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Tibetan Mastiff


The Tibetan Mastiff is the most fierce guard dog of the high plateau. Tibetan nomads have kept these dogs as part of the family since time immemorial. Marco Polo mentioned them in his travels and was believed to have brought two of these dogs home with him. These hardy beasts can live without shelter even at elevations of 4500 meters or higher. However the current situation of the Tibetan Mastiff became grim as more and more lowland dogs were brought into the Tibetan plateau and began to mate with the purebreds, resulting in mix-breeds that diluted the pedigree and blood line of this ancient line.

How Man first encountered the Tibetan Mastiff (TM) in 1982 during one of his National Geographic expeditions to Tibet. At the time, he noted the huge size of these supreme dogs and took some local advice on how to avoid them. Over the next two decades of constant visits to the plateau undertaking numerous projects in the region, he gradually witnessed the decline of this special type of dog. Due in part to the large influx of people from the main part of China, shops and restaurants were set up and many of them brought along dogs of the lowlands. In time, these lowland dogs mixed with the TM and gradually the blood line of these once majestic dogs were diluted beyond recognition. Something needed to be done to save the pedigree.

Beginning in 2003, CERS made several expeditions to the remotest parts of the Tibetan plateau to look for true-blood Tibetan Mastiffs. At times, these expeditions took our team to where no roads could penetrate, so as to make sure the dogs we found would have had little chance of contact to the outside. Studs and bitches were sourced from the regions most famous for producing the best Tibetan Mastiffs, including in Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan. Only puppies were acquired, after assessing their adult parents.

Three of our puppies were purchased from a nomad family living at the very source of the Mekong River during our 2007 Mekong Source Expedition. Bringing home only puppies allowed our caretakers to raise the TM from childhood, at a most beautiful kennel we set up for them at the high elevation of 3500 meters across from sacred Khawakarpo Mountain.

Chili, one of our early puppies, soon grew to such beauty that he became the model for a Chinese postage stamp. Chili soon appeared in the pages of the Wall Street Journal (one picture alone taking up a full page) with the story being featured on the front page. Even CNN Anchor Richard Quest made a visit and mentioned these CERS Tibetan Mastiffs in his popular program. CERS bred TMs were routinely given away to notable Tibetans and neighbors as gifts when they were puppies.

Soon these fierce and stubborn dogs caught the attention of the public and Chinese entrepreneurs began breeding them. Many commercial kennels were set up both on the plateau and even in cities of China. Prices were speculated to beyond imagination; some were traded at upward of a million dollars.

By then, CERS felt the breed would not go extinct and we stopped our breeding efforts. As of 2014, however, we began again with a smaller program at the urging of many of our friends who love these canines.