While many of us seek a purebred German Shepherd for their strength, loyalty, and poise, a somewhat new breed of dog owner is emerging these days – a dog owner who loves the characteristics of the GSD, but is also seeking other appealing qualities present only in different breeds.
Enter designer breeds, such as the Mastiff Shepherd. After all, what could be better than a combination of two dog breed that are both known for their impressive stature and an unwavering commitment to guarding their families?
German Shepherd Tibetan Mastiff mixes are large and potentially aggressive dogs that instinctively want to protect their owners. Because of this, they require a high level of consistent training and socialization to keep aggression issues in check, and are not recommended for first-time dog owners.
In this article, we will take a close and comprehensive look at the German Shepherd Tibetan Mastiff mix, and provide you with a clear understanding of what to expect should you decide to acquire one of your very own.
What Is a Mastiff Shepherd?
A the name suggests, this dog is a mix between a German Shepherd and a Tibetan Mastiff. While German Shepherds, no matter what the variation, all look relatively the same, Tibetan Mastiffs are a different story.
Tibetan Mastiffs vary far and wide in their appearance, so this results in a mixing of the two breeds that is relatively inconsistent. It is challenging to find two that look exactly alike. However, there are come basic common factors that will be present in all of them. These include:
- broad shoulders
- paws that are thick and appear very oversized when a puppy
- long coat
- large folded over ears
- thick muzzle
- wide body
- muscular hind quarters
- wide chest
Because of the variation in Mastiff breeds, you can also expect significant variation in the coat color of a Mastiff Shepherd mix. Darker colors are most common, but the mix is known to produce light browns on occasion.
Size and weight also vary, but in general, one of these mixes will produce a full grown adult that stands 2-3 ft tall, and weighs up to 195 lbs!
Is a Mastiff Shepherd the Right Breed for Me?
A German Shepherd Tibetan Mastiff mix is no doubt a great breed. However, it is only a great breed when matched with the right owner.
Undertaking ownership of one of these loving beasts is not for the faint of heart, so lets take a closer look at what the right owner and environment looks like for this breed.
Do You Have Enough Space?
German Shepherd Tibetan Mastiff mixes are, for lack of a better word – huge! As mentioned above, you can expect one of these monsters to be from 2-3 ft tall, and weigh between 95-195 lbs. As you can see, this is a BIG DOG!
By no means can you keep one of these mixes in an apartment, or even too small of a house for that matter. To adequately house one of these giants, you will need to have a fairly roomy house, and preferably a large, fenced in yard.
Do You Have Experience or Access to a Professional Dog Trainer?
Because this breed is a mix between two dogs that are fiercely protective, and therefore potentially aggressive, they must be very well trained in order to ensure that they do not present a danger to you, your family, or the public in general.
A German Shepherd Tibetan Mastiff mix is not a breed that we would suggest for the first-time dog owner. This is mainly because of the level of training that they require.
If you are a first-time dog owner thinking about acquiring one of these breeds, then we strongly advise you to seek out the expertise of a professional dog trainer.
German Shepherd and Tibetan Mastiff Basic Facts
Mastiffs Shepherds are often affectionately referred to as a “gentle giants.” This is for good reason, because a well trained mix lives up to this reputation by being loving to both children, adults, and other animals as well.
Let’s now take a closer look at what makes this breed so likable and a fixture in more and more homes each day. We’ll begin by taking a look at the individual breeds that the Tibetan Mastiff German Shepherd mix are made of.
German Shepherd Basic Facts
It’s no surprise that we have nothing but great things to say about GSD’s. The breed originated in Europe, first being bred by Captain Max Von Stephanitz, a German dog breeder.
He was on the hunt for the perfect working dog, and went on to acquire Horand von Grafrath, who later became the first named German Shepherd. Thus beginning the breed of dog that we now know as the GSD around the world.
German Shepherds are easily distinguished from other breeds, both in their mental acuity and appearance. GSDs are one of the most, if not the most, intelligent breed of dogs.
This makes them very receptive to training, but their intelligence can also make them potentially dangerous if not trained properly – their intelligence when not properly channeled can turn into aggression.
Because GSDs are very fairly even-tempered by nature, they are typically amicable with strangers. However, they are very protective by nature as well, so proper training is a must in order to teach them the difference between friend and foe.
In terms of appearance, GSDs are bred in a variety of colors. Their coats range from black and tan, to all while, all black, and even blue! The coats on German Shepherds also vary from medium/short length to long and flowing.
This means that GSDs can be somewhat high maintenance in terms of grooming. They shed like no other dog, so brushing and cleaning up shed hair is a big part of any GSD owner’s daily routine.
When it comes to size and life span, the average GSD will weigh between 60-100 lbs, and their lifespan can be expected to reach between 9-13 years.
