Tibetan Mastiff raising questions about animal welfare

These rare dogs are a sign of status in China. CC by Mimayin/Wikmedia Commons

Tibetan Mastiff dogs are becoming more and more popular in China, and that has some people very worried. The Tibetan Mastiff is considered the protector of Tibet, and a sign of prosperity. With price tags as high as $600,000 for a purebred animal, Tibetan Mastiffs are concerning some animal welfare activists.

How the Tibetan Mastiff is seen in China

At one point, the Tibetan Mastiff was considered a holy animal by Tibetans. Having a Tibetan Mastiff is considered a sign of security. Some Tibetan Mastiff dogs are huge, reaching 180 pounds or more. Finding Tibetan Mastiff purebreds is difficult. Some breeders will even poach purebred Tibetan Mastiffs if they find them.

Expense of a Tibetan Mastiff

Owning a dog in China used to be banned. Having a dog is often considered a pure and simple status symbol. Animal ownership is no longer banned, but it takes months and hundreds of dollars to license them. Both the neighborhood community and police security bureau must approve the dog before it can be registered. The yearly registration renewal must include passport photos, registration documents, even proof of home ownership. In short, owning a dog in China is an expensive and difficult proposition on top of the high cost.

Mastiffs as a status symbol?

The Tibetan Mastiff is viewed by many breeders and owners as slightly more than just pets. The couple that purchased the dog known as Yangtze River Number Two keeps their $600,000 dog in a cage. In Beijing, the International Center for Veterinary Services calls the obsession “dangerous.” It’s noted that many of these so-called “pets” are put on display more than treated like pets. Many breeders and owners point out that they spend extensive amounts of time and money caring for these pets.

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