Thought by many historians to be the oldest of all large dog breeds the Tibetan Mastiff must have seemed almost mythical over the years – helped in no small part by the inaccessibility of its homeland Tibet, “The Roof of the World”.
The role of this remarkable dog was principally that of a Guardian, a role that it still continues to perform to this day, both in Tibet as well as elsewhere in the world.
Although reputed to be behind most of the large breeds we see today the Tibetan Mastiff has definitely played a role in the development and preservation of some of those we now know.
The Tibetan Mastiff should be a large, powerfully built dog with a calm and patient demeanour. Wary of strangers, they are affectionate (at times) with family and friends.
The Tibetan Mastiff is independently minded and this is often mistaken for stubbornness – the Tibetan Mastiff also has that trait - but the two are quite different and should not be confused.
A dense, thick coat which is generally more prolific in males and often enhanced by a mane. Although heavily coated a good weekly brush should be sufficient unless the dog is particularly dirty. This changes when the Tibetan Mastiff moults. This usually occurs in the Spring, when the majority of the coat is lost. At this time the coat requires copious brushing and combing for a period of approximately 4 weeks.
A good understanding of how the Tibetan Mastiff thinks is a prerequisite for ownership and extensive enquiries and visits with owners and breeders both at home and at shows should be made before purchase.
The Tibetan Mastiff will not generally respond to training in the same way a Border Collies or German Shepherd might.
On the whole the Tibetan Mastiff is a healthy breed although, as with all breeds, care must be taken before coming home with a puppy.
Hip scores are generally good and elbow scores are now being submitted as well with encouraging results on the whole. A small number of entropion cases have been reported and hopefully these will continue to decrease.
Confirmed cases of Von Willebrand's disease and thyroid problems have been identified and, although rare, some breeders continue to breed with affected animals.
Poor temperament is unusual but should not be dismissed as guarding behaviour and unfortunately this is also being bred from making thorough investigation before you decide on your breeder of paramount importance.