They say money can’t buy love – but £1million will get you man’s most expensive best friend. A red Tibetan mastiff has become the priciest dog in the world after being sold for 10 million Chinese yuan, or £945,000. Big Splash, or Hong Dong in Chinese, was bought by a coal baron from the north of China. And it’s lucky his new master is a multi-millionaire, because the hefty price tag doesn’t factor in Big Splash’s diet – enough chicken and beef to fill a growing 180lb dog, spiced up with Chinese delicacies such as sea cucumber and abalone.
Pricey pup: A Red Tibetan Mastiff called Big Splash has become the world’s most expensive dog.
His owner will need a big house too, as adult Tibetan Mastiffs have been known to weigh as much as 286lb, or more than 20 stone – the same as a sizeable rugby player. However the typical weight for a fully grown Tibetan Mastiff is around 13 stone. But according to breeder Lu Liang, Big Splash is a ‘perfect specimen’ and the extravagant price for the 11-month-old is completely justified. He said: ‘We have spent a lot of money raising this dog, and we have the salaries of plenty of staff to pay’ – adding that the new owner could charge almost £10,000 a time for Big Splash to breed with a female. The high price paid for the dog is a sign that the red Tibetan mastiff has become a status symbol in China, replacing jewellery and cars as a way for the super-rich to show off their wealth. Not only is red considered a lucky colour, but Tibetan mastiffs are thought to be holy animals, blessing their owners’ health and security. Tibetans believe the dogs have the souls of monks and nuns who were not good enough to be reincarnated as humans or into Shambhala, the heavenly realm.
Owners of the breed have included Queen Victoria, King George IV and Genghis Khan – who supposedly took 30,000 of the dogs with his army in his bid to conquer Western Europe.
Ancient breed: The dog is a descendant of animals kept by nomadic Chinese tribes.
These days there are only around 300 Tibetan mastiffs in the UK, and puppies sell for a more reasonable £850 to £1,000. James Pally, a Tibetan mastiff breeder from Pantymwyn near Mold in Flintshire, North Wales, said: ‘They are very smart and they think for themselves and can sense danger very acutely. ‘Tibetan mastiffs were originally used to guard the livestock and they are very good with other animals and they love children. ‘I have six of them and if you don’t give them enough attention they sit in front of the TV.’ The title of most expensive dog in the world was previously held by a Tibetan mastiff called Red Lion, who was valued at £915,000 last year.
Nouveau riche: Red Tibetan Mastiffs have become a status symbol for newly wealthy Chinese, with the country’s economic boom evident in the changing Beijing skyline
They live for up to 14 years and have fewer genetic health problems than many breeds. The heaviest Tibetan Mastiff weighed in at more than 20 stone. They are fed an organic diet of tripe, boiled fish heads, powdered egg shells, code liver oil and raw bones to help them clean their teeth. Marco Polo supposedly encountered Tibetan Mastiffs in the 13th century, describing them as ‘tall as a donkey with a voice as powerful as that of a lion’. There are only around 300 Tibetan Mastiffs in the UK. They can only have one litter a year. In the UK Tibetan Mastiffs cost between £850 and £1,000 for a puppy. An English Bulldog sells for around £2,000. It is thought the Tibetan Mastiff genetically diverged from the wolf 58,000 years ago.