Tibetan Mastiff Care

The Tibetan Mastiff (TM) is a giant-sized breed that might seem slow and dumb at first glance--but these big dogs are anything but that! Originally developed to be livestock and property guardians, TMs are fearless, protective, and surprisingly athletic--which means they'll need training and socialization starting in puppyhood. Overall Tibetan Mastiff care will take a moderate amount of work, and will need to include a bit of daily exercise, some early training and socialization, and careful diet monitoring.

Here you'll find plenty of details on caring for a Tibetan Mastiff, including info about puppy development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more. Get answers to your questions about raising a Tibetan Mastiff in the following sections!

Tibetan Mastiff Breed Development

As a giant-sized breed, Tibetan Mastiff puppy development normally spans 20-24 months from birth to full maturity. Physically, TM puppies grow very fast in height and length for the first 7-8 months, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent TM "fills out" by gaining fat and plenty of muscle mass; a TM is typically at or near its full adult size (an average of 25 inches in height and 110 pounds in weight) by 14-16 months of age. Socially, puppies develop steadily: they reach adolescence at 6-7 months, sexual maturity at 11-12 months, and full mental maturity at about 22 months (though some TMs may retain their puppylike behavior for a few additional months). For specific milestones in TM puppy development, see the chart below.

(NOTE: Puppies of this breed will need consistent, positive obedience training, and socialization with humans and other animals in a variety of environments, as early in their lives as possible. These dogs are territorial, independent, and often stubborn, and if they don't learn proper behavior as puppies they can be overly protective and aggressive towards strange people and animals--particularly other dogs--once they mature. TM owners are strongly advised to provide socialization/training early and often to avoid behavioral issues later in the dog's life.)

Tibetan Mastiff Exercise Needs

Tibetan Mastiffs are big, powerful, athletic dogs--and while their exercise needs aren't that extensive, some daily activity will go a long way in keeping TMs peaceful and healthy. These dogs will do well with two fairly short walks and a good play period each day. More specifically, an adult Tibetan Mastiff will need about 45 minutes of exercise daily--meaning every single day!--which should include activities that work on their mental conditioning as well as their physical. You can begin exercising a TM puppy at three months of age by taking it on short (10-minute) leashed walks, then increasing the walks' duration as the puppy grows.

There are, of course, several precautions that need to be observed when exercising a Tibetan Mastiff: first, puppies younger than a year old shouldn't participate in activities that include a lot of jumping and running, as doing so can injure their still-developing bones and joints. Second--and this is extremely important for all dogs of this breed, regardless of age--a Tibetan Mastiff must be leashed while out in public. TMs are instinctively territorial and protective, and will often respond to strange people and animals by showing aggression, so they'll need to be carefully controlled when out and about. Breed experts even recommend that owners vary the routes they take when walking their TMs; if the same route is used for every walk, the experts say, the TM will become so territorial about those areas that the dog will be defensive to anyone or anything approaching it. And when you're finished exercising your TM, it's best to wait at least an hour before feeding the dog. These dogs are highly susceptible to bloat, an often-fatal condition caused by air getting trapped in a dog's stomach when it wolfs down its food; the issue is even more prevalent if a dog has just been exercising. It's best to let your TM rest for an hour after a walk or play period before filling its food bowl.

Safeguards aside, it's vital that you give your TM some exercise every single day. A bored or restless dog of this breed will exhibit numerous behavioral issues: barking (especially at night), chewing, disobedience, and general unhappiness. Consistent exercise will keep your Tibetan Mastiff--and you--peaceful and contented. Some exercise ideas:

  • Walking: Two 20-minute walks per day is a good target
  • Fetch: Your TM will chase a ball or stick for hours
  • Tug-of-War: Good indoor rainy-day activity; use a rope or old towel
  • Obstacle Course: Set up a course in your backyard
  • Hiking: Great bonding activity; bonus if you pick a remote area where you can trust your TM off-leash

When stuck indoors, you can have one or more chew-toys that will allow the TM to release any pent-up energy; these dogs are frequent chewers, so chew-toys are much better than your favorite pair of shoes! It's also a good idea to establish a consistent daily exercise schedule for your TM, such as walks after breakfast and dinner and a play period in the afternoon.

