8 Breeds of Himalayan Mountain Dogs: Sheepdogs, Mastiffs, and More

Updated on August 23, 2019
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Aradhya loves sharing information about wildlife, animals and pets—especially dogs.

The Himalayan mountain range is is home to some of the largest, fiercest and most loyal dog breeds in the world.
The Himalayan mountain range is is home to some of the largest, fiercest and most loyal dog breeds in the world. | Source

Mountain Dogs From the Himalayan Range

Parts of the Himalayan Mountain range reach over 7,200 meters high. It is home to many of the world's highest peaks, including Mount Everest and K2. The gargantuan range crosses six countries: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, China and Pakistan.

The Himalayas are home to many uncommon and rare breeds of dog. These dogs are gigantic, intelligent and aggressive, and most have broad jaws, powerful muzzles and long furry coats. These traits make the dogs uniquely suitable for the Himalayan climate.

Most of the Himalayan dog breeds share certain common characters and behaviors including physical and mental strength. Primarily available in India, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan, these breeds are known by a variety of common names. Their behavior in domestic environments depends on each individual's persistent training and grooming.

8 Himalayan Mountain Dog Breeds

  1. Nepali Sheepdog/Himilayan Sheepdog (Nepal)
  2. Nepali Hill Dog (Nepal)
  3. Indigenous Mastiff/Himilayan Guard Dog (India)
  4. Himachali Gaddi/Indian Leopard Hound (India)
  5. Kashmir Sheepdog/Bakharwal Mastiff (India)
  6. Bhutia Sheepdog (Bhutan)
  7. Damchi (Bhutan)
  8. Tibetan Mastiff (Tibet)

Comparison of Himalayan Dog Breeds

Breed
Origin
Height
Weight
Category
Lifespan
Nepali Sheep Dog
Nepal
21–26"
35–45 kg
Mastiff
9–14 yrs
Nepali Hill Dog
Nepal
21–28"
32–47 kg
Hearding, Guard
N/A
Indigenous Mastiff
Laddakh, India
28–38"
60–90 kg
Mastiff
9–12 yrs
Himachali Gaddi
Himachal, India
20–27"
35–45 kg
Hearding, Working
10–13 yrs
Bakharwal Mastiff
Kashmir, India
24–30"
30–38 kg
Working
9–13 yrs
Damchi
Bhutan
13–17"
6–11 kg
Sporting, Toy
12–15 yrs
Bhutia Sheep Dog
Bhutan
22–26"
37–43 kg
Hearding, Guard
N/A
Tibetan Mastiff
Tibet
24–28"
61–72 kg
Mastiff
10–14 yrs

Mountain Dogs From Nepal

In Nepal, people love and respect dogs. Many consider them to be the pet of Lord Yamaraj, the god of death. They worship dogs once a year on the second day of Tihar Puja, an annual five-day festival of lights.

During Kukur Puja, the second day of the Tihar festival in Nepal, dogs are fed and worshiped by revelers in honor of the god of death.
During Kukur Puja, the second day of the Tihar festival in Nepal, dogs are fed and worshiped by revelers in honor of the god of death. | Source

The 5 Days of Tihar Puja

  • 1st Day: Kag Tihar (worship of the crow)
  • 2nd Day: Kukur Tihar (worship of the dog)
  • 3rd Day: Gai Tihar and Laxmi Puja
  • 4th Day: Gobardhan Puja and Mha Puja (worship of Lord Krishna and the oxen)
  • 5th Day: Bhai Tika (sisters put tika on the foreheads of brothers)

The second day of the Tihar festival in Nepal (the Deepawali festival in India) is called Kukur Tihar or Kukur Puja (Kukur means "dog" in Nepal). It is also known as Khicha Puja by the Newars in Nepal. On this day, people worship dogs, who are believed to be messengers of Lord Yamaraj—the god of death. Nepal has two very famous and fantastic mountain dog breeds: the Nepali sheepdog and the Nepali hill dog.

This Nepali sheepdog looks like Tibetan mastiff.
This Nepali sheepdog looks like Tibetan mastiff. | Source

1. Nepali Sheepdog/Himilayan Sheepdog

Nepali sheepdogs are native to Nepal and are also available and popular in India, Bhutan and some parts of Pakistan. They are alert, intelligent and make excellent guard dogs. They fall into the herding category but also make great working or companion dogs. They look very similar to Tibetan mastiffs but are noticeably smaller. They are active and athletic, so they make a great watchdog or family pet.

