PETALING JAYA, Selangor: Tibetan Mastiff is listed by China as the second class state protected animal and is also a type of rare species of dogs in the world.
This "oriental super dog" has become the most sought after pet in China today and each of them could fetch up to a few million yuan.
A rich Malaysian businessman has recently spent almost ten million yuan (approximately RM5 million) to import five Tibetan mastiffs to Malaysia. He has also hired two maids to specifically take care of these dogs as well as ten other expensive dogs in his possession.
His monthly "maintenance expenses" on the dogs are estimated at around RM13, 000.
Visiting pet saloon every week
Tibetan Mastiff is known as one of the oldest and the fiercest dog species in the world. It is an excellent guard dog and has been used to guard the properties of kings, heads of villages and other dignitaries.
Tibetan Mastiff is much loved by the Tibetans and is regarded as the dog of Gods.
An avid dog lover , the president cum founder of IPC Group Datuk Seri Liu Yun-lian started to get interested in Tibetan Mastiffs after learning about the many legendary stories around the dogs during the Eight-Nation Alliance battles against China.
After this, through the recommendation of a friend, he came into contact wtih Tibetan Mastiffs for the first time, and was determined to airlift them back to Malaysia.
Liu’s first Tibetan Mastiff is called "Boss" which is two and a half years old this year. He said the dog was so named because he was awed by the dog's dignified eye expressions when he first saw it.
"Boss" is also his most favourite among the dogs.
Liu has also kept four other Tibetan Mastiffs which are named "Princess," "The Second," "The Third (General)" and Ah Wang respectively.
Princess is the only female Tibetan Mastiff and the most gentle among his Tibetan Mastiffs, while The Second and Ah Wang are the "bodyguards" that would always accompany Liu for a walk.
Liu refused to disclose the actual prices of them, saying instead that the five of them cost an estimated ten million yuan (about RM5 million) based on the market price in China today. He said he would never sell them to other people as they were priceless to him.
Barking like a roaring lion
Liu said Tibetan Mastiffs were similar to ordinary dogs when they were not agitated, but they could bark like the roaring lions and the fur around their necks would stand up if they got really agitated.
He added that although Tibetan Mastiffs would protect their masters, they seldom acted like spoiled children. As they were hostile to strangers. Liu said he seldom invited friends to his house.
There are about 15, 000 Tibetan Mastiffs in China and most keepers are high income earners. In recent years, Tibetan Mastiffs have become very much sought after and their selling prices have soared.
It is said that some buyers have paid exorbitant prices in order to acquire Tibetan Mastiffs with gorgeous fur and those that have won prizes in dog contests.
Liu said he had refused to sell "Boss" at an offer price of ten million yuan (approximately to RM5 million) while he was in China two years ago.
Some say the prices of Tibetan Mastiffs could increase to 100 million yuan in the future.
However, as Tibetan Mastiffs have been listed as the second class state protected animals, their availability plunges drastically.
Expenses in keeping Tibetan Mastiff
Liu said the cost of airlifting each Tibetan Mastiff was equivalent to a business class ticket airfare. He spent one to two months building up the relationship with them, as they had been kept at the airport for seven days for observation since they were not accustomed to the strange environment.
As the dogs dislike hot weather, Liu has specifically set up an air-conditioned enclosure with round-the-clock air-conditioning for them to live in. He has also placed some ice cubes inside the water or next to their bodies to keep them cool.
He said these Tibetan Mastiffs looked after the house in shifts, and two of them would be tasked to guard the house any time of the day.
He admitted that their fur had changed slightly due to the of weather in Malaysia.
Liu feeds them dog food twice a day. Apart from that, he spends almost RM100 every day on each of the five Tibetan Mastiffs, including treatment fees at pet saloon, medical fees, food and electricity.
In addition, two maids have been hired just to take care of the dogs besides doing other domestic chores.
Communicating with Tibetan Mastiff
Liu likes to "communicate" with his Tibetan Mastiffs especially "Boss" through eye contacts after his work in a bid to release his stress.
He said he had communicated with "Boss" in a very spontaneous manner and he was not allowed to lose his temper as the dog would just give him a cold shoulder.
Liu has to be extremely careful when taking the dogs out for a walk in order to prevent them from attacking strangers.
He said he would tighten their leashes, leaving only about eight inches distance between his hands and their locks if he saw someone walking towards them.
It is curious that these five Tibetan Mastiffs would actually vie for Liu’s favour. They would roar if they are jealous of any of them.
Besides the Tibetan Matiffs, Liu has also kept more than ten other expensive dogs at home, including Samoyeds, Shih Tzus, etc.
He admitted that he was not really sure how many dogs he actually had in his possession. (Translated by LIM LIY EE/Guang Ming Daily)