Tibetan Mastiff breed information
|Average height||61-66 cm|
|Average weight||35-70 kg|
|Average lifespan||Over 10 years|
|Minimum exercise (per day)||1 hour|
|Minimum cost (per month)||£105|
Tibetan Mastiffs may look imposing but are in fact loyal and gentle dogs who will gladly spend as much time as possible with their owners. Despite their calm nature, they can certainly move quickly when they want to so need plenty of exercise and can be very strong-willed.
Originally bred in the Himalayas, Tibetan Mastiffs were commonly used for protecting the home and livestock, so they’ll naturally want to protect your home. This has also made them very intelligent dogs who respond really well to positive training. Their size and strength means that they don’t really suit first time owners but can be great with experienced owners who understand the breed.
Common health problems in Tibetan Mastiffs
Tibetan Mastiffs are calm dogs who are deeply protective of their families and home. Their quiet and thoughtful personalities are making them grow in popularity as pets in the UK. Unfortunately, like so many other purebred dogs, they are at risk of certain problems and conditions relating to their breed.
If you are thinking of buying a Tibetan Mastiff puppy, make sure the parents of your puppy have had the relevant health screening to reduce the chances of your puppy being affected by certain conditions. We’d recommend looking for a Kennel Club Assured Breeder as they meet extra requirements which will benefit your puppy’s health.
Some of the conditions Tibetan Mastiffs may develop include:
- Hip dysplasia – where hip joint that doesn’t fit together perfectly, which will eventually lead to arthritis. Before breeding, dogs should be screened by x-rays through the BVA/Kennel Club Hip Dysplasia Scheme.
- Elbow dysplasia – where the elbow joint that doesn’t fit together perfectly, which will eventually lead to arthritis. Before breeding, dogs should be screened by x-rays through the BVA/KC Elbow Dysplasia Scheme.
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) – often known as ‘bloat’, this is where the stomach twists. It is an emergency and requires urgent veterinary attention.
- Ear problems due to infections.
- Eye problems including entropion and ectropion.
- Skin problems, sometimes due to their thick coat
- Joint problems.
- Hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid, causing problems with weight, skin and energy levels.
If you want to minimise the risk of your dog getting problems due to exaggerated features, you can read our advice on choosing a pedigree dog.
Caring for your Tibetan Mastiff
Due to their history working closely with people, Tibetan Mastiffs are believed to be more in tune with their owners. They form strong bonds and given the right training will always look to you for direction. For this reason, owners need to be ready and committed to their Mastiff’s needs.
Like most dogs, Tibetan Mastiffs don’t like being on their own for long. If they’re alone for longer than they are comfortable with, they might take it out on your furniture or let your neighbours know by barking!
Tibetan Mastiffs and barking
As with any dog, your Tibetan Mastiff is likely to bark and how much they do this will be down to the individual, their personality and the training they have had. Typically, Tibetan Mastiffs are known for being quite vocal dogs, due to their protective nature they’ll be on high alert for intruders. If you’re having problems with excessive noise or barking, we recommend seeking the advice of an accredited behaviourist.
Training and socialisation
Tibetan Mastiffs were bred to guard and protect which makes them intelligent and easy to train with experienced owners. They certainly have a more independent side to them and given their size and power this can make them a challenge for owners unfamiliar with the breed. Tibetan Mastiffs respond best to positive, reward-based training and a firm but fair attitude. You’ll need to be consistent and set clear boundaries from day one. If you are a first-time owner, you may benefit from contacting an accredited trainer for guidance.
Given their history as guard dogs, Tibetan Mastiffs don’t always trust unfamiliar people so socialisation from a young age is really important. You should socialise your dog with different people, dogs and experiences to help them become a confident and well-rounded pet.
Although Tibetan Mastiffs can cope alone for very short periods given the right training, we would never recommend leaving your dog alone for more than four hours. A lonely Mastiff may get upset and decide to nibble on your furniture or bark a lot to try and let you know.
Tibetan Mastiffs are big dogs who need plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy. They enjoy being active with their owners and suit larger homes with a big, secure garden for them to play in. Space is an absolute must for Tibetan Mastiffs – they definitely don’t suit apartment living.
Your Tibetan Mastiff will need a minimum of an hour of exercise every day. We’d recommend splitting this into two or three walks with some off-lead play in a secure area. On top of this, Tibetan Mastiffs need plenty to keep their brains active. They’ll love training sessions and puzzle games that challenge them. They will also need plenty of playtime and time in the garden.
Tibetan Mastiffs have very thick coats, so keep this in mind when you’re taking them outside to exercise especially over the summer months. Early mornings and evening are the best time to go out for walks avoiding the hottest parts of the day. Always keep a close eye on your dog for signs of heatstroke.
Tibetan Mastiffs have very thick fur – even more so around their head which gives them the look of having a lion’s mane! The breed is known for shedding their coat once a year between spring and summer, so more brushing will be needed over those months. Otherwise, you can expect some shedding from your Mastiff but brushing a few times a week should help you keep on top of this.
Don’t be worried if your Tibetan Mastiff’s fur seems to come out in clumps when they are due to shed their whole coat – this is perfectly normal, but if you are concerned always take them to the vet to be on the safe side.
Tibetan Mastiffs and children
Tibetan Mastiffs are well-known for forming strong bonds with their families – which includes any children in the house. However due to their large build and strength we wouldn’t recommend having a Tibetan Mastiff with smaller children. They ideally suit adult-only homes or families with teenagers.
