Following article is from Mr. Wim Tegelaar NL breeding
station Bhairub Shakti
www.dokhyi-bhairubshakti.nl (photographer is is Mr. Stroessner).
Article was by the courtesy of author impression publicized in Primos
Peer 2002, translated lady ing. Ivana
Stašková and publishing in bulletin KCHMPP c.55. Inasmuch as, that article is exceedingly interesting and truthful
life TD today in southwest Tibet and with reference to it, that regarding
occupation Tibet China with without consequence slightly into Tibet
every you don't get considered am this article for wider public behind
and Tibetan dogs - West Tibet 2002
In June 2002 (Tibetan
year of Water Horse) I have visited West Tibet with a group of
friends that all have connections with Tibet for quite some time,
some being Bhuddists, others active in the Tibet Society of Slovenia.
We mostly traveled at 4.500 m above sea, where roads are often only
tracks made across the wast rocky plains and high passes, and the
nature really is fantastic and still quite wild. Besides numerous
birds we saw Chiru (Tibetan antilopes), Kiangs (wild donkeys), snow
leopard (coud not get a photo), lynx and even wolves only about 30-
40 metres from the main route.
Tibetans we met were mostly nomads, friendly, cheerful people, some
of them being used to meet Europeans, but we even met some that were
very unsure about our look and their children ran away in tears.
Our main destination was pilgrimage around the holy mountain of
Bhuddist, Bompos, Hindus and Jainists – Kang Rinpoche (Jewel of Snow
in Tibetan, also called Mt. Kailash). So we took the route from
Himalayan passes between Nepal and Tibet and than through the
southern part of West Tibet, mostly following the Yarlung Tsangpo
river. Tibet being in size
comparable to Europe, the Western part is the wildest and has most
unfriendly climate, no trees, rocky almost desert plains and barren
but at the same time colorful hills.
Most people here live as nomads roaming the wast land with their big
heards of sheep, goats and yaks. There are no big settlements or
monasteries, so it is understandable that in this part there are no
"luxus" pet dogs, only big working dogs and stray, half feral stray
dogs that are often found in gangs near the settlements or caravan
And we met a lot of dogs.... for me of course they were an important
part of my journey.
Almost all in our group complained a lot about the howling and all
the noise dogs make during the night, but I did not hear them during
the night, being maybe more used to dogs barking….
With the kind help of our Tibetan guide Tenzin, who spoke English
fluently, I did quite a lot of interviews with Tibetans, mostly
nomads, traders, inkeepers and some farmers, and learned some new
details about what Tibetans and their dogs.
…Tibetans call any
dog but normaly it is used for a stray dog.
There are numerous packs of stray dogs roaming around. They are
medium sized, short coated, mostly red colored (I met an odd gold
brindle dog) with more or less curled tails, and quite leggy.
In comparisson with feral dogs of other countries (for example
Egyptian pariah dogs), these dogs are a bit bigger, leggier, with
thicker but stills hort coats and a bit more Do-Khyi like in head
They live in packs near main roads, crossroads, bigger settlements,
Tibetans do not care for them but also they do not harm them in any
way, just let them live.
The purpose of these dogs is cleaning …all digestable garbage is
eaten by them.
…is the term Nomads of
Western Tibet use to denote dogs that are of the type we in the West
know as Do-Khyi – Tibetan Mastiff. The difference between stray dogs and
Do-Khyis is clear, not only in type & size but also in the way both
These dogs are living with people, lying (often chained) around the
tents of nomads or in front of the houses of farmers.
I saw puppies inside nomad's tents, as it looks like they are of (quite)
some value for Tibetans.
Do-Khyis are bred for certain purpose and type (which goes with it),
although maybe not for specifications/standards as we understand them.
The way nomads, at least in West Tibet, use their Do-Khyis differ in
some details from what I used to read….
As expected Do-Khyis are not used for herding, but they are also not
(!!) used for protection of the herds of sheep and goat and yaks while
out on pastures.
On my direct question I got the reply that a big herd could not be
efficiently protected against packs of wolves by two or three Do-Khyis a
family have (nomads could not afford to have more dogs) and more
efficient is a man or woman shepherd or two.
