5 Things to Know About Tibetan Mastiffs

Tibetan Mastiffs have a beautiful, lion-like appearance and are protective of their family and property.

Tibetan Mastiff breed profile
Tibetan Mastiffs are longer than they are tall. Photo: Petful
AKC GroupAKC Group
90-150 lbs. (male);
70-120 lbs. (female)
26-30 in. (male);
24-28 in. (female)
Life ExpectancyLife Span
12-15 years

1. Key Characteristics of Tibetan Mastiffs

The Tibetan Mastiff is a large, athletic and powerful dog that matures slowly at around 3–5 years old. Females typically have a single heat cycle a year.

Dogs with longer hair tend to take on a lion-like appearance, and even their feet seem somewhat feline. The double coat is full of thick, heavy, coarse hair in black, brown, blue/gray, and may be with or without tan or gold markings. Underneath, you’ll find a wooly undercoat.

The medium-sized ears are V-shaped and drop forward. The dog also sports with a feathered tail that curves over the back. The feet are said to be cat-like.

2. Where Tibetan Mastiffs Came From

The earliest written proof of Tibetans dates to 1100 B.C. in China.

Skulls of the breed that were found date from the Stone and Bronze ages.

The dogs may have accompanied the armies of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan into battle. Travelers were not allowed in Tibet, but a few were able to visit in the 18th century and observed these large dogs.

The first dog of its breed to be exported was sent in 1847 from Lord Hardinge, viceroy of India to Queen Victoria, and was named Siring.

Some other important dates to note for the Tibetan Mastiff are:

  • 1873: Name established by the Kennel Club in England.
  • 1931: Tibetan Breeds Association was started in England.
  • 1974: The American Tibetan Mastiff Association was formed in the United States.
  • 2006: The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed for conformation showing in the Working Group.
Tibetan Mastiffs are independent but also loyal and gentle. Photo: Petful

3. How Friendly Are Tibetan Mastiffs?

Tibetan Mastiffs are intelligent, independent, easy to house-train, loyal and gentle with their family — but also extremely protective of family and property.

The typical Tibetan Mastiff will not allow strangers into the home. This can be mild or extreme, depending on the dog, but it means planning parties or play dates for kids might be tricky.

These dogs are OK with other pets when properly introduced and socialized. They can become upset when family members are disciplined or if they argue. They can also be difficult eaters, going days without eating (this is more common in males).

The Tibetan Mastiff has a powerful jaw that can chew through wood doors, chain link fences and even concrete, so the first few years as a puppy can come with some destruction without proper chew toys and exercise.

4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs


MEDIUM: Tibetan Mastiffs are quiet indoors and active outdoors. They need a daily, leashed walk and need to be contained when exercised outside.

Again, they’re independent and will easily walk away. Their boredom can also lead to destructive behavior, so don’t skimp on the exercise.

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Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: A Tibetan Mastiff doesn’t shed much — unless the coat is being blown (usually once a year, but females have been known to blow their coat twice).

Weekly brushing is fine, but you’ll need to brush daily when the dog blows their coat. Despite this, some people think these dogs are good companions for allergy sufferers.

Since the ears drop forward, be sure to clean them at least once a week. Also, clean the teeth and keep the nails trimmed.

Health Problems


MEDIUM: Tibetan Mastiffs have a few health concerns, but not many:

CIDN is a genetic and, sadly, fatal disease. Puppies will exhibit symptoms of CIDN around 7–10 weeks of age, with death occurring at around 4 months old.

More Stats About Tibetan Mastiffs

Friendliness ★★★★☆
Ease of Training ★☆☆☆☆
Barking/Howling ★★☆☆☆
Shedding ★★☆☆☆
Tolerate Being Alone ★☆☆☆☆
Very Good With Kids ★★★★☆

Here’s a Tibetan Mastiff getting ready for a dog show (this is our most popular video clip ever):

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5. How to Adopt a Tibetan Mastiff

If you consider getting a Tibetan Mastiff, please turn first to adoption resources. Even purebred animals land in shelters sometimes. Try Petful’s adoptable pets search now.

You can also check with rescue groups and breeders. But make sure the breeder is reputable.