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Tibetan mastiff is sold for record price in China

March 16, 2011 |  5:38 pm

Tibetan mastiffs, a breed of dog whose original purpose was guarding livestock in the Himalayan mountains, have a new and seemingly unlikely occupation: status symbol.

Owning one of the large working dogs has become a way for the wealthiest residents of China to demonstrate their financial success, much like fancy cars and couture clothing are symbols of wealth in the U.S. Now, a red Tibetan mastiff named Hong Dong (translation: "Big Splash") has become the world's most expensive pet. Hong Dong's breeder sold the 11-month-old, 180-pound male dog to a Chinese businessman for the princely sum of $1.5 million, CBS News reports.

According to the breeder, Lu Liang, the astronomical cost for Hong Dong was not unreasonable. "We have spent a lot of money raising this dog, and we have the salaries of plenty of staff to pay," the U.K.'s Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

The Tibetan mastiff became part of the American Kennel Club's Working group in 2006, but even after receiving official AKC recognition, the breed remains relatively rare in the U.S. It ranked 124th out of 167 on the AKC's list of most popular breeds, determined by registration statistics, in 2010.

According to its national breed club, the Tibetan mastiff is "a highly intelligent breed [that] has the ability to adapt to a variety of functions, but it is a breed [that] has been making its own decisions for thousands of years" and can be difficult to train because of their natural independence.

RELATED POSTS ABOUT DOGS:
Scottish deerhound: What the breed — best in show at Westminster — is all about
Westminster dog show 2011: The hair makes the dog

-- Lindsay Barnett

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