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BREED SPOTLIGHT

Breed Spotlight: Tibetan Mastiff

Four mintues Sep 13, 2022

Tibetan Mastiff Quick Stats

Lifespan: 10 – 12 years

Weight: 70 – 150 lbs.

Height: 24 inches (minimum)

Do I Shed?: Yes

Personality: Protective, mellow, intelligent

Common Health Problems: Hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, seizures 

Tibetan Mastiff: How Do I Look?

The Tibetan mastiff is a large dog with an imposing appearance. This breed typically weighs over 100 pounds, is muscular, and has a large, broad head. Despite their intimidating look, Tibetan mastiffs have a fluffy coat and expressive eyes.

Coat Type and Colors

Tibetan mastiffs’ coats are medium length and can come in multiple colors. Their double coat consists of a heavy undercoat and coarse guard hair. Many of these dogs have a large mane and feathering on their hind legs and tail.

The American Kennel Club official breed standards list the following coat colors for this breed:3

  • Black
  • Black and tan
  • Brown
  • Red gold
  • Brown and tan
  • Blue gray
  • Red gold sable
  • Blue gray and tan

White markings are also acceptable under the AKC breed standard.

Shedding and Grooming

Tibetan mastiffs don’t shed much throughout the year. However, they “blow” their undercoat once a year. This seasonal shed leads to a massive amount of shedding in the spring or summer. During a blow, use an undercoat rake or deshedding tool to help your Tibetan mastiff fully release their undercoat.

Despite their fluffy appearance, Tibetan mastiffs require minimal grooming. Their coat should still be maintained properly with weekly brushings. Brushing will help remove dirt and tangles in their tail, mane and hind legs.

Ears and Tail

Tibetan mastiffs’ ears are medium-sized and thick with short, soft fur. They are V-shaped, high set on the dog’s head and slightly drooped forward. Tibetan mastiffs’ ears are not cropped.

Their tails are heavily feathered and typically curl over the dog’s back.

Drooling Level

Excessive drooling should not be an issue for Tibetan mastiffs. But as a larger breed, owners should expect some drool. 

A Tibetan mastiff sits next to its owner while on a walk.

Tibetan Mastiff: Personality Traits

What My Adoption Bio Would Say:

If you’re looking for the fluffiest cuddle buddy and a fierce protector, I’m the pup for you. You might think that you’re smarter than me, but trust me, I know you’re not. But don’t worry! I’ll love and protect you with all I have anyways.

Behavior

Bred as guard dogs, the Tibetan mastiffs’ temperament is protective yet affectionate. They bond well with their family and will protect them fiercely. It’s best to shield Tibetan mastiffs from arguments where their protective nature could escalate the situation.

Most of their activity is motivated by their patrolling nature in outdoor settings, so they are often fairly calm indoors. Many can be very playful, but most prefer work-related tasks. Be alert, as Tibetan mastiffs are known for having random bursts of energy.

Left unstimulated, Tibetan mastiffs may develop destructive chewing habits, so be sure you give them something to do.

Trainability

Tibetan mastiffs are highly intelligent and learn quickly. However, they are also highly stubborn and often won’t respond to traditional obedience training. They don’t care to learn the same thing more than once.

The Tibetan mastiff is not a breed for new dog owners or pet parents who lack confidence. This breed’s stubbornness often makes them prefer to do things their way, especially if they disagree with their owner.

Tibetan mastiff puppies should still be socialized early and introduced to training techniques. Safe introductions to strangers are especially important for this breed.

Exercise Needs

Although they can have short bursts of energy, Tibetan mastiffs lack endurance and only require moderate daily exercise. A large, private fenced-in area is best for their activity needs and interests.

Walks are acceptable, but Tibetan mastiffs should never be off-leash due to their unreliable recall. It’s also best to switch up their walking routine so they don’t become territorial over a specific route.

Good with Kids?

Tibetan mastiffs are good dogs with kids. They are affectionate and gentle with their family unit. Tibetan mastiffs should still be supervised around young children due to their large size.

Good with Other Pets?

Tibetan mastiffs are usually good with other dogs in the household, even small ones. However, they may not be appropriate play mates for strangers’ pets.

Barking Level

Tibetan mastiffs aren’t known to be excessive barkers during the day time, but they are known to be night barkers. To avoid barking a lot during the evenings Tibetan mastiffs should be kept indoors.

Tibetan Mastiff History and Fun Facts

The Tibetan Mastiff — officially accepted into the AKC in 2006 — has a very rich history as an ancient breed:4

  • The Tibetan mastiff is still considered a primitive breed, meaning they evolved with minimal human interference.
  • They are believed to be the original ancestor for all modern mastiffs and mountain dogs.
  • In Tibet, they are called “Do-Khyi” which means “tied dog.”
  • A Tibetan mastiff named Big Splash holds the Guinness World Record for the most expensive dog.5 Big Splash was purchased for the equivalent of $1.5 million USD in 2011.

Common Tibetan Mastiff Mixes

Cross breeding Tibetan mastiffs with other breeds is fairly rare, but some popular Tibetan mastiff mixes include:

  • Tibetan mastiff husky: Tibetan mastiff and husky mix
  • Mastipoo: Tibetan mastiff and poodle mix
  • Tibetan mastiff and German shepherd mix

Tibetan Mastiff Health Issues

The Tibetan mastiff is a fairly healthy breed, but all dog breeds can experience health issues. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and the Canine Health Information Center recommend Tibetan mastiffs receive health evaluations for:6

  • Elbow and hip dysplasia: These are painful joint conditions.
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis: Tibetan mastiffs may have an underactive thyroid.
  • Eye conditions: Tibetan mastiffs are prone to entropion, ectropion, and progressive retinal atrophy.
  • Seizures

How Pet Insurance Can Help Tibetan Mastiffs

A MetLife Pet Insurance1 policy for your Tibetan mastiff could help cover the cost of expensive vet bills related to these common issues.2

Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is common in large breeds. It is a condition that affects a dog’s hip joint and their surrounding cartilage. If left untreated, hip dysplasia can be extremely painful for your dog. It’s diagnosed through a physical evaluation and x-rays. Surgery is required to treat hip dysplasia.

Hypothyroidism

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, hypothyroidism is a form of autoimmune thyroiditis.7 This condition affects a dog’s thyroid gland leading to a lower metabolism. Diagnosing hypothyroidism can involve laboratory tests and ultrasounds. Dogs diagnosed with this condition are prescribed daily medication.

Entropion

The Merck Veterinary Manual states that entropion in dogs is an inverted eyelid that causes eyelashes and facial hair to rub against eye tissue.8 If left untreated, entropion can lead to corneal scarring. Surgery is needed to treat established cases.

For more information on how pet insurance can help your Tibetan mastiff, check out our guide on how pet insurance works. Consider signing up for dog insurance while your furry family member is a puppy. While adult and senior Tibetan mastiffs can still benefit from pet insurance, early coverage is key to avoiding pre-existing conditions.

Protect your Tibetan Mastiff

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC. 

3 “Official Standard of the Tibetan Mastiff,” American Kennel Club

4 “Tibetan Mastiff Dog Breed Information,” American Kennel Club

5 “Most expensive dog,” Guinness World Records

6 “Tibetan Mastiff Recommended Tests/CHIC Program Requirements,” Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

7 “Hypothyroidism in Animals,” Merck Veterinary Manual

8 “Eyelids,” Merck Veterinary Manual

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