Yaks do not need special protection so they are left alone while on
pastures. Only horses are sometimes let on pastures with a Do-Khyi or
two, mostly because nomads only have a few horses.
On one occasion I had a lovely experience looking at the young Do-Khyi
and a horse playing on a pasture.
Whistling is often used by Tibetan nomads for communication with
Do-Khyis, but never with slingshots which is a normal way of »communication«
with sheep and goats.
The main purpose of Do-Khyis is the protection of the nomads' tents and
herds who return to this place for the night. Quite some, especialy male
Do-Khyi's are chained around the tents for the most of the day.
Their deep often rough barking was the usual music of the evenings and
Another interesting detail was meeting nomads on their seasonal move
from one place to another with the whole »household«. While Do-Khyis are
let loose and are following the whole small caravan within a short
distance, Sha-Khyis were always tied, even the youngsters.
Do-Khyis are the usual dogs of nomads, most families have two or three
of them, or some more if the family is a wealthy one and could afford
feeding them. They are fed with leftovers, mostly old tsampa and
with everything that people could not eat …like bones etc…. So
around the tents one sees lots of bones, some skulls and horns,
thoroughly »cleaned« by the dogs.
Do-Khyis in West Tibet are big, but not huge, some of the males being
simnilar in size to the small Tibetan donkeys.
After meeting quite some Do-Khyis I was able to tell the approximate age
of most dogs, as they need time to mature.
For our taste most Do-Khyi there look to be starved almost to death and
they would need to put on 10 to 20 kgs to get the impression we are used
to see Do-Khys here in Europe.
With one exception all were long legged dogs, with strong bones, big
paws of medium length and strong chests (with not much flesh on them due
to starving)…and two of them that belonged to local innkeepers looked
more like Do-Khyis we are used to, just because these two had ample food
Majority of Do-Khiys were of very good & sound structure, very
balanced and with a very normal angulation of hind legs.
Except of some that were injured, others were excellent light-footed
Tail carriage depended upon the mood of the dog, if alert or in a slow
gait the tail is carried in a curl over the back.
These dogs are having strong, rather big heads, with a good stop and
a blunt, quite deep muzzle, and a strong underjaw, accentuated with
slightly pedulous upper lips.
The bites of the three dogs I managed to look at (with the help of their
laughing owners) were all tight scissors, almost level.
Coats tend to differ a bit in length, mostly they are medium length and
a few are having longer coats, and some had a nice mane.
Coats are cared for …by the weather and nature …
Meeting these dogs in June, they were all in various stages of molting,
quite some of them already in the shorter summer coat already.
The amount of the dead hair on dogs clearly showed how thick their
undercoat is during winter.
The common colors of Do-Khyis in this part of Tibet are black and tan
(medium tan being usual), followed by black (often with a small white
mark on the chest) and reddish gold sables, but the sabling in adult
dogs is not showing much black tipps.
Some of these golds had darker mask, mostly just a bit more than the
dark muzzle, more common being the ones without a mask.
There was not a single Do-Khyi with more than a white marking on chest
and/or minor white on paws. I haven't met any chocolate or blue (and
When talking with Tibetans about Do-Khyis I was told repetedly that bl &
tan is the most »special« color, as these dogs have the second set of »eyes«
that never sleep, other colors being »OK«.
Temperaments of the dogs I met were with few exceptions rather reserved.
They would appear very fierce especially when chained or when around the
tents or houses of their owners. But as soon as the owner, even a child,
would tell them to keep quiet, they calmed down.
On the other hand they appear very different when met alone out on the
road or pastures. Quite a few times I was not able to get near to them
as they simply went away from me, showing no aggressiveness.
The very best Do-Khyi I met lives near a
bigger village named Paryang. A strong, lovely, young less than a year
old male was friendly and playful even with Europeans, as he lives in a
guesthouse beside the caravan route.
I wish I could take him with me……
Again a normal term Tibetans I met used for their hunting dogs,
which all were decidedly of one – sighthound type
I first met a pack of Sha-Khyis tied around some nomad tents near
the ferry on Yarlung Tsangpo.
There were five or six adults and soon I learned they are not only
good hunting dogs.
