The Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff are very similar dogs. Not only do they look very similar, but because they were bred for similar purposes they also act similarly too.
Have you come to a point where you are comparing the Caucasian Shepherd vs. the Tibetan Mastiff for your next family pet? There are very slight differences between the two breeds that might persuade a family to welcome one over the other into their lives. Here in this guide, we will look at their similarities and differences, so you can figure out which breed is best for your family.
They were bred to protect, and protective they both definitely are! They are both challenging dogs and neither is suited to a first-time dog owner, so only experienced dog handlers should sign up for one of these guys. Lifelong training is needed, but in return, you will receive the utmost loyalty and love from your humongous pooch.
They are both finding their way into family homes across America, seeking flock work during the day and lazy warm sofa cuddles at night, rather than their traditional mountain living. So, let’s take a closer look at how similar these guys really are!
- Height 23-30 Inches
- Weight 100-200 Pounds
- Temperament Bold, Fearless, Loyal
- Energy Low
- Health Average
- Lifespan 10-12 Years
- Price $1,000 and Up
- Height 24-28 Inches
- Weight 70-160 Pounds
- Temperament Independent, Reserve, Intelligent
- Energy Low
- Health Average
- Lifespan 10-12 Years
- Price $1,500 and Up
The Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff have separate histories, but it is believed that they are related to one another, and as such their histories are somewhat intertwined. Both breeds can sometimes be confused for one another, so let’s learn a little bit more about each breed’s history before comparing traits between each breed.
The Caucasian Shepherd is also known as the Caucasian Ovcharka, Kawkasky Owtscharka, Kaukasische Schaferhund, and Caucasian Sheepdog. He is an ancient Molosser dog who is around 2,000 years old and descends from Mastiff-type dogs (believed to be the Tibetan Mastiff and another larger breed). He comes from the Caucasus Mountain range between Europe and Asia (formally part of Russia).
His original purpose was to spend look after his flock or cattle in the mountains from wolves, bears, and thieves, as well as to protect his human master. There are other Molosser dogs that look similar, as many breeds that come from this lineage share similar traits and looks.
For a long time, he was the chosen breed of choice for military personnel who needed protection in Eastern Europe. While he still is protective and bold, he is slowly finding his way into the homes of families who love big protective doggos that also love to cuddle their family. He is not formally recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), but he is making his way to fully recognizable status.
The Tibetan Mastiff’s history is somewhat of a secret, simply because the region where they come from, Tibet, has always been isolated and closely guarded by their people. All we know for sure is that they were the protectors of the Temples in the Himalayas. At the temples, they worked with small Lhasa Apsos, who would alert their colleague, the Tibetan Mastiff, to danger, and the Tibetan Mastiff would spring to action and guard the Temple and the monks.
Over time, travelers to the Himalayas were given a gift, in the form of a Tibetan Mastiff, and as such the Tibetan Mastiff traveled to other parts of Europe and Asia. On his travels, he was bred with other large dogs, and the Tibetan Mastiff is thought to be the forefather of all the Mastiff breeds. It is likely that he was taken to the Georgia region where the Caucasian Shepherd was born, which is why it is thought that he is related to the Caucasian Shepherd.
It was in the 1950s that the Tibetan Mastiff came to America as a gift to the President, but he kept them a secret, and it wasn’t until 2 decades later that a few more were imported and the love affair with this big breed began. In 2020, the Tibetan Mastiff is listed by the American Kennel Club as the 131st most popular breed in America.
The Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff are very similar in their appearance, but there are some subtle differences between the two. One of the main factors that you need to take into consideration before getting one of these guys is their size, so if you live in an apartment you really need to think about another breed!
The Caucasian Shepherd weighs over 100 pounds, and although the breed standard only goes up to 170 pounds in weight, quite often the Caucasian Shepherd exceeds 200 pounds.
The Tibetan Mastiff weighs slightly less between 70 and 150 pounds in weight, but often his fluffy coat and large mane make him appear bigger than the Caucasian Shepherd, but in fact, he weighs much less. The Caucasian Shepherd is considered to be a giant breed, and the Tibetan is a large breed.
They both have very fluffy coats, and of course, that comes with lots of shedding. The Caucasian Shepherd has three coat variations, short, medium, and long, whereas the Tibetan Shepherd has one coat that’s seriously fluffy! They both have a double coat that will keep them both warm in the Caucasus or Himalayan mountains.
