The Himalayan-born Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed, with the earliest accounts of him dating back to 1100 B.C. Mostly employed as a guardian and protector, he is technically not a true mastiff (the misnomer is a result of Westerners using the term to mean simply “large dog”), and would be more accurately described as a Tibetan mountain dog. He was not well known outside his native Tibet until the mid-1800s; The Kennel Club of England recognized the breed in 1873, and he made his first known appearance in the United States in the 1950s. Always highly valued by the Tibetan people, an 11-month-old male named "Big Splash" became the most expensive dog in the world when he was purchased in March 2011 by a Chinese businessman for $1.5 million.
Today, the Tibetan Mastiff is well-adapted to life in many climates, and is still popular as both a protector and companion dog. Some breeders distinguish between two “types”: the rarer Tsang-khyi, which is taller and heavier, with more facial wrinkling; and the slightly smaller Do-khyi. Either type is still a large dog, weighing anywhere from 140 to 180 lbs., with a thick, coarse double coat of gold, rich red, black, brown or blue/grey, all with or without tan markings. He sheds his softer undercoat at least once a year, during which time a good broom or vacuum cleaner is essential!
Inside the home, the Tibetan Mastiff is usually calm and reserved, but once he’s outside — the larger the yard, the better! Such a large dog needs plenty of room to exercise, so having at least a spacious, fenced-in yard is best, to allow for his daily romp. Although he shows patience with children, his independent nature may mean that he is not overly affectionate. He is intelligent and can learn very quickly, but his stubborn streak can get in the way of his obeying your every command.
Despite his strong will and formidable form, the Tibetan Mastiff is still prone to a number of hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect his health – not to mention your family budget. Some of the conditions and illnesses Tibetan Mastiffs are prone to include eye conditions such as entropion; joint conditions such as elbow dysplasia; neurological conditions such as hypertrophic polyneuropathy; and thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism.
Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your Tibetan Mastiff inherits his mom’s bad eyes or his dad’s trick elbow, you’re covered.