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Tibetan Mastiff

  • by Eric
  • Last Updated: 2021-04-09

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff, belonging to the mastiffs, is a large and fierce dog. Tibetan Mastiff is one of the world's most ancient breeds, which is a special animal in Asia. More than 2000 years ago, Tibetan Mastiffs were active in the Himalayas and the alpine regions of the Tibetan Plateau with an elevation of 3000-5000 meters. Due to its loyal nature, Tibetan Mastiff is not only the best protection dog for nomads but also the best guard dog for kings and tribal chiefs. According to Tibetans, in pastoral areas, one adult Tibetan mastiff can guard 400 sheep, defeat three evil wolves and make leopards show the white feature, so it's called “Tiangou” (Heavenly Dog) in Tibet. After westerners see the wonder of the Tibetan Mastiff, they call it “Oriental Supernal Dog”. In Nepali, it's called Bhote Kukur (bhote means someone from Tibet and kukur means dog). In Mongolian, it's called bankhar (bankhar means lion).

The Tibetan Mastiff plays a very important role in the improvement of many famous dogs, such as St. Bernard, which has the blood of Tibetan Mastiff. However, due to the special living environment of the plateau and the herdsmen's weak consciousness of bloodlines protection over the years, partial original Tibetan mastiffs have merged with the local shepherd dogs, resulting in fewer and fewer pedigree Tibetan mastiffs. 

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff Appearance

A pedigree adult Tibetan Mastiff weighs about 60 kg and is about 1.2 m long and 85 cm high. It has a thick coat of fur, strong muscles, strong limbs and torso and full of strength, a long tail lifted high or bent to one side, and a pair of amber-black eyes with sharp eyes. Interestingly, under cold weather conditions, the fur is thick and soft as wool, resistant to cold, and can sleep peacefully in ice and snow; however, in warm weather conditions, the fur is very rare.

Purebred Tibetan Mastiffs are most commonly seen in the vast pastoral areas. According to the lineage, the Tibetan Mastiff is roughly divided into two types: lion head and tiger head. The lion head's skull is small and the nape hair is long while the tiger head's skull is large and the nape hair is short. The coat colors include fire mastiff (brown-red), snow mastiff (pure white), iron-clad gold (black back and red hoof), yellow mastiff (golden), and black mastiff (black is not pure black, but slightly white hair on the chest and limbs).

Tibetan Mastiff Character Features

The real Tibetan Mastiff has the kind of dignity of a king. The harsh living environment on the plateau not only creates the Tibetan Mastiff`s strong willpower but also gives the Tibetan Mastiff the king's temperament. It is lonely and arrogant, mighty and brave, noble and elegant, loyal and dedicated, and its qualities of endurance to hunger, cold, and resistance to all hardships are also its most attractive characters. Therefore, Tibetan Mastiffs are usually good at protecting territory, protecting food, and attacking. In the territory, the Tibetan Mastiff is hostile to strangers but loyal and extremely affectionate to the owner.  As a guard dog, it is faithful and reliable.

Tibetan Mastiff History

Tibetan MastiffThe Tibetan Mastiff has a history of thousands of years and is the oldest dog breed. It was used as a guard dog since the Spring and Autumn Period (771 BC - 476 BC). According to the records, the nomadic people(Qiang) at that time domesticated the wild dogs in order to cope with attacks and threats from other beasts. This should be the prototype of the earliest Tibetan mastiff.  In the extremely harsh living environment on the Tibetan Plateau, the herders chose individuals who are large and robust, fierce and loyal, and good at herding animals to breed their offspring. The Italian painter Castiglione drew pictures of "Ten Dogs" in accordance with Emperor Qianlong's will, and the last one is “Cang Ni”, which is Tibetan mastiff.

However, whether in the early modern times or in the contemporary, it was westerners who first recognized its value and promoted it. At the beginning of the 18th century, the British began the cultivation of Tibetan Mastiffs and established pedigree files. In 1947, the Tibetan Mastiff was first brought to America. In 1973, the United States established the American Tibetan Mastiff Conservation Association in order to better protect, understand and breed this endangered dog breed, and began to protect, research and classify Tibetan Mastiffs.

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