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  • Temperament: Independent, Reserved, Intelligent
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 135 of 194
  • Height: minimum 26 inches (male), minimum 24 inches (female)
  • Weight: 90-150 pounds (male), 70-120 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Group: Working Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Tibetan Mastiff lying in three-quarter view
Tibetan Mastiff head facing left
Tibetan Mastiff standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Tibetan Mastiff coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Noble and impressive: a large, but not a giant breed. An athletic and substantial dog, of solemn but kindly appearance. The Tibetan Mastiff stands well up on the pasterns, with strong, tight, cat feet, giving an alert appearance. The body is slightly longer than tall. The hallmarks of the breed are the head and the tail. The head is broad and impressive, with substantial back skull, the eyes deep-set and almond shaped, slightly slanted, the muzzle broad and well-padded, giving a square appearance. The typical expression of the breed is one of watchfulness. The tail and britches are well feathered and the tail is carried over the back in a single curl falling over the loin, balancing the head. The coat and heavy mane is thick, with coarse guard hair and a wooly undercoat.

HEAD

Broad, strong with heavy brow ridges. Heavy wrinkling to be severely faulted; however a single fold extending from above the eyes down to the corner of the mouth acceptable at maturity. A correct head and expression is essential to the breed. Expression – Noble, intelligent, watchful and aloof. Eyes – Very expressive, medium size, any shade of brown. Rims to be black except in blue/grey and blue/grey and tan dogs, the darkest possible shade of grey. Eyes deep-set, well apart, almond-shaped, and slightly slanting, with tightly fitting eye rims at maturity. Any other color or shape to be severely faulted since it detracts from the typical expression. Ears – Medium size, V-shaped, pendant, set-on high, dropping forward and hanging close to head. Raised when alert, level with the top of the skull. The ear leather is thick, covered with soft short hair, and when measured, should reach the inner corner of the eye. Low-set and/or hound-like ears to be severely faulted.

BODY

Neck – The neck is well muscled, moderately arched, sufficient in length to be in balance with the body, and may have moderate dewlap around the throat. The neck, especially in mature dogs, is shrouded by a thick upstanding mane. Topline – Topline level and firm between withers and croup. Body – The chest is well developed, with reasonable spring of rib. Brisket reaching to just below elbows. Underline with pronounced (but not exaggerated) tuck-up. The back is muscular with firmly muscled loin. There is no slope or angle to the croup.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – Well laid back, muscular, strongly boned, with moderate angulation to match the rear angulation. Legs: Straight, with substantial bone and muscle, well covered with short, coarse hair, feathering on the back, and with strong pasterns that have a slight slope. Feet – Cat feet. Fairly large, strong, compact, may have feathering between toes. Nails may be either black and/or white, regardless of coat color. A single dewclaw may be present on the front feet.

COAT

In general, dogs carry noticeably more coat than bitches. The quality of the coat is of greater importance than length. Double-coated, with fairly long, thick coarse guard hair, with heavy soft undercoat in cold weather which becomes rather sparse in warmer months. Hair is fine but hard, straight and stand-off; never silky, curly or wavy. Heavy undercoat, when present, rather woolly. Neck and shoulders heavily coated, especially in dogs, giving mane-like appearance. Tail and britches densely coated and heavily feathered. The Tibetan Mastiff is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet and hocks. Dogs are not to be penalized if shown with a summer coat.

HINDQUARTERS

Powerful, muscular, with all parts being moderately angulated. Seen from behind, the hind legs and stifle are parallel. The hocks are strong, approximately one-third the overall length of the leg, and perpendicular. Feet – A single or double dewclaw may be present on the rear feet. Removal of rear dewclaws, if present, optional.

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tibetan mastiff illustration

About the Tibetan Mastiff

Coming face to face with this ancient behemoth, an intruder up to no good will likely move on to easier pickings. TMs can stand 26 inches at the shoulder and weigh well over 100 pounds. It’s impossible to discuss this breed without leaning on words like “powerful,” “muscular,” massive,” and “substantial.” And yet, TMs are quite light-footed and will meet a perceived threat with surprising agility. The broad head, with its high-set, V-shaped ears and expressive brown eyes, projects a noble, sagacious expression.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Tibetan Mastiff

Find a Puppy: Tibetan Mastiff

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Care

NUTRITION

The Tibetan Mastiff should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Tibetan Mastiffs eat much less than expected for their size, as adults may only require two to four cups of a quality food per day. They only eat when they are hungry, and it is not uncommon for a TM to skip a meal altogether. When females are in season, males will often refuse to eat for a week or more and can lose as much as 10 to 15 percent of their body weight. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.The Tibetan Mastiffs do not require any kind of special diet.

GROOMING

Tibetan Mastiffs are double coated, with a heavy, wooly undercoat and coarse guard hair. They have a low-maintenance coat that requires minimal grooming during the majority of the year. A weekly brushing with a slicker or a long pin brush to remove surface dirt and the use of a wide-tooth comb on the tail, mane, and breeches to remove tangles are all that is required. TMs “blow” their undercoat once a year in a massive shedding in late spring or summer. During this time, it is best to use an undercoat rake or de-shedding tool. According to the breed standard, TMs are to be shown naturally; no clipping or trimming is acceptable except to shape the feet and to give a clean appearance to the hocks.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Tibetan Mastiffs need daily moderate exercise, but it does not need to be in the form of an organized activity. TMs prefer to focus on work-related tasks, such as patrolling their territory, rather than structured play, such as chasing a flying disc or playing fetch. They are more active in cooler weather. They tend to conserve energy until needed, exhibiting only short bursts of activity, and lack endurance. They make good throw-rugs in winter, and air-conditioner vent covers in summer!

