What is a Tibetan Mastiff?
This dog breed is specially bred for guarding livestock and property. Also, the dog also serves as wonderful and loving pets for their owners who use them for guard duty. Normally big dog breeds have a shorter lifespan, unlike small dog breeds who live longer. The Tibetan Mastiff on the other has a long lifespan and can reach to an age of 10 or 14 years old. This long lifespan trait of the dog breed makes it a favorite pet for some dog lovers.
Interestingly enough the dog is not a true Mastiff despite its name. It was the Europeans who gave the dog breed its “mastiff” term. For Europeans, any large dog breeds are “mastiff” since this is the definition for large dogs back in Europe.
The dog breed has other different names. Do-Khyi and Tsang-Khyi are the breed’s Tibetan name, Bhote Kukur in Nepal, Zang Ao in Chinese and Bankhar in Mongolian.
If the dog breed’s name didn’t clue you to its place of origin, then know that it’s Tibet. Some 5000 years ago in Tibet, the Mastiff’s ancestors were living in that location. Due to the length of time that has passed, there is little documentary history about the precise origins of the dog. It was only in the latter part of the 19th century that we have the documentary history albeit it is still a little info.
The Tibetans bred two types of this kind: the Do-Khyi and Tsang-Khyi which is a larger dog than the Do-Khyi. The Do-Khyi are dogs for guarding flocks of sheep of the Tibetan nomadic shepherds or villagers. The Tsang-Khyi, on the other hand, serves as guardians though in this they protect the Buddhist monks or lamas of Tibet.
The breeding of the dog before 1800 is only in Tibet, but by 1847 the first Mastiff was given as a gift to Queen Victoria of England. It was in England that the dog was being bred and imported, but World War 2 put an end to all breeding activities. It was only in 1976 that the English resumed producing and importing the dog.
The dog breed eventually came to the United States as a gift to its president and disappeared from public eye. It was only in 1970 that more of these dogs were imported and these dogs would become the foundation of the United States Tibetan Mastiff line.
Today it is hard to find a purebred version of this large dog breed in Tibet. However, you can occasionally find this large dog still doing its job as a livestock as well as a home guardian. It is from traders and caravans that you can see this dog.
There is one word to describe the behavior of this dog: challenging. The breed tends to be stubborn, independent and a strong sense of self. Another little further reminder about the dog: it expects its owner to treat it as an equal rather than a pet. These behavior traits are balanced out by its loyalty, intelligence, and eagerness to please humans.
The Mastiff will often become aggressive and territorial if its owner neglects to train it in socialization. You can have the dog enroll in a puppy kindergarten class. The best time to train and socialize the dog is when it is still a puppy. To further enhance its socialization skill even as an adult, it’s best to take it out for a walk and meet new people.
The overall height and weight size of the dog breed vary from male and females. The male dog is 26 inches tall at its shoulders when standing and weights at 100 to 160 pounds. Female dogs, on the other hand, are 24 inches tall at their shoulders and have a weight of 75 to 125 pounds.
One thing that is very obvious when you look at a Mastiff is that it’s a large dog. Aside from its size, the coat of the dog is remarkable. The Mastiff’s double coarse-textured coat is long and heavy with a beautiful tail. The dog’s coat is suited for cold climates like that of the Tibetan mountains hence the thickness of the coat. The coat has a variety of color that differs from dog to dog.
The hair of the dog is either hard or straight not silky, curly or wavy. The neck, shoulder, tail and britches have a massive mane of hair covering them. Males Mastiffs have more coats and thicker hair on the neck shoulders, unlike female Mastiffs.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a healthy dog though it has its share of health conditions that are common in dog breeds. Not every Mastiff will have these health problems, but it is best if you know what afflicts them. Here are five examples of those health problems:
Lack of energy or lethargy, flaky skin, and the gaining of weight are symptoms of Autoimmune Hypothyroidism. This condition is due to the thyroid hormones being insufficient in the dog’s body. Mastiffs that are old or middle-aged tend to suffer from Autoimmune Hypothyroidism. The problem is treatable by medication though the dog has to take said medication for the remainder of its life.
Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)
Some Mastiffs have a thighbone that is not snugly ensconced in the hip joint. As a result, a dog with CHD walks with a lame or is affected by arthritis. CHD is made worse by injuries, high-calorie diets, and environmental factors. Canine Hip Dysplasia is treatable via surgery and medication. Note that this problem is hereditary. For that reason, a Mastiff with CHD should never be bred with another Mastiff.
Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy (CIDN)
This a health issue that afflicts Mastiff puppies that are six weeks old. CIDN affects the puppies’ nervous system. This condition, in turn, causes weakness in the rear legs of the puppies that eventually leads to complete paralysis. Sadly there is no treatment for CIDN, and it is a genetic problem.
For some Mastiff puppies growing up can be physically painful. Panosteitis is an inflammation of the long bones and is a condition that affects young, growing large dogs of any breed. The discomfort is often painful and causes lameness in growing dogs, but it will disappear after six months and when the dog matures. The long bone pain is easily treatable via pain medication.
Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
The cartilage of a growing Mastiff would sometimes grow improperly in the joints especially in the shoulder or elbow area. A dog suffering from OCD has stiff joints and affects the dog when it 5 to 7 months old. A surgical repair method is the only way to fix Osteochondrosis Dissecans. OCD is another genetic condition and the dog affected by this problem must be bred.
Note that the various problems above are typical for Mastiffs so don’t worry too much about it. Bear in mind that improper breeding causes additional problems for this dog. So it’s your best bet to get this dog from a reliable breeder to ensure that it doesn’t have any other health issues.
Should any of the problems show up in your pet, do not hesitate to take it to a veterinarian. Dealing with an ailment that affects your dog as early as possible will mitigate or prevent it.
The Mastiff has many colors in its coat. Here is a list of those colors:
These colors can either have tan markings or not. You can see these colors around the eyes, muzzle side, on the throat and the front legs’ lower part of the dog. Other areas like the breeches, rear legs and underside of the tail have these colors.
Sometimes there are small white markings on the Mastiff’s chest as well as feet and are absent on the rest of the body. The dominant color of the dog is lighter in its undercoat, and other colors like tan, tan on black or gray are present.
Mastiff coats that have brindle or sable patterns are faulty traits in dog show competitions, but otherwise, they are normal for the dog. The color and pattern of the dog’s coat do not affect its value as a pet companion.
Care and Exercise
Keeping your Mastiff dog physical and mentally fit as well as healthy is a necessity if you want a functional pet. To help the physical upkeep of your dog here are some useful tips for your convenience:
- Brushing the dog one to three times per week will remove any loose or dead hair. It is best if you use a wire slicker brush. The brushing will also help deal with the Mastiff’s seasonal shedding.
- Bathing the dog is important, though not too often. Mastiffs have little odor despite their thick coats so bathing the dog more than once a month is unnecessary.
- The thick coat of the dog often has mats or tangles. When removing those mats or tangles, make sure to check the mane, breeches and tail parts of the dog thoroughly. You will often neglect these body parts of the Mastiff.
- To prevent the buildup or tartar and bacteria in your Mastiff’s teeth, you need to brush it either daily or two to three times a week.
- Pay attention to the status of the dog’s nails. If you hear the dog’s nail clicking on the floor, it’s time to trim its nails short. While you’re clipping the dog’s nail, you can take this time to tidy up its feet.
- Inflammation, debris, and redness often happen in the Mastiff’s ears so check them weekly. To clean the ears wipe around the ear canal’s outer edge and make sure that you don’t stick the cotton ball deeply into the ear. Use a cotton ball and a vet-approved cleaner for the task.
- Mastiffs have no problem in cold climates, but in hot climates, you need to tend to its needs. Make sure that your pet has access to shade and fresh water outdoors. As long as the dog has shade and fresh water your pet can tolerate the climate just fine.
- A 20 to 30-minute playtime in your backyard or walk for half an hour is all the Mastiff needs to stay physically fit. The Mastiff also likes to play with other dogs close to his size.
- Unless your Mastiff is one-year-old or above, limit its exercise and play. You could inflict orthopedic damage on the puppy.
- Train your Mastiff while it is still a pup. Be patient when dealing with the pup since it can be stubborn and independent. The same method goes for house training. Reward the dog’s positive behavior and training to encourage it. Avoid harsh and hurtful methods of training your dog.
- A Mastiff that is lonely and bored can be noisy and develop a destructive attitude. Make sure that the Mastiff has plenty of company, social interaction, and regular training sessions.
- Feed your dog with the best kind of food available. Depending on the dog’s level of activity, build, size, age, and metabolism it may require little or more food. When it comes to feeding puppies, give only enough food that their small stomachs can handle.
The content above is all the relevant information you need concerning the Tibetan Mastiff. As you have read from the above info, you now know why the Tibetan Mastiff is the dog that you need. The dog combines the best traits of being a guardian and a family pet. The dog is very loyal and dependable as well as physically beautiful. You can’t find a better pet companion than the Mastiff, and the dog will reciprocate your show of love and affection.