The million dollar dog - Tibetan Mastiff

A record setting breed to take as seriously as its price tag


For a long time there was debate about which breed of dog was the most expensive and the most prized. Top contenders were the Argentine Mastiff – the Dogo Argentino, the Egyptian Pharaoh Hound, the rare purebred English bulldog, and the angelic looking Samoyed whose puppies routinely fetched a price of up to $11,000.


That question, however, has now been firmly answered after a Tibetan Mastiff named Hong Dong (Big Splash) was sold at a dog show in China for $1.5 million dollars. A price the new owner, a Chinese coal baron, is more than confident will be made back once Hong fathers some pups of his own. Puppies that are estimated will be worth $12,000 each.


The larger the dog the bigger the litter you can expect and the Tibetan Mastiff is one of the largest — often giving birth to as many as 12 puppies in one litter. With a potential to make $140,000 per litter that $1.5 million dollar price tag doesn’t seem so outrageous anymore.


Why is the Tibetan mastiff such a prized dog in China?


The most expensive dog breeds often have a few things in common; many are very large dogs, they often have a reputation for violence, and they possess certain qualities that can be selectively bred for. Think of the sloppy jowls of a bulldog, the curly coat of a poodle, or the perfectly triangular ears of a pharaoh hound.


If you take the world’s most popular dog, the Golden Retriever, it is difficult to pinpoint any one feature that would make an individual dog valuable. People are more interested in a good tempered Golden Retriever than one with a dazzling golden goat or long fluffy ears.

The Tibetan Mastiff, on the other hand, is something of a triple threat. They can weigh up to 160 pounds, they have a reputation as Genghis Khan’s chosen dogs of war, and they have several characteristics you can breed for.


In America you can pick up a Tibetan Mastiff pup for a few hundred dollars but they usually won’t have puffed-up red coats, deep set eyes like buried coal, or have quite the same tremendous size. In China especially they pay a lot for a Mastiff with those qualities — the more the dog looks like a fearsome lion the better.

The Tibetan Mastiff is a mythical creature


The Tibetan Mastiff is both a cultural icon in China and a worldwide status symbol for those rich enough to buy and look after them. In mythology each Tibetan Mastiff carries the soul of a monk or nun who failed to make it to the heavenly realm. It is a dog that has historically been seen alongside European royalty such as Queen Victoria and King George V.


If you ever plan on getting your own you need to be ready for the challenge. Keeping a Tibetan Mastiff happy can cost you as much as $1,000 a year in food and maintenance. They can also be hard dogs to train having the intelligence of a sheep dog, a rebellious nature, and the heft of a small man.


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