Tibetan Mastiff

The Informant is in her mid-20’s and is a competitive weightlifter. I know her through my affiliation with a gym off- campus.

Her: Have you heard of Tibetan Mastiffs?

Me: What are they?

Her: There these legendary dogs that my dad used to tell me about in China. They’re totally real though. Not just legends. They’re these massive dogs that guard the temples in China and they’re super expensive. I think one sold for $1.6 million once.

Me: Do you have a story about one?

Her: Yeah! So there was this guy who worked in the temple, he was a monk, and he owned one of these Tibetan Mastiffs. He didn’t like the dog because he was so lazy and always sleeping and all of that stuff. But one day a wolf came into the temple and attacked the mastiff’s owner. But he survived. Then the mastiff left for 3 days and the owner didn’t see him at all. And on the third day when the mastiff came back he was covered in blood. He had killed the entire wolf-pack in the woods.

Me: So are these dogs known for their loyalty?

Her: Yeah, and their viciousness. They can kill anything.

Me: And they’re super valuable?

Her: Not outside of China. Outside of China I don’t think people really care about Tibetan Mastiffs. Their name is supposed to mean “snow lion” and the white Tibetan Mastiffs are the most rare and supposed to be the best.

Me: When did your dad tell you this?

Her: Well, I remember when we first got my dog, Jasmine, she’s a mutt. She’s like half wiener dog and half something else. Really small and energetic. My dad said something like I should’ve gotten a big dog instead, like the Tibetan Mastiffs and so he told me about them. I was like 12 or something.


This is a Chinese legend that was mentioned to the Informant as an acknowledgment of how her dog didn’t fit the ideal Chinese standards of what a dog should be. The Informant’s father still doesn’t approve of the dog to my knowledge because of the fact that it isn’t purebred and it isn’t a warrior hound. According to Google, Tibetan Mastiffs are an ancient breed that were known as defenders, but now are domesticated dogs, no longer known for their fighting skills. It’s always been known as a type of guard dog that watches over herds, temples, and families. Many of the ancient stories talk about the Tibetan Mastiff’s ability to fight off enemies, further showing the dog’s loyalty to those that it protects.