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Tibetan Mastiff FAQ

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  • I've read up on the breed and I now want to find out if the Tibetan Mastiff is the right choice for me and my family. What's my first step?

    Please consider adopting a Tibetan Mastiff in need if you feel an older dog might fit your situation.

    If only a puppy will do, begin to look for an ethical and responsible breeder of dogs that appeal to you. The relationship that future owners establish with a breeder of choice is an important one and it begins with the first inquiry.

    Generally, breeders appreciate an introduction instead of an initial inquiry simply based on availability or cost. Because the Tibetan Mastiff breed is such a challenging one to care for, breeders may want to explore various aspects of lifestyle, living situations, past pet history and/or veterinarian references with prospective owners. In return, potential owners should feel free to ask about any general or specific concerns.

    Read our article on Choosing a Breeder.

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  • Are puppies available throughout the year or by advance reservation only?

    Tibetan Mastiffs normally only experience one cycle per year occurring in the fall/winter and puppies are typically available in the winter/early spring months.

    While puppies may be available occasionally, reservations are preferable. In order to make the best decisions for you, breeders require sufficient time to assess health, temperament and conformation of individual puppies so it is recommended that you give yourself ample time to find your TM companion.

    Since potential puppy owners may contact numerous breeders, it is common courtesy to inform them of the extent of your search.

    Terms and costs vary from breeder to breeder so please visit the Breeder Locator page for a complete correspondence/website list.



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  • How much can I expect to pay for my Tibetan Mastiff puppy?

    The average price is typically around the $2000.00 US mark but a sliding scale of costs would include prices of $1500.00 - $3500.00 US.

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  • I'm interested in entering my new dog into competition obedience training. What's the temperament of a Tibetan Mastiff like?

    Most owners want obedient dogs without realizing the amount of work that takes but the TMs don't exactly belong to the "obedient" group. Tibetan Mastiffs belong in the Working Group because of their GUARDIAN temperament. They are headstrong, stubborn and they become extremely focused on their working abilities which include guarding, barking, patrolling, territorial/dominant behaviour, etc.

    Some have successfully obtained obedience titles with their Tibetan Mastiff with plenty of time and patience. The TM should never be confused with eager to please and more easily trained breeds.

    Taking them to obedience classes is an excellent idea, however. It really helps with the socialization process.

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  • What is the difference between a guard dog and a guardian dog?

    By definition, a guard dog is one that is raised and trained to guard. Guard dogs will bark to alert when in the presence of perceived threats/dangers but may also be trained to restrain or attack on command. Typically dogs of this category are taught under the guiding hand and voice of their master. German Shepherds, Rottweillers and Dobermans have traditionally made fine guard dogs.

    Guardian breeds, on the other hand, are typically more primitive and are considered guardians by instinct. That is, their need to protect is part of their very nature. Because these guardian breeds are typically large and strong, they were specifically useful in driving away predators from flocks or villages. These breeds tend to be stubborn and extremely intelligent. They are able to think for themselves and assess situations on their own. Their tendency to guard and protect, to patrol and alert against perceived threats/dangers starts from early puppyhood and they are not dependent upon verbal cues/commands from their master. Guardian breeds are NOT well-suited for protection situations where responding to commands from a handler is particularly crucial.

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  • This will be my first Tibetan Mastiff but I can't decide if I want a male or a female. Are there differences between the two that I should think about?

    Generally speaking, the Tibetan Mastiff male is an impressive and more substantial dog in appearance. While most standards call for dogs to be 26" or taller, there is no official weight requirement but males tend to weigh 100 and more. He usually sports a thicker coat and a more profuse mane. TM males tend to take longer to mature, both physically and mentally. This can take as long as 4-8 years of age. Personality-wise, males tend to display their territorial tendencies, can be protective (especially of human females) but can also be laid-back. Intact males (those males not neutered) will mark out-of-doors, may mark territory indoors and can be a general nuisance if they are anywhere near intact females.

