Tibetan Mastiff Breed Information Guide: Quirks, Pictures, Personality & Facts

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

October 7, 2019

Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.  

Intro / Overview

(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)

Tibetan Mastiffs are a large breed dog that is just so incredibly fluffy. They’re a member of the American Kennel Club’s Working Group, which means they like to guard their property and their loved ones and be of service wherever they can.

These dogs are incredibly smart, but they can also be so stubborn! Anyone who has one of these pups at home knows that they might pretend they’re listening when you tell them what to do, but then they’ll go off and do whatever they actually want to do anyways.

Tibetan Mastiffs are loyal pals that will absolutely love to be a pillow for you on a rainy day inside the house and will be your best friend forever. Beyond that, here’s everything else you need to know about these big dogs.

Also Known As…

Dogs-Khyi. Lion Dogs. Mastiff. “Of all the Mastiffs, that one is the most…Tibetan.”


Tibetan Mastiffs actually have a bit of a mysterious history. They seemingly date back to the beginning of time in Tibet. Seriously! For as long as anyone can remember, these dogs were a staple in the Himalayas, guarding their families and the land. The Tibetan Mastiff is the source of all other Mastiff breeds, and are how the other breeds eventually spread throughout the world.


Both male and female Tibetan Mastiffs are usually at least two feet tall with males being a couple inches taller than females on average.

Weight Range

Male Tibetan Mastiffs can weigh anywhere from 90 to 150 pounds, and females usually clock in between 70 and 120 pounds.


Tibetan Mastiffs are smart, loyal, and protective. They’re so smart, in fact, that they won’t always want to listen. They think they know best, so if you tell them otherwise, they may still do their own thing. It’s sort of like hanging out with a human!

They’re generally friendly and will love you dearly but, having been bred as guard dogs, may be reactive toward other people or animals.

Intelligence / Trainability


Tibetan Mastiffs can actually be really tricky with training. They’re incredibly smart but rely heavily on their own instincts rather than what you’re telling them. They don’t like to do things repeatedly (so you can forget trying to train them to sit by telling them over and over) and will disobey you if they believe they know better.

They’re definitely stubborn pups and don’t care enough about treats for you to use them for training. They need to be closely monitored at all times because they have a tendency to become reactive in certain situations.

Best Training Techniques For Tibetan Mastiffs

Like we said, Tibetan Mastiffs don’t really care about treats enough for you to use them to for training. It’s worth taking them to obedience school but don’t be surprised when they ace the classes but still do whatever they want at home.

They’re a breed that should be always monitored, considering they’re so stubborn. You’ll obviously get to know your own Tibetan Mastiff over the course of their life and understand what works best for them, but be aware that it might take some trial and error to figure this out.

Ideal Environment

Tibetan Mastiffs thrive in cool environments, so if you live somewhere that’s always hot, these may not be the dogs for you. Look at all that fur! They, of course, get warm. They only need a moderate amount of exercise, so they’re fine in most homes (apartment, house, etc.) as long as you can take them for a walk every day. If you have a yard that you intend to leave them in, make sure you’ve got a tall, sturdy fence, as these dogs are strong and good climbers.

Good For Families And Kids?

Tibetan Mastiffs are probably not the best dogs to have in the home if you’ve got small children. Their propensity for protection means they don’t do well around loud, unpredictable children.

Of course, every dog is different, even across breeds, so it’s possible with early socialization – and a watchful eye – that this scenario would be fine.

As with every dog, you should never leave children alone with them so as to make sure all parties are treating each other respectfully.

Average Lifespan

Tibetan Mastiffs tend to live around 10 to 12 years.



Tibetan Mastiffs tend to be one of the healthier breeds. They can experience a few common health problems though. One health issue your dog might face is hip or elbow dysplasia. For each of these joint issues — more common in large-breed dogs — the ball and socket don’t fit together properly, causing discomfort and issues with movement. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but AKC-certified purebred Tibetan Mastiffs are tested for it before being bred again, so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting a purebred puppy with hip dysplasia.

Another health issue your dog can face is entropion. This affects their eyes and usually can be detected early in their lives. Entropion is when their eyelids roll in, which irritates the eyeball. If your dog is messing with their eyes constantly, take a closer to look to see if you can see anything amiss. This condition can be corrected with surgery.


Tibetan Mastiffs tend to be fairly chill dogs. They’re happy to patrol the grounds, AKA leisurely walk around your house, but they can try to escape if not properly fenced in, so be careful with that. Most of the time, they’re content to hang out with you inside or go for a brisk walk, but they do not require rigorous daily exercise.

Friendly With…(Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)

If properly socialized, your Tibetan Mastiff can get along with other dogs, but because of their territorial nature and protectiveness, they oftentimes don’t like anyone other than you. Tread carefully when introducing your pup to other dogs.

As for strangers, these dogs are sometimes known to make snap judgments about people and stick to them. If they meet a person they decide they don’t like, it might not change. It’s for this reason that you need to be careful when your Tibetan Mastiff is around new people. They are not very social dogs, so they’re not ones for parading around to show off. They’re very territorial and would be happier on their own or just with you.

If you socialize your dog with smaller animals, there’s a chance they won’t mind other pets in the home, but most likely, if you’ve got a cat, they may very well want to chase it down.

Coat & Grooming

Tibetan Mastiffs have an incredible amount of hair. They have what’s known as a double coat, which is a layer of softer fur underneath a more coarse layer of fur. They need brushed about once a week but don’t require much more than that. They don’t consistently shed, but they do blow their coat once every year, and that’s when you’ll really be going to town cleaning off all the extra fur.

Toys Tibetan Mastiffs Would Like Best

  • Plush Toys: Tibetan Mastiffs actually don’t often like to play with toys, actually, but they’d be happy to have a stuffed animal to hang out with while you’re all snuggling on the couch.

Recommended Diet Or Supplements

You’ll want to feed your dog high-quality food, simply because it’s full of nutritional value for them. Despite the fact that Tibetan Mastiffs are big dogs, they don’t eat a huge amount of food and will even skip meals if they aren’t hungry.

This breed also does well with joint supplements, since any large breed dog is prone to joint issues. Chat with your vet about what supplements are best for you and when is best to start a regimen.

Glucosamine Supplement For Hips & Joints

Bark Hip + Joint chews are perfect for a large dog like a Tibetan Mastiff because they have all the necessary ingredients to protect their joints, like glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid. ($32.99.)

Recommended Products

For Tibetan Mastiffs with joint issues – or any dog who just loves to lie around! – a nice comfortable bed with orthopedic support is probably a good idea.

Orthopedic Ultra Plush Memory Foam Dog Bed

These orthopedic dog beds are crafted with memory and gel foams to cushion your dog’s joints, which makes lounging around the house much more comfortable for them. ($64.99.)

Notable Rescues to Find The Tibetan Mastiff Of Your Dreams

Notable Instagram Tibetan Mastiffs

Gracie @graciethetibetanmastiff

Major @majorthetm

Bruce @bruceallmutty

Bailey @tahoetibetanmastiff

***Looking for a gift to blow your Mastiff’s mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 

gifts for big dogs 2018

Featured image via /Instagram

Want More Breed Guides Like This?

Newfoundland Dog Breed Information Guide

Rottweiler Breed Information Guide

Bullmastiff Breed Information Guide

Chow Chow Breed Information Guide

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

October 7, 2019