Tibetan Mastiff Fever Sweeps China
Majestic breed becomes status symbol
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2009 3:50 AM CST
Updated Dec 21, 2009 5:25 AM CST
A Tibetan mastiff takes the stage during a Tibetan mastiff show in Wuhan, China.    (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – A dog bred to guard farms and herds on the Tibetan plateau has become the latest status symbol for China's wealthy elite. Purebred Tibetan mastiffs, one of the biggest breeds of dogs, can sell for over $500,000 in China. Celebrity mastiffs, weighing in at close to 180 pounds, can command tens of thousands of dollars for stud fees and are met at airports by fans.

A wider rise in pet ownership in China is credited with moves toward more effective animal welfare laws, although some advocates are opposed to mastiff fever. "It's cruel to let them leave their habitat," the head of Beijing's Animal Welfare Association tells USA Today. "We should send all of them back" to their native area.