Breed Standards
A lot is said about the 'Breed Standard' and much more written about 'it' even though, in fact, there is not one Breed Standard but at least six in existence today. One of these is the UK Standard, recently revised by the Tibetan Mastiff Club of GB and now accepted by the UK Kennel Club; one has recently been drafted for the FCI and came into force in late 2004; a new Standard has been drafted by members of  the American Tibetan Mastiff Association in the USA and voted in by a huge majority of those ATMA members: this Standard will become the official TM Standard accepted by the American Kennel Club now that the first moves have been made to take the breed under their auspices; another, from a smaller US Tibetan Mastiff club, has been in existence for some time, as has a Standard drafted by the New Zealand Kennel Club and one drawn up for the Chinese Tibetan Mastiff Club. There might be more!

The oldest Standard for the breed is the Bylandt Standard of 1904, which was published in four languages. It would seem that this Standard was drafted with the help of those knowledgeable about the Tibetan Mastiffs which had, by the end of the 19th century, been sent out of Tibet, mainly to various rulers of European countries. It is more than likely that Siring, owned by the then British king, Edward the Seventh but given to him when he was still Prince of Wales, was one such dog which would have had an influence on the wording of the Standard. Other dogs would have been those sent to the German Emperor and those brought back by the Hungarian nobleman Count Szechenyi.

In 1934 the Tibetan Breeds Club  (of Great Britain ) drafted a Standard for use in the UK. This worthy Standard was drawn up by a number of old India and Tibet hands including the Hon. Mrs. Bailey whose love for the Tibetan breeds and her efforts to breed Tibetan Mastiffs in particular, played such a noteworthy part in the history of the breed in this country. Her effect on the breed during the middle years of the 20th century cannot be dismissed lightly and neither can her knowledge of Tibetan breeds.

It was not until the 1970s that any new Standards appeared, this was the first FCI Standard for the TM and came into force in 1977. In the mid 80s a Standard was drafted by the American Tibetan Mastiff Association following the introduction of the breed to the US.  This was followed fairly shortly afterwards by a revision of the UK Standard, this time based very closely on the new ATMA Standard. After the breed had become established in the UK once again and a Club formed, an effort was made to draft a Standard which more closely reflected the Tibetan Mastiffs recorded in the writings of travellers to Tibet. Indeed in this effort, the Club was assisted immensely by people who were involved in the drafting of the Tibetan Breeds Association TM Standard in the 1930s. Regretably the only change the Kennel Club here saw fit to include was mention of spectacles. Another effort was made to review the UK Standard in 1994 and it is that revision which has now finally been accepted by the Kennel Club.

This revised UK Standard will not enjoy the relevance it once would have done, since, apparently, Patronage for our breed was assumed by the FCI , possibly in 1989, but unknown to most here. Quite why the FCI should have adopted our Standard in 1996 escapes us but now advisers to the FCI have come up with the new Standard which will cover FCI countries. It could be said that the UK and the US will not be affected directly by this Standard but in todays world where more and more TMs are being exported, and shown in countries other than those of origin, every important Standard must be paid heed.
FCI-Standard N 230  / 02. 04. 2004  / GB
DO-KHYI  (Tibetan Mastiff)

ORIGIN :  Tibet.



UTILIZATION :A companion, watch and guard dog.

CLASSIFICATION F.C.I. :Group2Pinscher and Schnauzer- Molossoid breeds- Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs and other breeds.
Section2.2Molossoid breeds, Mountain type.
Without working trial.

BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY : The Tibetan Mastiff (Do Khyi) is an ancient working breed of the nomad herders of the Himalaya and a traditional guardian of the Tibetan monasteries.  It has been surrounded by great myth since its first discovery in antiquity.  From the mentioning by Aristoteles (384-322 b.C.) to the famous writings of Marco Polo, who went to Asia in 1271, all historical reports praise the natural strength and impressiveness of the Tibetan Mastiff- both physically and mentally.  Even its bark has been described as a unique and highly treasured feature of the breed.  Leading European cynologists of the past, like Martin and Youatt, Megnin, Beckmann, Siber as well as Strebel and Bylandt have intensively covered the Tibetan Mastiff, as they had been fascinated by its origin and function in the Tibetan culture.  Some even considered the breed to be the very forefather of all large mountain and mastiff breeds.  One of the first known Tibetan Mastiffs to reach Western shores was a male sent to Queen Victoria by Lord Hardinge (then Viceroy of India) in 1847.  Later in the 1880s, Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) took two dogs back to England.  An early recorded litter of Tibetan Mastiffs was born in 1898 in the Berlin Zoo.

GENERAL APPEARANCE : Powerful, heavy, well built, with good bone.  Impressive; of solemn and earnest appearance.  Combines majestic strength, robustness and endurance; fit to work in all climate conditions.  Slow to mature, only reaching its best at 2-3 years in females and at least 4 years in males.

