Tibetan Mastiff vs Kangal: Looking for the Better Breed

Torn between the Tibetan Mastiff and the Kangal? Learn that both dogs are excellent at securing everyone’s safety. They are both large with awesome features and temperaments perfect for different types of families. However, their looks and other traits vary so much that you have to identify which one suits your preference. 

No breed is better than the other, but yet again, a certain breed is not for everyone. To learn about the Tibetan Mastiff and Kangal’s differences, read more below…

Breed Origins

Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff mainly comes from Tibet and other parts of Asia. He’s believed to be the descendant of other Mastiff-type dogs that existed thousands of years ago. Even though this canine is speculated to be around for several centuries, not much is known about his history before 1800. 

Nevertheless, we know certain information that could help us understand how he came to be. He developed into two types: the Do-Khyi and the Tsang-Khyi. Both kinds were commonly used as guardians. The latter was mainly for livestock guarding and the other, to protect the monks.

The first remarkable event involving the Tibetan Mastiff was when Queen Victoria received one as a gift from the Viceroy of India. Then in the 1950s, President Eisenhower received two Tibetan dogs. Unfortunately, these canines vanished from the public eye. Several more were gradually imported both in Europe and America which led to the formation of the first Tibetan Mastiff breed club in 1931. 


The Kangal or also known as the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is named after its homeland, the Kangal District of Sivas Province located in Central Turkey. People who professionally research this dog think that it was bred by villagers specifically to act as a guardian to their flocks against wild bears, jackals, and wolves.

Due to the place being secluded, the Kangal’s bloodline remains pure since no crossbreeding could occur. As a result, all Kangal dogs have a uniform look and temperament. Furthermore, observations suggest that this dog is almost free from genetic conditions.

The people of Turkey are proud to claim the Kangal as their national dog. You can find the image of this canine in their coins and stamps and certain universities give special attention to learning more about the said breed. It was during 1985 when David and Judith Nelson imported the first ever Kangal dog to ever arrive in the United States. They brought more eventually and started up a breeding program that served as a foundation for all Kangals in North America. 

Size, Appearance, & Coloring

Tibetan Mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff is one fluffy dog. He has a dense coat that goes thicker around his neck, almost mimicking the mane of a male lion. He has a gentle expression on his face which is composed of two folded ears, brown eyes, and a square muzzle. The thick, feathery tail curls from the back adding more splendor to his overall appearance.

The body is well-proportioned and it’s worth noting that despite his large size, he has tiny paws described to be cat-like. If measured on withers, its height can reach a minimum of 24 to 26 inches. The weight has to complement the figure which ideally ranges from 70 to 150 pounds. As it is with other dogs, females are less heavier and taller than males.

There is a wide variety of his coat colors and some can be a combination of two shades. The ones natural to this breed are:

  • Black
  • Black & tan
  • Brown
  • Brown & tan
  • Red gold
  • Blue-gray
  • Cream
  • Cream sable
  • Blue-gray & tan
  • Red gold sable
  • Blue-gray 


Photo from: aslan_zeyna_dreamteam (IG)

The Kangal dog possesses a short yet dense coat. During the colder months, his body will adjust to it and produce a thicker coat. As for his appearance, he has a black mask covering his muzzle and two black ears to complement this. The white parts have to be found only in the chin, chest, and feet. 

There are two eye colors possible for the Kangal and these are amber and brown. The nose is black and prominent on the face due to its contrasting color compared to his overall coat. Measurements include a range of 27 to 29 inches in height and 80 to 150 pounds in weight. 

His coat colors as recognized by several kennel clubs include:

  • Brindle
  • Blue fawn
  • Fawn 
  • Liver
  • Red fawn 
  • White
  • Biscuit white
  • Gray fawn 


Tibetan Mastiff

Strong, independent, yet ever-loyal to his owners. In raising a Tibetan Mastiff, acknowledging his innate traits will help you understand him and his needs better. Since he was originally bred to protect, you’d know that he’ll be very wary of other animals and people. This would require adequate socialization training, so he would become an approachable dog rather than a pet who gets aggressive often.

Moreover, he has a balanced combination of asking for attention and not wanting it at all. He loves to have his alone time yet he would occasionally look for his owner. In training him, know that you’ll be honing an extremely stubborn dog. He is a working dog that needs no constant instruction from someone, so establish leadership early on. 


This guardian dog loves to be around people. He gets bonded very quickly with the first family he knows, making it hard for him to adjust to a new one if ever he gets rehomed. Due to his history, his territorial instinct soars. He values the safety of his family and would often show a reserved attitude toward strangers.

He is great with kids, but this could change if he meets someone who’s not part of the family. This powerful dog needs to be in a secure place at all times or he could end up getting hostile toward others. Train him consistently and regularly to mellow down his extreme behaviors.

Exercise Needs

Tibetan Mastiff

The energy level is not that high for the Tibetan Mastiff. Like most large dogs, it’s not easy to constantly move a 150-pound body all the time. This doesn’t mean he’s work-shy, however. He prefers to muster up all the energy he’d need for his duty. Give him a minimum of one hour of exercise daily to keep him healthy and happy. If you walk him out, he has to be leashed or let him play a game of fetch in a fenced area.


A two-hour exercise is enough for this moderate-in-levels-of-energy dog. Exercises that can physically and mentally stimulate are beneficial for our Kangal. You can also take him out for a peaceful walk every late afternoon or early in the morning. You can incorporate exercise with training to keep it fun for him.

Grooming Requirements

Tibetan Mastiff

You might be surprised that despite the woolly coat the Tibetan Mastiff has, his shedding rate is low! He’s easy to groom and would only blow off his coat once a year. If anything’s overwhelming about him, it would be his size. You might need a helping hand to bathe him every 6 to 8 weeks or when he rolled in the mud.

He would require a high-quality brush to remove loose hairs and to even out his natural oils. Doing this will also help improve the condition of his hair and skin. Check out all other areas prone to infection as well and trim overgrown nails to prevent bad posture.


Working Kangals don’t need to be brushed often. However, those who are kept as indoor pets would need a weekly brushing of hair to keep all hair fall from accumulating inside your home. Daily brushing needs to be done when it’s the season for shedding. As for baths, he can be washed every 8 weeks or whenever he emits a doggy odor.

Health Issues

Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiffs mostly do well on quality food, exercise, and regular vet check-ups. These largely contribute to their overall health. Sadly, there are some genetic diseases this breed may suffer from such as:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Eye disorder
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Panosteitis 


There isn’t much major concern regarding the health of the Kangal breed. However minor health problems can still be present. This includes the following:

  • Tumors
  • Entropion
  • bloat
  • Hip dysplasia 

Breed Popularity

The American Kennel Club’s breed popularity ranking currently puts the following breeds in their respective orders out of 200 dog breeds:

Tibetan Mastiff: 131st

Kangal: 90th

How to Choose Which Dog Breed Should I Adopt

There is a huge difference between the coat quality of the Tibetan Mastiff and the Kangal, more so on their overall appearance. The one you’re more into should be considered. Next, see to it if you are capable of handling your initially chosen dog breed in terms of temperament. Others should follow such as the exercise, health, and grooming needs which will always be required.