Tibetan Mastiff Dog Breed: Pictures, Colors, Bark, Characteristics, and Diet

Tibetan Mastiffs (TMs) are big, powerfully built dogs that were originally bred in Tibet to guard for livestock and property.

They are believed to be descended from the famous Tibetan dogs that were the source of the majority of Molossers and Mastiffs throughout the world.

Tibetan Mastiff dog standing on the woods

Known for their massive stature, Tibetan Mastiffs can stand 24 inches (minimum) at the shoulder and weigh well over 100 pounds.

Due to their size and striking appearance, they’ve been used as guard dogs. They are also powerful watchdogs, as they are very alert and have a deep, booming bark. 

Tibetan Mastiffs also have a distinctive thick, dense coat around their necks which makes them look like a lion. This fluffy coat protects them from the cold climate.

However, in hot weather, their type of coat also makes them susceptible to heatstroke.

Generally, Tibetan Mastiffs have an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years. This is a relatively long lifespan for a large dog breed. However, they are prone to a number of health problems, such as hip and elbow dysplasia. 

You can help your Tibetan Mastiff maintain their health by feeding them 4 to 6 cups of high-quality dog food, divided into 2 meals, every day.

You should also give them at least 1 hour of exercise per day which is recommended to be split into two or three walks.

Tibetan Mastiff dogs are known to be reserved and introverted towards people and primarily independent from their families. To strangers, they can be aggressive and have a chance to attack, especially if they see them as a threat.

Proper socialization is needed so they don’t become aggressive as they can bite over 556 PSI which is twice as stronger as Pitbull.

TM dogs are also very protective and sometimes territorial to their family. They’re also the best working type of dogs that you can rely on to do their work efficiently.

However, because of their size and temperament, strict and consistent training is a must.

Want to know more about this breed? Scroll further for more information!

What is a Tibetan Mastiff?

A big Tibetan Mastiff dog standing in the snowfield
Beautiful Tibetan Mastiff in the winter nature

The Tibetan Mastiff is a large to giant-sized ancient dog breed that was first developed in the Himalayan mountains.

 The harsh climate of the region helped to create a dog that is strong and hardy, with a thick coat that protects against the cold. 

Today, Tibetan Mastiffs are still prized for their guarding abilities, and they are often used as working dogs in hostile environments. They are also popular as companion animals, thanks to their loyal and protective nature. 

Why are They Called Tibetan Mastiff Dogs?

The Tibetan Mastiff is a powerful dog that was originally bred in Tibet, a mountainous region in China. The name “mastiff” is derived from the Latin word “mansuetus”, which means “tame” or “domestic”.

The dogs were originally used as guard dogs, and they were highly prized by Tibetan monks for their protective instincts. 

Where Did the Tibetan Mastiff Come From?

The exact origin of the Tibetan Mastiffs is unknown, but they are thought to be descended from ancient Molossers and Mastiffs.

They were developed in the mountainous region of Tibet, where they were utilized to guard livestock and properties. 

TM dogs’ enormous bodies and thick coats helped them survive the high-altitude Himalayan region.

They were usually given as gifts to royals as well as travelers before and were used to develop the other mastiff breeds in the west.

When Did the Tibetan Mastiff Originate?

A Tibetan Mastiff puppy sitting in the snow
A Tibetan Mastiff puppy sitting waiting for a command

Although Tibetan Mastiffs are ancient dogs, there is scarce information on when they started to originate.

However, DNA evidence provides that Molossers and Mastiffs dogs originated from Tibet 5,000 years ago and are possibly the ascendants of what we now know as the Tibetan Mastiffs.

It was only in the mid to late 1800s when Tibetan Mastiffs were started to be imported into England, and in the 1970s, in the case of America. They were recognized by AKC only in 2006.

How Many Tibetan Mastiffs are There in the World?

Purebred Tibetan Mastiffs are now considered to be a rare breed. It is believed that there are 5,000 registered Tibetan Mastiffs in AKC, but only 1,000 of them are alive. 

Furthermore, in 2017, it was reported that many breeders in China abandoned these dogs because of the sudden low demand and oversupply.

In 2018 and 2020, this rare breed ranked 131st and 140th on AKC’s popular dog list, respectively. 

What are the Variants of Tibetan Mastiff Dogs?