Take a look at this video for some more facts about the German Shepherd:
Tibetan Mastiff Basic Facts
Tibetan Mastiffs were originally bred to safeguard property and livestock. While they can still be found playing this role in different parts of the world, the overwhelming shift has them now more often found in family homes.
These are highly affectionate dogs when it comes to children, family, and other dogs. However, because of their protective nature, they are not generally immediately friendly towards strangers. Because of this, proper training is essential to keep others safe around this massive breed.
This breed is also highly intelligent, and this can make training them somewhat of a challenge, especially for the novice. They do not like to be left alone, and because of their long coats, do not do at all well in hot weather.
Similar to German Shepherds, Tibetan Mastiffs require an extensive amount of grooming. Their long coats need to be brushed regularly, and shed hair around the house will quickly become an issue if not cleaned on a very regular basis.
Regarding size and life-span, a Tibetan Mastiff will weigh between 95-195 lbs, and they can be expected to live between 9-13 years.
Take a look at this video for more information about the Tibetan Mastiff:
What to Expect With the Tibetan Mastiff German Shepherd Mix
Now that we’ve covered the basics of both German Shepherds and Tibetan Mastiffs, we can now take a closer look at what to expect when you mix these two amazing dog breeds together.
Because both the Tibetan Mastiff and German Shepherd are inherently loyal breeds, it’s no wonder that when the two of them are combined, the result is a very loyal and protective dog.
For the German Shepherd Tibetan Mastiff mix, protecting its owner and family is engrained within its DNA. It is very important to note, however, that this protectiveness must be tempered and nurtured through proper training.
If a Mastiff Shepherd is not properly trained, this characteristic of being naturally protective towards its owner can easily shift to being over-protective.
This can result in a dangerous situation for the general public. Therefore, proper training and extensive socialization are both essential for a one of these giants to be well adjusted as they grow into adulthood.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, these dogs are often referred to as “gentle giants.” This is because, despite their large size and intimidating demeanor, Mastiff Shepherds are generally very docile dogs that are very gentle around children and other animals.
Gentleness is one characteristic that is shared equally from both parents, as GSDs and Mastiffs are inherently gentle. Although this quality does come natural to both parents in this mix, gentle behavior must be nurtured through proper training and socialization.
The coat of a Mastiff Shepherd will usually be in the range of medium/long. Their coats can also accurately be referred to as “high maintenance.” This is because they require extensive grooming.
The coat on a Mastiff Shepherd will require a proper brushing approximately 2-3 times per week. If you neglect to keep up on brushing the coat on this mix, it will lead to tangles and knots that will be difficult if not impossible to remove without cutting the hair.
Essential brushing supplies:
Mastiff Shepherds are also notorious shedders. Be prepared to clean shed hair daily, no matter how much you are brushing. This will also require you to keep a regular stock of hair rollers on hand, as well as a very capable vacuum cleaner.
While there are many reasons that a Mastiff Shepherd is appealing, it’s important that you understand what health issues you may be confronted with during the lifetime of one of these mixes.
Let’s now take a closer look at some potential health issues that you should be aware of should you decide to bring a Mastiff Shepherd into your home.
Both GSDs and Tibetan Mastiffs are prone to eye issues, so this makes the mixed breed especially prone. Specifically, Shepherd Mastiffs are prone to Cherry Eye.
Cherry Eye, technically speaking, is when there is a prolapse of the third eyelid gland. It presents itself as a red and swollen mass on a dog’s lower eyelid, usually near the muzzle or the nose. Cherry eye is so named because it resembles a cherry in appearance.
Cherry eye does require surgery which involves replacement of the third eyelid gland. The good news is, that as long as Cherry Eye is caught early and surgery is performed, the gland usually returns to normal function within 2-3 weeks.
It is very important to make sure that you let your veterinarian know as soon as you notice any sign of Cherry Eye. If left untreated, it can result in permanent damage and can lead to Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or “dry eye,” which can permanently impair a dog’s vision.
Bloat, also referred to as a turned or twisted stomach, is medical condition that may arise with a Mastiff Shepherd. Medically, bloat is called “Gastric Dilation and Volvulus, or “GDV.”
GDV is a life threatening condition where the stomach of a dog fills rapidly with gas or fluid, and then it turns, or flips, on itself.
Bloat is accompanied by significant discomfort and pain, and may lead to dehydration and malnutrition. If left untreated, unexpected death can occur. It is therefore critical to recognize the signs and symptoms of bloat, and contact your veterinarian at the first sign of it.
Symptoms of bloat include:
- enlarged abdomen
- excess salivation
- expressing discomfort when pressed on the belly
Bloat can be prevented. Some basic measures that you can take are feeding from a bowl on the ground instead of one elevated on a stand, and feeding at least 2 meals per day.
