Tibetan Mastiffs are majestic, loyal, and protective dogs. This ancient breed is one of the world’s largest and most impressive dogs, with a history that goes back thousands of years. Owning a Tibetan Mastiff is not for everyone. These dogs have strong personalities and require a lot of training, socialization, and care.
History of the Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff breed is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, dating back to ancient times. They originated in the high altitudes of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateaus, where they were used as flock guardians and estate protectors by nomadic tribes and monks. They were also revered as symbols of power and status by the Tibetan aristocracy.
First introduced to the Western world in 1847 when Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy of India, brought a Tibetan Mastiff to England. The dog was presented as a gift to Queen Victoria, who named it Siring. The breed was admired by other British nobles, such as the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), who went on to own several Tibetan Mastiffs.
Over a century later, the breed was first brought to the United States in the 1950s by American travelers who visited Tibet and Nepal. The American Tibetan Mastiff Association (ATMA) was formed in 1974 to promote and preserve the breed in the U.S. The breed received full recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 2006.
Tibetan Mastiffs became very popular in China in the early 2000s, when they were considered a status symbol and a luxury item by wealthy Chinese people. Some Tibetan Mastiffs even sold for astronomical prices, reaching up to $2 million for a single dog. However, this trend soon faded as many owners realized that these dogs were not easy to keep and care for. Unfortunately, many Tibetan Mastiffs were abandoned or euthanized by irresponsible owners or banned by local authorities.
Today, the Tibetan Mastiff is still a rare and exotic breed that attracts many dog fans around the world. However, they are not suitable for everyone and require a lot of research and commitment before deciding to own one.
Physical Appearance of Tibetan Mastiffs
The Tibetan Mastiff is a giant dog weighing up to 150 pounds and standing up to 26 inches at the shoulder. They have a thick double coat that comes in various colors, such as black, brown, blue/grey, or gold. The coat is especially long and dense around the neck, creating a mane-like appearance reminiscent of a lion. The coat also protects them from the harsh weather conditions of their native land.
The Tibetan Mastiff has a broad head, strong muzzle, and powerful jaws. They have small, deep-set eyes that are dark brown or amber in color. Their ears are medium-sized and pendant-shaped, hanging close to the head. Their tail is long and bushy, curling over the back when alert.
The Tibetan Mastiff has a muscular, sturdy body, deep chest, and strong legs. They have large feet with thick pads and feathering between the toes. They have a dignified and confident gait that shows their strength and endurance.
The Tibetan Mastiff is an intelligent, independent, and loyal dog that forms a strong bond with its family. They are devoted to their owners and will protect them from any perceived threat with their mighty guardianship instincts. They are also affectionate and gentle with their loved ones, especially children.
However, Tibetan Mastiffs are not typical family pets that will always obey your every command or crave your attention. They are aloof and reserved with strangers and other animals and may act aggressively if they feel threatened or challenged. They are also territorial and bark loudly to warn off intruders or unwanted visitors.
This is not a dog for first-time or inexperienced owners. They need a firm and consistent leader who can establish clear rules and boundaries for them. They also need early and extensive socialization training to expose them to different people, places, sounds, and situations. They can become stubborn, dominant, destructive, or even dangerous without proper training and socialization.
These dogs are not well suited for apartment living or urban areas. They need a large, secure yard to roam freely and exercise their natural instincts. They also need a comfortable and sheltered place where they can rest and sleep. Hot or humid climates cause them to overheat quickly; they are much happier in cooler temperatures. They are also not very tolerant of noise or commotion and prefer a quiet and peaceful environment. Tibetan Mastiffs are best suited for rural or suburban areas where they have enough space and freedom.
Pros and Cons
- The Tibetan Mastiff is a loyal and protective dog that will guard its family and home with its life.
- The Tibetan Mastiff is a majestic and impressive dog that will attract attention and admiration wherever it goes.
- The Tibetan Mastiff is a gentle and affectionate dog that will bond deeply with its owners and children.
- The Tibetan Mastiff is a challenging and independent dog that requires a lot of training, socialization, and leadership.
- The Tibetan Mastiff is a large and hairy dog that requires a lot of grooming, space, and exercise.
- The Tibetan Mastiff is a rare and expensive dog that may suffer from some health problems and require special care.
Common Health Issues
The Tibetan Mastiff is a generally healthy breed with a long lifespan of 11 to 14 years. However, like any other dog breed, they may suffer from some health problems that can affect their quality of life. Some of these health problems are inherited, while environmental factors or lifestyle habits influence others. Here are some of the common health issues this breed may face:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia: Common orthopedic conditions that affect the development and alignment of the hip and elbow joints, causing pain, lameness, and arthritis. A combination of genetic and environmental factors, such as rapid growth, excessive weight, and poor nutrition, causes them. Hip and elbow dysplasia can be diagnosed by X-rays and treated by surgery, medication, or physical therapy. They can also be prevented or reduced by getting the dog from a reputable breeder who can show the parents’ health tests.
- Eye disorders: The Tibetan Mastiff is prone to diseases of the eyes and eyelids, such as entropion, ectropion, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and cherry eye. Entropion and ectropion are conditions where the eyelids roll inward or outward, causing irritation, infection, or vision loss. Cataracts are cloudy formations on the lens of the eye that impair vision. PRA is a degenerative disease that causes gradual blindness. Cherry eye is a third eyelid gland prolapse that causes swelling and inflammation. These eye disorders can be diagnosed by an eye exam and treated by surgery, medication, or eye drops. They can also be prevented or detected by getting the dog from a reputable breeder who can show eye clearances of the parents.
