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Tibetan Mastiff: The Dog that Looks Like a Lion

Updated on December 9, 2016

Have you ever seen a dog that looks like a lion? No, this is not the beginning of a really corny joke, there really is a dog that looks like a lion and it’s called the Tibetan Mastiff! If you’ve never seen this dog, then you really should consider finding one because it just might be one of the cutest breeds that you’ve ever laid your eyes on!


Now when I say it looks like a lion, I mean it. Although lions don’t have the same thick, long coat, the Tibetan Mastiff definitely has the mane surrounding its face, giving it that unmistakable male lion look!

Generally, these dogs are a mixture of black, brown, and white, but some dogs have been seen in any single one of those colors all the way around. Of course, the ones that would most resemble a lion are the all brown ones. If you really wanted yours to look like a lion, you could bring it to the groomer and have its fur cut to a similar pattern, which would probably feel good to the dog if you live in an area that’s really hot during the spring and summer months! A double fur coat means lots and lots of hair, great for colder regions, not so much for warmer months.

Now with “Mastiff” in the name, you probably already assumed that this is one huge dog, and it’s pretty darn massive! Heights can reach up to nearly 3 feet and weights up to 150 pounds! Now picture a dog of this height and mass standing on its hind legs… it’s as tall as a full grown man, and sometimes even bigger! Oh, but it looks like one big, cuddly teddy bear. (Or, you know, a lion!)



This is one breed that is both intelligent and stubborn, a mix that can be toxic if not trained properly! In their more primitive setting, these dogs are capable of taking on animals in the wild such as wolves, but is smart enough to take preliminary measures to keep them away instead of needing to ward them off directly. Their bark (or should I say roar?) paired with marking their scent is usually enough to keep predators at bay.

In a more domesticated setting, these dogs are protective and loyal to their masters and make excellent guard dogs because not only do they look like a lion, but they tend to be more on the nocturnal side. This means that they are most alert during the sundown hours and will readily bark when they hear a strange noise or see someone unfamiliar!

When I say master, I mean these dogs need a family where the dog is not allowed to rule the roost. The “pack leader” or master needs to be the kind of person willing to assert dominance over the dog and provide consistent discipline where needed in order for the dog to know his place in the pack. This leads to a well-tempered, fun-loving, protective family dog!


General Health

Tibetan Mastiffs actually have a decent life expectancy when compared to other large breeds. With an average lifespan of 12 years, but as long as 14, this does not mean that they come without health problems.

Most purebred dogs have some kind of common health issues in the breed, and for this dog, there’s actually quite a bit that can go wrong, but still not as much as some of the other breeds out there. As with many other large breeds, this dog can be susceptible to the following conditions:

  • Hip or elbow dysplasia
  • Skin allergies
  • Thyroid problems
  • Dental problems
  • Cardiac problems
  • Cranial problems
  • Ocular problems

Adopting a Tibetan Mastiff

Before you go adopting a Tibetan Mastiff, you should make sure that you have a steady home that is not an apartment. Since this dog is so large, it requires a lot of space to be happy and a nice size yard to run around in. Grooming is an absolute must as with any really furry dog, especially during the hotter months. Since the fur is on the longer side, it’s prone to matting and getting all kinds of mystery items stuck in it, so keep in mind that there will definitely be grooming expenses if you don’t know how to do it yourself!

Also, since this dog can be subject to thyroid problems, it’s recommended that the thyroid get tested every few years to ensure full functionality. A healthy diet for this breed is an absolute must in order to try to avoid thyroid problems, which means you might want to skimp on the Pedigree and get a good recommendation for food from the vet!

Although these dogs are not cheap to keep, if you have the space, the heart, and the funds to properly care for one, you can adopt the dog that looks like a lion for around $1000-$1500! A small price to pay if you are the right person or family for one!

Once you've found the perfect pup for your family, make sure to pick out a roaring good name for your fierce friend. Check out 90 Lion Names & Meanings for some awesome name ideas for your lion look-a-like!

Fun Fact

A golden-haired Tibetan mastiff puppy was sold for a whopping $2 million in China, making it the world's most expensive dog.

The Most Expensive Dog in the World


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