Tibetan Dog Breeds

Tibetan Dog Breeds [are Tibetan Mastiffs banned in the US?]

Tibet is a place that is known for its rich history, amazing culture, and beautiful landscapes. However, many people do not know that many of their favorite dog breeds also come from Tibet. 

From the giant Tibetan Mastiff to the tiny Lhasa Apso, there is a huge variety when it comes to the different dogs that have origins in Tibet. 

Is the Tibetan Mastiff the Biggest Dog in the World
Is the Tibetan Mastiff the Biggest Dog in the World?

Here are some of our favorite Tibetan dog breeds

Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff is a large guardian breed that is growing in popularity throughout the United States and other parts of the world. 

These eye-catching dogs have a rich history and an aloof but caring personality. Here is everything that you need to know about the Tibetan Mastiff or Tibetan Mountain dog. 

Breed History

The Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed that has its roots in the Himalayan mountains. In fact, it is believed that all mastiff breeds have the Tibetan Mastiff as their common ancestor. 

These dogs were originally designed to protect their masters from both human and animal intruders alike. The Tibetan Mastiff has even been known to take on dangerous predators like the snow leopard!

Tibetan Mastiff
Tibetan Mastiff

To this day, the Tibetan Mastiff’s large and imposing appearance is still a  deterrent to predators and trespassers alike. 

Although this breed truly has ancient roots, they were not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club until 2006. 

However, the American Tibetan Mastiff Association was established in 1974. 


The Tibetan Mastiff is a very giant breed, and they can weigh up to 150 pounds. Like most dog breeds out there, male Tibetan Mastiffs are usually larger than female Tibetan Mastiffs. 

Tibetan Mastiffs can have a variety of coat colors and patterns including solid colors like black, blue, brown, and red. Solid colors with tan markings are common. 


These dogs are fairly reserved and make excellent guard dogs. This dates back to this breed’s original purpose as a guard dog in the Himalayas. 

Although they can be quite aloof around strangers, Tibetan Mastiffs are pretty affectionate with the members of their families. 

Tibetan Mastiffs are known as very intelligent dogs. 

Due to their reserved nature and guard dog capabilities, Tibetan Mastiffs should be reserved for the experienced owner. 

Grooming Requirements

These dogs have a fairly long double coat that requires weekly brushing. These dogs tend to shed a lot, so brushing more often can help to keep the hair around your house at a minimum. 

The heavy coat of the Tibetan Mastiff is dense, and it can be very slow to dry after it gets wet. As a result, it is recommended to keep things like baths to a minimum. 

Diet and Exercise Needs

As you would expect, these giant dogs eat much more than smaller dog breeds do. Most Tibetan Mastiffs do well on about 4 cups of high-quality dog food every day. 

Tibetan Mastiffs should get about an hour of exercise each day. 

Tibetan Mastiff Health Problems 

The biggest medical concern when it comes to the Tibetan Mastiff is hip dysplasia.  However, other health conditions such as the ones listed below should be a concern.

  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Entropion (condition of the eyes)
  • Epilepsy
  • Hypothyroidism 

The average lifespan for a Tibetan Mastiff is 12 to 15 years. 

How Much Does a Tibetan Mastiff Puppy Cost?

Expect to pay between $1000 and $4500 for a Tibetan Mastiff puppy from a reputable breeder. 

Why is a Tibetan Mastiff so Expensive?

The Tibetan Mastiff is a rare dog and is considered a national treasure in Tibet. Thus it carries a high value.

Tibetan Spaniel

The Tibetan Spaniel is a dog breed that originates alongside many of the other Tibetan dog breeds on our list such as the Tibetan Mastiff and the Lhasa Apso. 

However, this tiny dog still has unique qualities and a rich history. Here is everything that you need to know about the Tibbie, or Tibetan Spaniel. 

Breed History

These companion dogs were bred and preserved by the Tibetan monks for thousands of years. 

Tibetan Spaniel
Tibetan Spaniel

In addition to being friendly companions and bed warmers on those cold, Himalayan nights, Tibetan Spaniels were also used as watchdogs. 

It has been suggested that these little dogs would sit on top of monastery walls and bark to alert the monks of both intruders and oncoming visitors alike. 


The Tibetan Spaniel is a small dog that can weigh anywhere between 9 and 15 pounds. In addition to this, Tibetan Spaniels only stand at 10 inches at the shoulder. 

As for coat colors, there is a wide variety including cream, black and tan, sable, red, and more. 


Tibetan Spaniels are known to be incredibly affectionate and friendly dogs. As a result, these dogs can be a great companion for children who have learned to handle dogs properly. 