A huge Dokhyi Tibetan Mastiff dog
A huge Dokhyi Tibetan Mastiff dog lying on the field – Image source

Tibetan Mastiffs are divided into two variants used by the Tibetan people many years ago. Depending on their physical appearance and work, they can be classified as either Do-Khyi or Tsang-Khyi variants.

Take a look at the difference between the two:

  • Do-Khyi: Do-Khyi Mastiffs used to live with people in the villages and traveled with nomadic shepherds, assisting them by being flock guardians. This variant is smaller in size and is leaner compared to the other one.
  • Tsang-Khyi: Tsang-Khyi variants are larger in size and have a wrinklier face. They were usually given to lamaseries and were used to guard Tibetan Buddhist Monks, or lamas, who lived in the lamaseries.

The Indian breed standard classifies them as Lion and the Tiger Mastiff, which is more of a modern classification of the dog.

  • Lion Mastiffs: They have long hairs on the head, ears, and neck, usually more than 2 inches (5 cm). They typically have smaller heads than those of the Tiger Mastiffs’.
  • Tiger Mastiffs: They have short or medium hairs around their heads but compared to Lion Mastiffs, their heads are more significant, their mouths are broader and their nose shorter. These types of Mastiffs are usually in the colors pure black or brown-red.

What are the Characteristics of Tibetan Mastiffs?

Some people might get intimidated by the large physique of Tibetan Mastiffs.

Still, if we take a look closer, we can clearly see that these fluffballs are very adorable and reliable dogs that should be considered pets, especially to those who have a thing for big dogs.

A red Tibetan Mastiff lying down
A red Tibetan Mastiff lying down while the tongue sticking out

To get to know more about them, the following are the core characteristics of Tibetan Mastiffs:

  • Reserved: Tibetan Mastiffs are not naturally sociable dogs. They are introverts and want to keep a world of their own with their family. Hence, training them to be around people and other animals would be challenging.
  • Protective: Since they are guard dogs, they are very keen on protecting their family from threats. Socializing them is essential since they might subconsciously see things as threats when it is actually just a regular thing or scenario.
  • Independent: If you want a dog who does not need your constant supervision, a Tibetan Mastiff is right for you as he will not demand your guidance in everything. However, dogs of this breed have a stubborn side and will not always obey you. Hence, proper and constant training is necessary to strike a balance between your autonomy and their independence.
  • Quiet: Tibetan Mastiffs are generally quiet. They like to observe things and focus on their work unless, of course, there is something that excites, agitates, or annoys them.

For more detailed information about the temperament of Tibetan Mastiffs, refer to the table below:

Tibetan Mastiff Characteristics Rating
Relation with Family 4
Good with Children 4
Friendly with Strangers 1
Friendly with Other Dogs 4
Easy to Train 3
Energy Level 3
Barking Level 3
Mental Stimulation Needs 4

What Does a Tibetan Mastiff Look Like?

Three red Tibetan Mastiffs lie on the grass in the backyard
Three beautiful red Tibetan Mastiffs lie on the grass in the backyard

Tibetan Mastiffs are often referred to as lion dogs due to their large, muscular, powerful bodies and lion-like appearance.

Their distinctive thick fluffy coats protect them from the cold weather of their mountainous homeland.

TMs also have a wide head with a square muzzle, their ears are small and triangular, and have long necks and tails. Their eyes are almond-shaped and can be brown, black, or blue.

Their size and striking appearance make them excellent to be used as guard dogs.

How big is the Tibetan Mastiff?

Tibetan Mastiffs are considered large to giant-sized dogs. Full-grown male TMs dominate females in both height and weight. 

Male Tibetan Mastiffs weigh around 90 to 150 lbs (40.8 to 68 kg), and their height starts at 26 inches (66 cm).

On the other hand, the weight and height range of female TMs are 70 to 120 lbs (31.8 to 54.4 kg) and from 24 inches (61 cm), respectively.

For a simplified comparison of the physical attributes between male and female Tibetan Mastiffs, take a look at the table below:

Tibetan Mastiff
Physical Features
Male Female
Height starting at 26 inches
(66 cm)
starting at 24 inches
(61 cm)
Weight 90 to 150 lbs
(40.8 to 68 kg)
70 to 120 lbs
(31.8 to 54.4 kg)

How long does a Tibetan Mastiff dog grow?