They both also come in shades of black, gray, brown, and red either in a solid color or a mixture, but the Caucasian Shepherd leans towards the lighter colors and the Tibetan Mastiff leans towards black and darker colors. Both Breeds are often mistaken for long-haired English Mastiffs.
Both the Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff are big dogs who were always bred for their protective and guarding skills, and despite not being used to defend Temples or work in high altitudes anymore, they still retain these qualities.
When faced with danger, or they feel that their family is in danger, they will most certainly protect them without fail. Neither breed would attack unless necessary, instead, they will confidently stand guard, but if necessary, they will defend their family or flock, and have been known to take down bears and wolves with ease. When on guard, they are very formidable, and their appearance combined with poor training has linked them to an unfair reputation as ferocious dogs.
However, with proper training, they are both loving creatures who are very affectionate with their family and love nothing more than to settle in front of the fire to relax. They love each member of their family, and despite their size, they are quite fond of children, and very soft with them, but because of their sheer size, they should never be left unattended with them. They are both described as gentle giants and have little interest in intense exercise or games.
They are both very territorial, and this is a trait that needs to be taken seriously. If you do not want, or cannot handle, a territorial dog, then neither of these guys is for you.
Being a single flock protector or temple guard, they also both love spending time outdoors in the fresh air in their own company, and as long as you have the right shelters for them, they would happily spend most of their day outside. So, ideally, they should only be placed with a family that can provide them with lots of living space, both indoors and outdoors.
Both the Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff are quite low maintenance when it comes to exercise, in the sense that they do not need intense exercise or a lot of interaction.
They both need between 45 and 60 minutes of walking every day, simply to stretch their large legs and get their hearts pumping. Instead of interactive games and intense running, they would much prefer a larger garden to roam and patrol.
Neither of these breeds is suited to a novice dog owner, as they are both very stubborn and independent, which means that if they aren’t in the mood for a training session, they aren’t going to take one bit of notice! Everything is done on Shepherd or Mastiff time with these guys. Luckily though, they are both food orientated and could be persuaded with a treat or two, but just be sure not to feed them too many!
They are also seriously territorial by nature, which means that they both need to be socialized from an early age to ensure that they do not become overly aggressive or protective. Once outside of the family home, they will not feel the need to protect themselves as much as they do at home, so be sure to take them outside into unfamiliar surroundings and introduce them to other dogs and people on a regular basis.
They both need a firm leader who can commit to lifelong training, and if either breed sniffs out any weakness in your personality or training, then they will assume the role of pack leader, which in turn leads to behavioral problems. As a result, both breeds would benefit from obedience training with other dogs around, instill discipline, and understand that they are not in charge.
Because they are both big dogs, they are both at risk of suffering from Hip Dysplasia, which over time can lead to mobility issues and painful arthritis because of incorrectly formed hip joints. Because of their rapid growth rate during puppyhood, they are also both susceptible to other related joint concerns such as Osteochondrosis Dissecans and Panosteitis.
The other main health concern for both breeds is obesity. Because they both eat a lot and move very little, they are both prone to pilling on the weight quite easily. For this reason, you will need to monitor his weight, and if it begins to creep up you’ll need to switch him to diet kibble.
The Tibetan Mastiff is also known to suffer from Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy, which is an inherited disease only found in Tibetans. By the age of six weeks, his back legs will be weak, and over time this will lead to paralysis. This cannot be alleviated, only selective breeding can hope to avoid such conditions.
Overall, they are both healthy dogs who enjoy a lifespan of 10 to 12 years, which is quite good considering their large size.
Both the Caucasian Shepherd and Tibetan Mastiff consume around four cups of food every day, and because they are both large breeds. Caucasian Shepherds have a sensitive stomach, and should only be fed a high-quality kibble designed for the breed.
Foods that cater to giant breeds will ensure that their specific giant nutritional requirements are met. You’ll likely need to be patient finding a food brand for either breed, as they both can be particular about the food they eat.
When it comes to feeding these guys, you need to make yourself aware of Bloat, as they are both prone to this potentially fatal condition. Ultimately, do not feed them immediately before or after exercise, feed them their daily allowance across 2-3 meals, and monitor them for the symptoms found in the link.
Both the Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff will need brushing almost every day to ensure that their coats do not become tangled and matted. This also helps to brush the dirt out, as well as spread the natural oils across his coat. You’ll want to use a tool like the Furminator to de-shed your pup on a weekly basis, as well as use an anti-shed shampoo in order to cut down on pet dander.
