The Tibetan Mastiff, also known as the Tibetan Dog, the Thibet Dog, the Thibet Mastiff and the Tibetaanse Mastiff, is an ancient, heavily coated breed with a history shrouded in legend and lore. It was developed in the remote valleys and plateaus of the Himalayan Mountains, primarily to serve as a watch and guard dog protecting people and property from wild predators and wandering thieves. It is known for its impressive size, controlled strength and tremendous independence. The Tibetan Mastiff can appear aloof and is naturally wary of strangers. Its protective instincts are unparalleled. The Dalai Lama reportedly kept eight of these dogs to guard the gates to his summer residence. Females of this breed often only have one heat cycle annually much like wolves, rather than two as is normal with other domestic canine breeds. The Tibetan Mastiff was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 2006, as a member of the Working Group.
The mature male Tibetan Mastiff stands a minimum of 26 inches at the withers; bitches must be a minimum of 24 inches in height. Adults typically weigh between 140 and 180 pounds, although the breed used to be bigger than it is today, with records of weights over 220 pounds. Its double coat is unusually thick, straight and hard, forming a mane about the neck particularly in males. The Tibetan Mastiff’s tail and legs are heavily feathered. It sheds its coat once a year and requires regular brushing. The preferred coat color is black-and-tan, although other colors ranging from black to golden also appear in the breed.