In type and size they are very much like Salukis with almost no
fringes, but not very short coats either, maybe slightly stronger
muzzles and skulls than we are used to in Salukis.
The usual color of Sha-Khyis I met was white with some markings,
light gold, almost cream, some were white with black markings and I
saw an odd bl & tan one.
From what I have been told they are mostly used for hunting marmots,
hare and sometimes antilopes …….and pikas (kind of small rodent
with big ears), but these are hunt for supplementing their own diet.
Also the way they hunt is very similar to Saluki way of hunting,
browsing through the rocky terrain., being very independent in their
Sha-Khyis are much more scarce comparing to Do-Khyis, I met only two
nomad families with a pack of these dog. These two families did not
have big livestock herds, so hunting might be their primary way of
I met some more Sha-Khyis, but only one or two with some nomad
Unexpectedly these Sha-Khyis proved to be excellent watch and even
When I saw a few of Tibetan hunting
dogs lying around a nomad tent, I approached to make some photos. They
began barking and suddenly quite some more of these dogs run out of
the tent and in few moments I was surrounded by at least ten or
twelve of them, few older ones quite determined to bite. At that
point their owner came out of the tent .....
The very special experience was meeting the »big Apso«…or
if you like »Khyi-Apso«. (Tibetans simply call them »Apso«). I knew in
advance the part we went to is the part dr. Daniel Taylor-Ide found some
of these dogs and imported them to USA.I met only three of these dogs
that indeed look like a cross between a long legged Apso and a Do-Khyi.
These three were swifter movers as Do-Khyi's, so I would expect they
were lightly built under the coat…and interesting enough two of them
were very fierce (and tried to bite our jeep) even when not near their
owners or tents.
Luckily I found and make photos of a nice old lazy one in the settlement
under Chiu Gompa near lake Manasarovar.
One more detail about dogs in west Tibet…I haven't met a single dog that
looked at least a bit like something »else«, like an »import«…..no
wonder as in these places even Chinese are quite rare.
Some Do-Khyis have them some do not. Collars that Do-Khyi's have are
mostly red colored and have long fringes of yak hair.
I met were having collars of yak hair but with shorter fringes than the
ones made for Do-Khiys, mostly of black color and often with a few
From what I understood, the term »Kekhor«
is not known in this part of Tibet.
Dogs in Nepal
On our way to and from Tibet we stayed in Nepal, mostly
in Kathmandu and villages along the route to Tibet ….and again I went to
look for Tibetan dogs and dogs as such.
Tibetan dogs in Khatmandu are generations down from the dogs that came
to this country mainly with refugees decades ago and very few if any new
dogs comming from Tibet are added. So chances to get a nice Tibetan dog
puppy in Nepal are getting slim every day.
The »pure« Tibetan dogs are considered very valuable and sold for prices
up to USD 1.500,00, which is big money in Nepal.
On the other hand for Tibetan refugees Tibetan dogs are an important
part of their heritage and they are very fond of them, keeping
especially the small dogs, mostly Lhasa Apsos, and I saw a few longer –legged
Apsos (the ones we call Tibetan Terriers).
When visiting the School for Tibetan refugee children near Bodhnath,
Khatmandu I met the best specimen, a white Lhasa Apso with
some black markings, lovely type and head expression, excellent coat
texture, good natured, maybe because he lives in his masters inn.
For me the most magical experience was
meeting a gold dog of Tibetan Terrier type walking around the big Stupa
of Bodhnath with his mistress, an old Tibetan lady, following her on the
usual evening prayer.
When in a taxi
heading to the hotel one evening I saw a Do-Khyi of nice type being out
on the evening walk with his master…of course, this one was on the lead.
I hope that my photos will tell you some
more about these fascinating dogs and their country.
Another very interesting article describing an effort of Mr. Wong to
pool of Tibetan dogs in east Tibet and south China. Original:
Preserving the Tibetan Mastiff
The Wall Street Journal yesterday (3/10/06) did a
feature on China Exploration and Research Society founder Wong How Man’s
effort to preserve the Tibetan Mastiff, threatened by mixed breeding
opportunities created by new roads and towns.