Tibetan Mastiff Maintenance

In terms of shedding and drooling, care needs for these dogs are surprisingly moderate. Tibetan Mastiff shedding, despite the breed's thick double coat, is minimal for most of the year, though it can be pretty heavy during the spring shedding season. And for a large Mastiff breed with hanging lips, drooling is surprisingly light for these dogs.

TMs have abundant, double-layered coats that include a soft and woolly undercoat. But unlike most double-coated breeds, the TM undercoat doesn't shed too much on a constant basis. Dogs of this breed will shed more heavily when they "blow" their coats in the late spring (and possibly also in the fall, for those living in warmer regions). Owners say brushing twice a week with a wire slicker brush (and brushing daily during shedding season) will minimize the amount of shed hairs pretty well.

Tibetan Mastiffs are known to drool much less than other similar breeds. They might slobber some in anticipation of food, when nervous, or after drinking water, but not a lot otherwise. If your TM is drooling excessively, it may be a sign of a medical issue, in which case a veterinarian should be consulted.

Tibetan Mastiff Diet

As giant-sized dogs, so too are Tibetan Mastiff food requirements. These dogs can eat a lot of food--and they're peculiar in their protection of it. (More details can be found below.) They aren't extremely active, so the Tibetan Mastiff diet doesn't need to contain huge amounts of animal proteins and carbs like the diets of more energetic breeds. But TMs are more primitive in their physical makeup than most dog breeds, so breeders and experts believe a diet of raw/fresh foods (including lean meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs, fish, and other natural foods) is best for these dogs. If you find such a diet to be inconvenient and expensive for your TM, premium dry food is another good choice--but try and mix some raw/fresh ingredients in with at least one meal per day. Do not feed your TM only cheap, "store-brand" dog food, as it simply won't contain enough nutrients to keep the dog healthy.

Some interesting notes about Tibetan Mastiff feeding: first, this breed is highly prone to bloat, which occurs when a dog eats its food too fast. Make sure to feed your TM two meals per day instead of one, and keep an eye on how fast the dog eats. But be very careful about approaching a Tibetan Mastiff while it's eating! Dogs of this breed are extremely territorial about their food, and tend to guard their food bowls very aggressively. When your TM finishes eating, it's a good idea to call the dog into another room so you can safely put the bowl away.

If you feed a raw/fresh diet, your TM will need 1-2% of their body weight in food per day, divided into two meals (or three meals for a puppy nine months old or younger) per day. A 110-pound adult TM, for example, will need two meals of ¾ pound each of fresh food. If premium dry food is your preference, an adult will need about five cups per day, divided into two meals; puppies will need about three cups per day, divided into three meals until they're nine months old. It's recommended that you establish a consistent feeding schedule for your TM so the dog gets used to eating at the same time every day--and pick the bowl up once the dog is done rather than leaving it on the floor. For more detailed feeding info, see this Tibetan Mastiff diet chart (and for the sake of simplicity, portions are for dry food only):

*--Around this time, transition to adult food by mixing in a little adult formula with the puppy formula. Over the course of a week, with each meal add more adult food to the mix until the dog is eating it entirely.

As a fairly low-energy breed, a TM will quickly gain weight if over-fed, leading to joint, breathing, and digestive problems, not to mention a shortened lifespan. You can control your TM's weight by establishing consistent feeding and exercise schedules and by not feeding the dog table scraps. And again, it's best to pick up the TM's food bowl after meals instead of leaving it on the floor.

If you're worried your TM is overweight, give the dog this simple test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Decrease the dog's daily food consumption by one-fourth, and add an extra walk or play period to its daily exercise schedule.