In addition to making excellent companions, these little dogs make for great watchdogs. Due to its friendly and easy-going nature, the Tibetan Spaniel is a great choice for the novice dog owner. 

Grooming Requirements

The Tibetan Spaniel has a silky, long, double coat that requires daily brushing. Bathing should be limited to every 8 weeks or so to promote good skin health. 

These dogs can be prone to ear wax buildup, so frequent ear cleanings are a must when owning a Tibbie. 

Diet and Exercise Needs

Considering their small size, Tibetan Spaniels only need about 30 minutes of exercise each day. This can easily be maintained with a daily walk. 

These dogs do not eat very much either, and one cup of a high-quality dog food daily should keep your Tibbie healthy and happy. 

Health Conditions to Look Out For 

The Tibetan Spaniel is normally considered to be a fairly healthy dog breed. However, there are some medical conditions that Tibetan Spaniel owners should be aware of. 

These conditions include entropion, progressive retinal atrophy, and patellar luxation.

The average life expectancy for Tibetan Spaniels is 12 to 15 years. 

Tibetan Terrier

The Tibetan terrier is yet another ancient breed from the mountainous country of Tibet. This is a small to medium-sized dog that has a shaggy coat and a loyal disposition. 

Here is everything that dog lovers need to know about the Tibetan Terrier, which is sometimes also called the holy dog of Tibet. 

Breed History

The Buddhist monks in Himalayan monasteries have been keeping and breeding Tibetan Terriers for thousands of years. In fact, the Dalai Lama has ties to this breed. 

Tibetan Terrier
Tibetan Terrier

Although these dogs were mainly used as watchdogs and companions by Buddhist monks, there is also evidence that Tibetan Terriers were also used as a herding dog and flock guardians. 

This breed is fairly new to the western world, and they were not officially recognized by the American Kennel Club until the year 1973. 


The Tibetan Terrier is a small to medium-sized dog, and it can weigh anywhere between 18 and 30 pounds. 

Tibetan Terriers can be 14 to 17 inches tall at the shoulder. 

Like many other dog breeds, males tend to be larger than females. The Tibetan Terrier has a shaggy double coat that can come in a variety of colors. 

Solid white, grey, and black coat colors are possible. However, brindle and piebald patterning are also common in Tibetan Terriers. 


This dog is known to be incredibly loyal and affectionate towards its family members. The Tibetan Terrier is also fairly friendly with strangers most of the time as well. 

However, this is a dog breed with a high watchdog potential. As a result, Tibetan Terriers do have the tendency to bark. 

Grooming Requirements

The Tibetan Terriers long double coat requires daily brushing to prevent tangles and matting. It is recommended that you mist your Tibetan Terrier’s coat with water before brushing to make the process easier. 

Like the Tibetan Spaniel, the Tibetan Terrier is prone to developing earwax buildup. As a result, it is recommended that you clean their ears on a regular basis. 

Diet and Exercise Needs

The Tibetan Terrier may be smaller in size, but it does have a fairly high amount of energy. 

As a result, Tibetan Terriers should be getting between 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise each day. 

Tibetan Terriers should do well on about 2 cups of high-quality dog food daily. 

Health Conditions to Look Out For 

Unfortunately, the Tibetan Terrier can be genetically prone to a large list of health issues. 

These include progressive retinal atrophy, patellar luxation, allergies, retinal dysplasia, heart murmur, hypothyroidism, lens luxation, and ceroid lipofuscinosis. 

Due to the number of hereditary conditions that this breed can inherit, it is recommended that you get your Tibetan Terrier from a reputable breeder that will screen for these issues before breeding their dogs. 

The average lifespan for Tibetan Terriers is 15 to 16 years. 

Lhasa Apso 

This beautiful and luxurious little dog has its roots in Himalayan Buddhist monasteries like many of the other Tibetan dog breeds on our list. 

In fact, the Lhasa Apso is possibly the most prized companion of these Buddhist monks. Here is everything that you need to know about the Lhasa Apso. 

Breed History

Buddhist monks in the Himalayan monasteries kept Lhasa Apsos as companion dogs.

They were prized for their sweet temperaments and ability to withstand the harsh cold from the freezing Himalayan winters. 

Lhasa Apso
Lhasa Apso

In fact, these dogs were held in such high esteem that they were historically never sold. Rather, they were given as gifts by the Dalai Lama.

It is from these gifs that the breed was brought to the United States and made accessible to the general public. 

In addition to this, it is also believed that the Lhasa Apso is the ancestor of several other popular breeds such as the Shih Tzu after being given as a gift. 


