April 18, 2015

Tibetan Mastiff: from prized possession to discarded status symbol

It's terrible when an ancient dog breed becomes a commodity, but it's even worse when that fad is over. It's still worse when this happens in China, where the dog in question may end up in a slaughterhouse rather than a shelter.




The NYT reports that Tibetan Mastiffs, which until recently fetched thousands of dollars as a status symbol characterized as "intelligent" but also "brutal" (and clearly not dogs not suited to living with an average dog owner), now end up in slaughterhouses, where they might be "rendered into hot pot ingredients, imitation leather and the lining for winter gloves."
In some ways, the cooling passion for Tibetan mastiffs reflects the fickleness of a consuming class that adopts and discards new products with abandon. Famed for their ferocity and traditionally associated with free-spirited Tibetan nomads, mastiffs offered their ethnic Han Chinese owners a dose of Himalayan street cred, according to Liz Flora, editor in chief of Jing Daily, a marketing research company in Beijing. “Fads are a huge driving force in China’s luxury market,” she said, adding that “Han Chinese consumers have been willing to pay a premium for anything associated with the romanticism of Tibet.”


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