A red Tibetan Mastiff has supplanted another canine of the same breed as the most expensive dog in the world. Red Tibetan Mastiffs have become a status symbol for the wealthy in China, a country where historically dogs have been more likely to be eaten. The red Tibetan Mastiff known as “Big Splash” went for more than $1.5 million and could cost its owner several thousand dollars a month in maintenance expenses.
A must-have for China’s super rich
The $1.5 million red Tibetan Mastiff “Big Splash,” Hong Dong in Chinese, was bought by a coal baron from the north of China. According to his breeder, the hefty price tag is justified, considering the investment required to produce such a creature. Among Tibetan Mastiffs, Big Splash is considered a perfect specimen. At less than a year old, the beast covered in bright red fur already weighs more than 180 pounds and stands three feet tall at the shoulder. He represents the latest peak in a Chinese trend of skyrocketing prices for red Tibetan Mastiffs. Among the new class of China’s super rich, the breed has supplanted fast cars and bling as the ultimate status symbol. As the world’s most expensive dog, Big Splash replaced another Tibetan Mastiff named Yangtze Number Two, who went for more than $600,000 in 2009. When he was sold, Yangtze Number Two arrived at his new home in a motorcade of 30 limousines.
Why Tibetan Mastiffs are revered in China
The money paid for Big Splash underscores the high regard for red Tibetan Mastiffs in China. The value of Tibetan Mastiffs in China has been rising about 500 percent annually the past few years. One of the oldest breeds in the world, legend has it that Gengis Khan and Buddha were big fans. In the 13th century, Marco Polo described Tibetan Mastiffs as “tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as a lion.” Red is considered a lucky color in China, and Tibetan Mastiffs are considered holy animals that bless their owners with health and security. The breed is protected in China, a country where most people would need an installment loan to buy a dog and prefer them for dinner rather than as pets. A law to ban eating dogs was proposed earlier this year in China, but most Chinese expect it will be ignored.
Outrageous cost of ownership
Tibetan Mastiffs are only owned by wealthy people because their ownership costs are very expensive. The dogs are bred in Tibet at altitudes of at least 12,000 feet. When Tibetan Mastiffs are sold to owners in China’s coastal regions, they need to be carefully adjusted to sea level. The dogs are also vulnerable to hot weather and need 24 hours of air conditioning in the summertime. Big splash enjoys a diet of chicken, beef and Chinese delicacies such as sea cucumber and abalone. Recently a rich Malaysian spent nearly $2 million importing five Tibetan Mastiffs. He hired two people to take care of them and spends more than $5,000 a month on their food and shelter.