|The Tibetan Mastiff is a rare and ancient breed credited with being the founding stock of many of today's giant breeds such as the Newfoundland and St. Bernard. It is also believed to be the foundation of many guardian breeds. First Western records of the breed are dated back to Marco Polo in 1270's. So taken was Polo with the breed that he had his own Tibetan Mastiff to accompany him on his travels.
Unlike man made breeds, the Tibetan Mastiff seems largely unchanged from those accounts recorded by Marco Polo. The bitches cycle annually, unlike the majority of the modern breeds. Survival in native Tibet meant only the hardy and robust dogs lived to breed, ensuring a sound structure.
The Tibetan Mastiff has strong religious and cultural significance to the Tibetans. They believe, among other things, that the melon pips over the dog's eyes are the spirit eyes of the dog, which protect the owner from evil even as the dog sleeps. Tibetans revere the breed for their devotion to their master and his family and their defense of home and property.