Tibetan Mastiff: Teddy Bear or Dangerous Animal?

“A huge, furry, angry dog almost as tall as a man!” – this is the phrase we most often heard from familiar dog breeders, even before meeting our Tibet! “Why do you need it?” they said. It turned out that I needed, very much needed. I have never met a smarter breed. This is both a plus and a minus of such dogs. But let’s talk about everything in order.

This is Gerda!

A Tibetan Mastiff puppy was presented to us. An acquaintance of my husband’s offered to choose any puppy from the litter. The husband chose the smallest girl. Brothers and sisters always offended her, letting the last one come to the bowl. A couple of years later, it turned out that the husband chose the evilest puppy!

The Tibetan Mastiff can be confused with the Newfoundland or, as this breed is often called in Russia, a diver dog. A distinctive feature of the Tibetan Mastiff is a bump on the skull, white or light spots above the eyes, as well as a rounded and very fluffy tail. In our family, we call Gerda’s tail a palm tree.

Tibetan Mastiffs are classified into dogs of Chinese and European ancestry. A distinctive feature is the abundance of wool. Mastiffs with Chinese roots are fluffier, have a mane like a lion, and with European ones, they are smoother and without a mane. Our dog has a purebred Chinese dad and a mixture of Chinese and European breeds. Gerda, despite her ancestry with a predominance of Chinese roots, is more similar to the European variety of the Tibetan Mastiff.

Her coat is smooth, straight, there is a small undercoat. In winter, our dog can sleep peacefully under a layer of snow. She will be comfortable. Once we lost her in a snowdrift! She just fell asleep there … The dog’s coat does not have a specific smell, does not cause allergies, does not fall into lumps. During molting, we comb the undercoat, the rest of the time we comb the dog only for its pleasure, it does not need constant services of hairdressers and stylists. We collect everything that we combed and give it to grandmother. She knits wool socks with added fluff from our dog. Tell me is it stupid? You cannot imagine how warm they are!

This breed is unique, probably like any other. This is an incredibly intelligent dog that can be trained in many commands but doesn’t expect it to do everything unquestioningly. The Tibetan Mastiff is a person. This breed requires respect for itself, it is important for her that her opinion is taken into account. That is why the education of the Tibetan Mastiff should be given a special place.

When we took Gerda, she was 2.5 months old. At that time, we lived in a two-room apartment. Naturally, there were difficulties with the toilet. Before that, the dog lived in a private house and lived mainly in the yard. It took about 3 months to train the dog to do all its business on the street. For the first month, we took the dog outside literally every hour to get ahead of her desire to go to the toilet at home. Second month – every 2 hours. At 5 months, we switched to a three-time walk. And so everything is like everyone else: scolded when she did it at home, and praised, gave sweets when she endured to the street.

However, a couple of months later, the dog realized that if we whine at the door and screech at the door, then we will definitely go out into the street. She began to benefit from this, because the street is not only all sorts of “obligatory things”, but also a bunch of all sorts of different and tasty smells (from the point of view of the dog, of course), fun games with the owner, meeting with four-legged friends and the sea positive. Therefore, it is advisable to do the main walks for 40 – 60 minutes every day at the same time, so that the dog will develop a regime.

We taught the dog the commands “sit”, “lie down” and “give a paw / say hello” in a couple of weeks. They started teaching at 4 months. It was much more difficult to teach the dog the command “near” and “to me”. The Tibetan Mastiff is a very stubborn breed! If a mastiff decides to pull you aside, then it is very difficult to convince him. The same story with the “no” command. Eating some nasty stuff from the ground is the top of the gastronomic pleasure for a dog. And if you also lie in some rotten filth – this is a direct peak of bliss, you can say that the day of the dog was not in vain! As it turned out later, for a dog to lie around in something “strongly aromatic” means to effectively disguise itself.

At the age of 5 – 6 months, our girl began to show protective qualities. Every rustle outside the door was accompanied by barking. We caught the moment and started teaching the dog the “Alien” command. This was our main mistake. The dog would show protective qualities anyway, it would bark and would not let strangers because it is a protective breed, and protection of the family and home is simply in its blood. It is an instinct that she cannot change.

“You can’t” and “your own” – these are the two most important commands for such dogs. We missed it. Result: a family friend slightly caught by the hand, when he reached for a bottle of water standing on the floor, Gerda gently grabbed this hand with her teeth and took him to her owner. Naturally, we scolded her for this. But you had to scold yourself. We missed the moment of socializing with the dog.

From early childhood, the Tibetan Mastiff should be introduced to different people, allowed to pet the dog, taught to calmly treat strangers on their territory. Believe me, the dog will be able to understand if a stranger suddenly starts doing something bad in relation to your family or property.

Tibetan Mastiffs are incredibly stubborn dogs. No, they are not stupid, they are very smart. They will not give their paws on the machine, they will first think: “Did the owner ask well? What is the benefit to me? What will I get for this, and do I need it at all?” They will show once or twice that they know how to do it, and then – do not bother, but rather come tomorrow.

