Just Like Other Fads, the Chinese Are Ditching Tibetan Mastiffs

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Tibetan mastiffs are becoming a thing of the past for Chinese residents.

It seems like the market is over the massive breed, a dog that not too long ago was thought of a prestigious status symbol and being sold upwards of $250,000.

Now, the Tibetan mastiff is being dumped and neglected, with some being sold for a mere $5 to be slaughtered for imitation leather and other products, according to The New York Times.

Related: Chinese Millionaire Goes Broke Saving Dogs From Meat Trade

The outlet reports that the finicky nature of the Chinese market is in part to blame for the outcome. In the past citizens have one moment been hot for prestigious products like black Audis, high-rise luxury apartments and fancy watches and the next minute moved onto the next flavor. Tibetan mastiffs also are unfortunately on this list. While having a short attention span is one reason, another issue is the slowing economy and regulations set in place.

Certain Chinese cities have outlawed the breed, viewing the Tibetan mastiff as aggressive. Protective may be a better suited word. The dog was bred to protect flocks in Tibet from large predators making them extremely territorial. This sort of loyalty may not be suited for cities where thousands upon thousands live in close quarters.

“Unless they’re very well socialized as young dogs, they have the potential to be protective in situations that are not threatening,” Hong Kong-based vet and animal behaviorist Dr. Cynthia Smillie told CNN back in 2013. “They can be quite reactive to perceived threats although they’re very gentle with their own families and even with children.”

To demonstrate this statement, CNN told the story of Tiger, a 187-pound mastiff required to live on the roof of an apartment building. After the dog attacked a neighbor, an incident that caused 20 stitches, the owner resorted to locking up the dog in a huge cage on the roof.

Besides this story highlighting the territorial concept, it also illustrates the fact that these dogs are not made for city life in Hong Kong and other major metropolitan areas. With the average apartment size being a meager 484 square feet, some might deem having a huge dog in such a tiny space cruel. And the humid weather doesn’t suit a dog with a huge mane, one made for cooler temperatures.

These changes and new outlook has been hard on the Tibetan mastiff industry, according to The New York Times. Half of the breeders in Tibet are gone and the asking price has plummeted to around $2,000, which isn’t a lot when full-grown dogs can eat upwards of $50 to $60 worth of food a day. This is feeding the cycle, causing people to abandon these animals or give them away.

Fortunately, organizations like International Center for Veterinary Services and rescues are stepping up and saving some of these dogs. But their efforts can’t save them all.

Owners everywhere need to understand that having a dog is a commitment, not a flavor of the moment.

Related: In China, Vendors are Scamming People With ‘Tiger Dog’ Breed

H/T The New York Times

Image via Flickr