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The Tibetan Mastiff*

Male, 10 years oldThe Tibetan Mastiff is the largest of the Oriental breeds as well as one of the most beautiful. Although historically thought of as the guard dog of the villagers and nomads, they have also been companions to Kings, Queens, and Presidents, as well as the Dali Lama. Here in the U.S. they have proven themselves as guard dogs, herding dogs, sled dogs, and most importantly, as family companions.

The Tibetan Mastiff is the forebearer of many of today's AKC breeds, including the Newfoundland, St. Bernard, Great Pyrenees, and English Mastiff.

They were bred for centuries with little regard for conformation, but solely for their working capabilities, leaving only the most agile and tractable dogs of tested strength, stamina and courage. Unwittingly, the villagers were approximating the choices that mother nature would have made. By this natural selection, the Tibetan Mastiff escaped many of the genetic problems prevalent in man-made and man-molded working breeds of today and is little changed from the Tibetan Mastiff of ancient times.

Perhaps the best way to help you visualize the Tibetan Mastiff is to compare him with common breeds with which you are undoubtedly familiar. He is similar in temperament to the Akita and Rottweiler in that he is generally reserved with strangers, trustworthy with children and gentle and affectionate with his family. However, unlike the Akita and Rottweiler, the Tibetan Mastiff is generally well dispositioned toward other dogs, although he will not back down if challenged. His coat is like that of the Newfoundland in that t is double with a dense undercoat and water resistant guard coat of medium length. However, it is not that the St. Bernard in that it is large, blocky, has pendant ears, and a broad skull and muzzle. However, his jowls are not so excessive as to be constantly wet with drool. His movements is similar to that of the herding breeds in that it is free and effortless and is not the stilted or ponderous gait we see so often in other Mastiff breeds. His large, but not giant size (26-28 inches at the shoulder, 90-125 lbs. for dogs; 24-26 inches at the shoulder, 75-90 lbs for bitches) is ideal for sentry work where guarding instincts must be combined with agility, speed and endurance; and as a family pet as he is large enough to take abuses from small children, but not so large to injure them unintentionally. His size combines the advantages of the giant breeds, i.e., impressive stature, formidable appearance and great strength, without the disadvantages, i.e., shortened lifespan, clumsiness, general lethargy and a high incidence of hip dysplasia.

The Tibetan Mastiff is eligible to be shown in breed competition in Rare Breed Shows throughout the U.S. and are often invited to AKC matches and shows for exhibition. They are eligible for Schutzhund competitions and for breed competition in F.C.I. (Federation Cynologique Internationale) member countries, including Mexico, most of Europe, and South America.


This information has been contributed by, and is property of The United States Tibetan Mastiff Club, and is gratefully used here with permission.

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