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According to news reports, the most expensive dog in the world ever sold was a Tibetan Mastiff. These large dogs have been used for centuries to guard homes and temples in the high lands of this remote country.
The Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed of dog which has remained largely unchanged over the centuries due to the remoteness of it native lands on the Tibetan Plateaus. They are known locally as 'Do-Kyi' which means 'Tied dog', a reflection of the fact that they are often tethered at the entrance to their owners' tents or houses.
Although the absolute knowledge of their origins is not fully known, it is thought that many other breeds descended from the Tibetan Mastiff including the Newfoundland and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog amongst others.
During the early part of the 19th century, explorers to the far away and mysterious Tibetan lands found specimens of these large, local dogs. Some were subsequently sent back to England and at first, the dogs from Tibet were seen in England as curiosities and many were placed on display in zoos. In 1847 the Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge, sent one of these dogs named Bhout to Queen Victoria, although there is no record of any subsequent breeding from it.
Average height to withers: Up to 28-29 inches, with females being slightly smaller.
Average height: Up to a hefty 78 kg, with reports that some males have reached over 90kg.
The Tibetan Mastiff is a massive, giant dog with sturdy and quite heavy bone structure. The body is slightly longer than tall. The massive head is wrinkled, broad, heavy and strong with a square shape to it and the muzzle. The large nose is black and the upper lip usually covers the lower lip. The slightly slanting and drooped eyes are almond shaped, brown, deep-set and not to large considering the size of the head. Ears are a pendent V shape which hang forwards. The head is supported by a very muscular neck, which gives ways to a level, strong back. The feathered tail is held curled over the back.
The double coat is very heavy, durable and thick with a heavy mane around the neck and shorter hair on the head. The legs and belly are feathered profusely. The coat colour comes in shades of black, brown, and blue-gray, all with or without tan markings, and various shades of gold. They can also have white markings on occasion.
Fiercely loyal, protective, thoughtfully quiet and calm, this dog very protective of its family and home, a trait which it was selected for all those years ago. An outstanding guard and watch dog, this is a breed that is best suited to an owner with experience of this type of dog. It must have strong, firm and consistent leadership demonstrated to it otherwise it can establish itself in the dominant place in the household. They are capable of remarkable affection and gentleness when treated with the respect that they deserve, but they are not necessarily suited to families with children, especially young children who may not be able to interpret its body language. If it does live with or have frequent contact with small or frail people, the sheer size must be considered as it is a very powerful animal.
They are very happy to live inside a home and become almost sloth like in their ways! They do need a certain amount of exercise, but are not overly active.
Unusually for such as large dog, this breed can live a relatively long life of up to 15 years of age. They can be prone to hip dysplasia as with many other large breeds and also develop skin allergies as they age. As a youngster, it is important that they are not over exercised due to the pressure that can be placed on young, soft and growing bones which could lead to issues in later adult life.
Daily walks are essential to keep the weight and health of this dog in check. Given its size, it is important that the owner of this dog teaches it to walk to heel and politely on the lead.
With regards to grooming, the long hair needs to be brushed at least every other day, with the owner keeping check for any signs of skin complaints. It sheds once a year and at this time the heavy coat comes away in chunks! Careful grooming is required to keep control of this and remove any dead hairs.