Skull measured from occiput to stop equal to muzzle from stop to end of nose but muzzle may be a little shorter.
Body slightly longer than height at withers.

BEHAVIOUR / TEMPERAMENT : Independent.  Protective.  Commands respect.  Most loyal to his family and territory.

HEAD  : Broad, heavy and strong.  In adults a wrinkle may extend from above the eyes down to the corner of mouth.

Skull : Large, very slightly rounded, with strongly pronounced occiput.
Stop :  Well defined.

Nose : Broad, as dark as possible depending on coat colour, well opened nostrils.
Muzzle :  Fairly broad, well filled and deep.  End of muzzle square. Lips : Well developed and covering the underjaw.                    
Jaws/Teeth :  Jaws strong with perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper incisors closely overlapping the lower incisors and set square to the jaws.  Level bite acceptable.  Dentition fits tightly.
Eyes : Medium size, any shade of brown and in accordance with coat colour, the darker the better.  Set well apart, oval and slightly slanting. Eyelids tightly fitting the eyeball.  Expression of dignity.
Ears : Medium size, triangular, pendant, set between the level of the skull and the eye, dropping forward and hanging close to head; carried forward when alert.  Ear leathers covered with soft, short hair.

NECK : Strong, well muscled, arched.  Not too much dewlap.  Covered  by thick upstanding mane, not so pronounced in bitches.

BODY : Strong.
Back : Straight, muscular.
Croup : Broad and rather flat.
Chest : Rather deep, of moderate breadth, with good spring of rib, to give heart-shaped ribcage.  Brisket reaching to below elbows.

TAIL : Medium length.  Set high on line with top of back, carried high, loosely curled over back, when dog alert or in motion; well feathered.

FOREQUARTERS : Straight, well angulated, well covered all over with strong hair.
Shoulders :  Well laid, muscular.
Elbows : Neither turned in nor out.
Forearms : Straight.  Strong bone.
Metacarpus (Pasterns) : Strong, slightly sloping.

HINDQUARTERS : Powerful, muscular, with good angulation.  Seen from behind, hindlegs parallel.
Upper thigh : Rather long; strong, with good hard muscles, but not bulging.
Stifle : Well bent
Hock : Strong, low set. 
Dewclaws : Optional.

FEET : Fairly large, strong, round and compact, with good feathering between well-arched toes. 
GAIT / MOVEMENT  : Powerful, but always light and elastic: with good reach and drive.  When speed increases tends to single track.  When walking appears very deliberate.  Capable of functioning over a varied terrain with stamina and suppleness.


HAIR : Quality of greater importance than quantity.  Coat harsh, thick, top coat not too long, with dense and rather wolly undercoat in cold weather which becomes rather sparse in warmer months. Males carry noticeably more coat than females. Hair fine but harsh, straight and off-standing.  Never silky, curly or wavy.  Neck and shoulders heavily coated, giving mane-like appearance.  Tail bushy and well feathered; hindlegs well feathered on upper rear parts.

COLOUR : Rich black, with or without tan marking; blue, with or without tan markings; gold, from rich fawn to deep red.  All colours to be as pure as possible.  Tan ranges from a rich chestnut to a lighter colour. White star on breast permissible.  Minimal white markings on feet acceptable. Tan markings appear above eyes, on lower part of legs and underside of tail.  Tan markings on muzzle; spectacle markings tolerated around eyes.

Height at the withers : Dogs:66 cm (26 ins) minimum,.
Bitches:61 cm (24 ins) minimum..

FAULTS : Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.

Lacking physical condition and fitness.
Head light or heavily wrinkled.
Pendulous flews.
Pronounced dewlap.
Large and/or low set ears.
Light eyes or staring expression.
Weak pigmentation, particularly of nose.
Barrelled ribs.
Tightly curled tail over hips.
Over angulated or straight hindquarters.
Heavy constrained movement.
Under minimum height, tolerance 2 cm.

Aggressive or overly shy.
Undershot or overshot mouth.
All other colours than above mentioned e.g. white, cream, grey, brown (liver), lilac, sable, brindle, particolours.

Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.

N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

This amended breed standard will become effective from September 2004.
(APPROVED 10/2004)

Noble and impressive: a large, powerful, heavy, well built dog, well muscled, with much substance and bone, and of solemn but kindly appearance. The Tibetan Mastiff stands well up on the pasterns, with strong, tight, cat feet, giving an alert appearance. The body is slightly longer than tall. The head is broad and impressive, with massive back skull, the eyes deep-set and almond shaped, slightly slanted, the muzzle broad and well-padded, giving a square appearance. The typical expression of the breed is one of watchfulness. The tail is well feathered and carried over the back in a single curl falling over the loin, balancing the head. The coat and heavy mane is thick, with coarse guard hair and a wooly undercoat. The tail and britches are well feathered.
The Tibetan Mastiff has been used primarily as a family and property guardian for many millennia, and is aloof and watchful of strangers, and highly protective of its people and property.