It is common for dogs for males to grow bigger than females. This scenario is likewise applicable to Tibetan Mastiffs. Male TM dogs have a height that starts at 26 inches (66 cm) while female TMs start at 24 inches (61 cm). 

Large dogs like them take up to 18 months before attaining their adult bodies. Furthermore, Tibetan Mastiffs that do not reach the minimum height are considered disqualified and are not recognized by AKC.

What is the average weight of Tibetan Mastiff dogs?

Male Tibetan Mastiffs also are heavier than females. The former weighs around 90 to 150 lbs (40.8 to 68 kg), while the latter at 70 to 120 lbs (31.8 to 54.4 kg) only.

From the information provided, it is evident that there is a big difference in weight between the two sexes. 

What is the Average Life Expectancy of Tibetan Mastiffs?

The average life expectancy of a healthy Tibetan Mastiff is from 10 to 14 years. They are generally healthy dogs.

However, because of their immense stature and heavyweight, hip and elbow dysplasia are two of the most common health concerns of dogs like them.

Other health conditions faced by this breed include Hypothyroidism, Epilepsy, and Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD), which also affects the bones.

Since these dogs are prone to bone problems, it is best to have a regular x-ray and check-up with the vet to prevent or avoid such conditions.

What Coat Type Do Tibetan Mastiffs Have?

Tibetan Mastiff standing outdoor
A Tibetan Mastiff dog standing outdoor

Tibetan Mastiffs have straight double coats. They have thick and coarse guard hair and soft and heavy undercoats, which protect them during the winter.

During the warmer months, their heavy undercoats become sparse, easing them from too much heat. 

What is the Tibetan Mastiff dog’s coat like?

The coat of the Tibetan Mastiff is long and dense; it has fine hairs. And the texture of their heavy undercoats is wooly, while the guard coat is coarse.

Moreover, their hair is always straight, and they are never curly or wavy. Their coat is more profuse on their necks to their shoulders, making it look like a lion’s mane.

How long is the Tibetan Mastiff’s coat?

Tibetan Mastiffs have long coats that make them bigger than they actually are. Maintaining their fur won’t be too hard as tangling hairs is more bearable.

As mentioned in the variants of this breed, the Lion Mastiff has longer hairs than others in the head, ears, and neck that grow up to 2 inches (5 cm).

What’s the coat density of the Tibetan Mastiff?

Tibetan Mastiffs’ origin calls for them to have dense coats because of the Himalayas, which are known to be severely cold during winters. That is why they have a very thick coat, which keeps them warm during this weather.

During the summer, their undercoats become sparse which helps them regulate their body temperature.

Do Tibetan Mastiffs shed much?

The good news for those people who are very allergic to dog fur is that Tibetan Mastiffs generally shed a little except one time each year when they “blow” their coat.

Although they have long hair, they are not that high maintenance in terms of grooming needs. They only require weekly brushing, and frequently during their shedding period.

Can Tibetan Mastiffs Live in Hot Weather?

A Tibetan Mastiff lying on the snow
A Tibetan Mastiff felt cold while lying on the snow – Image source

Tibetan Mastiffs are a large breed of dog that is known for their thick, dense coat. This coat helps to protect the dog from cold temperatures and weather, but it also makes them susceptible to heatstroke in hot weather. 

In addition, Tibetan Mastiffs have a very slow metabolism, which means that they don’t produce enough body heat to regulate their temperature in warm climates.

As a result, it’s important to take steps to keep your Tibetan Mastiff cool in hot weather. 

Some things you can do include providing them with plenty of shade and water and avoiding taking them on long walks during the hottest part of the day.

With proper care, your Tibetan Mastiff can enjoy a comfortable life in any climate.

Do Tibetan Mastiffs Love Water?

Unlike other dogs who enjoy playing in the water, Tibetan Mastiff is one of the breeds that naturally are not swimmers.

Because of their heavy and dense coat, they are more suitable for other activities than playing with water. But still, there is a possibility that some of them might enjoy water if introduced at an early age.

What Colors and Markings Do Tibetan Mastiffs Have?

A Tibetan Mastiff lying on the backyard
A long-haired black Tibetan Mastiff resting on the grass full of wildflowers – Image source

The most common colors of Tibetan Mastiffs are black, dark brown, and light brown. However, they may also be gray, red, or cream. 

