The nouveau riche in mainland China are fueling the trend for owning large dog breeds. Tibetain Mastiffs have reportedly been sold for as much as $750,000. The status-symbol puppies are now being smuggled into Hong Kong where the average flat is just 484 square feet. These protective dogs are being set up to fail in such tiny areas with strangers everywhere.
The Tibetan Mastiff was developed as a livestock guard to protect flocks against snow leopards and wolves, so the breed can become hostile towards anyone it considers to be a threat to its family pack. So imagine the behavioral difficulties for an active dog that's constantly housed in tight quarters without being taken on a simple daily walk due to space and social constraints.
Celebrity owners such as rock star Paul Wong has fueled a demand for the breed in Hong Kong and has created a thriving black market for them in mainland China. Other Hollywood movies have inspired other breed trends such as Dalmatians after the 101 Dalmatians movie, or Chihuahuas after the release of one of the Beverly Hills Chihuahua movies. These trends have created unsafe conditions for both humans and animals.
The Tibetan Mastiff trend is particularly troubling for a cold-weather breed trying to cope in the hot, muggy climate of Hong Kong. Coupled with crowded living conditions, it is not surprising that there are reports of them being surrendered to shelters or even being put down after a man sustained life-threatening injuries.
Keep in mind, this is a dog that is hardwired to be wary of strangers and to protect their charges at all costs. This is not a breed for the first-time dog owner no matter what the living situation is. This is a powerful dog that needs extensive socialization and training to be able to determine actual risks versus casual encounters. The exercise needs also must be met to keep the dog from being high strung and destructive.
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