China’s obsession with Tibetan mastiffs, pricey pooches that weigh nearly 200 pounds.
‘A holy animal’
The stuff of legend, the Tibetan mastiff is considered the guardian dog of the former Himalayan kingdom of Tibet and reputed to be the original source of many large dog breeds today.
“In China, people think of the Tibetan mastiff as a holy animal … a blessing to their health and security,” said Wen Li, a spokesman for www.1dutm.com, a website about Tibetan mastiffs, who helps organize dog fairs like the one in Tianjin.
In recent years, as China’s middle class has expanded and dogs have become more popular household pets, the appeal of Tibetan mastiffs has grown exponentially — so much so that fairs just for this breed take place several times a week during the three-month show season (the dogs shed during the summer, so the best time for breeders to present them is in the spring.) And as their popularity has grown, so have prices for top breeds — 500 percent a year.
In China, breeders say that adult Tibetan mastiffs typically sell for tens of thousands of dollars, with some going for more than $100,000, according to the Associated Press.