In addition, Tibetan Mastiffs often have markings of a different color on their face, chest, or legs. These markings can be used to help identify individual dogs. 

For example, a Black Tibetan Mastiff with white markings on its chest and legs is likely to be distinguishable from other Black Tibetan Mastiffs.

Similarly, a Red Tibetan Mastiff with black markings on its face is likely to stand out from other Red Tibetan Mastiffs. As a result, the color of a Tibetan Mastiff can be an important factor in identifying an individual dog.

Are Tibetan Mastiffs Good Family Dogs?

A Tibetan Mastiff lying on the restaurant floor
Meet Everest, a Tibetan Mastiff dog lying on the restaurant floor – Image source

Tibetan Mastiffs are more recommended for people who already have experience raising big dogs. Because of their incredible strength, it may be hard for first-time owners to handle them.

One of their characteristics is that they are reserved and introverted dogs, so it might be a challenge to let them open up to you.

Because of their considerable stature, small children also have to be careful because these dogs might knock them off.

Overall, Tibetan Mastiffs are more of working dogs rather than a companion. But if they are socialized into the family environment at an early age, there would be no problem because these dogs are sweet and caring.

For detailed information about the Tibetan Mastiff’s temperament, you might want to check the table below:

Tibetan Mastiff’s Temperament Rating
Adaptability 3
Friendliness 4
Mouthiness 5
Playfulness 4
Family-Oriented 4
Stranger Tolerance 1

Are Tibetan Mastiffs good with other dogs?

Tibetan Mastiffs are generally friendly with other dogs, but they are very reserved, independent, and tend to mind their own business.

If they grow up with other dogs, they will be more tolerable around them and around other animals. However, if it’s the first time encountering other animals, it’s better to have them on a leash.

Are Tibetan Mastiffs friendly with other people?

Tibetan Mastiffs are generally aloof with other people. Since they are very independent dogs, they do not mind other people walking or passing around them.

However, people should still be careful because they are not that sociable.

Can Tibetan Mastiff dogs get along well with strangers?

Although Tibetan Mastiffs are very independent, they are very protective of their family and may see strangers as threats. They might become aggressive towards them, especially if these dogs find them suspicious.

Training them to behave and socialize is essential for a harmonious household with them.

How do Tibetan Mastiffs get along with young children?

If Tibetan Mastiffs were raised along with children, it is okay for owners to keep them around them.

However, they might unintentionally knock over little kids, and kids’ yells and screams during the play might be mistaken by these dogs as a sign of aggression. Hence, strict supervision is advised.

Can Tibetan Mastiffs Adapt Easily?

A Tibetan Mastiff puppy wants to play
Adorable Tibetan Mastiff puppy wants to play on the grass – Image source

Tibetan Mastiffs are moderately adaptable. They quickly adapt to family living when they are adopted during their early years, but they might need time to adjust if they are adopted as adults.

These pups are also not suitable for apartment living because of the space required. 

Physical activities are a must to keep Tibetan Mastiffs healthy, and because of their large physique, a large environment is recommended.

Are Tibetan Mastiff Dogs Aggressive?

Tibetan Mastiffs, if adequately trained, won’t become aggressive easily. For big guard dogs like them, it is natural for them to be territorial, and invading their space by people who they do not consider family or pose threat might trigger their aggressiveness.

Inside the house, they are usually calm and quiet, so the task is to help them behave outside.

Are Tibetan Mastiffs Dangerous?

Tibetan Mastiffs are very protective and territorial dogs. If they sense that their family or livestock is at risk, they might get aggressive.

In some countries and states, there are bans against owning these dogs. Hence, one of the most important responsibilities of their owners is training them.

Do Tibetan Mastiff Dogs Bite?

A Tibetan Mastiff wearing muzzle guard
A Tibetan Mastiff wearing a muzzle guard to help with his human aggression – Image source

As mentioned, Tibetan Mastiffs are rarely aggressive, especially when trained, but due to their protectiveness, they can bite when provoked and without proper socialization.

Trained Tibetan Mastiffs can be prevented from attacking once trained to behave out in public. 

Truth be told, there are cases where Tibetan Mastiff attacks happen, and this could be dangerous because these dogs are one of the strongest. They have a bite force of 556 PSI.