For these guys, a slick brush or a de-shedding tool is a must, and pay attention to their feathering fur and sensitive areas such as armpits and neck! Both of these guys will also need a bath once every 6 weeks to 8 weeks, and a walk-in bathtub or shower would be advisable here!
The starting price for a Caucasian Shepherd starts from $1,000, and the starting price of a Tibetan Mastiff is $1,500, both from a reputable breeder. The Tibetan Mastiff only has one oestrus every year, usually around late Fall, so Tibetan puppies are only usually available around December or January time, so remember this if you are looking for a Tibetan.
It is so important to work with a reputable breeder, especially when it comes to dogs who are territorial or protective, as they need to be properly raised and handled. Puppy mills will not be concerned with this, and so you’ll likely find a puppy with both health and behavioral problems.
If you are thinking about rescuing one of these beautiful dogs, then you might have a longer search on your hands because they are both much rarer than your standard dog breed, but once you do find one he will be worth the wait for sure!
Be sure to check out the Tibetan Mastiff Rescue website where they are dedicated to rehoming Tibetans across America. As Caucasian Shepherds are much rarer, a dedicated website is not available, but the Facebook Caucasian Shepherd Club of America group will be able to point you in the right direction on your way to rescuing a Caucasian.
When comparing the Caucasian Shepherd vs. The Tibetan Mastiff, you’ll find they are seriously similar dogs, largely to do with the fact that they are related and serve the same purpose. The only real difference between them is their appearance and size. The Tibetan Mastiff is smaller in size, and him being a large breed rather than a giant breed is often the deciding factor or a preference in overall appearance.
Whoever you choose to welcome into your life, you can expect a challenging dog who needs expert and consistent training, and one who is low energy. They are both happy to spend time alone, as well as time with their family, but overall, if you are seeking a family protector then both of these guys are equally up to the job.
January 24, 2023 at 3:56 am
I've had Tibetans - all rescues - since the late 90s and have rescued a few ovtcharka along the way when they needed a home. They look similar...aside from the high hips of the ovtcharka...otherwise no comparison. Tibetans have all been mellow and tend to get along in a pack. If they have a disagreement with each other they are verbal first and fight - if at all - last. You always have plenty of warning. With the ovtcharka - they'll be walking by like everything is fine then turn and backbite with no warning. I've seen this repeatedly with several ovtcharkas. They also tend to target smaller members of the pack to attack. Tibetans don't do that. They are caretakers - not bullies - and not hunters. I've really tried to like every ovtcharka I've rescued but had to rehome each one as an only dog because I just could not trust them around the smaller dogs in the pack - especially with the backbiting and cheap shots. Final note - Tibetan males don't fight the females - they bicker like old married couples - but they don't physically fight. In contrast, Caucasians tend to target the smaller/older/ weaker dogs - ie females. After 30 years of rescue - I adore the gentleness and stability of Tibetans...no comparison.
July 3, 2022 at 6:04 pm
I have a CO of 21 months and a TM of 18 months - both bitches. Stubborn protective but both great dogs - the CO is more dominant. Also more hunter to chase rabbits and so. Both love to swimm. A TM has a woolly undercoat and dry's a lot slower. The CO reacts on every movement around the house also the pass by's - the TM on the one that make a stop ...a TM girl is only 1 a year on heat. Losses only 1 time a lot of hair and CO in several periods. A TM is more Playfull with other dogs.
Georgia is not Russia
September 22, 2021 at 3:09 pm
Greetings, Couldn't find the Report Option for this Article. The Breed Caucassian Shepherd is not "Russian Bear dog". Check your information please beacuse the homeland of the Caucasian Shepher is Georgia (Sakartvelo)! Your Article becomes partly false by this Big mistake...
September 23, 2021 at 10:39 am
Thank you! We did further research into this and made an update to our content to reflect the correct alternative breed names (removing Russian Bear dog).
Georgia is not a Russia
September 24, 2021 at 3:12 am
Thank you! I really appreciate that you reacted so fast! Thank you. That means a lot.
May 22, 2021 at 6:59 pm
I have a 6 month old tibetan mastiff who is 130 pounds. He might be larger than average. At the rate hes growing hes going to be over 200 lbs.
May 24, 2021 at 5:44 pm
Hi Alec! Yes, that's a bit larger than average. Many giant breeds can get to be bigger than "the norm." Enjoy your pup, and thanks for commenting!