What’s the Difference Between a Tibetan Mastiff and a Caucasian Shepherd?

Last Updated on March 19, 2023

It isn’t uncommon for people to confuse the Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff. These are both giant, super fluffy dog breeds that look similar, were bred for the same purpose, and share many personality traits. 

And while these two dogs may be incredibly similar, they are recognized as two completely separate breeds.

Tibetan Mastiff vs Caucasian Shepherd
Portrait of Tibetan Mastiff dog (left) vs Caucasian Shepherd dog (right)

If you’re considering one of these supersized fluff balls as your next family pet, you may be wondering how to tell which dog is right for your home, or even just how do you tell the Tibetan Mastiff apart from the Caucasian Shepherd to begin with.

Keep reading to find out the similarities and the differences between these two breeds of dogs and which one would be the perfect pet for you.

Breed Comparison: A Quick Overview

Both the Tibetan Mastiff and Caucasian Shepherd were bred to look after flocks and people in high mountain ranges.

These large dogs have been used to protect sheep and humans from predators such as bears, wolves, and even thieves. 

Here’s a quick comparison of these two dog breeds:

  Tibetan Mastiff Caucasian Shepherd
Height 24 to 28 inches (60.9 to 71.1 cm) 23 to 30 inches (58.4 to 76.2 cm)
Weight 70 to 160 lbs (31.7 to 72.5 kg) 100 to 200 lbs (45.3 to 90.7 kg)
Average Lifespan 10 to 12 years 10 to 12 years
Average Price $1500 and up $1000 and up
Energy Levels Low Low
Temperament Independent, reserved, intelligent Bold, loyal, fearless

Are Tibetan Mastiffs and Caucasian Shepherds Related?

It is thought that the Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff are related as their histories do intertwine.

Caucasian Shepherds are ancient Molosser-type dogs with a history of some 2000 years. Their ancestors are considered Mastiff-type breeds, possibly even the Tibetan Mastiff.

They get their name from the Caucasus Mountain range between Europe and Asia, where they originated.

Fully grown Tibetan Mastiff and Caucasian Shepherd dog
The full-grown looks of a Tibetan Mastiff (left) and the Caucasian Shepherd dog (right)

The Tibetan Mastiff’s history dates back even more, and these dogs have been used for generations to protect temples in the Himalayas and Tibet.

Over time, these dogs found their way into other parts of Europe and Asia and are thought to be the ancestors of many of the Mastiff breeds we see today.

How Can You Differentiate a Tibetan Mastiff from a Caucasian Shepherd?

A laying Tibetan Mastiff and the Caucasian Shepherd dog
A laying Tibetan Mastiff dog (left) and the Caucasian Shepherd dog (right)

Physically, Tibetan Mastiff and Caucasian Shepherd dogs look very similar. They are both big-boned, muscular dogs with plenty of fur. There are, however, some subtle differences in appearance between these two dog breeds. 

While both dogs can come in cream, brown, black, red, and shades thereof or even a mix of these colors, the Caucasian Shepherd is typically found in lighter colors than the Tibetan Mastiff, which usually comes in black or dark colors.

And while the Tibetan Mastiff is usually the fluffier of the two breeds and thus appears bigger, it is the Caucasian Shepherd that tops the scales. 

Is Caucasian Shepherd bigger than Tibetan Mastiff?

One of the most significant differences between these dogs is their size.

While both are giant breeds, the Tibetan Mastiff is slightly smaller, weighing between 70 and 160 lbs (31.7 and 72.5 kg) compared to the Caucasian Shepherd, who weighs between 100 and 200 lbs (45.3 to 90.7 kg).

Temperament and Personality

The good looking Tibetan Mastiff and Caucasian Shepherd dog
The good looking Tibetan Mastiff (left) and Caucasian Shepherd dog (right)

As both Caucasian Shepherds and Tibetan Mastiffs were bred as protectors, they are both incredibly loyal, protective pups.

So much so that the Caucasian Shepherd is commonly used as a guard dog by military personnel in Eastern Europe. As family dogs, these pooches will do anything to look after those they love and defend their people fiercely. 

Are Caucasian Shepherds calmer than Tibetan Mastiffs?

If faced with danger, both the Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff would attack if necessary. These dogs have been known to take down both bears and wolves. That means they have a reputation as aggressive dogs.

However, both breeds can be very loyal, calm dogs if trained correctly. 

Both dogs love to have a job during the day but appreciate some loving and cuddles when the sun goes down. These are not dogs that will enjoy living alone outside or just ignored.

Which dog is more aggressive?

Caucasian Shepherds and Tibetan Mastiffs have a formidable appearance that makes them beloved guard dogs. As mentioned above, they can be aggressive if they feel the need to defend their family.

However, these dogs can be very loveable companions with the proper training.

Which breed has a stronger bite force?

The Caucasian Shepherd has a more potent bite force than a Tibetan Mastiff. His bite force is greater than even a lion.

With a bite force of 550 -700, the Caucasian Shepherd is beaten only by the Kangal, a Turkish shepherd with a bite force of 750.

A Kangal dog serve as a herding dog
A working Kangal dog taking care of the group of Damara fat-tailed sheeps

Which breed is the perfect family dog?

Despite their large size, both the Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff can be great family dogs as they are very loving and devoted to the littlest family members.

While they are generally very soft and gentle with children, you will still need to watch babies and toddlers around these giant dogs as they can accidentally hurt them without meaning to.

Which Breed is Easier to Train?

The Tibetan Mastiff and the Caucasian Shepherd are challenging dogs that can be difficult to train, and neither breed is well suited to first-time pet owners.

