The ancient and rare $2 million Tibetan mastiff breed

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

red-haired Tibetan mastiff
A furry, red-haired Chinese Mastiff.

If you’ve ever seen an adorable puppy at the local pound or pet store, you know first-hand how irresistible their pleading eyes and loving licks can be. Apparently, a rare Tibetan mastiff puppy in China was cute enough to attract an almost $2 million purchase from an ultra-rich property developer! As for the previous record-holder for priciest dog, a red mastiff named “Big Splash” made quite the splash in 2011 when the pooch was sold for $1.5 million. So, what’s the biological history behind these lion-like canines, and how did the “Ferraris” of the dog world end up commanding mega prices as a symbol of luxury?

Well, the dog breeder who sold the super expensive, 200-pound, 31-inch high, and golden-haired doggie says, “They have lion’s blood and are top-of-the-range mastiff studs.” However, the claim about “lion’s blood” is more myth than fact, but the purest of these Tibetan mastiffs can trace their family roots back to ancient China and wolves from 58,000 years ago. Over the centuries, owners of the breed have included the Mongolian conqueror Genghis Khan, who reportedly had 30,000 of them in his army when he tried to take over Western Europe in the 1200s, and even King George IV and Queen Victoria owned them.

These enormous furballs do have a mane of hair that resembles a lion, and their high quality genes, which are the blueprints in our cells passed down from our parents that tell our bodies how to grow, create fewer health problems than most breeds. Not only do the doggies live up around 14 years, they’re quite large, with the heaviest Tibetan Mastiff ever recorded weighing in at about 280 pounds. Owners keep the beasts lean and muscled by feeding them a steady diet of animal guts, powdered egg shells, boiled fish heads, raw bones, and cod liver oil. With huge vocal abilities, their bodies produce deep barks that rattle foes and their furry coats often shed to keep cool.

While they are very rare, since there’s only about 300 Tibetan Mastiffs in the UK for example, the ridiculous prices are thought to be the result of dog breeders secretly hyping each other up to make profits. Other factors do come into play for the extra cost, though, since red is thought to be a lucky color and the dogs are considered holy animals that bring good health and fortune to their owners. In fact, Tibetans actually believe the canines have the souls of monks and nuns who weren’t pure enough to ascend into heavenly Shambhala! My question is, why aren’t these bad boys dominating competitions like the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show?