Tibetan Mastiffs can be unsure of strangers and don’t always know their strength, so always supervise your Mastiff with children and vulnerable adults and keep an eye out for potential signs of stress or aggression. It’s really important to make sure your dog is well-socialised from a young age so they get used to new people.
Tibetan Mastiffs and other pets
Tibetan Mastiffs will tolerate other dogs as long as they have been socialised properly from a young age. Even then, we would always recommend keeping an eye on your Tibetan Mastiff with other dogs as they are still likely to be suspicious of them.
If your Tibetan Mastiff has grown up with another pet in the household they should be fine with them as they don’t have a high prey drive, but we would always recommend supervising them together. Any introductions to other pets should be done very carefully.
Your vet will be able to tell you how much your Mastiff should be eating. Keep in mind that due to their size, your Mastiff may eat more than you expect and food bills can quickly rise. You should feed them a good quality, commercially available, complete dog food. We usually recommend splitting their daily allowance into two meals. If you give your dog the occasional treat or use treats for training, remember to take this into account and reduce their daily allowance. Treats shouldn’t make up more than 10% of their daily calorie intake as this can unbalance their diet.
You should try to feed your dog at the same time every day to get them into a routine. Remember to leave at a gap after eating and before exercising.
The cost of owning a Tibetan Mastiff
You can expect your Tibetan Mastiff to cost you a minimum of £105 per month after purchase and set-up costs and over £17,000 across their lifetime.
Costs you’ll need to think about include:
Adopting an adult Tibetan Mastiff from a rescue centre may be a more cost-effective option, with the added advantage of giving a home to a pet without one – check if the rehoming centre you’re looking at asks for a donation for rehoming.
If instead you’re buying a Mastiff puppy from a breeder, you’ll need to factor in this cost. Beware unusually cheap puppies as they could come from a puppy farm. If you’d like to buy a pedigree puppy, we recommend looking for a Kennel Club Assured breeder. These breeders must do extra health tests and meet high standards.
- Puppy vaccines – if you rescue a dog, reputable centres will often vaccinate them for you. Remember that ongoing booster vaccinations will be needed to continue their immunity.
- Neutering – you should usually arrange for your dog to be neutered at around 6-12 months old, though your vet will be able to advise you exactly when is best. Check prices at your local practice as these will depend on your vet and where you live. Some rescue centres will neuter any dogs they rehome, saving you this cost.
- Equipment – including a collar and tags, lead, harness, dog beds, dog bowls, pet-safe toothpaste and toothbrushes, grooming brushes and toys. Keep in mind that all these will need to be replaced with wear or damage or if your dog outgrows or damages them!
- Preventive healthcare – budget for routine vet visits to help stop your dog getting ill and catch any problems early. They need annual check-ups, vaccinations and regular flea and worming treatments. Check if your vet offers a health care plan as this can help spread the cost throughout the year.
- Vet bills* or pet insurance – if you don’t have pet insurance and your dog needs veterinary treatment for an injury or illness, costs can rapidly mount up. Check what’s covered and what isn’t when comparing policies.
- Accessories – including lots of poo bags, replacing worn toys and grooming accessories, buying doggy toothpaste and any other extras they might need.
- Training – basic training is very important and dogs can benefit from formal classes. Some dogs may have, or develop, behavioural problems which might need professional management.
- Boarding – you may also need to budget for boarding or dog sitting costs if you are planning to go away from home on holiday.
- Dog walkers/day-care – you might consider a professional dog walker to keep your dog happy and healthy if you’re unable to get out with your dog enough yourself, or to look after them during the day if you need to be out for more than four hours.
* It’s always better to plan ahead and budget or get pet insurance in case your pet gets injured or unwell. If you are having difficulty with veterinary costs, you can check if you are eligible for treatment at PDSA here.
If you’re considering pet insurance, our PDSA Pet Insurance could be a great option for you and it’s quick and easy to get a quote online.
- Tibetan Mastiffs ‘blow’ their coat once a year rather than continually shedding. They may still shed throughout the year, just not as much as you might expect.
- They were bred to be fierce guard dogs and were incredibly good at it.
- Tibetan Mastiffs have a ‘mane’ of fur around their head and shoulders which makes them look a bit like a lion.
- With their thick fur, Tibetan Mastiffs were made for cold weather. They love being in the snow but unfortunately don’t do well in milder climates.
Getting a Tibetan Mastiff
Do plenty of research before getting a Tibetan Mastiff. These calm and loyal dogs need plenty of room to stretch their legs and a patient owner who is prepared to establish clear boundaries. If you have the time and space for a Tibetan Mastiff, you’ll get the perfect companion in return.
There are plenty of rescue centres across the country where you may find a Tibetan Mastiff. Breed-specific rescues that specialise in Tibetan Mastiffs are also out there. You’ll need to ask any rescue centre about the dog’s history to make sure they will be comfortable in your home. Good rescue centres should let you know of any health or behavioural issues.
If you buy from a breeder, make sure your puppy will be well socialised and have all necessary screening tests, health checks and vaccinations. It’s really important that Mastiff puppies from a breeder get the right early socialisation so always ask the breeder about how they go about this. We recommend looking for a Kennel Club Assured breeder as they meet higher standards. We’ve put together some advice to help you find a good breeder.