Aradhya loves sharing information about wildlife, animals and pets—especially dogs.
Tibetan mastiffs are ancient domesticated dogs. These dogs are large, strong, and powerful mountain dogs whose traditional purpose was to protect livestock and help for herding. They look like a lion, and nowadays, Tibetan mastiffs are one of the most demanded dogs in Asian and European countries and are a trending fashion and status symbol in China, which makes their price quite high.
But if you want to adopt a Tibetan mastiff, some other factors must be considered apart from their demand, status, price and lion-like appearance. You must consider their nature, temperament, living, and grooming requirements. Only then may you decide whether they are really suitable for you.
Tibetan mastiffs are courageous, fearless, tempered, and intelligent dogs and very loyal to their family and owner. But they are not very friendly to other pets and strangers. They are also stubborn, strong willed, and dominant dogs that need lot of physical exercise and daily walks. Tibetan mastiffs are not well adapted to apartment living, they are excellent door guards, but don't like to be indoors and they need a very confident and firm owner to prevent them becoming wilful and stubborn. They are not recommended for inexperienced or weak owners.
These dogs are mountain dogs and suitable for cold weather, but they don’t do well in warm weather. Also, their availability is not common and pure breed dogs are not available at many places. But still, many people are fascinated with Tibetan mastiffs and really want to have them. For such people, it’s advisable to check for other breeds that look very similar to this breed. This article covers other breeds from which you can choose from.
1. Nepali Mountain Dog or Himalayan Sheep Dog
Nepali sheep dogs are native to Nepal and are related to Tibetan mastiffs. They are very popular and demanded in India, Pakistan, and Bhutan. These dogs are very alert, intelligent, and can be an excellent guard dog. Nepali sheep dogs are also known as Himalayan sheep dogs or Bhotia mastiffs. Bhotia should not be confused with Bhutan's Bhutia sheep dog.
Nepali sheep dogs are available only in India and Nepal. These giant dogs are very powerful and courageous, and they need lot of outdoor exercise. Like Tibetan mastiffs, they are also very dominant and territorial dogs and not suitable for apartment living or for first time owners. They are herding category dogs, but they are very much appreciated as a working or companion dog. Compared to Tibetan mastiffs, this breed is smaller and friendlier.
Nepali Mountain Dog vs. Tibetan Mastiff
|Nepali Sheep Dog||Tibetan Mastiff|
Friendly, playfull, loyal
Fearless, aggressive, protective, intelligent
2. Bangara Mastiff
This distinct breed was developed recently in an Indian town called Tehri Garhwal. The part of town where they were developed is known as Bangar, which is where they got their name Bangara mastiff or Bangar mastiff.
In 1963, a retired Indian army major, W.V. Soman, was asked to act as a judge at a dog show in Mumbai. He noticed that all the dogs on show were imported pedigree breeds and he didn’t find a single native Indian dog breed. He set about changing this by publishing a detailed list of Indian breeds, stating, "My work will only be fulfilled if we see the pedigreed dogs of Indian origin in dog shows in India." Later, he created these native Indian mastiff dogs. Native Bhotia dogs were the genetic source for these dogs. Those dogs were used by local people for herding yak, sheep ,and to protect the villagers from ferocious wild animals like leopards and wolves.
Bangara mastiff dogs are very friendly, alert, courageous, and very loyal to their owner and family. They have very similar muzzles like Tibetan mastiffs but are comparatively less hairy and smaller in size. They are well suitable to apartment living and very friendly towards other pets and guests, but must be well socialized at an early stage.
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Bangara Mastiff vs. Tibetan Mastiff
|Bangara Mastiff||Tibetan Mastiff|
India, Bangar District
Low or Average
Loyal, protective, gentle
Fearless, aggressive, and protective
3. Indigenous Mastiff or Himalayan Guard Dog
Himalayan mastiffs are native Indian dogs from the region of Himalaya. They are also known as a Himalayan guard dog or indigenous Tibetan mastiff. These dogs could be located in the Laddakh region of Himalaya. They look very similar to Tibetan mastiffs but their behaviour is entirely different. Indigenous mastiffs are calm and lovable dogs who love to please their master and their companions and like to be around its owners and family.