The Lhasa Apso is a small dog that can weigh between 12 and 18 pounds. 

These dogs are most famous for their silky long coats. These coats can come in a large variety of coat colors including white, black, grey, and red. 

Coat patterns such as the parti color (more than 50% white coat), brindle, and sable are common in Lhasa Apsos as well. White markings are also accepted within the Lhasa Apso’s official breed standard. 


These smart little comedians are known to be incredibly affectionate dogs towards their owners and family members. 

These dogs are also known to be playful dogs that usually do very well around children and other pets, which makes them good family pets. 

Like many of the other Tibetan dogs on our list, Lhasa Apsos also make for excellent watchdogs. 

Grooming Requirements

The Lhasa Apso’s longer hair requires daily brushing due to its silky nature. Brushing their hair daily will prevent tangles and matting, keeping these beautiful dogs at their best. 

It is recommended that you brush their hair in layers, and using a detangler that has been approved for dogs can make the process easier. 

In addition to this, it is recommended that you bathe your Lhasa Apso about once a week when possible, and this is also the kind of dog that requires visits with the groomers. 

Diet and Exercise Needs

Despite their small size, Lhasa Apsos actually requires a decent amount of daily exercise. In fact, they require about an hour of exercise every day to stay healthy and happy. 

Lhasa Apsos should do well on about one cup of high-quality dog food each day. 

Health Conditions to Look Out For 

This is a brachycephalic dog breed, so they can occasionally suffer from Brachycephalic Syndrome (problems with the dog’s airways) which can lead to trouble breathing, gagging, and snoring.

In addition to this, Lhasa Apso owners should look out for other genetic health problems like intervertebral disc disease, urolithiasis, hydrocephalus, and a variety of eye problems. 

The average life expectancy for Lhasa Apsos is 12 to 15 years.

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is commonly associated with being from China but its ancestry dates back 1000 years to the country of Tibet.

Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu

These small dogs were used as watchdogs and simply as great companions. Sometimes called the ‘lion dog’ they were also found in monasteries throughout the country.

It is suggested by some that the Shih Tzu made its move into China as a gift to the Chinese emperor from the people of Tibet.

You can learn more about the amazing Shih Tzu dog here. They are also a popular breed utilized in the creation of hybrid dogs such as the Shih Tzu Yorkie mix.

Tibetan KyiApso

The Tibetan Kyi Apso is a rare medium-sized dog that you won’t find a lot of information about. You may see this dog’s name spelled Tibetan Kyi Apso with a space between the last two words.

These dogs are legendary as the guardians of monasteries. The Tibetan KyiApso is an intelligent and active dog with a long coat that is said to have a strong love for the humans they serve.

Related Questions

What Does Lhasa Apsos Mean?

In the Tibetan language, Lhasa means ‘place of the gods’. Apso means long-haired or bearded.

Thus, Lhasa Apsos means long-haired (or bearded) dog that brings with it a spiritual context. 

Did Marco Polo have a Dog?

What a great question! So glad you asked. Most people have heard of the famous explorer that is credited with ‘discovering and chronicling’ China for the rest of the world way back in the late 1200s.

It is said by some that he had a Tibetan Spaniel as his dog! His writings also describe a large dog he encountered that many think was the Tibetan Mastiff. He also wrote about the Chow Chow dog.

Did Genghis Khan Use Dogs as Soldiers in his Army?

Some historians claim that Genghis Khan used the Tibetan Mastiff dog as “soldiers” in his massive armies.

These very large strong dogs were intimidating and it is said that Genghis Khan employed thousands of them for this very reason.

Are Tibetan Mastiffs Banned in the US?

No, there is no national ban on the Tibetan Mastiff in the United States. However, there may be some areas that have restrictions. 

Be sure to check your state and local laws before buying a Tibetan Mastiff.

Is the Tibetan Mastiff the Biggest Dog in the World?

Although the Tibetan Mastiff is a huge dog most agree the largest dog in the world is Freddy the Great Dane who measured at seven feet long or Zeus who stood 44 inches tall!


There are several different Tibetan dog breeds to choose from and they all can make a good family pet.

Considering the variety in temperament, appearance, and care requirements in each of these Tibetan dog breeds, you are sure to find the right breed for you in this list. 

Of course, we always recommend early socialization and training with positive reinforcement for every dog breed. 

Whether your perfect dog breed is the giant Tibetan Mastiff with its deep bark or the small and luxurious Lhasa Apso, you are sure to find the perfect Tibetan dog breed for you and your family.

Tibetan dog breeds

Similar Posts