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Breed Standards : Guardian Dog Group : Tibetan Mastiff


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Official UKC Breed Standard
Revised March 1, 2008
@Copyright 2006, United Kennel Club, Inc.

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


The Tibetan Mastiff, or Do-Khyi, is a large working dog from the Himalayas. Tracing the breed’s history back to antiquity, it acted as the guardian and companion of the Tibetan villagers and nomads, as well as being the traditional guardian of the Tibetan monasteries. Documented accounts by Marco Polo, who went to Asia in 1271, praise the breed’s natural strength and physical and mental impressiveness. Even its deep bark has been described as a unique and highly treasured feature of the breed. Many cynologists consider the Tibetan Mastiff the forefather of all large mountain and mastiff breeds.

The Tibetan Mastiff was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1998.


Large, sound and powerfully built. Well-boned and muscled, never light or refined; always agile. The impressive head provides a noble and dignified look, enhanced by a mane around the head and neck. The head is balanced by a curled tail carried over the back. Males are larger than the females, with heavier features and carrying more coat. The Tibetan Mastiff is still widely used in its traditional role as a natural guardian of family and flock, and has an aloof and independent nature.


A loyal companion and natural guardian. Highly intelligent, strong-willed, independent, aloof and protective when necessary. Patient and tolerant; may be wary of strangers. Any reserve, protectiveness or lack of enthusiasm when exhibited should not be penalized provided the dog can be properly evaluated.


The head is broad, heavy and strong. Proportions from occiput to stop, and stop to the end of the nose, range from equal lengths (1 to 1), to a muzzle that is somewhat shorter than the length of the topskull (2 to 3). With maturity, some wrinkling may be present on the head, extending from above the eyes to the corner of the mouth.

Serious Faults: Refined, head, heavily wrinkled head.

SKULL - The skull is massive, slightly rounded, with a strongly defined occiput and marked stop.

MUZZLE - Fairly broad, well padded, blunt and square when viewed from all sides. Lips well-developed, with moderate flews that cover the underjaw.

Serious Fault: Pendulous flews.

NOSE - Broad, with well opened nostrils. As dark as possible, depending on the color of the coat.

Serious Fault: Pale pigmentation.

TEETH - Full dentition fitting tightly to maintain strong chin. Jaws and teeth strong with regular scissors bite, set square to the jaw. Level bite acceptable.

EYES - Medium size, oval in shape, set well apart and slightly slanted. Any shade of brown, but in accordance to coat color, the darker the better. Eyelids fit tightly. Expression is dignified.

Serious Faults: Light eyes, staring expression.

EARS - Medium size, triangular, pendent, set between the level of the skull and the eye, hanging close to the head when in repose. When at attention, level with the top of skull and brought forward, appearing to broaden the skull. Ear leathers covered with soft short hair.

Serious Faults: Large and/or low set ears.


The neck is strong, arched and well muscled. A little dewlap is acceptable. The neck is covered by a thick, upstanding mane, which is not as pronounced in females as in males.

Serious Fault: Excessive dewlap.


Well angulated, with muscular shoulders.

FORELEGS - Straight, with strong bone and elbows close to the body. Pasterns are strong and slightly sloping.


Slightly longer than tall in proportion, with a strong, straight back. The chest is rather deep and moderately wide. Ribs are nicely sprung in a heart shape. The brisket reaches below the elbows. The croup is broad and rather flat.

Serious Fault: Barrel shaped ribs.


Powerful and muscular, with good angulation.

HIND LEGS - Parallel when seen from behind. Upper thigh is rather long with hard, but not bulging, muscles. The stifle is well bent and the hocks are low and strong. Dewclaws are optional.

Serious Faults: Over angulation or straight rear.


The feet are fairly large, strong, with thick pads, rounded and compact. Well feathered between the toes.


The tail is medium length, set high on line with the top of the back, and carried high in a loose curl over the back.

Serious Fault: Tail tightly curled over the hips.


Quality of coat is more important than quantity. Outer coat is not too long, straight and fine, but harsh in texture. It is thick and stands off the body. Undercoat is dense and wooly in cold climates but becomes sparse in summer. Hair is short on the face, developing into a distinct mane surrounding the head and neck that is more pronounced in mature males. Tail and upper rear parts of hind legs well feathered. The Tibetan Mastiff is exhibited in a natural condition with no trimming. Seasonal shedding is not to be penalized.

Serious Faults: Silky, curly or wavy coat.


Black, chocolate brown and slate gray, all with or without tan markings, as well as various shades of gold, and sable. The shades of gold and the tan markings may range from cream to dark red/gold. White markings may occur on chest and feet. Spectacle markings around the eyes are acceptable.

Pigmentation on lips, nose and eye rims is black, except on dilute colors (chocolate, blue and gold dilute), where the pigmentation is also diluted but should be as dark as possible.


SIZE - Dogs: minimum 26 inches (ranging to over 30 inches). Bitches: minimum 24 inches (ranging to over 28 inches). Slow to mature, dogs range from 100 to 160+ pounds. Bitches range from 75 to120+ pounds. Preference is given to dogs of greater height, provided that their proportions are harmonious, and that proper type, substance, structure and breed characteristics are present.


Powerful, light and elastic, with good reach and drive, and capable of considerable speed. Measured and deliberate when walking. At speed will tend toward, and may reach, a single track.


(An Eliminating Fault is a Fault serious enough that it eliminates the dog from obtaining any awards in a conformation event.)

Overshot or undershot bite.


(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness. Albinism.