Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff
A giant dog, slightly longer than he is tall, the Tibetan Mastiff dog is a powerful, muscular breed that is athletic and agile, with a dignified composure. The dense coat is quite long and there is a 'mane' around the neck and shoulders, which is more obvious in male dogs. The coat comes in a range of colours and markings.
  • Dog suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Giant dog
  • Heavy drool
  • Requires grooming daily
  • Non Hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks, alerts and it's physically protective
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Tibetan Mastiff Key Facts

Life Span: 12-15 years

Weight: 36-72kg

Height: Adult male dogs stand at a minimum of 66cm and females at a minimum of 61cm.

Colours: black, golden, brown, blue

Size: Giant

Kennel Club group: Working


Family-friendly: 5/5

Exercise needs: 2/5

Easy to train: 1/5

Tolerates being alone: 1/5

Likes other pets: 5/5

Energy level: 4/5

Grooming needs: 3/5

Shedding: 2/5

History and Origins

Thought to date back 3,000 years, the Tibetan Mastiff is one of the world’s oldest breeds and was used as a guard dog in his native country, protecting properties (including monasteries) as well as entire villages and livestock. They are often chained up to act as early warning systems and as very effective deterrents to would-be intruders.

Marco Polo reported that the Tibetan Mastiff was as “tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as that of a lion.” The breed is relatively new to the rest of the dog-loving world, only coming to the attention of breeders in the West a century ago.


A guard dog through and through, the Tibetan Mastiff is not a breed to take on lightly. He is wary of strangers and naturally protective of his family and property. Experienced handling, socialisation and training are needed, as with all guarding breeds. In the right home, he is a calm, affectionate, loyal companion. This is a dog for an expert only.

Ideal Owner

The Tibetan Mastiff will suit a breed expert with a large property and few close neighbours or visitors.

Health and Common Issues

Tibetan Mastiffs are generally a very robust breed. As with many breeds eye disorders and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems) can sometimes occur. Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore recommended.

Exercise Needs

An hour of daily exercise is required for a Tibetan Mastiff, though he will happily accept more if you can offer it. A Tibetan mastiff puppy should not be overexercised, as it is important to avoid putting strain on the muscles and joints of such a large, growing breed. As a guarding breed, they are generally happiest outdoors on their properties keeping an eye out for potential intruders.

Space Requirements

This is a dog who needs a very large house and well-fenced property

Nutrition and Feeding

Giant-breed dogs, as well as having giant appetites, benefit from a different balance of minerals and vitamins, supporting different joint and cartilage needs. The Tibetan Mastiff is prone to bloating and stomach problems. Try feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help minimise the risk. Check out our dog feeding guidelines for more information.

Grooming Tibetan Mastiffs

The Tibetan Mastiff's double coat consists of a dense, woolly undercoat, which sheds in warmer weather, and a thick topcoat that is straight and hard-textured. The tail and back legs are well feathered. A brush through a couple of times a week is advised with daily grooming when the coat sheds.

Training Tibetan Mastiffs

This isn’t a dog who takes well to training but he does need to be taught to walk on a lead so he can get the exercise he needs. Early socialisation with people and other dogs is vital.

Did You Know?

The Dalai Lama had eight Tibetan Mastiffs guarding his summer residence at Norblinka - two dogs at each entrance.

The earliest record of these dogs in England was in 1828 when one was presented to London Zoo - and then the Viceroy of India sent one to Queen Victoria in 1847.

In 1970, the breed found another role when Nepalese drug smugglers used them to ship illegal drugs into the US in the bottom of their dog crates. Strangely customs officials weren’t particularly keen to search them!

Best Family Dog Breeds

While they are affectionate with their own family, the Tibetan Mastiff is not a good family dog, being far too large and too protective. He is likely to mistake the intentions of their families friends. They can live with sensible older children but care should always be taken

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

Similar Breeds:


Pyrenean Mountain Dog

Siberian Husky


Is this the right breed for you?

All dogs have their own, unique personality, but there are some instincts and behaviours hat they’re born with. Try our Dog Breed Selector and find out which dog breeds better match your preferences and lifestyle.

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What to consider next


It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption. Click here for more information.

Finding a good breeder

If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed. Click here for more information.

Welcoming your dog home

Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information.