The Tibetan Mastiff and Caucasian Shepherd dog both laying down outdoor
The Tibetan Mastiff (left) and Caucasian Shepherd (right) are both fluffy dog

Both these breeds are highly territorial and need a robust and firm owner who can train them correctly and socialize them from a young age. 

They are also incredibly intelligent and stubborn dogs that will simply ignore you if they decide to do so. They are quick to exploit any weaknesses they find in their owner.

Without adequate training, socialization, and obedience skills, these dogs are likely to be quite aggressive towards strangers and other animals and think they are in charge.

Thankfully both the Tibetan Mastiff and the Caucasian Shepherd are food-orientated dogs, so they will love to be rewarded with delicious treats during training.

Just be sure not to overdo it, or you could put your dog at risk of developing obesity. 

Which Dog Breed Has Higher Maintenance?

The Tibetan Mastiff and Caucasian Shepherd dog both enjoying outdoor
The Tibetan Mastiff (left )and Caucasian Shepherd dog (right) both enjoying outdoor

Both the Tibetan Mastiff and the Caucasian Shepherd are similar-looking dogs with similar maintenance needs.

They both have a long coat that needs brushing every day to prevent mats and tangles and spread the dog’s natural oils throughout the coat. 

Which dog is more energetic?

Although the Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff are large dogs, they don’t actually need a lot of exercises. Both these breeds are gentle dogs that don’t like to run around or play vigorous games. 

Forty-five minutes to an hour of gentle walking each day would be more than enough for either breed although both dogs are also happy just to lay around outdoors all day so a big yard or farm is still recommended for these dogs.

They will enjoy patrolling around a large garden.

Which dog sheds more?

The Tibetan Mastiff has a fluffier coat than the Caucasian Shepherd, making him appear to be the larger dog, but actually, it’s all fur. These dogs have incredibly fluffy coats and are excessive shedders. 

On the other hand, the Caucasian Shepherd has a coat that can come in three variations, namely short, medium and long.

Due to its usually lighter color fur, the hair of the Caucasian Shepherd may also be less noticeable around the house.

As both dogs originate from cold mountain ranges, they have a double coat designed to keep them warm. That means you can expect considerable shedding with both breeds, particularly with the changing of the seasons. 

Nutritional needs

The Caucasian Shepherds and Tibetan Mastiffs are relatively sedentary dogs. However, they have a large body mass and so need to eat a lot. Both these breeds will eat around four cups of dog food each day.

This, along with their absolute love of food, puts these dogs at risk of developing obesity. 

Both breeds need to be fed dog food that caters specifically to the needs of giant dogs. Also, Caucasian Shepherds can benefit from high-quality kibble made for sensitive dogs as this breed is known to have a sensitive stomach.

Average Lifespan

Both the Caucasian Shepherd and the Tibetan Mastiff have a life expectancy of between 10 and 12 years.

Similar pose of a Tibetan Mastiff and Caucasian Shepherd dog
The Tibetan Mastiff (left )and the Caucasian Shepherd dog (right) in a similar pose

As large dogs, they are prone to developing certain health conditions such as hip and elbow dysplasia and other joint diseases that could affect their mobility and cause arthritis. 

In addition, Tibetan Mastiffs can suffer from a unique inherited disease known as Canine Inherited Demyelinative Neuropathy which causes the back legs to become weak and can even lead to paralysis.

However, this is a disease that a good breeder will be able to test for before supplying you with a Tibetan Mastiff puppy.

You also need to be careful not to overfeed your Tibetan Mastiff or Caucasian Shepherd, as these dogs are prone to developing obesity.

Both breeds are prone to bloat, so they should not be fed right before or after eating, and their daily food allowance should be split between two or three meals.

Puppy Price

Is The Tibetan Mastiff More Expensive than a Caucasian Shepherd? Yes, the Tibetan Mastiff is more expensive than the Caucasian Shepherd breed. While Caucasian Shepherd puppies sell for upwards of $1,000, the starting price of Tibetan Mastiffs is $1,500.

Adorable Tibetan Mastiff and Caucasian Shepherd puppies
Two adorable puppies, a Tibetan Mastiff (left) and a Caucasian Shepherd (right)

Female Tibetan Mastiffs only go into oestrus once a year, producing only a litter of puppies annually, which usually happens between December and January. 

With both dogs, you will likely have to go on a waiting list to secure a puppy due to these breeds being quite rare. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

The both panting Tibetan Mastiff and a Caucasian Shepherd dog
A panting Tibetan Mastiff dog (left) and a Caucasian Shepherd dog (right)

Which is more popular?

In the 1950s, a Tibetan Mastiff was given as a gift to the president, although he kept his dogs a secret. It wasn’t until two decades later that an increase in the breed’s popularity in the United States was seen.

Today, the Tibetan Mastiff is listed as the 131st most popular breed in the country by the AKC.

Do these two breeds get along?

Both Tibetan Mastiffs and Caucasian Shepherds can be quite aggressive towards other dogs and humans, especially if they are not adequately trained and socialized from a young age.

These dogs often do better as the only pet in the house.

Conclusion: Which is Better?

Very few aspects of appearance and temperament differ between the Tibetan Mastiff and the Caucasian Shepherd.

Both are giant, fluffy dog breeds that are fiercely loyal and protective of their owners, but with plenty of training and socialization and a firm owner, they can be calm, cuddly, loveable family dogs.

While not suitable for novice pet owners, the Tibetan Mastiff and the Caucasian Shepherd have low exercise needs. However, you need to be prepared for plenty of shedding with these furry friends. 

Do you have a Caucasian Shepherd or Tibetan Mastiff at home? We would love to hear all about your giant, fluffy family member in the comments below.

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