    The female Tibetan Mastiff tends to be a bit smaller in size than her male counterpart. Most standards call for bitches to be 24" or taller and they generally weigh 80 pounds and over. It is often said that TM females do not take as long to mature but many from different lines take just as long to mature as the males. Personality-wise, females tend to display territorial tendencies, can be guardy, protective and generally are much more animated in their duties than the males. Intact females (those females not spayed) may mark territory just prior to going into their heat cycle and do experience a yearly estrus. They are subject to hormonal fluxuations and, therefore, they are prone to behavioral changes throughout the seasons.

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  • What are some of the health problems found in this breed?

    Most commonly hypothyroidism, but dysplasia, entropic/extropic eyelids, and epilepsy is also seen. And while previously a problem, Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy (CIDN) is no longer seen in the current breeding population.

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  • How large do these dogs get?

    While different breed lines from different breeder kennels may produce different sizes; between 85-120 pounds for the girls and between 100-140 pounds for the boys is typical. For a more complete description of the Tibetan Mastiff, the AKC Standard can be viewed here.

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  • What colors can be found in this breed?

    The Tibetan Mastiff comes in a variety of colors but some colors are faulted in the show ring in various countries. Common colors of the thick double coat include black, brown, blue/grey and various shades of gold. Various shades of tan markings may or may not be present as eye dots, on both sides of the muzzle, on the throat, the lower front and back of the forelegs, the corresponding areas on the rear legs and the underside of the tail.

    Some patterning such as sabling, brindling or large areas of white can be faulted in the show ring so it is best for owners to find the breeding standard for his/her country to determine what is acceptable.

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  • How much grooming does this breed require?

    Tibetan Mastiffs have a double coat and their woolly undercoat sheds out only once a year. Vigorous grooming at this time is a must. The Tibetan Mastiff coat is generally easy to care for, as it is dirt resistant. A good brushing will see any dirt fall away.

    It is recommended that you brush your TM at least once a week to keep the skin and hair healthy. Even if the coat does not appear to need it, the act of brushing stimulates the blood flow to the skin and keeps your Tibetan Mastiff glowing. Also, routine grooming is a great bonding exercise for you and your dog.

    Additionally, it is a lesson in obedience. Your TM should be taught to stand or sit quietly while you groom him and trim his nails. Nails should be trimmed every 3 to 4 weeks. Special attention should be paid to the tail and britches (area on the back of the rear legs) which can become unruly. Watch for knots and tangles that can form behind the ears.

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  • How often does a Tibetan Mastiff shed or "blow" it's coat?

    This typically happens once a year during the spring and summer. During the rest of the year the Tibetan Mastiff sheds surprisingly little for having such an abundant coat.

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  • How will this breed do in a warmer climate?

    Considering their country of origin it is no wonder that the Tibetan Mastiff prefers and thrives in a cold, dry climate.

    The Tibetan Mastiff does not do well in hot and humid conditions. This does not mean they cannot live in warmer states but they should be allowed access to an air-conditioned house/facilities during the summer months.

    Tibetan Mastiffs generally hate the heat and they may become very inactive during the warmer months as well as experience a decrease in appetite.

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  • I have heard the Tibetan Mastiff is good for people with allergies, is this true?

    While it has often been reported that the Tibetan Mastiff does not seem to aggravate those with allergies as much as other breeds; the only way to know for sure is to confirm this by meeting one in person.

    The shedding or "blowing coat" season may cause more of a reaction than other times of the year.

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  • I live in an apartment and I'm wondering if the Tibetan Mastiff can adapt to apartment life. I'm sure that I could provide plenty of exercise opportunities for a Tibetan Mastiff. Taking my TM for a lot of walks is good enough, isn't it? What else should I consider?

    Most breeders feel that this breed is not well-suited for apartment living for many reasons.

    It is just very difficult to exercise a Tibetan Mastiff appropriately on a leash. This is a primitive, rugged outdoor breed that needs to have a nice-sized, securely-fenced yard to explore, guard and protect. And while it is never a good idea to encourage any forced exercise before the age of two because of growing joints and bones, getting the right kind and appropriate amounts of exercise would be difficult without having access to some kind of fenced area. Unfortunately, dog parks are also not ideal for this territorial breed and off-lead activities for a breed that tends to wander are also a very bad idea.

