The Tibetan Mastiff from the times of Alexander of Macedon – the Great King

Tibetan mastiffs are well-built, strong dogs with a wide, flat skull. They are also called the Old English Mastiff. It is natural for these dogs to want to guard and protect their family and territory. They have a long, thick coat and a bushy tail which curls over the back. The distinctive features of these dogs are their wrinkled brow and droopy ears. The eyes are wide set, oval shaped and in any shade of brown. The ears are triangular, dropping forward close to the head and covered in soft, short hair.

Their movement is powerful and light when moving quickly, they will appear slow and deliberate when walking. Their topcoat is rather long and thick with a heavy, woolly undercoat. The undercoat will become thin during the warmer months. The coat is thicker around the neck and shoulders, heavily feathered on the legs and bushy and dense on the tail. They can have tan markings above the eyes, lower part of the legs and on the tip of the tail.

These dogs are loyal, intelligent, and fearless. Some can also be aggressive and stubborn. So socialisation is necessary at the early age. Most of them will be very gentle, patient and loving with people and children they know but will be very distrustful of strangers. Like all guard dogs, they can bark at night-time with a loud booming voice.

Average size

Mastiff weighs 79-86 kg and is about 27-30 inches high at shoulders.

Coat colour

Their fur is dark brown, tan, or mixed. They can be black, black and tan, brown, shades of gold or grey and grey with gold markings. Some may have white on the chest and toes.


These dogs require consistent, firm training. They can be stubborn and dominant, so they do need to know their place in the fa-mily. They will ignore their trainer if strong words are used or if they are handled harshly. They need good socialisation in order to become typical family pets.

Food requirements

Tibetan Mastiff should have a nutritious diet from the young age to ensure proper formation of bones and joints. The protein levels in their food should not exceed 20-22 per cent.


These dogs usually live for 9 – 15 years.

Pet grooming

These dogs are very easy to maintain. They just need grooming a couple of times a week. But during moulting, they need to be heavily groomed.

Once a year anytime between April -July, they have a summer moult, which can last up to 6-8 weeks. They blow all their undercoat out, which comes out in clumps of wool. Then winter coat starts to grow in by August, September. But they do not constantly shed hairs all the time compared to other short-haired breeds.

Country of origin: Tibet

Ancestors of the Tibetan Mastiff have been known to exist in Tibet for many centuries. The history of what these dogs were crossed with to produce the Tibetan Mastiff has unfortunately been lost. They began to appear in other countries when Alexander the Great took them with him on his travels around the world. The Tibetan Mastiff we know today has been known to exist outside Tibet for over a century. In the 1880’s the Prince of Wales owned at least one of these dogs. It has been used as a guard dog in Great Britain for hundreds of years; it has also been used to fight other dogs and bait bulls.

Mastiff type dogs are thought to have been introduced into Europe by Alexander the Great. These dogs were probably taken from Tibet.  Marco Polo, during his eastern travels, spoke of a giant Mastiff found on the Asian Steppes and around the foot hills of the Himalayans, where it was used to guard flocks.  Another type of hound called the Ellinikos Ichnilatis was used for hunting in ancient Macedonia. This ancient dogs, who hunted in packs, were called by a variety of names.  Ancient authors gave them such names as the dogs of Sparta (Lakonics), Locricians, Molossians, Epirotics, Macedonians, Thracians, and Arcadians among others. All of these dogs did “breed” specific work, whether as a war dog, hunter, shepherd dog, or watchdog.


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