World’s Most Expensive Dog? ‘Tibetan Mastiff Bubble’ Bursts in China

A Tibetan Mastiff in China. (Image: Timquijano/Wikimedia Commons)
A Tibetan Mastiff in China. (Image: Timquijano/Wikimedia Commons)

As the Chinese regime makes a show of clamping down on corruption and luxury living, even dog breeders are being affected.

Traditionally a watchdog for herders, the Tibetan Mastiff became a status symbol for wealthy people in China to show off in the 1990s. But farms in Tibet have noticed a big downturn in business these past couple of years.

State media Xinhua published an article about a breeder called Luo Yi near Lhasa who used to have five farms after starting out in 2002. He had about 600 dogs, and business was booming between 2007 and 2012 with adults selling for up to 800,000 yuan (about $131,000).

In early 2014, one of these deluxe pets was reported to have sold for 12 million yuan ($1.9 million), making it the world’s most expensive dog. Businessmen often gifted them to officials in the Communist Party, as well as cash and other luxuries to sweeten deals.

“But now businessmen don’t dare to buy it,” Luo said. “Even if they do, the officials won’t accept it.”

Sales have been going down since 2013, and Luo now has only 300 of these lion-like hounds on three farms, and about one-third less workers.

The report quoted statistics from a couple of Tibetan Mastiff associations in the Tibet-Qinghai region. Apparently there were nearly 100 farms in Tibet selling almost 10,000 dogs prior to 2012, but only 66 farms are left with around 3,000 animals. Similarly, in Qinghai the number of farms dropped from about 3,000 to 1,000.

Farms in other parts of China are also losing money, and many have closed. Apart from the anti-graft campaign, the industry has been affected by restrictions in cities like Beijing and Shanghai where breeding is now banned because some dogs attacked and even killed people.

Also as the number of breeders increased with people trying to cash in on the trend, many puppies were either highly inbred or mixed with other breeds.

Luo Yi added: “I love to stay with the mastiff dogs, and won’t give up regardless of how low the price is.

What should be stopped is people’s modern-craze for this holy animal.

Research by Mona

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