- Thyroid disease: A hormonal disorder that affects the production of thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism, growth, and development. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces too few thyroid hormones, causing symptoms such as weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, skin infections, and infertility. Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormones, causing symptoms such as weight loss, restlessness, increased appetite, and heart problems. Thyroid disease can be diagnosed by blood tests and treated by medication or surgery. It can also be prevented or detected by getting the dog from a reputable breeder who can show thyroid tests of the parents.
- Seizures: Episodes of abnormal electrical activity in the brain that cause involuntary movements, loss of consciousness, or behavioral changes. Seizures can have various causes, such as epilepsy, brain tumors, infections, toxins, or trauma. Seizures can be diagnosed by neurological exams and tests and treated by medication or surgery. They can also be prevented or reduced by avoiding triggers such as stress, heat, or loud noises.
- Bloat: This emergency gastrointestinal syndrome occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself, cutting off blood flow and causing shock. Bloat can be fatal if not treated immediately by surgery. Bloat can have various causes, such as eating too fast, eating too much, exercising after eating, or swallowing air. Bloat can be prevented or reduced by feeding smaller meals more frequently, using slow-feed bowls or puzzle toys, and avoiding stress or excitement around mealtime. Almost all large dogs are prone to bloat.
These are some of the most common health problems that Tibetan Mastiffs may face. By no means will every Tibetan Mastiff develop these conditions; in fact, many never will. It’s good to know and understand them, just in case. Providing your dog with proper care, nutrition, exercise, and regular veterinary check-ups can also help mitigate a lot of these potential health issues.
Caring for a Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan Mastiffs are not low-maintenance dogs that can be left alone for long periods of time. They need a lot of care and attention to keep them happy and healthy. Here are some of the care tips that you should follow if you own a Tibetan Mastiff:
The Tibetan Mastiff has a thick double coat that sheds heavily twice a year during seasonal shed periods. They need regular brushing at least once a week to remove dead hair and prevent mats and tangles. They also need an occasional bath with mild shampoo to keep their coat clean and shiny.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a large and active dog that needs a high-quality and balanced diet to meet its nutritional needs. You should feed them according to their age, weight, activity level, and health condition. You should also avoid overfeeding them or giving them human food, as they can easily gain weight and develop obesity-related problems. You should also provide them with fresh water at all times and avoid using plastic bowls, as they can cause allergic reactions.
Tibetan Mastiffs do not have boundless high energy like some dogs or need constant exercise, but they do need regular physical and mental stimulation to keep them fit and happy. Provide them with at least an hour of moderate exercise every day, such as walking, hiking, playing fetch, or agility training. And avoid exercising them in hot weather or during the hottest hours of the day, as they can easily overheat. You can also provide them with toys and puzzles to keep them entertained and prevent boredom and destructive behavior.
This highly intelligent and independent dog breed can be challenging to train. They need a firm and consistent leader who can establish clear rules and boundaries for them. They also benefit from early and extensive socialization training to expose them to different people, places, sounds, and situations. Many dogs can become stubborn, dominant, aggressive, or fearful without proper training and socialization. Always use positive reinforcement methods such as praise, treats, and toys to motivate them and avoid harsh or physical punishment that can damage their trust and confidence. Enrolling them in obedience classes or hiring a professional trainer if you need help or guidance is a great idea.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a magnificent and loyal dog that can make a phenomenal companion for the right owner. But, they are not a dog for everyone and require a lot of care and commitment. Before deciding to own a Tibetan Mastiff, you should do your research and make sure you can provide them with everything they need. If you are looking for a majestic, loyal, and protective dog, the Tibetan Mastiff may be the breed for you.
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How big is a Tibetan Mastiff?
A Tibetan Mastiff is a giant dog weighing up to 150 pounds and standing up to 26 inches at the shoulder. They have a muscular and sturdy body with a thick double coat that looks lion-like.
How much is a Tibetan Mastiff?
A Tibetan Mastiff is a rare and exotic dog that can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on the breeder, the pedigree, and the quality of the dog. Some Tibetan Mastiffs have been sold for astronomical prices in China, reaching up to $2 million for a single dog.
Are Tibetan Mastiffs dangerous?
A Tibetan Mastiff is not inherently dangerous but can be aggressive if they are not properly trained, socialized, and supervised. They have strong guarding instincts and will protect their family and territory from any perceived threat. They are also very powerful and can cause serious injury if they bite or attack. They are not recommended for inexperienced or timid owners or for homes with other dogs or small animals.
Do Tibetan Mastiffs shed a lot?
A Tibetan Mastiff has a thick double coat that sheds heavily twice a year during seasonal shed periods. They need regular brushing at least once a week to remove dead hair and prevent mats and tangles. They also need occasional bathing with mild shampoo to keep their coat clean and shiny.
Are Tibetan Mastiffs friendly?
A Tibetan Mastiff is friendly and gentle with its family and children but aloof and reserved with strangers and other animals. They need early and extensive socialization training to expose them to different people, places, sounds, and situations. They are not very playful or cuddly and prefer to be independent and watchful. They are best suited for owners who can provide them with enough space, freedom, and respect.