The Bearded Tibetan Mastiff

Meet the Tibetan KyiApso (pronounced Kee-Op-So), said to be one of rarest breeds in the world. In Tibetan, “kyi” means dog and “apso” (as in Lhasa Apso) means “bearded,” and some sources say the breed also goes by the name, “Bearded Tibetan Mastiff.” This large (between 24-27 inches and weighing just under 100 pounds) dog is described as fast, athletic, extremely engaging, and playful. The November 1993 issue of Dog World Magazine included an article about the dogs which included this quote from Saralouise Anderson  “…these dogs don’t come to live at your home––they invade your heart…They are deliberate in each of their actions, whether playing, whether guarding home and family. They are anxious to please… I have never had a dog with more human qualities.”

The breed originally used to guard livestock and property was believed by some to be a variant of the Tibetan Mastiff, but there are differences between the two breeds that include coat, ears and tails. There was once a Tibetan KyiApso Club, but it seems to have collapsed in 1999, and while one source writes that no litters were registered after 2000, we found puppies for sale on the Internet. Buyer beware. Do your homework, ask questions, and be aware of “red flags.’ 

We’ve given you a taste of the breed, now read this article to learn more.

Image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt of information.

2 thoughts on “The Bearded Tibetan Mastiff”

  1. Welllll… I’m afraid that Saralouise was a bit off the mark saying that they’re are “anxious to please” – unless she meant that they are anxious to please themselves! Some few of them (and I have lived with 28 of them over the last 22 years) are happy to follow commands if there are food rewards to be had. However, most of them simply are not interested in repeating behaviors just to make a human happy.

    Daniel’s contention that “research indicates that the Tibetan KyiApso is a distinct and separate breed” from the Tibetan Mastiff was more of a marketing angle than anything else. He did eventually admit that he had known all along that, in Tibet, they were one breed and that he had hoped to “create a new breed in the West”.

    Most people want dogs who will adore them and obey commands. Most people should stay far away from these dogs (and most Asian breeds). Unlike the more domesticated breeds, these guys have strong boundaries. And they do *not* love unconditionally. They don’t even *like* unconditionally…

    Yes, the club imploded in 1999. There was an oops father/daughter litter in 2000 back east. I’ve bred litters in ’96, ’99, ’03, and ’13 – and have kept most of the pups. I will not breed on from the pups born in ’13; their dam was carrying 18 fetuses, 17 of which were full term. Without surgical intervention, she and all of the pups would have died. When the five survivors die, that will be the end of the great “KyiApso” experiment – as far as I know.

    • I cannot say that I lived with 28 Kyiapsos over the years, I had only 1. He was definitely not the dog for everyone, but I will say that I heartily disagree that they are only eager to please when there is a food reward involved. My dog did what I asked of him because I was the one asking. He was never food motivated and when I tried food rewards he would refuse them, even if it was one of his favorite things. If anyone else asked him to do something he would only if he felt like doing so, but for me I had only to ask. He is long gone, but I will miss that dog until the day I leave this earth. I thank him and Danielfrom the bottom of my heart for starting me on this chapter of my journey through life. I know I would not be doing what I do today were it not for them.

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