However, the most effective way to deal with bloat is through surgical prevention called a prophylactic gastropexy. A prophylactic gastropexy is a procedure during which the stomach is anchored to the interior of the body wall. This prevents the stomach from rotating on itself when it gets distended.
It is best to have this procedure performed when a dog is a puppy at the time that they are spayed or neutered. However, in bigger dogs that have already been altered, a laparoscopic procedure is also a viable option.
The most common joint problems present in Mastiff Shepherds are hip and elbow dysplasia. These problems are prevalent in both GSDs and Tibetian Mastiffs, so it’s no surprise that when the two breeds are mixed that these can become an issue.
Generally speaking, the heavier the dog, the more prone to joint problems they are. Symptoms of hip and elbow dysplasia include:
- expressing pain by yelping or hesitation when trying to sit down
- aversion to exercise
- unprovoked aggressive behavior
- weakness in hind or front legs
Hip and elbow dysplasia are degenerative issues that will worsen with time. However, there are a few things that you can do to lessen the likelihood that your Mastiff Shepherd will have to deal with these issues.
Exercising your dog regularly and feeding him a proper diet will go a long way towards prevention, as it keeps muscles firm and overall health in check.
Additionally, watch where you exercise your dog. Ideally, all running should be done only on soft grass or sand when possible.
In addition to the potential health issues above, Mastiff Shepherds are also prone to skin conditions. This is due to the folds around their neck and face.
The most common skin conditions are bacterial infections, fungal infections, parasites, and cysts.
Urinary Tract Infections
Cystinuria is a somewhat common medical condition in Tibetan Mastiffs, and this sometimes presents itself in Mastiff Shepherds. In cystinuria, the kidneys fail to reabsorb amino acids, and this results in cystine crystals and occasionally stones in the urine. These stones, in turn, can block the urethra.
Cystinuria can be treated primarily in one of two ways. Depending on the nature and severity, either non-surgical removal (urohydropropulsion) or surgical removal may be necessary. The larger the stone, the more likely it is that surgical intervention will be necessary.
Epilepsy is a serious concern with Tibetan Mastiffs. In Mastiffs, this is a very difficult condition to treat. It is not uncommon for a Tibetan Mastiff that has epilepsy to die by the age of 3.
Although epilepsy is not as common of an occurrence in Mastiff Shepherds as it is in purebred Tibetan Mastiffs, it does still happen. Potential owners should be aware that a risk factor for epilepsy does exist in Mastiff Shepherds.
Both GSDs and Tibetan Mastiffs are highly intelligent breeds. However, with intelligence often comes stubbornness. Stubbornness is much more prevalent on the Tibetan Mastiff side of this mix.
This can make training this mixed breed a bit of a challenge, and not one that we recommend for the novice or first-time dog owner.
We advocate training all dogs through positive reinforcement, and we suggest no different for this breed. Training a dog, especially a Mastiff, through any negative or punitive approach will almost certainly backfire, as they are stubborn and easily frustrated.
Any negative approach is likely to lead to a dog that is simply unwilling to learn. A large, potentially aggressive dog combined with an unwillingness to learn can be a dangerous combination.
This mix also requires an authoritative leader when it comes to training. However, with this leadership comes responsibility. It is your job to establish yourself as a kind leader who can be trusted, admired, and followed.
Anything less than this and your dog will not trust you, and therefore he will not listen to you.
If you are thinking of acquiring a Mastiff Shepherd, then it is very important that you consider getting one when it is a puppy, as this will provide you with the greatest chance for effective and long-lasting obedience when trained properly.
This is not to suggest that an older Mastiff Shepherd mix cannot be trained, it will, however, certainly present more of a challenge. In the instance of an older Mastiff Shepherd mix, you will almost certainly want to enlist the help of a seasoned dog trainer.
As we have established, both German Shepherds and Tibetan Mastiffs are highly protective breeds, and they will not hesitate to protect their owners at any cost. As a mix, if this dog suspects a threat, he will not think twice to place himself between his owner and the threat.
This bold and fearless characteristic, however, does not mean that a Mastiff Shepherd is not a gentle dog by any means. In fact, these mixes are likely more gentle than you may think.
It is not uncommon for owners of this mixed breed to leave small children unsupervised in their dog’s presence. As long as these dogs have been properly socialized and well-trained, many owners find that there is little reason for concern when leaving them unattended in the presence of other pets of all kinds as well.
Once again, they key here is to take advantage of this mix’s kind nature and build upon that through proper training and socialization.
Even the best dogs can turn into less than desirable pets when this process is not properly followed. In contrast, the worst behaved of dogs can be completely turned around through proper training and socialization.