Usually, they are very friendly and gentle, but if something goes wrong, they could be very ferocious. They are very courageous and dynamic warriors, who are known to fight till death. A full-grown male Himalayan mastiff is capable if taking down two wolves alone. Himalayan mastiffs are very devoted to their owner and very protective to their family. They are reserved with other pets and dogs and don't like their company much. They have long, dry, double-coated fur and are available in colours black, black with yellow tans, red, dark grey, or grey black tanned. Some rare dogs have mixed colours but white colour is not common.
Himalayan Indigenous Mastiff vs. Tibetan Mastiff
|Indigenous Mastiff||Tibetan Mastiff|
60+ kg, up to 90 kg
Friendly, loyal, alert, courageous
Fearless, aggressive, protective
4. Gaddi Kutta or Indian Panther Hound
Gaddi dogs are native Indian dogs from the Himachal state of North India. They are considered to be one of the oldest descendants of Tibetan mastiffs. Gaddi dogs were bred for hunting purposes, but multi-talented Gaddi dog are widely used by local shepherds, mostly by the Gaddis (the tribe of the same name). These dogs are reputed to be strong enough to repulse attacks by snow leopards and are very intelligent to herd stray sheep and goats back to their pens. Gaddi dogs are also called Mahidant mastiffs, Indian leopard hounds, and Bhotia dogs.
These dogs are not as giant and powerful like Tibetan mastiffs. However, Gaddi dogs have higher stamina, speed, and entirely different personalities and temperament. They are gentle, calm, friendly, intelligent and very alert, loyal, and protective of their family.
Indian Gaddi vs. Tibetan Mastiff
|Indian Gaddi||Tibetan Mastiff|
Friendly, intelligent, active, protective, very athletic
Fearless, aggressive, protective
5. Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Pyrenean mountain dogs are natives of Spain. They are from the southern slopes of the Pyrenees mountain from where they got their name. They are also known as great Pyrenees, chien de montagne des Pyrenees, or Pyrenean mastiffs. They are mostly available in a white colour and have a thick undercoat and coarser outer coat. Pyrenean dogs are strong, huge, elegant and gentle, well balanced, and have powerful rear legs. Asiatic mastiffs are their genetic source and they share a lot of similarities with them.
Pyrenean mountain dogs were domesticated and endorsed by Spanish people to guard sheep and assist in herding. Only five to six Pyrenean dogs were able to herd about 1000 sheep. This breed was kept under observation as they were endangered and on high alert to be extinct.Fortunately, they are now growing and are out of being endangered.
Pyrenean Mastiff vs. Tibetan Mastiff
|Pyrenean Mastiff||Tibetan Mastiff|
Intelligent, elegance and gentle
Fearless, aggressive, protective
6: Caucasian Mountain Dog
These dogs originate from a Russian region called Caucasus. They were commonly used to protect flocks as well as premises against wolves and other wild animals and strangers in the mountains of Caucasus. This is where they got their name Caucasian mastiff or Caucasian mountain dog. They are well recognised with other names like zhaul zhali (Chechen, Ingush).
They are very dominant dogs and need an owner with an alpha character. Even though they are very protective of their family and owner, they can be extremely wilful dogs and usually can’t be trusted with strangers or guests. They may have aggressive behaviour toward strangers. These mountain dogs have very strong and powerful muzzles and are a courageous, strong, and active dog. They don't tolerate dogs or pets into their territories, and they are well known for dog fights and wolf hunting. These dogs are strictly not recommended for apartment life as they need lot of exercise and early socialization. Otherwise, they can become disparaging, vicious, and aggressive.
Caucasian Mountain Dog vs. Tibetan Mastiff
|Caucasian Mastiff||Tibetan Mastiff|
Russia, Caucasian Mountains
Aggressive, Courageous, Alert
Fearless, Aggressive, Protecive
7. Newfoundland Dog
Newfoundlands are giant and gentle dogs of the working category, originating from Newfoundland, Canada. Most kennel clubs accept only black, white, and black colored Newfoundlands, but some dogs are also available in brown and grey colors. Basically, they were created and groomed as a working dog for pulling nets for fisherman and hauling wood from the forest.
