What Is a Tibetan Mastiff?

There are many dogs in the United States and throughout the world that are called Tibetan Mastiffs. These dogs present a wide variety of colors, sizes, coats and styles. In choosing a Tibetan Mastiff one should settle on a style of dog which appeals to them. If the dog is to be shown in the conformation ring, it should meet the Breed Standard as closely as possible. If the dog is chosen to be a family dog (pet), it may be very big or very small, with many other variations. When it comes to the character and guardian instincts and temperament of the Tibetan Mastiff, there is a shorter list of variables. Most owners would agree that a true Tibetan Mastiff is characterized by intelligence, self-confidence, self-awareness, curiosity and courage. A puppy or adult who shrinks and cowers or snaps and bites without provocation will not make a good companion and protector.

Tibetan Mastiffs are complicated to own but they have characteristics that make them unique and they are especially appreciated by their families. The decision to place a Tibetan Mastiff in a prospective home is always a serious one. Breeders wrestle with choices about proper placements - especially those of us with a 100% return policy. A Himalaya bred puppy always has a home - with me. It is obviously my objective to locate quality, permanent homes with commitment and patience. A good Tibetan Mastiff owner knows that it takes 2-3 years for a TM to mature emotionally and longer from them to mature physically. Patience is paramount.


Tibetan Mastiffs are known for their stability and intelligence, making them delightful pets when properly socialized. What is socialization? It begins with the interaction between the Dam and her owner and the puppies. From the beginning, pups must be taught that they can trust their masters. This is accomplished through consistent, positive re-enforcement. Puppies don't understand words, but they are very sensitive to smells and tastes and sounds. A puppy that is shouted at or handled roughly may withdraw and become distant and unfriendly even with its owners. One of the greatest lessons in socialization I learned was by observing noted Dutch breeder Wim Reusen and his family with their dogs. Never was a voice or a hand raised - just a chiding "Nay" to correct unacceptable behavior. Dogs and puppies were touched gently, with respect and affection. Tibetan Mastiffs respond to a soft touch dramatically. Once your Tibetan Mastiff is relaxed and confident in his relationship with you, you can begin small trips outside of his normal territory, making certain that you allow him time to adjust to the sights, sounds and smells of new places. Some puppy kindergarten classes can be very useful in getting your dog more comfortable with other people and animals. It is important to keep these outings fun for your dog. In time, he will be a relaxed but watchful companion. I find that introducing young puppies to a variety of people of various ages helps to reduce anxiety and to reinforce the puppy's feelings of self confidence.

Not for Everyone?

No breed is right for everyone and the Tibetan Mastiff is no exception. The breed is quite independent and can be stubborn and hard headed. Barking is often a complaint from people who have not learned this characteristic before purchasing a puppy. The TM may also be destructively mischievous if he becomes bored. The breed enjoys the company of other animals and their human family. The dogs are almost cat-like in their cleanliness and stealth. An unusal breed, a beautiful and impressive breed - but definitely not for everyone.

Please take a minute to bookmark www.tibetanmastiffinfo.com as a reference for everything from diet to behavior. The website is a wonderful resource and I applaud the hard work and dedication that has gone into it and continues to go into it.

Myth or Mastiff?

There are so many stories that have been written about the Tibetan Mastiff by people all over the world - past and present! Most stories carry at least a kernel of truth. There has been and continues to be a good bit of debate about whether the Tibetan Mastiff is even a mastiff. Many legends, fables and historical accounts tell us the Do-khyi or Tibetan Mastiff is a huge, hulking, formidable beast. Some stories would have us believe that these dogs are properly 160-200 pounds. Others tell of a mythic Tsang-khyi that is somehow bigger and better than the Do-khyi. I think most of these tales are amusing versions of “my dog is better than your dog”. Even Marco Polo had his stories about the size of the Tibetan Mastiff - but then poor Marco also reported that he had seen a unicorn when he first saw a rhinoceros. So sometimes stories are just stories. Please don’t miss the important issues when you consider making a Tibetan Mastiff part of your family. Regardless of gender, size or color and whether your intention is to own, show or breed; there is a point on which all owners will agree. This is an ancient and primitive breed. They are not appropriate for inexperienced owners who are not familiar with strong, dominant, protective dog breeds. Only persons who are ready for the special challenges and the amazing journey of owning a Tibetan Mastiff should seriously consider the breed. Another important concern is that the entire family must be ready for this dog. Tibetan Mastiffs have to be integrated into a household and therefore each and every person has to form a relationship with the dog. Most commonly the dogs do not work out when only one person is really interested in the breed. These amazing dogs form remarkable relationships with their families and so the permanence of the home is critical. Please do not consider this breed if you can even envision a situation where you would want to re-home your Tibetan Mastiff.

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