China's latest luxury obsession: Tibetan mastiffs

Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:44am EDT
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By Tyra Dempster

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Hailing from the Himalayan plateau, the lion-like Tibetan mastiff has become China's latest expensive indulgence.

The shaggy, 82 kg (180 lb) dog, known for its loyal but fierce disposition, has become the latest accessory for the country's legions of wealthy who are snapping up prime real estate, diamonds and luxury cars as the rest of the world slowly recovers from the fallout of the global economic crisis.

You Wenfa, owner of a mastiff breeding farm on the outskirts of Beijing, saw potential profits from the enormous hounds and purchased his first dog in the early 1990s.

You currently has over 40 dogs and goes back to Tibet every year to seek prospective additions to his stock.

He also provides breeding services and charges up to 100,000 yuan ($14,650) for a session with one of his pedigrees.

"This is like a car. You drive a German Mercedes or BMW and I drive a Chinese Xiali or mini van. Everybody has their own choices," he told Reuters.

"These dogs at the moment are a kind of choice for status and wealth," said You, whose pure breed mastiffs can fetch up to 300,000 yuan each.

Tibetan mastiffs hit the headlines last year when a buyer in China's western Shaanxi province paid 4 million yuan for a mastiff cumbersomely named Yangtze River Number Two.   Continued...

<p>A Tibetan mastiff, valued at around 1 million yuan ($120,000), looks on during an auction of 19 purebred Tibetan mastiffs in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province May 13, 2006. REUTERS/China Daily</p>