GUJI VILLAGE, YUNNAN PROVINCE, China—Wong
How Man is rounding up the toughest puppies he can find. For the
past two years, he has spent weeks at a time scouring the
Tibetan plateau for mastiff puppies with bushy tails, big heads
and very bad dispositions.
One of the world’s oldest breeds, the dogs have
long guarded their Tibetan owners from wolves and bandits. But true
Tibetan mastiffs are under siege from another adversary: smaller
dogs. New roads and towns have brought mixed-breed canines to the
plateau, and they’re diluting the mastiff gene pool.
“It’s a totally out-of-control situation,” says Mr.
Wong, 56 years old, an explorer and conservationist.
The Hong Kong native has been a guardian of
China’s nature and culture for two decades, as founder of the
nonprofit conservation group China Exploration and Research Society.
Last year, he led an expedition that found a new source of the
Yangtze River. He’s also documented the vanishing Ewenki nomadic
hunting tribe, the only ethnic group in China to raise reindeer.
Mr. Wong’s current obsession is preserving the
massive mastiff in its native Tibetan habitat. About six years ago,
he noticed that the dogs were getting smaller, their barks higher-pitched—indications
that they were mixing with mutts and other breeds like German
shepherds. He also had the worrying realization that they no longer
pursued his car.
Another issue: their rising popularity as status
symbols. “They want Hummers; they want Tibetan mastiffs,” says Mr.
Wong of China’s wealthy urban dog owners. Often, the best dogs fall
into the hands of commercial breeders. They’ve even become the
target of thieves.
No one keeps data on the number of Tibetan
mastiffs in China, although it is widely agreed that purebred ranks
are in decline. Rather than see the best dogs leave their native
habitat, Mr. Wong is dedicated to finding pups, breeding them and
then placing their offspring in the care of Tibetan villagers. The
dogs are “an integral part of the plateau,” he says.
Tibetan mastiffs have awed animal lovers through
the ages. Thirteenth-century explorer Marco Polo, traveling through
China’s Sichuan province, described them as “so fierce and bold that
two of them together will attack a lion.” The iconic dogs were later
used as diplomatic gifts. In 1847, the British governor of India
sent Queen Victoria a male named Brut. President Dwight D.
Eisenhower received two from the Foreign Ministry of Nepal in 1958.
Mastiffs still play a key role in Tibetan society.
Nomads who live off their cows and yaks rely on the dogs to guard
the herds. The best specimens, they believe, should have a bark low
and loud enough to terrify intruders. Called “dohkyi,” which means “gate
dog,” in Tibetan, they can reach 150 pounds and stand 2 feet tall.
Mr. Wong remembers his first mastiff sighting, in
1982, on the plateau of western Sichuan province. The giant black-and-brown
dog had a bark “from deep,” he recalls.
In the summer of 2004, Mr. Wong led his first
mastiff expedition on the plateau, covering 3,700 miles over almost
four weeks. There, he and a team of 16 dog seekers scoured the
grasslands for nomads’ black yak-hair tents. “Where there is a tent,
there are dogs” tethered outside, explains Zhang Fan, the research
society’s China director.
The group roamed at elevations of around 14,000
feet. Many lowland dogs, lacking the Tibetan mastiff’s efficient
oxygen intake, have a hard time penetrating such high altitudes. Out
of some 200 dogs sighted, the team bought five puppies from nomads
that appeared to be purebreds. They paid $400 for the female they
dubbed Aiyee, or “Auntie,” because she looked older than her age.
Chili, a male, was a bargain at $120. That’s considerable cash for
the nomads, who measure their assets in yaks; one yak is worth about
Though the dogs are technically domesticated,
tempers flared and leashes frayed on the way back to base camp in
Zhongdian. “Aiyee got very upset,” says Mr. Wong, recalling how the
then-four-month-old dog chased down a monk, tearing into his red
robes before six team members subdued her.
Today, eight adult Tibetan mastiffs and three
puppies live at a newly built CERS-funded kennel in
Guji Village in Yunnan, about 80 miles from the Tibetan border.
Three times a day, the dogs dine on a soupy mix of rice, cabbage and
yak bones. The Saturday special is yak-milk cheese. Spring will see
the construction of a landscaped playground.
