Once-prized Tibetan mastiffs, the must-have pet of years gone by, are now being abandoned by owners across China as their street cred runs dry.
The Tibetan mastiff, a shepherding dog native to the Himalayan highlands, would only a few short years ago sell for around $250,000 at auction to status-conscious Chinese. With the ownership craze for these unlucky dogs coming to an end, many now find their way destined for the slaughterhouse, the New York Times reports.
Liz Flora, editor in chief of Jing Daily, said that “fads are a huge driving force in China’s luxury market. Han Chinese consumers have been willing to pay a premium for anything associated with the romanticism of Tibet.”
In the case of the Tibetan mastiff, however, this love affair seems to be coming to an end. Mastiff breeders left in the business are finding it hard to sell the dogs, with the average asking price now as low as $2000, a fraction of the price they once fetched.
Last year, Shanghaiist reported on a Tibetan mastiff puppy which sold at the Zhejiang dog show for 12 million yuan ($2 million), 340 times the average Chinese income per capita.
In addition to falling out of favor with well-to-do Chinese, stories about attacks on humans and bans on breeding in major cities have also contributed towards curbing the mastiff’s popularity.
Ms. Peng, founder of the International Center for Veterinary Services in Beijing, has seen successive waves of dog fads but remarked “given the crazy prices we were seeing a few years ago, I never thought I’d see a Tibetan mastiff on the back of a meat truck.”
By Dominic Jackson