  • Nepali sheepdogs are also known as Himalayan sheepdogs, Bhotia, Himalayan mastiffs and Bhotia mastiffs. Here Bhotia should not be confused with Bhutan's Bhutia sheepdog.
  • They are giant, powerful and courageous dogs who need a lot of outdoor exercise.
  • These dogs are very dominant and territorial and not suitable for apartment living.
  • They need a firm and dominant owner.

This Nepali hill dog puppy was spotted in Kathmandu.
This Nepali hill dog puppy was spotted in Kathmandu.

2. Nepali Hill Dog

Nepali hill dogs are native to Nepal and are primarily available in the region's hilly areas and near the India-Nepal border.

  • Because of their black color and affinity for the hills, members of this breed are also known as black hill dogs or pahari kukur in the native language. Pahari means hill, and kukur means dog.
  • Generally, they have long, black, furry coats and look like small black bears. They commonly have brown patches on their heads and eyes. Some rare individuals have brown, yellow or tan shades on their feet and stomach.
  • Another unique quality of this breed is that the males are much larger and stronger than the females; they can be more than 50% larger in size.
  • Initially, the hill dog was used by some Nepali tribes for herding sheep and protecting livestock.
  • Hill dogs are very courageous, powerful and alert, but they aren't usually welcoming of strangers or other pets. They are very dominant and territorial and need a firm and experienced owner.

Mountain Dogs From India

Three excellent and popular Himalayan mountain dog breeds originated in India: Indigenous mastiffs (Himalayan guard dogs), Himachali Gaddis and Kashmir sheepdogs (Bakharwal mastiffs).

Indigenous mastiffs' thick coats are uniquely adapted the harsh Himalayan climate.
Indigenous mastiffs' thick coats are uniquely adapted the harsh Himalayan climate.

3. Indigenous Mastiff or Himalayan Guard Dog

Himalayan mastiffs are native to India. They are also commonly referred to as Himalayan guard dogs or indigenous Tibetan mastiffs.

  • They are found mainly in the Laddakh region of the Himalayas.
  • They look very similar to Tibetan mastiffs, but their behaviour is entirely different. Himalayan mastiffs are calm and gentle dogs who love to please their masters and stay close to their owners and families.
  • They are generally gentle and reserved, but if something goes wrong, they can be very ferocious. They are courageous and warrior-like and have been known to fight to the death. A fully grown male Himalayan mastiff is purportedly capable of taking down two wolves at once.
  • By nature, they are very loyal, friendly and devoted to their owners. They also tend to be very protective of their families.
  • Their long, dry, double-coated fur makes them well-suited for colder climates.
  • Common coat colors include all-black, black and tan, red, dark grey and grey-black. Some rare individuals are white, but this is uncommon.

Himachali Gaddis were bred to prevent snow leopard attacks on livestock.
Himachali Gaddis were bred to prevent snow leopard attacks on livestock.

4. Himachali Gaddi/Indian Leopard Hound

Gaddi dogs are native to India. The best place to find them is in the Himachal state in northern India.

  • This breed is considered the oldest descendant of the Tibetan mastiff. They were bred to protect livestock from leopards and other wild animals but are now widely used for sheep-herding and as guard dogs, especially by native shepherds in Gaddi tribes.
  • They are very intelligent and can herd stray sheep and goats back to their pens.
  • They are reputed to be strong enough to fend off by snow-leopards during attacks.
  • They are also known as Mahidant mastiffs and leopard hounds.
  • Gaddi dogs are ancestors of Tibetan mastiffs and look a lot like them, but by nature, they are gentle, calm, friendly, intelligent, alert, loyal and protective of their families.

Bakharwal mastiff were bred originally to defend the livestock of the Gujjar people.
Bakharwal mastiff were bred originally to defend the livestock of the Gujjar people. | Source

5. Kashmir Sheepdog/Bakharwal Mastiff

The Bakharwal breed is indigenous to the Pir Panjal mountain range of the Kashmir Himalayas. They were originally bred by a nomadic group of Muslims called Gujjars to protect their livestock from predators like wolves and bears.

