The Tibetan Mastiff is a breed of domestic guard dog that originated in Asia, where it was used to guard livestock, palaces, tents, villages, and monasteries. The breed was known by many names in different regions, including Bhote Kukur, which translates to “someone from Tibet” and “dog” in Nepali. The term mastiff was once used to denote a number of large breeds, but the Tibetan mastiff is not a true mastiff.
The Tibetan Mastiff was very popular in England in the early nineteenth century, but war caused it to lose popularity in that area. It became popular throughout the world in 1980, due to an increase of breeders, and is now being overbred after recognition from the AKC and FCI. Many reputable breeders are working to conserve the purebred bloodline of the dog by breeding dogs from other countries, using a method known as selective breeding.
There are two types of the Tibetan Mastiff known as the Tsang-khyi and the Do-khyi, but not every breeder recognizes these types. The Do-khyi, also known as the monastery type, is taller and thicker than the Tsang-khyi, or nomad type, although it has been found that both types can be born in the same litter. This breed differs in size depending upon the sex, with males reaching an average height of up to 32 inches at the withers, or shoulder blades, with some individuals reaching a weight of up to 180 pounds, which is considered overweight. It has a thick double coat that varies in length depending upon the area in which it was born and is recognized in many colors including bluish grey, shades of red, and black.
The Tibetan Mastiff’s size and characteristics, including its fur and pack mentality, mark it as an ancient breed that can withstand harsh conditions. Its estrous cycle occurs once a year, during the fall months, with births typically occurring between the months of December and January. This behavior can be seen in wolves and other wild canid species.
The Tibetan Mastiff can live between ten and fourteen years, longer than most other large breeds, but it can display a number of ailments including hypothyroidism, epilepsy, hip and elbow dysplasia, autoimmune diseases, and allergies, among other health issues. Unlike other large breeds, this dog does not hold the typical “big dog” smell that others have, because it sheds the fur and the odor and dirt that it holds. It sheds throughout the year, with peak shedding occurring during the late winter and early spring months.
Because the Tibetan mastiff was used as a flock guardian breed, it is a common guard dog in family homes and other areas. However, it makes a calm pet, but it is not recommended that novice trainers acquire this type of dog due to the amount of training it will need. Obedience training and socialization are recommended to owners of this breed in order to make it a well-behaved pet. It is also recommended that the breed be kept with one or more other dogs in a large, outdoor space. The Tibetan Mastiff is recognized by many official organizations including the UKC, AKC, FCI, and the NZKC. It is listed under different names within these clubs including utility dogs and guard dogs.
Image Caption: Bea Miu Nan Šan, CAC. Credit: Mimayin/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)