Are Tibetan Mastiff Dogs Protective?

Tibetan Mastiffs are very protective and territorial, sometimes too extreme. They might see their family as a pack that they need to protect, and this might cause problems when interacting with strangers.

Training them on who to and not to trust and when to show a protective side is crucial.

Are Tibetan Mastiffs Affectionate?

If affectionate means hugging and cuddling, then Tibetan Mastiffs are not affectionate. Instead, these dogs show their love in other ways, such as being faithful, helpful, and loyal companions to their owners.

These dogs are timid and not so expressive, but that does not mean they do not love their owners.

Are Tibetan Mastiffs Loyal?

Although they rarely show their cuddly side to their family, Tibetan Mastiffs are very loyal dogs. They show their love through their service and being protective of their owners.

Once you get their trust, they will return it to you by doing their tasks religiously. 

Do Tibetan Mastiffs Like to Cuddle?

A Tibetan Mastiff with kibble food on the face
A Tibetan Mastiff dog confuse with the kibble food on his face – Image source

Tibetan Mastiffs are not the very cuddly type of dogs. Despite their bear-look-alike and fluffy appearance, these dogs will rarely ask you to hug them, but if they do, it is likely on their own terms. 

Does the Tibetan Mastiff Love Freedom?

Tibetan Mastiffs are very independent dogs who want to be treated as your equal. They usually do things on their own; they love freedom to the point that sometimes they can be too stubborn. 

Moreover, they have a tendency to escape and wander. Hence, make sure your yard is well-fenced if you have one!

Are Tibetan Mastiff Dogs Easy to Train?

While Tibetan Mastiffs are intelligent and quick learners, training can be challenging, especially for first-time dog owners, because they can be too stubborn.

Also, this independent breed does not like being forced to do something. Hence, training activities should be the type that can lure and engage them in it. 

Positive reinforcements and constant training, starting at an early age, would be the better approach for this type of breed.

How Smart is the Tibetan Mastiff?

A Tibetan Mastiff puppy standing with the owner
A Tibetan Mastiff puppy standing with the trainer

Tibetan Mastiffs are instinctively smart because of the work they do. They are highly productive and are always focused on their activities.

However, they’re not as easy to train as some other breeds due to their independent spirit. They often require a lot of patience and positive reinforcement to learn new commands.

Can Tibetan Mastiff dogs be used as working dogs?

With their great stature, Tibetan Mastiffs are perfect to be utilized as working dogs. In fact, they are categorized by AKC as one.

Because of their personality, they are the ideal candidates for guard dogs or other types of dog work that use physical strength.

Do Tibetan Mastiff Dogs Bark a Lot?

Inside their houses, Tibetan Mastiffs are generally quiet dogs. But when left outside, they become overly excited and tend to bark at anything that catches their attention.

If you live in a place with a noise restriction, they can be tolerated, but they should probably be kept inside the house most of the time.

How does a Tibetan Mastiff bark?

The barks of Tibetan Mastiffs are very powerful, loud, and deep. Just by the sound of their barks, you’ll know that they are big and ferocious dogs.

Their barks exude power, which as big dogs, they may be proud of and flaunt every time they go outside their houses.

Do Tibetan Mastiffs Have High Energy Levels?

A Tibetan Mastiff puppy sits on the chair
A Tibetan Mastiff puppy sits on the outdoor bench chair

Tibetan Mastiffs have moderate energies. It is also important to keep them busy because they quickly get bored. And when they get bored, they can use their energy by barking and showing destructiveness.

Hence, it is vital to give them activities to relieve their boredom.

Are Tibetan Mastiffs Active?

Tibetan Mastiffs are usually active in the morning and night. This is when you can take advantage of their activity levels by taking them for a walk or run.

For big dogs like them, it is recommended to take them for a walk or let them play for 1 hour every day but try to split them into two or three walks.

It is also essential to take different routes when walking them to prevent them from being territorial in their walking routes. Never take them outside or for a walk without a leash.

How Fast Can a Tibetan Mastiff Run?

Tibetan Mastiffs are fast runners too! They can run at a speed of 20 mph (32kmph), only for short distances. Running may or may not be their thing, but it is vital to get them to exercise to help them stay fit and healthy.

