About the Breed

Natural selection and human selection for these abilities have resulted in a dog that is very large, strong, fearless and athletic.  It also is intelligent and independent as a result of having to work alone much of the time.  These traits make them very interesting to live with, but do not make them easy, as we shall see later.

One feature of Tibetan Mastiffs is obvious to all who have looked at a number of pictures of them and that is the variability in the breed. Dogs used for guarding throughout this vast region are all referred to as Tibetan Mastiffs.  However there is a great range in size, and variability in color preferences, structure, and temperament.  Because the habitable plateaus and valleys are separated by very inhospitable terrain, these significant differences in structure and “look” (what we call breed type) may become set for different areas becaus of limited interbreeding.  Dogs that are caravan dogs, guarding nomadic people and animals may be smaller than more sedentary dogs associated with permanent villages and monasteries.  The smaller dogs have been called Dokyi types and the largest dogs have been called Tsang-kyi types; although they may grade into each other.  This type of dog breed that has evolved as a working breed over a wide area with considerable local variation is best described as a Landrace.

All Tibetan Mastiffs should have a double coat, with long guard hairs (there is a lot of variability permitted here) and, most importantly, a thick, down-like undercoat, that is shed every spring. Tibetan Mastiffs come in a wide variety of colors black, black and tan, blue, blue and tan, chocolate (brown), chocolate (brown) and tan, and all shades of gold from verylight to dark red with variable amounts of sabling (black hairs) in the coat.