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Tibetan Mastiff FAQ

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  • The Tibetan Mastiff is an “all around breed” suitable for ALL activities such as obedience, agility, tracking, search and rescue, therapy and protection work.

    The Tibetan Mastiff is an intelligent, headstrong breed. They are certainly trainable but are not hyper-obedient and, they do not necessarily engage or respond immediately to working with a handler the way many other working dogs should. It is highly unlikely that a Tibetan Mastiff will excel at activities like agility, search & rescue, tracking and protection work since all of these activities require a breed that is highly dependant and responsive to a handler.

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  • The Tibetan Mastiff can be taught to remain on property and a fence is not actually required to keep this breed.

    This is the most irresponsible myth of all.

    A securely fenced yard is a must with this breed!

    Most responsible breeders will not even consider any home for one of their puppies if a securely fenced yard is not provided. This is not just a suggestion. The TMBRN advocates that there can be no exceptions to this rule. While you will find a breeder who is willing to sell you a puppy without the fencing requirement, his/her motive is most likely profit-driven and that decision is not usually based on what is best for the individual puppy or the breed.

    This is a guardian breed and it is neither wise nor responsible to allow a guardian breed to be loose on your property, be it a surrounding open yard or acreage. Not only do these dogs have a strong tendency to roam but they are also very protective of their home, yard and family. No breeder wants to get the call that a puppy that s/he has bred has been hit by a car, is lost, has been attacked by a wild animal / stray dog or has bitten a stranger or UPS driver.

    The expense and work involved in erecting a fence is simply part and parcel of Tibetan Mastiff care. If this is not something you are willing to do, please consider another breed.

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  • The Tibetan Mastiff routinely reaches 200 pounds and more.

    While it is true that many breeders around the world are working to "grow" the Tibetan Mastiff, the average healthy weight for females is typically 90-120 pounds and 100-140 pounds for males. Refer to the Breed Standard from your country of choice.

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  • You can never expect to have visitors in your home with this breed.

    Not true! Because they are a guardian breed, the Tibetan Mastiff can tend to be suspicious and reserved with new people and things. They will naturally tend to be protective and territorial about your property and person.

    Only the most familiar of family members may simply walk in without being announced. Casual visitors cannot be expected to just "drop in" without a supervised introduction.

    Although this is an integral characteristic of the breed, it becomes the responsibility of the owner to expose and socialize their dog to visitors in their home. A Tibetan Mastiff given plenty of early and positive exposure to people and children coming into the home is an important and crucial step.

    Good dog manners and proper socialization starts early in puppy hood. A well-mannered, well-socialized Tibetan Mastiff should pose no problem to announced visitors in your home!

    While choosing and breeding for correct temperament is important, make sure you contact your breeder for "at home" tips and strategies to ensure early socialization success.

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  • The Tibetan Mastiff is naturally wonderful with children.

    The Tibetan Mastiff tends to be very good in situations in which children have been taught to be RESPECTFUL of dogs.

    Children (no matter what age) and dogs (no matter what age or breed) should be supervised by parents/adults at all times.

    No dog should be a "Cujo" but as a guardian breed, Tibetan Mastiffs can be protective of their food and toys so children need to be taught to respect "dog space." It is imperative that parents recognize that ALL dogs do not perceive the world in the same way that humans (children) do. For example, childrens' hands in dog food bowls may be perceived as a threat to take food away, food carried by children that is eye level for dogs may be perceived as a "free-for-all" treat or it may not look/sound like play to a dog if children are allowed to rough-house or run screaming/laughing through the house.

    Tibetan Mastiffs need need patience/guidance but children also need to be mindful/respectful of what they are doing around an animal, even a beloved pet.

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  • Tibetan Mastiffs cannot get hip dysplasia (HD) because they are mountain dogs.

    This is definitely not true! ALL breeds, large and small, can be afflicted with hip and joint disorders. It is for this very reason that it is extremely important that you research whether your breeder of choice has appropriately evaluated his/her breeding animals by health testing their dogs for hips/elbows dysplasia. Make sure breeders can provide you with age-appropriate and valid certification (ie. OFA/OVC/Penn Hip results) and don't be satisfied with breeders just "saying" they have results from these health tests. While this still does not guarantee against hip/elbow dysplasia in the offspring, it shows that an individual breeder is doing his/her best to breed from clear stock. For more information about hip/elbow dysplasia, visit the OFA site here.

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  • Because the parents and grandparents were evaluated and no hip dysplasia was found, there is no reason to believe that their descendants will have hip problems.

    Evidence of OFA, Penn Hip or equivalent certified evaluation scores are ALWAYS REQUIRED for dogs used in a breeding program so beware the breeders who cannot or will not provide them. Hip dysplasia is an inherited, multiple-gene disease but it simply has not been eradicated. Radiograph evaluations may also point to other health issues to consider such as spondylosis or transitional vertebrae.

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  • Tibetan Mastiffs make the perfect livestock guardian.

    There are several other breeds that make a far better choice as a livestock guardian. Breeds like the Great Pyrenees, the Anatolian Shepherd or the Kuvasz are excellent in this regard.

    The Tibetan Mastiff will protect livestock simply because it is on its owners' property but they do not necessarily bond or become one with the flock and will not feel a duty to stay on property with the flock without being contained by a fence. The Tibetan Mastiff makes an excellent PROPERTY guardian but is not necessarily well-suited specifically for livestock. They will protect your property in general from predators but not necessarily the flock in particular. The majority of Tibetan Mastiffs would rather be on the couch or guarding the house and yard.

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  • It is unnatural for the Tibetan Mastiff to have a prey drive and that killing smaller animals or livestock such as goats or chickens is somehow aberrant behavior.

    Tibetan Mastiffs often do very well with other household pets like cats, birds, rabbits and small dogs when raised with them from a puppy or heavily socialized to them from puppyhood. But it is very common for Tibetan Mastiffs to have a healthy prey drive outdoors and have been known to go after smaller livestock such as chickens, goats and also other small animals not known to them. It has been reported that even Tibetan Mastiffs raised with chickens and or goats have tried to make a meal of them. Tibetan Mastiffs seem to be especially fond of chasing, catching and killing birds of all kinds.

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  • The Tibetan Mastiff can be used for herding livestock

    The Tibetan Mastiff is NOT a herding breed.

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  • The Tibetan Mastiff has a low learning rate.

    Incorrect! Learning rate and compliance are two entirely different things. The Tibetan Mastiff is highly intelligent and learns commands quickly but obeying and complying is not immediate or guaranteed. They are very independent and have been bred for centuries to think for themselves and to work without a handler. Do not mistake hardheadedness for lack of intelligence with this breed.

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