TheTibetan Mastiff, the Original Molosser

The Tibetan Mastiff is considered to be the original dog from which most of the "Molosser breeds" of today have descended. The high and forbidding mountains of Tibet is the environment which produced this fierce and protective guarding dog. The unforgiving climate and mountainous terrain demanded an animal with endurance, a coat that possessed natural protection against the elements and courage and fearlessness to fight off predator animals. The Tibetan Mastiff was used by the wandering shepherds and nomadic tribes and later by the Monks of Tibet as a protective dog which would effectively give warning of strangers and would guard the sheep. Mention of the large black dog with a fearsome bark can be found in Chinese documents as early as 1100 B.C.

The Tibetan Mastiff of today has changed very little from that original dog. The breed today is actually not as large as some of its descendants. It should stand about 25-26 inches at the shoulder with a weight of 100 to 130 pounds. The chest is deep and as mentioned the neck is heavily ruffed with loose folds of skin. Legs are straight and heavy boned. The face has the typical pendulous flews with a soft expression and fold over ears lying close to the skull. The head has a typical bear like appearance with the lips of the upper jaw lying over the lower jaw. The tail is plumed and curls over the back like that of the Spitz breeds. He is usually black or black and tan but can be red or gold.

The temperament has become more stable through selective breeding. The Tibetan Mastiff has a strong will to protect its family and will be wary of strangers and yet gentle of nature and affectionate to its family. It is a dog that one can easily train but because of its large size needs to be trained early since it has a great deal of strength. The neck of the Mastiff is heavily coated and is somewhat impervious to pain, this is common with Mastiff breeds. The natural reason for this is that predators would of course bite in this vulnerable location. Because of this, the "survival of the fittest" produced a dog with loose skin and heavy coat which would protect the neck area. Therefore when one is training the Mastsiff and most of the dogs with this genetic inheritance it is important to realize that the typical "jerk and pull" training is not going to influence the dog very much. Training is more easily accomplished with the use of the prong collar placed high on the neck behind the ears, or with "clicker training" . The Tibetan Mastiff is a highly intelligent breed that can be quite independent but is willing to please and tireless in its loyalty. He is a dignified member of the household when grown, making a calm and gentle pet for the children and a brave and fearless watchdog and guardian of his family.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Dogs

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