    Without a yard and depending on an owner's personal daily work schedule, a Tibetan Mastiff is probably going to be confined within the apartment for long periods of time. That will definitely result in a dog that is bored and destructive. It is most likely you will need to crate-train your TM when you are not home or cannot supervise him. So long periods of time in a crate followed by no free access to a yard makes for a miserable existence for a Tibetan Mastiff. Given the choice - especially in cooler/cold weather - the Tibetan Mastiff will spend as much time outdoors as possible.

    Another factor to consider is the fact that the Tibetan Mastiff likes to bark. It would not be uncommon for a Tibetan Mastiff to bark at people coming and going to/from the building, outside noises or noises coming from other apartments - especially when an owner is not at home.

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  • I was told that Tibetan Mastiffs should not be given a lot of exercise. I like to hike. Then I read somewhere, they like to climb. If I were to get one, would I be able to take him hiking with me?

    The Tibetan Mastiff is a fast-growing breed and whether you categorize it as a large or giant breed, individual dogs need the appropriate time to grow balanced with appropriate exercise. Baby puppies cannot be expected to go on long jaunts without tiring. While adolescents may seem to have the energy to run and play all day, growing bones and joints don't need the added stress of endurance walks or hikes. Many TMs seem to be able to successfully determine their own physical limits when it comes to play/exercise but many breeders feel that controlling/restricting the amount of exercise that your Tibetan Mastiff gets should last until the two-year mark.

    Be very mindful of the fact that a "balanced" weekly exercise regime is very important. Because of busy work schedules, many owners save up vigorous exercise for the weekends but sometimes we forget that dogs are not meant to be "get-up-and-go machines. After a week of being cooped up in a crate, lolling on the couch, restricted to a smaller backyard or being taken on daily sedate meandering neighborhood walks in no way prepares your Tibetan Mastiff for hard full-out weekend hikes or flat out runs in open fields. Just like any athlete, the Tibetan Mastiff needs to have daily exercise and age appropriate "training" periods. Asking too much of your Tibetan Mastiff too soon can be harmful to his health.

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  • Is the Tibetan Mastiff good with children?

    The Tibetan Mastiff does best with adult-supervised children who have been taught to be respectful and who show consideration for the dog’s space. Extra care should be shown for visiting children as children’s play may seem threatening or alarming.

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  • Is the Tibetan Mastiff good with other animals and pets?

    The Tibetan Mastiff is generally very good with other animals when raised with them. However, animals unknown to the TM may or may not be welcome on his territory.

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  • I currently own a dog of another breed. Can I get a Tibetan Mastiff of the same gender?

    That depends. Because same sex aggression is not uncommon for Tibetan Mastiffs and other dominant breeds of similar size, it is strongly suggested that owners look to the oppposite gender when acquiring a Tibetan Mastiff. There is always the potential for constant struggles/fights between same sex adult dogs because of strong wills, assertive personalities and similar natural territorial characteristics. These problems seem to diminish substantially with smaller breeds of same sex.

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  • I have heard this breed is impossible to train, is this true?

    Absolutely not! This is not an "easily trained" breed but they are highly intelligent and capable of learning obedience and good dog manners.

    The Tibetan Mastiff is not particularly eager to please and bores easily. So repetitive training and obedience work does not come effortlessly. They are not a "respond on a dime" type of breed and they will literally consider whether or not your command is reasonable.

    Many experienced dog owners scoff and believe that these dogs are easily trained with the right approach or that the character of these dogs can't be that different from all the other dogs that they have trained and/or owned. You need to believe that the TM temperament is absolutely like nothing you've had before...unless it was another TM. But there is no question that they can be trained.

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  • What training methods work best with the Tibetan Mastiff?

    Positive reinforcement training is the best method for this breed.

    Using unnecessarily rough or harsh training methods is not recommended. Gaining your Tibetan Mastiffs’ cooperation, love and respect is far more desirable than force, punishment or restraint. Building a relationship with your TM is more rewarding and will yield better results than trying to dominate and control them.

    Visit this link for some great training articles that are particularly relevant to a breed such as this.

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