  • Adults should eat adult food

  • Adjust portion size according to activity level


To ensure the Tibetan Mastiff’s dietary needs are met, it is an excellent idea to consult with a veterinarian. Generally speaking, the breed does well on a high-quality diet that is nutritionally balanced to support the dog’s needs as specified by age, health condition, and activity level. 

Puppies should always eat a high-quality puppy food to assist their developing bodies. Adults should eat an adult formulation that is designed with their unique needs in mind. 

To help determine how much the Tibetan Mastiff should eat, owners can consult the bag of food which will offer suggested serving sizes. These can be used as a basic guideline but should be adjusted to reflect the dog’s activity level. The dog’s weight and appetite will serve as helpful guides in this process. 

You may also be interested in:

Tibetan Mastiff Rescue Groups

For more information about Tibetan Mastiffs for adoption near you, we recommend the following resources:

American Tibetan Mastiff Association


Tibetan Mastiff Rescue, Inc.