  • The name Bakharawal is taken from the word Bakri, which means goat, because these dogs were bred to protect goats and sheep from wolves and bears.
  • The breed is also known as the Kashmir sheepdog, Bakharwal mastiff, Kashmiri Bakharwal, Gujjar watchdog, Bakharwal, Gujjar dog and Kashmiri mastiff.
  • They are deep-chested, muscular and agile, with straight backs, broad shoulders and long legs. They have strong bones, powerful necks and large heads.

Mountain Dogs From Bhutan

Bhutan is home to two very differently sized dog breeds: the Bhuti sheepdog, which is a giant shepherd and the Damchi, which is much more petite.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bhutia sheepdogs were bred originally to defend livestock. Bhutias are known to be loyal companions and great family pets.
Bhutia sheepdogs were bred originally to defend livestock.
Bhutia sheepdogs were bred originally to defend livestock.
Bhutias are known to be loyal companions and great family pets.
Bhutias are known to be loyal companions and great family pets. | Source

6. Bhutia Sheepdog

Bhutias are giant cattle-dogs from the Himalayan range of Bhutan.

  • They were originally bred for herding and to protect cattle and yak from predators.
  • This powerful and ferocious dog is famous in Bhutan and nearby Indian states like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh and can be acquired all over the country.
  • Bhutias are loyal, alert and protective. They are devoted to their families and masters and make great guard dogs.
  • Most are brown and tan with some white facial markings. Some rare individuals have black and yellow coats.
  • Bhutia dogs are medium-sized, broad-headed and powerful.

2. Damchi

It is very difficult to find a purebred Damchi, even in Bhutan.
It is very difficult to find a purebred Damchi, even in Bhutan.

7. Damchi

The Damchi is a small-to-medium-sized dog from Bhutan, also known as the Bhutan Damchi, Bhutanese Damchi and khomyto (which means "my little baby").

  • They are almost extinct. It’s almost impossible to find a purebred Damchi in Bhutan.
  • They have been featured on postage stamps in Bhutan.
  • They look very similar to Tibetan Lhasa Apsos but are physically sturdier.

Mountain Dogs From Tibet

Tibet has a rich history when it comes to dogs. It is the birthplace of many of very famous breeds. When talking about "dangerous" Himalayan breeds, then the Tibetan mastiff is probably the only one that needs no introduction. Other Tibetan breeds include the Lhasa apso, Tibetan spaniel and Tibetan terrier.

Tibetan mastiffs' coloring can vary, but they tend to be very large and have long coats.
Tibetan mastiffs' coloring can vary, but they tend to be very large and have long coats. | Source

8. Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan mastiffs are native to Tibet and are sometimes referred to as do-khyi.

  • They can be seen in the northern parts of Nepal, India and Bhutan.
  • In Nepal, they are known as bhote kukur. Bhote means "outsider to Nepal or Tibet." Kukur means "dog."
  • These giant mountain dogs have strong, broad heads and sturdy bone structure. They have long borides and heavy fronts for their height. Some say that they resemble lions because of their long coats.
  • They are fearless and tempered but loyal and protective. Tibetan mastiffs are known to be stubborn and won't always obey, so they aren't necessarily the best choice for first-time dog owners.

Map of Breed Origins

These are some of the most popular Himalayan dogs from India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.
These are some of the most popular Himalayan dogs from India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet.

© 2014 ARADHYA

Comments

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    • profile image

      Sarah 

      8 months ago

      This info seems to be entirely incorrect about the different breeds involved.

      The dogs all come from different regions and have many different actributes.

    • profile image

      Marcha A Garn 

      10 months ago

      Some of the photos and info is a bit off. The first two photos labeled "Himalayan Terror" are hybrid dogs. They are not dogs of the Himalaya or the Tibetan Plateau or any other Himalayan area. The video by Mr. Zhang is good. He has other videos of his travels on the plateau as well that show the dog in native areas.

    • srai01 profile imageAUTHOR

      ARADHYA 

      2 years ago

      Thanks Buddha luxom!

      I do not supply the pets, but I will recommend refer OLX pets section and post your requirement.

      That's the best option to get the one.

    • srai01 profile imageAUTHOR

      ARADHYA 

      3 years ago

      Thanks Wim!

    • profile image

      wim tegelaar 

      3 years ago

      Excellent article.

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