Size: Dogs - minimum of 26 inches at the withers
Bitches - minimum of 24 inches at the withers
Dogs and bitches that are more than one inch below the minimum heights to be severely faulted.
Proportion: Slightly longer than tall (9-10), (i.e.,the height to length, measured from sternum to ischium should be slightly greater than the distance from withers to ground).
Substance: The Tibetan Mastiff should have impressive substance, both in bone and structure, as well as strength. When dogs are judged equal in type, proportion and movement, the more substantial dog, in terms of substance and bone, not merely height, is to be given preference.

Broad, heavy and strong. Some wrinkling in maturity, extending from above eyes down to corner of mouth. A correct head and expression is essential to the breed.
Expression: Noble, intelligent, watchful and aloof.
Eyes: Very expressive, medium size, any shade of brown. Rims to be black except in blue/grey, blue/grey and tan dogs and brown dogs, the darkest possible shade of grey or brown. Eyes deep-set, well apart, almond-shaped, and slightly slanting. Any other color or shape to be severely faulted since it detracts from the typical expression.
Ears: Medium size, V-shaped, pendant, set-on high , dropping forward and hanging close to head. Raised when alert, on level with the top of the skull. The ear leather is thick, covered with soft short hair, and when measured, should reach the inner corner of the eye.
Skull: Broad and large, with strongly defined occiput. Broad back skull.
Stop: Deep and well defined.
Muzzle: Broad, well filled and square when viewed from all sides.
Proportions: Measurement from occiput to stop and stop to end of nose, equal or slightly shorter.
Nose: Broad, well pigmented, with open nostrils. Black, except with blue/grey or blue/grey and tan dogs, the darkest shade of grey and brown dogs, the darkest shade of brown. Any other color to be severely faulted.
Lips: Well developed, thick, with moderate flews and slightly pendulous lower lips.
Bite: Complete scissor bite. Level bite acceptable. Essential that dentition fits tightly, to maintain square form of muzzle.
Teeth: Canine teeth large, strong, broken teeth not to be faulted.
Faults: Missing teeth, overshot, undershot bite.

Neck: The neck is well muscled, moderately arched, and may have moderate dewlap. The neck, especially in dogs, is shrouded by a thick upstanding mane.
Topline: Topline straight and level between withers and croup.
Body: The chest is rather deep, of moderate breadth, with reasonable spring of rib. Brisket reaching to just below elbows. Underline with pronounced (but not exaggerated) tuck-up. The back is muscular with firmly muscled loin. There is no slope or angle to the croup.
Tail: Medium to long, but not reaching below hock joint; well feathered. Set high on line with top of back. When alert or in motion, curled over back or to one side. Tails that are double curled or carried in an incomplete curl to be faulted.

Shoulders: Well laid back, muscular, strongly boned, with moderate angulation to match the rear angulation.
Legs: Straight, with substantial bone and muscle, well covered with short, coarse hair, feathering, and with strong pasterns that have a slight slope.
Feet: Cat feet. Fairly large, strong, compact, may have feathering between toes. Nails may be either black and/or white, regardless of coat color. A single dewclaw may be present on the front feet.

Hindquarters: Powerful, muscular, with all parts being moderately angulated. Seen from behind, the hind legs and stifle are parallel. The hocks are strong, well let down (approximately one-third the overall length of the leg), and perpendicular.
Feet: A single or double dewclaw may be present on the rear feet. Removal of rear dewclaws, if present, optional.

In general, dogs carry noticeably more coat than bitches. The quality of the coat is of greater importance than quantity. Double-coated, with fairly long, thick coarse guard hair, with heavy soft undercoat in cold weather which becomes rather sparse in warmer months. Hair is fine but hard, straight and stand-off; never silky, curly or wavy. Heavy undercoat, when present, rather woolly. Neck and shoulders heavily coated, especially in dogs, giving mane-like appearance. Tail and britches densely coated and heavily feathered. The Tibetan Mastiff is shown naturally. Trimming is not acceptable except to provide a clean cut appearance of feet. Dogs are not to be penalized if shown with a summer coat.

