Photos: Rescued Chinese-Tibetan Mastiffs Are So Big That People Mistake Them for Lions

TIMEDecember 5, 2021

These massive golden pups are so large that strangers have mistaken them for lions while out on their daily walk, but their owner insists these “gentle giants” think they’re tiny lapdogs.

Owners Shaun Kingsnorth, 42, and partner Katrina Springs, 40, from Corby, Northamptonshire, live at home with their two Chinese-Tibetan Mastiffs: 2-year-old Bear and 1-year-old Amira.

The two pups are adored by passersby who often stop them for photos, and Shaun said the pair still squeeze on the sofa like they’re tiny lapdogs.

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“They’re honestly the most loving, loyal dogs,” Shaun said. “They are a bit of a handful because of their size—but both [are] just gentle giants.

“Everyone loves seeing them when we take them out for walks. We’ve had people double take and think we’re out walking lions because of their huge frame and golden manes.”

Amira weighs around 120 pounds (approx. 55 kg), and Bear weighs 164 pounds (approx. 75 kg). Male dogs like Bear can reach as large as 210 pounds (approx. 95 kg) when fully grown around age 5, roughly the same as an average adult man. On all fours, Bear is the same height as their youngest son, 6-year-old Ryan, and when up on his back legs, the pup stands as tall as Shaun—who is 6 feet.

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Shaun first spotted an advert for Bear on Facebook in 2019 when he was 6 months old after his previous owner had to give him up due to his mammoth size; so the couple took on the challenge of raising him.

The couple fell in love with the breed and were later contacted by a rescue center based in Romania that was looking for a home for Amira.

“I just fell in love with him [when] I saw him,” Shaun said. “We knew it was going to be a challenge because of his size. He was very protective at first, but it didn’t take long to train him.

“Now he’s so well behaved but still playful—he’s the gentlest dog.”

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After having Bear for six months and getting a handle on the breed, Shaun was contacted by a rescue charity in Romania.

They saw how well he did with Bear on Facebook and told him about a female Chinese-Tibetan mastiff they had called Amira who was looking for a home. Once again, the couple couldn’t resist and flew her over to join their family in the United Kingdom.

The couple raise the dogs at the family home, which they share with their kids, Kyle, 19, Bradley, 16, Shakira, 14, and 6-year-old Ryan.

Shaun said: “The kids absolutely love them. Both dogs have grown so big and they’re still not fully grown. They take up the whole sofa or bed by themselves. Even if we’re sat on them, they’ll hop up and try and sit on your lap.

“I swear they think they’re tiny.”

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Epoch Times Photo

The pups eat a diet of beef, chicken, and steak, as well as a dry dog-food mix.

The family is often stopped on their daily walks by passersby who are fascinated by the dogs’ huge, fluffy manes.

Shaun said: “We live in quite a small village, so they’re the talk of the town. They’re not often found in the UK, so I think it’s quite a novelty.

“We can’t go out for a walk without people stopping to stroke them or take photos. The vet once said: ‘I’ve never seen dogs like that, are you sure they don’t belong in the zoo?’

“We’ve even had people stop and think we’re walking lions. Sometimes I feel like they actually are lions.”

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The dogs need to go out several times a day, and Shaun, who works as a builder on a local farm, often takes the pair of pups to work with him.

He said: “I’m very lucky to work where I do. While I’m working, I can let them run around the fields or go into the paddocks.

“I often see kids flocking to them at the bottom of the field—they love the attention. They’re the best dogs and we feel very lucky to have them.”

Katrina also fell in love with the dogs when she first spotted them on Facebook and has loved watching them grow.

She said: “It was Shaun’s idea to get the dogs and I’m so pleased we went for it. I fell in love with them as soon as we saw them online. It’s the gorgeous color of their fur—they’re so beautiful.

“They take up a bit of room but we barely notice anymore. They’re brilliant with the kids—our daughter is obsessed with brushing their fur. Both of them are a big part of the family and I couldn’t imagine not having them.”

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.

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