In the 1980s, Dalmatians were the most popular family and fashion accessory on the market. There was a Dalmatian breeding boom in the U.S. When the polka dotted pup trend was over, thousands of them ended up homeless and in shelters.
The same thing is happening to Tibetan Mastiffs in China – only it is much, much worse.
It was only 2 years ago that these fluffy pups were selling for upwards of $200,000, with one selling for $1.6 million.
Now that the fad is over, people are abandoning and sometimes killing this majestic breed.
Dog fads aren’t anything new and they certainly aren’t exclusive to China. We’ve seen it in America with Dalmatians, Chihuahuas and other breeds.
But the recent obsession over the perfect Tibetan Mastiff specimen got a bit out of control. Some owners enhanced their dogs’ features with plastic surgery to increase desirability. One dog died.
Due to the popularity and high price of the breed, some breeders resorted to irresponsible practices to churn out as many pups as possible. These breeders no longer bred for health or temperament and many were mixed with other types of dogs.
Consequently, there were frequent reports of Tibetan Mastiffs attacking and even killing people. Violence is not a typical characteristic of the breed. Some Chinese cities have banned these dogs.
Now that trends have shifted, the price of Tibetan Mastiffs has dropped to $2,000 and under. Half of the country’s breeders have gone out of business.
If it wasn’t breaking your heart enough to hear that these beautiful animals are ending up in shelters, you’ll be crushed to know that things are even worse for these dogs. They are being sold to a slaughterhouse for a mere $5 each. There they will end up as food or fake leather for clothing and accessories.
Not everyone is ready to abandon these dogs. The New York Times reports on the rescue of the Mastiff named Nibble:
“The rescuers who saved Nibble and the others from an ignominious fate said the conditions of the transport were appalling. Several of the mastiffs had broken limbs, and they had not been given food or water for three days. By the time the dogs were released from their cages — the volunteers eventually paid the driver for their freedom — more than a third of them were dead.”
Rescuers like Anna Li, who spearheaded the operation to save Nibble, aren’t totally on their own. You can fund their efforts through their IndieGoGo campaign and spread awareness on social media by tweeting with the hashtag #SaveTheMastiffs