Black, brown, and blue/grey, all with or without tan markings, and various shades of gold. Tan ranges from a very rich shade through a lighter color. White markings on breast and feet acceptable. Tan markings may appear at any or all of the following areas: above eyes as spots, around eyes (including spectacle markings), on each side of the muzzle, on throat, on lower part of front forelegs and extending up the inside of the forelegs, on inside of rear legs showing down the front of the stifle and broadening out to the front of the rear legs from hock to toes, on breeches, and underside of tail. Undercoat, as well as furnishings on breeches and underside of tail, may be lighter shades of the dominant color. The undercoat on black and tan dogs also may be grey or tan. Other markings such as sabling, brindling, white on other areas of the body, or large white markings, to be faulted. All other coat colors, while accepted, are to be faulted.

The gait of a Tibetan Mastiff is powerful, steady and balanced, yet at the same time, light-footed. When viewed from the side, reach and drive should indicate maximum use of the dog's moderate angulation. Back remains level and firm. Sound and powerful movement more important than speed.

The Tibetan Mastiff is a highly intelligent, independent, strong willed and rather reserved dog. He is aloof with strangers and highly protective of his charges and his property. In the ring he may exhibit reserve or lack of enthusiasm, but any sign of shyness is unacceptable and must be severely faulted as inappropriate for a guardian breed. Conversely, given its aloof nature, judges should also beware of putting a premium on showiness.
The UK Tibetan Mastiff Breed Standard  (Interim)
(as amended 1st November 2004)

This strong, well built dog is found in the foothills of the Himalayas and the borders of Tibet. He is primarily a guard dog used to protect the flocks from preying wildlife and the home from intruders.

A powerful dog, without the massive frame of the Mastiff, he is well coated with a bushy tail. Usually black or black and tan, he can also be found in gold, and shades of grey. In his native environment he is very distrustful of strangers, and can be quite ferocious. However, dogs bred in Europe and America do not generally display these tendencies.

GENERAL APPEARANCE: Large, powerfully built, slightly longer longer than high. Well boned and muscled, never light but always agile. Impressive head provides a noble, dignified look, enhanced by a mane, which is more pronounced in males, balanced by a well feathered tail carried over the back.

CHARACTERISTICS: A loyal companion, and guardian. Slow to mature.

TEMPERAMENT: Independently minded, aloof and protective. Calm and patient. May be wary of strangers.

HEAD AND SKULL: Broad, heavy and strong. Skull large, with strongly defined occiput and marked stop. Length from nose to stop equal or slightly less than length from stop to occiput. Muzzle fairly broad, well filled, blunt, and square viewed from all sides. Broad, black nose, well opened nostrils. Lips well developed with moderate flews. In maturity, some wrinkling on head extending from above eyes to corner of mouth.

EYES: Very expressive, medium size, dark brown. Set well apart, oval and slightly slanting. Dark, close fitting eye rims.

EARS: Medium size, triangular, pendant, not set too low, hanging close to head. When alert, carried forward. Ear leathers covered with soft, short hair.

MOUTH: Jaws strong with perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Level bite acceptable. Full dentition desirable.

NECK: Strong, well muscled, slightly arched. Not too much dewlap.

FOREQUARTERS: Muscular, well laid shoulders. Strongly boned, straight legs with strong, slightly sloping pasterns.

BODY: From point of shoulder to point of buttock slightly longer than height at withers, as 10 to 9. Strong and straight back. Broad, muscular loins, with very slightly sloping croup. Chest rather deep, of moderate breadth. Ribcage oval, ribs well sprung but not barrelled, carried well back. Brisket reaching to, or just below, elbows.

HINDQUARTERS: Powerful, muscular, with moderate angulation and strong, low-set hocks. Hindlegs, seen from behind, parallel. Single or double dewclaws may be present.

FEET: Fairly large, strong, with thick pads, rounded and compact. Having good feathering between toes.

TAIL:  Medium to long. Set on high. loosely curled over back to one side. Well feathered.

GAIT / MOVEMENT:  Powerful and free, with purpose and agility. Measured and deliberate when walking. At speed will tend to single-track.

COAT: Males carry noticeably more than females. Quality of greater importance than quantity. Densely coated, fairly long, thick, with heavy, woolly undercoat in cold weather which becomes rather sparse in warmer months. Hair fine, hard and straight, never silky, curly or wavy. Hair on face short. Neck and shoulders heavily coated, giving mane-like appearance. Tail heavily feathered, hindlegs well feathered on upper rear parts.

COLOUR: Rich black, with or without tan; slate grey, with or without tan; rich golden. The rich tan markings appear above eyes, on muzzle, on chest, the lower part of legs and underside of tail. Spectacle markings around the eyes acceptable. White star on breast permissable. Minimal white markings on feet tolerated. Cream, white, chocolate/liver, parti-colour, brindle or flecked are undesirable.

SIZE: A minimum height of 66cms (26ins) in dogs and 61 cms (24ins) in bitches is desirable, but on no account should type be sacrificed to size alone.

FAULTS: Any departure from the foregoing points 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.

NOTE: male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
Clickable links to large format, readable Standards