How is your Tibetan mastiff business?
There are about 15 dogs on my farm, aged from one to four years old, all of which were bought from Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province . I built the kennel in Wujiang , Jiangsu, because it is forbidden to raise large animals in Shanghai and I happened to find a remote countryside garden here. I hire one old farmer to feed the dogs every day, and I commute from Shanghai to the farm to have a look at my dogs twice a week. I sell pups each winter and spring, as well as charge other Tibetan mastiff owners who want to send their dogs for breeding. I price a pup at between 6,000 to 50,000 yuan, which is much lower than what they cost in Beijing, where several Tibetan mastiff breeders have formed an alliance to lift up the trade. People buying Tibetan mastiffs are entrepreneurs based in Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang , and they want to own the dog to show off their wealth.
Why is a Tibetan mastiff expensive?
They are actually guard dogs raised by Tibetan herd families to protect their sheep. It can fight against any other bigger and powerful species, and dares to bite anything - no matter how hard that material is. I remember about three years ago when I visited a family in Qinghai to select dogs, eight Tibetan mastiffs severely chewed up my jeep. The rear-view mirrors were not only smashed completely, but also one connecter to the car was almost bitten off. The dogs are also loyal to its owner and will take on anyone showing hostility to the owner. Prices have soared dramatically over the past four years. At a Tibetan mastiff fair in Qinghai this summer, more than 70 dogs were bought at the price of at least 1 million yuan. I heard there were two highly-pursued Tibetan mastiffs worth more than 20 million yuan each and to breed with either of them costs about 300,000 yuan. Those expensive dogs should have good genes and have a qualified appearance. We industry players think a Tibetan mastiff looks beautiful when it has a big head, a wide mouth, eyes slanting down towards the side of the face, a well-proportioned body and wide breast. It doesn't matter whether it is tall or not. I think they are so expensive due to speculation. So more and more people have become interested and joined the market.
What are your hopes for the industry?
I hope the trade becomes more regulated and normal than its current overheated state. I've heard that many Henan pig farmers have switched to raising Tibetan mastiffs, lured by the huge profits. They said a pig could earn them just hundreds of yuan, but a Tibetan mastiff would bring more than 10 times as much. Other beneficiaries are herding families in Tibet and Qinghai, who are even encouraged by local governments to raise the dog and quit farming.
How did you get into the industry?
I graduated with a bachelor's degree in 2002 and worked as an agent selling commercial property and later pharmaceuticals in Shanghai. When I first saw a picture of a Tibetan mastiff in 2004 I was deeply attracted to it, even though I had never kept a dog before. I can't help buying a beautiful Tibetan mastiff as long as I have enough money. To date I have spent more than a million yuan buying the dogs for my garden. My parents and my wife said there was something wrong with me for making such an investment.
What are your plans for the future?
Since my childhood I had wanted to set up my own business. Recently a list of the mainland's 100 richest people was issued and I hope to be among them one day. I will migrate to Canada next year because I like the sound social benefits there. In the future I will return to China to do business and I will still be able to live a good life with my pension even if my company goes bust. Of course I will try to keep one or a few Tibetan mastiffs.