The character of our dog has changed a lot after estrus. By the way, this process occurs with them only once a year. At this time, the dog becomes less obedient, may refuse to eat for several days, and also becomes prone to escapes. Our dog’s first estrus was at the age of 9 months. After that, Gerda became warier of other people and animals. The second turning point came when Gerda was 1.5 years old. We bought a dacha and took her to live there because it was a mockery to keep such a dog in an apartment. There was a large courtyard and plenty of room to run, roll in the mud, and many holes to be dug. It would seem – a dog’s paradise, but no. We started to leave our dog. In the summer – for a couple of hours in the city, closer to autumn – they left for the whole night. Naturally, she took offense at us. She did not show aggression towards us, but it was clear that she felt bad without us. The dog immediately understood that the yard was its territory. And no one except the owners should go to it. At the moment the dog is 3 years old. She only lets me, my husband, and my mother, with whom Gerda lived for the first 1.5 years of her life.

Due to the fact that the dog showed wild aggression towards strangers, it was decided to put it on a chain. She sat on it for a day. And then it began: to rip out the chain – please, to pull off even the tightest collar – yes, it’s easy, just for 5 minutes! We have built an aviary from a chain-link mesh. The lower edge of the mesh was lowered a little into the ground and everything was poured with concrete. We set up a booth. The only thing they didn’t think about was the roof of the enclosure. There, too, they pulled the net, but just fixed it with wire. It was through this top that the dog began to run in winter. The height of the aviary is 2 meters. The height of the booth inside the enclosure is about a meter. The dog calmly stood upon this booth and neatly unwove this chain-link with his teeth at the joints.

The aviary was redone 5 times. Chain-link is not an option for such dogs. Only boil from fittings.

Any Tibetan Mastiff wants to feel in charge. They like to find the highest point on the territory, climb onto it and calmly observe everything that happens. They hardly sleep at night – they guard. During the day they pretend to be asleep. There is even a legend that Tibetan Mastiffs never sleep at all.

At 2.5 months, Gerda weighed about 7 kg. Every month she gained about 3 kg., After estrus, about 2 kg. per month. The dog weighed approximately 33 kg per year. Weight gain has slowed down after a year. Now our Gerda is almost 3 years old. In winter, she weighs about 43 kg, closer to summer she loses 5 kilograms.

In the spring, around the month of March, as well as during estrus, she may not eat at all for 2 – 3 days. This is normal. Such a feature of the breed. In general, even as a child, the dog never overeats. There is such a thing – puppy hunger. This happens when the little puppy has already eaten and looks more like a ball, but the feeling of satiety does not come. The puppy overeats and becomes very ill. This story is not about mastiffs. They know when to stop eating.

Our Gerda has had mixed food since childhood. We give dry food 2 times a week, porridge and soups 4 times a week, and raw meat once a week. Important! Any meat and any bones before giving to the dog should be kept in the freezer for several days to kill all parasites. We have been adding bone meals to cereals since childhood. Until 1 year, we gave a tablespoon 3 times a week. Now 1 tablespoon once a week.

I cook porridge in meat and bone broth, sometimes I add vegetables. Naturally, I don’t add any seasonings, except for salt. For Gerda, I cook buckwheat, millet, rolled oats, sometimes rice, but she doesn’t really like him, but she loves pasta. Sometimes I cook porridge in milk, or in water, but with the addition of butter. I do not feed the dog with fried and fatty foods, because they, like people, can have pancreas and stomach pain. We are for healthy food! We tried to give Gerda fresh fish, but somehow she didn’t react very well to her, but if the fish had lain on her plate for a couple of days, I think she would have eaten it with pleasure. The rotten fish found in the bushes on a walk was a lifelong goal for the dog!

Porridge from 1 kilogram of cereal is enough for 4 feedings, i.e. for 2 days. If we give meat, then it is about 1 kilogram per day. We give out in parts, as the uneaten dog likes to stock up. We feed our Gerda, as you already understood, 2 times a day, always at the same time. By the way, her “childhood trauma” came back to us. Remember, at the very beginning I wrote that her brothers and sisters let the last one to the bowl? At first, she tried to start growling at us when we touched her bowl. This was stopped immediately. Although even now, sometimes, when the dog eats meat or bones, it can begin to growl. For which, accordingly, we scold her.

Gerda’s friendship with cats did not grow together in childhood. Street kitten scratched our dog’s nose in early childhood. Now Gerda is ready to drive any cat miles from home.

On a walk to other dogs, she is very friendly, especially loves to play with males, especially with small ones. Allows them to bite and get tangled underfoot. Previously, her best friend was Jack Russell Terrier. Until 5 months, Gerda was calm on walks. When all the dogs were running after a puller or a stick, they quietly sat on the sidelines and waited until they all reached her, after which she successfully took the “trophy”. By the way, taking away someone’s toy is a favorite thing. And when she was 5 months old she met this terrier and a husky. That’s when she learned to run. And very quickly. Such activity is not typical for her breed, but it all depends on the company.

She will not let any stranger’s dog into her territory. Besides Gerda, we have three more mongrels. These were stray dogs, we took them under our care when Gerda was about a year old. At first, they played together, ran, but the battle for leadership slowly began and Gerda began to gnaw these dogs. I had to place them in different enclosures and refuse joint walks. The only one with whom she found a common language of these three mongrels is a male.

In general, she had disliked mongrel dogs since childhood. And she hated neutered and neutered dogs, even if they were friends before the operations.

The Tibetan Mastiff is a very intelligent breed. She requires increased attention and deep respect. The breed itself is very calm, it loves children, but the main thing is not to make mistakes in upbringing, to socialize the dog, not to teach it to be evil, it already knows how. This breed is for those who have a private house and a large yard. Such dogs should not sit on a chain or even in an enclosure. They need a certain amount of freedom. And they, like any other animal, need love.

Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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