Did you know?
When Marco Polo first saw these large Tibetan dogs in his travels, he described them as “tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as that of a lion.”
Dogs’ lives are too short…their only fault, really. – Agnes Sligh Turnbull
An ancient and rare breed, the Tibetan Mastiff has been a guardian and protector of Himalayan nomadic herders’ flocks and villages, and the monasteries of Tibet for hundreds of years. His name is “Do-khyi” in Tibetan, meaning ‘tied dog’.
With origins shrouded in myth and legend, this dog has marched through history gaining mention by such luminaries as Aristotle (384-322 BC) and Marco Polo whose famous travels took him to Asia in 1271.
This massive dog, considered by some to be the forefather of all large mountain and mastiff breeds, claims many descendants including the Newfoundland, the Great Pyrenees, the Dogue de Bordeaux, and the Great Dane among others. Originally bred to protect livestock from wolves, leopards, and other predators, his fierceness and fearlessness is legendary.
Males of this breed stand at least 26 inches (66 cm) at the shoulder and weigh around 100 pounds (45 kg) when full grown. Their coats are thick and weather-resistant. They may be black with tan markings, solid black, blue with tan markings, solid blue, sable, or golden ranging from rich fawn to deep red. Due to their size, they should have a large fenced property to run and play in. As a guardian, he will patrol his property and quickly sound the alarm when he detects something amiss. Since he is naturally a nocturnal guardian, leaving him outside at night may draw some complaints from the neighbours.
Photos displayed courtesy of Barbara McLuskey, Michewa, Ontario
The Tibetan Mastiff evolved in an unforgiving climate. He had to adapt to the harshest environment and perform his guard duties often without human direction. As a result, he is an intelligent, independent, courageous, and aloof dog capable of making his own decisions and acting on them.
A perceptive animal who is naturally wary of strangers, this Mastiff requires early and careful socialization to new people and situations. His temperament will not suit everyone. Boredom can result in destructive behaviour. He needs a strong, confident, and patient owner willing to train and socialize a large, strong dog with a stubborn streak!
Training is very important. The breed is slow to mature. Male dogs will reach full adulthood after 4 years; females gain maturity in 2 to 3 years. This means you will have a large powerful animal going through a long puppyhood. It is essential that you can control him.
Barking may be an issue with this breed. He barks to warn others that he is ‘on the job’ – particularly if left out at night.