Tibetan mastiff economy collapses

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, September 20, 2017
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The Tibetan mastiff, once a highly-desirable accessory for rich Chinese people to show off their wealth, has lost its charm. The bubble has burst and the once-hot market has turned freezing cold.

A photo shows stray Tibetan mastiffs waiting to be fed at a dog shelters at Maozhuang Township, Nangqen Couty, Qinghai Province, Aug. 20, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

A photo shows stray Tibetan mastiffs waiting to be fed at a dog shelters at Maozhuang Township, Nangqen County, Qinghai Province, Aug. 20, 2017. [Photo/VCG] 

A new China Central Television (CCTV) program cited a Beijing Youth Daily report revealing that this kind of large and powerful dog has become a headache on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

As the animal fell from grace, thousands were abandoned by their breeders to become stray dogs roaming along country roads and sometimes attacking people. Last November, a girl was mauled to death by a Tibetan mastiff in Qinghai.

The dogs traditionally were raised for sheepherding and as watchdogs by herders and known for their loyal but fierce disposition. However, a Tibetan mastiff craze began sweeping China in the 1990s.

In addition to stocks and real estate, they became preferred pets and investment options for the country's rich. The trade was a boon for related industries such as feed producers, dog shows and exhibitions.

As interest in the breed surged, so did its price. Normally, a pure blood mastiff could be sold for 30,000 to 50,000 yuan at the peak of the market, with some famous breeds selling for more than 200,000 yuan.

Chinese media once reported how a reddish brown pure-bred mastiff became so hyped that it was sold for 10 million yuan to a Chinese coal baron in 2011. Driven by profits, the number of breeders skyrocketed, leading to over-production of mastiff puppies.

According to data released by the regional Tibetan Mastiff Association, Tibet had 95 breeding farms, which could sell nearly 10,000 mastiffs annually before 2012.

Now, a Tibetan mastiff sells for only about 1,000 yuan, and many gold-digging breeders are looking for new profitable careers in other fields.

The CCTV program showed an example in Nangqen County, Qinghai Province. The local government of Maozhuang Township and the local Surmang Temple each raised 200,000 yuan (US$30,500) to build a dog shelter in 2015, which received about 1,200 stray dogs within only two weeks.

It still has over 600 mastiffs and the cost of keeping them tops 20,000 yuan each month.

The temple, which took major responsibility and footed the bills, faces heavy pressure in keeping the dog shelter going, and it called for donations of dog food to help out.

Besides stray dogs, it is also reported that a cruel scene is often seen in big dog shelters: when hungry, a Tibetan mastiff will eat others of the breed less strong in fighting.

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