To perform their assignments, they have to be a good swimmer, strong, and sturdy. And that's the basic nature of Newfoundland dogs. They are excellent swimmers, obedient, and responsive. Newfoundland dogs make a good family pet.
Newfoundland Dog vs. Tibetan Mastiff
|Newfoundland Dog||Tibetan Mastiff|
Fearless, agressive, protective
Dogs Like Tibetan Mastiff
© 2014 Aaradhya
Claudia on February 22, 2020:
Why putting photos in this article with the way overbreeded Tibetan mastiff? The TM with the Newfoundland dog have nothing to do with a original TM.
Aaradhya (author) on July 06, 2018:
Actually Bangar Mastiffs are developed from Bhotia dogs. But they are a separate breed. Request you to read their history.
Gaurav on June 24, 2018:
Bangar Mastiff is no different breed .
It is the Bhotia dog only. I'm from Tehri Garhwal and Bhotia dogs are common all across Uttarakhand.
The only variation I've seen is that some have long coat while some have short.
Aaradhya (author) on May 01, 2018:
Thanks dear Sarah!
sarah on April 25, 2018:
thank you so much for posting some awesome photos of these wonderful breeds. it means a lot to us all in such circumstances. the videos are great for those who decide on which dog breed they should be looking for and l hope this website helps them along with finding the right pooch .
Aaradhya (author) on May 01, 2017:
Hi Ashish Mokana,
Thanks for sharing the link for nice videos for Indigenous dogs. They are really great dogs.
Ashish Mokana on April 30, 2017:
Thanks for your reply. It was nice knowing that you have been in Nepal and your love with the indigenous dogs. Check out the video of pictures of tibetan mastiffs found in Nepal.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdHFkQ1d2x0
Aaradhya (author) on April 23, 2017:
First thanks for stopping by and reading my article.
I too have been in Nepal for 2 months vacation i spent time in Pokhara, Kathmandu and other tracking places.
As dogs are my interest, i was observing closely all the stray and pet dogs.
I agree "in Nepal, the numbers of pure tibetan mastiff are dropping"
I remember I saw, a full grown black dog roaming freely on street that was much bigger and hairy than most of other dogs.
When i enquired about that dog from locals,
they told me these dogs are known here as "Pahari kukur".
And they are like that (Tibetan mastiffs), but now days .. those dogs are dropping there demand and population. But Don't know why.
Deffinitly they are intelligent, gently and healthy dogs - but they are courageous and strong- so they are commonly mistaken as aggressive.
Which is completely wrong. But yes they are strong, courageous, and protective and need a good socialization at early stage.
Ashish Mokana on April 21, 2017:
I am from Nepal and have seen the most of the dogs described by you. I don't agree because tibetan mastiff currently seen and sold is not a pure dog and has been widely mixed with other breeds (hairy) to look like a lion and bigger. If you check the photo of pure tibetan mastiff 20 years back, they look lot different.
Secondly, nepal sheep dog, bangar mastiff, indigenous mastiff and gaddi are similar dogs. In Nepal, we can still see the bhote kukur (tibetan mastiff) in pure forms in remote high altitude areas where there are no any other breed of dogs. The bhote kukurs are used by yak and cattle herders. The size of these dogs vary as they were not selectively bred like in west but mostly the sheep herders use more agile, smaller and clever dog for their purpose. The larger dogs are kept for guarding home which are few as they don't serve much purpose. The coat also varies as per altitude.
However, in Nepal, the numbers of pure tibetan mastiff are dropping, as they get mixed with other imported breed of dogs and become mutt in areas where the roads are easily accessible.
So understanding and preservation are must for these breeds.
Aaradhya (author) on August 06, 2014:
Anusha Jain from Delhi, India on August 06, 2014:
Really good work on this one. Interesting as well as useful information :)
Aaradhya (author) on August 05, 2014:
Every one has own interest or need for having pet.
If you like a dog for protection and guard. Then deff. these dogs are the best choice. :).
Katina Davenport from Michigan on August 05, 2014:
Very intimidating looking dogs. I would hate to burglarize a home where those dogs are. Great information. Voted up.