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Tibetan Mastiffs do not respond well to traditional obedience training. They are highly intelligent, learn quickly, and do not feel the need to repeat what they already know. They will do what their owners ask of them if they respect and trust their judgment—but if there is ever a question, the TM will follow his instincts over training. In general the breed is not food driven, and they do not reliably respond to treats as a training tool. They are also notorious for performing impeccably in class and then completely ignoring all commands when they are once again at home. They do not have reliable recall and should never be trusted off leash.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

The Tibetan Mastiff is a relatively healthy breed, and responsible breeders will screen their stock for health conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and eye anomalies including entropion and ectropion. Seizures have been reported, but the issue is not prevalent in the breed.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Thyroid Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan Mastiff

History

No one really knows for sure. The breed is so ancient, and Tibet has always been so isolated, that it’s impossible to say how or when TMs came to be. We know that for millennia they were the mighty guardians of the Himalayas, and it’s thought that they’re the progenitor of all modern mastiffs. Evidence suggests that early travelers to Tibet were sometimes given these giants as gifts, which were used to create the mastiff breeds of the Middle East and Europe.

Did You Know?

The Tibetan Mastiff is AKC's 155th breed.
Tibetan Mastiffs don't shed - they blow their coat once a year.
Tibetan Mastiff bitches have a single oestrus per year, generally in the late fall and that most Tibetan Mastiff puppies are born in December and January.
Tibetans believe that Tibetan Mastiffs have the souls of monks and nuns who were not good enough to be reincarnated into people or into Shambhala (the heavenly realm).
Did you know that Tibetan Mastiffs have exceptionally strong jaws and teeth, and this, combined with remarkably high intelligence (that lends to boredom) and their legendary fondness for wood, ca…
In Tibet, Tibetan Mastiffs are called "do-khyi" or "tied dog" and are kept chained to the gates and let loose at night.
In Tibet, Tibetan Mastiffs are traditionally kept with Lhasa Apsos, who alert them to the appearance of any stranger.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

Noble and impressive: a large, but not a giant breed. An athletic and substantial dog, of solemn but kindly appearance. The Tibetan Mastiff stands well up on the pasterns, with strong, tight, cat feet, giving an alert appearance. The body is slightly longer than tall. The hallmarks of the breed are the head and the tail. The head is broad and impressive, with substantial back skull, the eyes deep-set and almond shaped, slightly slanted, the muzzle broad and well-padded, giving a square appearance. The typical expression of the breed is one of watchfulness. The tail and britches are well feathered and the tail is carried over the back in a single curl falling over the loin, balancing the head. The coat and heavy mane is thick, with coarse guard hair and a wooly undercoat.

HEAD

Broad, strong with heavy brow ridges. Heavy wrinkling to be severely faulted; however a single fold extending from above the eyes down to the corner of the mouth acceptable at maturity. A correct head and expression is essential to the breed. Expression – Noble, intelligent, watchful and aloof. Eyes – Very expressive, medium size, any shade of brown. Rims to be black except in blue/grey and blue/grey and tan dogs, the darkest possible shade of grey. Eyes deep-set, well apart, almond-shaped, and slightly slanting, with tightly fitting eye rims at maturity. Any other color or shape to be severely faulted since it detracts from the typical expression. Ears – Medium size, V-shaped, pendant, set-on high, dropping forward and hanging close to head. Raised when alert, level with the top of the skull. The ear leather is thick, covered with soft short hair, and when measured, should reach the inner corner of the eye. Low-set and/or hound-like ears to be severely faulted.

BODY

Neck – The neck is well muscled, moderately arched, sufficient in length to be in balance with the body, and may have moderate dewlap around the throat. The neck, especially in mature dogs, is shrouded by a thick upstanding mane. Topline – Topline level and firm between withers and croup. Body – The chest is well developed, with reasonable spring of rib. Brisket reaching to just below elbows. Underline with pronounced (but not exaggerated) tuck-up. The back is muscular with firmly muscled loin. There is no slope or angle to the croup.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders – Well laid back, muscular, strongly boned, with moderate angulation to match the rear angulation. Legs: Straight, with substantial bone and muscle, well covered with short, coarse hair, feathering on the back, and with strong pasterns that have a slight slope. Feet – Cat feet. Fairly large, strong, compact, may have feathering between toes. Nails may be either black and/or white, regardless of coat color. A single dewclaw may be present on the front feet.

COAT

In general, dogs carry noticeably more coat than bitches. The quality of the coat is of greater importance than length. Double-coated, with fairly long, thick coarse guard hair, with heavy soft undercoat in cold weather which becomes rather sparse in warmer months. Hair is fine but hard, straight and stand-off; never silky, curly or wavy. Heavy undercoat, when present, rather woolly. Neck and shoulders heavily coated, especially in dogs, giving mane-like appearance. Tail and britches densely coated and heavily feathered. The Tibetan Mastiff is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet and hocks. Dogs are not to be penalized if shown with a summer coat.

HINDQUARTERS

Powerful, muscular, with all parts being moderately angulated. Seen from behind, the hind legs and stifle are parallel. The hocks are strong, approximately one-third the overall length of the leg, and perpendicular. Feet – A single or double dewclaw may be present on the rear feet. Removal of rear dewclaws, if present, optional.

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tibetan mastiff illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 007
BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 018
BLUE GRAY Check Mark For Standard Color 300
BLUE GRAY & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 503
BROWN Check Mark For Standard Color 061
BROWN & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 262
RED GOLD Check Mark For Standard Color 152
RED GOLD SABLE Check Mark For Standard Color 502
CREAM 076
CREAM SABLE 348

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 014

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