Tibetan Mastiff Information


An impressively large dog with a noble appearance, the Tibetan Mastiff is known to be a conversation starter and a traffic stopper walking down the street. Along with the dog’s large size, the Tibetan Mastiff possess all of the qualities that have contributed to its long ancient history of being a guardian, including fearlessness, loyalty, strength, dedication, patience, and stubbornness. The Tibetan Mastiff can serve as a wonderful pet for property-owning families with older children, but it is important to understand the following traits to decide whether this sizeable companion is a right fit for your lifestyle.

Tibetan Mastiff
Basic Info
NameTibetan Mastiff
Other Name Do-Khyi
Size Type Large Dog Breeds
Breed Group Working Dog Breeds
Life Span10 to 12 years
TemperamentAloof, Stubborn, Intelligent, Protective, Tenacious, Strong Willed
Height24 to 26 inches or more at the shoulder
Weight85 to 140 pounds
Colors Brown & Tan, Black, Brown, Red Gold, Blue Gray, Black & Tan
Puppy Price$2500 - $3500 USD

Tibetan Mastiff

Physical description

Body Type

As a massive dog with sturdy bone structure, the Tibetan Mastiff has a slightly longer body than tall with a muscular neck that is slightly arched. The somewhat wrinkled head is heavy with a broad squared muzzle and large black nose. The pendant, V-shaped ears hang forward close to the sides of the head, beside slightly almond-shaped dark eyes. In addition to a feathered tail that is curled over the back end, the dog has cat-like feet that have feathering between the toes. While the breed starts its life as a small, cute teddy bear of a puppy, the Tibetan Mastiff quickly grows to reach a shoulder height between 25 to 32 inches and weigh from 105 to 180 pounds.


The coat of the Tibetan Mastiff comes in a variety of beautiful colors, including black, brown, red, blue-gray, gold, and tan. It is also very common for these mastiffs to have white or tan markings above the eyes, on each side of the muzzle, on the lower part of the front forelegs, and on the inside of the rear legs towards the toes.


The Tibetan Mastiff possesses a double coat with fairly long, thick, coarse guard hair and a heavy soft undercoat. The neck and shoulders are heavily coated with straight, stand-off fur that gives the dog a mane-like appearance. Although the Tibetan Mastiff sheds its coat somewhat throughout the year, there is generally one large molt in the late winter or early spring.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  No


Since the Tibetan Mastiff is a longer haired breed, it is essential that owners provide a thorough brushing to keep the coat and skin in good condition. Not only will regular brushing stimulate the oil glands to keep the coat shiny, it also reduces the likelihood of further irritation problems on the skin underneath. Tibetan Mastiffs should also be brushed with a slicker brush or combed every day in the winter season because the double coat needs to be matt-free in order to allow the warm air to circulate next to the skin and keep the dog warm.

Despite the fact that the Tibetan Mastiff usually lacks the unpleasant smell that is common amongst larger dog breeds, the dog still needs to be bathed a few times throughout the year. It is important to thoroughly brush through the Tibetan Mastiff’s coat before bathing to ensure the water, shampoo, and conditioner can reach through to the skin easier. Tibetan Mastiffs also possess unique rear dew-claws that do not wear down because they cannot touch the ground. Therefore, it is essential that owners trim the dog’s nails monthly to avoid the nails curling back into the skin and a rather painful experience for the Tibetan Mastiff.


As a very ancient breed believed to have been in existence as early as 1100 B.C., the Tibetan Mastiff is descended from the famous Tibetan dogs that were the ancestors to the majority of other Mastiffs throughout the world. This particular breed developed into the large Tibetan Mastiff that we know today during an era when they were isolated from other dogs in the Himalayan Mountains for centuries. Usually confined during the daylight hours to enhance aggressive tendencies and freed at night, Tibetan Mastiffs were useful for guarding families, tents, flocks, or even whole villages.

However, in the mid-19th century, the Tibetan Mastiff was brought from isolation and one of these dogs was delivered to Queen Victoria of England. Growing in popularity in Europe and the United States, the dogs were imported from India, Nepal, Afghanistan, and Ladakh. The British quickly wrote up a standard and began to breed the pups that were described by Marco Polo as being “tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as a lion.” Today quite rare in Tibet, the Tibetan Mastiff has become a prized asset for livestock and home guardianship. Although the American Tibetan Mastiff Association was first established back in 1974 as an official registry, the Tibetan Mastiff has been recently recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2006 for competition.


Extremely intelligent and independent in nature, the Tibetan Mastiff is a rather aloof and watchful guardian breed. While the dogs tend to be vocal barkers if left outside at nighttime, the Tibetan Mastiff is usually even-tempered, calm, thoughtful, and quiet while indoors. Since the breed is known for being highly protective of their owners and property, it may be difficult for a family to bring unfamiliar people into the home. Requiring an experienced owner, the Tibetan Mastiff needs a confident and consistent pack leader to prevent the dog from becoming willful, stubborn, overprotective, territorial, or aggressive.

Due to their large size and the fact that they are not very active indoors, the Tibetan Mastiff must be very well-exercised with daily walks to satisfy their migration instinct. If time for walks is limited, exercise requirements can also be fulfilled with 20 to 30 minutes of playtime in a large, securely fenced yard. Generally not an appropriate dog for apartment living, the breed thrives the most in a spacious home with access to a yard with a canine companion. Although the Tibetan Mastiff can get along with smaller dogs or cats when they are raised with them, the breed prefers to play with dogs that come close to their own size.

Interesting Tibetan Mastiff Facts


  • Considered the most expensive dog in the world, the Tibetan Mastiff is growing in popularity among the wealthy people of China with purebreds being sold for as much as 10 million yuan ($1.5 million).
  • Unlike most other large breeds, the Tibetan Mastiff has a long life expectancy of 13 to 16 years due to a fewer number of genetic health problems.
  • Tibetans believe that the souls of monks and nuns who were not worthy to be either humans or Shambhalas in the heavenly realm have been reincarnated as Tibetan Mastiffs, thus the people believe the animals are holy.