For a more in-depth look at GSD socialization, we have a great article for you right here: How To Socialize Your German Shepherd
Mastiff Shepherds are notorious for the large amounts of food that they consume. However, it is especially important with this breed that you do not confuse quantity with quality.
Because these dogs are so large and are prone to the health issues, as we have discussed above, feeding them a proper and well-balanced diet is essential for them to live a healthy life.
Exactly how much food your Mastiff Shepherd will consume will vary widely in accordance with the size of the dog and how much exercise that he is getting on a daily basis. At any rate, you can plan on feeding this dog between 4-7 cups of a high-quality, well balanced food per day.
Other factors that will determine the amount of food that one of these monsters will need are the dog’s age, metabolism, and build.
It is also crucial for this mixed breed that you never feed them too much food in one sitting. Doing so can cause GDV, as we have described above. This potentially fatal condition can be largely avoided if you make sure that the dog’s stomach is never too filled with food or water at any one time.
Additionally, you should avoid providing food or water within an hour before or after rigorous exercise. Doing so will greatly decrease the chances that your this dog will have to contend with GDV.
The best way to determine just how much food that your Mastiff Shepherd may need is through a visual and physical inspection of the dog. Follow these simple steps to give you a good idea on how to proceed with feeding quantities.
- View your dog from above – you should be able to see a waist without any extra bulge obscuring it.
- Place your hands on the sides of the shoulders on the dog’s back. Then run your hands from shoulder to rear, keeping your hands over the ribs and your thumbs on either side of the spine.
In a properly fed dog, you will feel some ribs with just gentle pressure being applied.
- If the ribs are too pronounced and can be seen, then the dog needs more food.
- If you cannot feel the ribs, then you should cut back on food and increase the amount of daily exercise.
Once again, we find it worth repeating that quantity and quality are two very different things when it comes to nutrition for this mixed breed.
It is well worth it to spend the extra money on a high quality food over a more inexpensive brand. Whichever route you choose to take, the results will make themselves apparent over time.
Keep in mind that this breed does not like to undergo strenuous and lengthy runs. A German Shepherd is fully capable of this, but a Tibetan Mastiff – not so much!
Mastiff Shepherds are prone to exhaustion if exercised too strenuously, and will remain in much better health when gently exercised regularly in contrast to infrequent, short-term and intense exercise.
This mixed breed will benefit the most by being walked 3 times per day, for about 20 minutes on each walk. The exercise requirements of a German Shepherd are slightly higher, but when a Tibetan Mastiff is brought into the mix, the requirements decrease.
Also keep in mind that a Mastiff Shepherd is very sensitive to heat. Because of their long and thick coats, this mixed breed will succumb to hot weather in a short amount of time.
Keep this in mind when exercising these dogs. If the weather is above 75 degrees, then cut down on the length of time that you walk a Mastiff Shepherd.
Additionally, keep an eye on the amount of water that you provide. As mentioned above, GDV is a very real concern, so it is up to you to monitor your dog’s water intake.
The average cost of a Tibetan Mastiff German Shepherd mix varies from state to state, and within different regions of each state. There is no set standard price for this breed.
If you plan on purchasing one of these dogs, you should plan to spend between $400-$2,000. The price will vary from each reputable breeder, and it will be largely dependent on the dog’s pedigree.
Long-term expenses for a Mastiff Shepherd can become very pricey as well. This is due to this mixed breed’s rapidly growing nature, the quantity of food that they eat, and veterinary bills.
A Mastiff Shepherd will on average cost more in medical bills than other breeds because of the number of potential health problems that they are prone to. Even it is a false alarm, it is best to play it safe and alert your veterinarian immediately if you suspect any medical issues.
Additionally, because they are relatively rare, it is highly uncommon to find this mixed breed available from a shelter. Thus, finding a breeder will most likely be the course of action should you choose to acquire one of these dogs.
Annually, you can plan on spending between $1,300 and $2,500 to raise a Mastiff Shepherd. The actual cost will be dependent on your own personality, financial means, and how much you enjoy spoiling your dog!
It is important, however, to understand that you should not purchase one of these dogs unless you are ready for a significant, long-term financial commitment.
The Tibetan Mastiff German Shepherd mix is indeed one magnificent mixed breed. They are powerful, loyal, and beautiful creatures, though they are not for everyone.
Owning a Mastiff Shepherd is a significant undertaking of time and money, and it should be viewed as a life change. This is because your life will change in many ways, in many of the same ways as if you were to bring a child into your home
Are they worth it? Most definitely, provided that you are up to the task. Should you choose to bring a Mastiff Shepherd into your life, please do so in a responsible manner.
Making sure that you have the space, time, and financial wherewithal to raise one of these beauties will ensure that your dog lives the long and healthy life that he is intended to.
It is up to you to do your part, and if you do, you will have a new lifelong friend that will bring to you immeasurable joy!