A tune to get us in the mood:
A stanza from the most popular song Sting ever wrote goes like this:
Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you
And yes, it leads us to a dog breed.
Two seemingly unrelated words appear in the first paragraph of the Tibetan Mastiff AKC breed standard, but one word “backs up” the other, so to speak. The words are “watchfulness” and “impressive.”
As a protector of hearth and home for thousands of years, the Tibetan Mastiff is inherently attentive, observant, and alert, its “typical expression…one of watchfulness,” the last few words directly from the standard. Never aggressive, the breed is nevertheless aloof with strangers. This appearance of wariness, so critical to the breed, leaves no doubt in the mind of anyone approaching the dog’s property that if this dog could speak, he or she would say, “Look out out, I am watching you.”
A watchful dog……..a watchful big dog……..implies muscle behind vigilance. The TM is not an aggressive breed, nor is it particularly unfriendly. In fact, the TM is mellow and downright sweet with its family. That said, it is also territorial with strangers, highly protective of its family, and anyone with mischief on their mind would do well to reconsider. This is a dog that could be thinking, “I’m watching you, I’m big, do the math.”
Added up, the math equals a powerful, muscular, and substantial dog. The Illustrated Guide advises judges that a TM that is “light of bone, no matter its movement or size, must be severely faulted.” Strong bone is essential in a breed that must have impressive substance, but a breed with a heavy coat and thick mane can be deceptive, and for this reason alone, conformation judges should get their hands on the dog because heavy coat can give the impression of bone when there really may not be.
There are many important aspects to this breed, and the Illustrated Guide does write that hallmarks of the breed are the head and the tail – but expression and size may be what registers most in that initial first impression, and even in a puppy, it’s evident.
Image: Tibetan Mastiff puppy by © Ekaterina Kurakina | Dreamstime