Are Tibetan Mastiffs Playful?

A Tibetan Mastiff picking his toy indoor
A Tibetan Mastiff dog picking his stuffed toy indoors – Image source

Tibetan Mastiff puppies are certainly hyperactive dogs, but they become more reserved and inattentive as they grow.

If you try to play with them, they will play with you, but since they are very independent, they can play on their own. But generally, they just need an activity to keep them busy.

Does the Tibetan Mastiff Drool a Lot?

Fortunately, Tibetan Mastiffs do not drool a lot. They are one of the breeds that are dry-mouthed and do not easily salivate except when they are hungry, thirsty, or excited.

People who are concerned with drool stains over the furniture can comfortably get one of these dogs.

What Does the Family Life of Tibetan Mastiff Dogs Like?

It may take some time for Tibetan Mastiffs to communicate well with their family, but it does not mean that they do not care about them.

They may seem too independent and out of reach, but in reality, they really just want to protect their loved ones. 

Even if they have a hard time showing affection, they still show their love through small things like guarding the house and being protective of their family.

These dogs do not crave much attention. It is enough for them to know that you care for them. They want to keep their freedom and have their own space, and it’s expected for their family to respect it.

What is the Average Cost of a Tibetan Mastiff Puppy?

A Tibetan Mastiff puppy lies on the grass
A Tibetan Mastiff puppy lies on the grass – Image source

Due to their rarer status, Tibetan Mastiffs can be quite expensive, with the average price of a puppy at $3,000.

This figure can vary depending on the specific lineage of the dog, as well as whether the breeder is a private individual or a professional kennel.

Regardless of the price tag, potential owners should be prepared to provide a loving home and plenty of space for these powerful dogs to roam.

What Kind of Food Should Tibetan Mastiffs Eat?

As a large breed of dog, the Tibetan Mastiff requires a diet that is high in protein and fat with moderate levels of carbohydrates to meet its energy needs and prevent obesity.

In addition, they need plenty of calcium and phosphorus to support their bones and joints. 

While there are many commercial dog foods that are specially formulated for large breeds, you can also feed your Tibetan Mastiff a raw diet or home-cooked meals.

Just be sure to consult with your vet first to make sure you are meeting all of your dog’s nutritional needs.

What are the Best Dog Foods for Tibetan Mastiffs?

A Tibetan Mastiff waiting for the treat
A Tibetan Mastiff dog looking and patiently waiting for the treat – Image source

For daily consumption, it is recommended to give Tibetan Mastiffs 4 to 6 cups of dog food divided into 2 meals.

To provide proper nutrition for your dog, we recommend the following list of dog food for both puppies and adult Tibetan Mastiffs.

For Tibetan Mastiff puppies:

For adult Tibetan Mastiffs:

What Other Dog Breeds Look Like the Tibetan Mastiff?

A Pyrenean Mastiff standing on the garden
A Pyrenean Mastiff dog standing near the garden – Image source

Tibetan Mastiffs’ general looks are common to mountain dog breeds. Because of this, many people mistake other mountain dogs for Tibetan Mastiffs because of their large size and heavy coats.

Take a look at other dogs who may look like a Tibetan Mastiff:

  • Pyrenean Mastiff
  • Bangara Mastiff
  • Gaddi Kutta (Indian Panther Hound)
  • Nepali Mountain Dog (Himalayan Sheep Dog)
  • Indigenous Mastiff (Himalayan Guard Dog)

Independent and Reserved Dog: Is Tibetan Mastiff Safe to Adopt?

At a glance, Tibetan Mastiffs can genuinely be described as a majestic dog from how it walks and carries themselves.

However, many are reconsidering adoption because of the “danger” that these dogs might cause. Contrary to popular belief, these dogs are not dangerous if we patiently and constantly train them.

Although they may not regularly cuddle with their owners, they show them their love differently. They can be a big help to any work that they can do.

Furthermore, they do not need much attention, unlike other dogs who need constant attention.

These dogs were once the most expensive in the world, but they also became a time when lots of them were abandoned.

Owning dogs like Tibetan Mastiffs requires more responsibility than owning other breeds. Tantamount understanding is essential for a harmonious relationship between these dogs and their owners. 

Do you have a Tibetan Mastiff dog? What do you love most about them? Let us know in the comments!

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