Mr. Wong hopes that this 11,500-foot-high site,
with its thin air and icy nights—temperatures can fall to 14 degrees
Fahrenheit—will keep his dogs tough.
He plans to start giving puppies away to Tibetan
families next year. Villagers from Guji have already asked for them,
with the understanding that they must keep a few generations of the
offspring rather than sell them.
Mr. Wong, who draws a salary as president of the
CERS, raises money from corporate sponsors as well as a
circle of private patrons. These include Hong Kong business elites
like Marjorie Yang, chairman of textile giant Esquel Group.
Every fall, Mr. Wong hosts informational dinners
in a cavernous Hong Kong ballroom, where prime patrons sponsor
tables for about $13,000. To raise additional funds, he auctions off
yak-hair blankets, photographs (Mr. Wong used to shoot for National
Geographic magazine) and trips to exotic destinations. So far, he’s
spent about $125,000 for the mastiff effort.
In its quest to find and raise the most authentic
mastiffs, Mr. Wong’s team looks for big heads, broad muzzles and
thick forelegs, as well as tan spots above the puppies’ eyes.
Tibetans consider such marks lucky because they’re viewed as an
extra set of watchful eyes.
“The most important thing is character,” says Qiju
Qilin, a 54-year-old CERS staff member. “Tibetans don’t
like mastiffs if they aren’t aggressive.”
Their hardy, macho nature has won them other fans.
Chinese dog lovers prize the mastiff purebreds as symbols of status
and patriotism. Breeders have been combing Tibetan communities in
recent years, paying thousands of dollars for good mastiff studs and
shipping the offspring to big cities such as Beijing.
Appreciation for the dogs is spreading. Though
Tibetan mastiffs are a relatively new breed in the U.S., they’re
slated to receive full recognition from the American Kennel Club
within a year, which means that the breed will be able to compete
for titles in shows.
American Tibetan-mastiff owners note the breed’s
fierce protective qualities—as well as their limitations as pets. “This
is a dog you would get to discern the inner motivations of the
people in front of you,” notes Mary Fischer, an Egyptologist who
keeps two of the massive dogs in her California home. New York
lawyer Martha Feltenstein, owner of six mastiffs, says “I no longer
have dinner parties.”
Although he’d rather see the dogs thrive in their
natural habitat, Mr. Wong acknowledges that the growing interest in
the breed isn’t all bad. If more villages become famous for having
purebreds, he figures, they could host Tibetan-mastiff festivals and
attract dog lovers from around the world. “If they ever have the
Winter Olympics in Tibet,” he adds, “I would like this to be the
FCI = Fédération
Cynologique Internationale -
UCI = United Kennel
Club Internationale -
cynology organizations (they are not in FCI)
(from them UK
cooperating with FCI)
AKC = American
Kennel Club -
C.K.C = Canadian
Kennel Club -
NKC = National
Kennel Club -
NZKC = New
Zealand Kennel Club -
Continental Kennel Club -
APRI = American
Pet Registry Inc. -
ACR = American
Canine Registry -
KC (UK) = The
Kennel Club -
Another the most
considerable national cynology organizations:
Kennel Club -
clubs TD in world and here
important clubs of TD in Europe, America a Asia and references
Mastiff Associacion -
Northwest Tibetan Mastiff Association -
Mastiff Club of America -
Tibetan Mastiff Club -
Club of Great Britain
Mastiff Club Nederland
Le Club Francais
du Dogue du Tibet
Klub fur Tibetische Hunderassen e.V.
Tibetan Mastiff Club
structure of division have in India over
Kennel Club of
according to areas (of states), e.g.
or another org.
and example of
good stallion station in India
and example of
good stallion station in China
Breeder clubs in
CZ are organized in Club of Tibetan Dog and in Club of breeders of
little count breed.
These two only
are members of ÈMKU (Bohemian and Moravian
cynolog unia) and that is as only member of FCI (international
Club of breeders
of little count breed http://www.kchmpp.cz/
Club of Tibetan
In fine some
foreign stallion stations from them come ascendants of our dogs:
de la Tour
du Jardin des
Khyi des Trois Rois
important are in Links.