Tibetan mastiffs, which once fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars each in the Chinese marketplace, are going out of style.
The New York Times reports that the lion-like dogs — all the rage among the wealthy in China just two years ago — are quickly becoming yesterday’s trend.
The reasons? A slowing economy for one, coupled with “an official austerity campaign that has made ostentatious consumption a red flag for anti-corruption investigators.” On top of that, the fad is doing what fads do — fade away, often, when it comes to dogs, with disturbing consequences.
About half of the country’s mastiff breeders have left the business, and those that are left are dealing with a surplus so severe that members of the breed can now be spotted on trucks laden with dogs headed to slaughterhouses.
About 20 mastiffs were on one such truck, with 150 other dogs, when it was stopped by Beijing animal rights activists who purchased the entire load from the driver and sent the surviving dogs to rescue organizations.
The Times says that, amid decreasing demand, the average asking price for mastiffs, which have reportedly sold for as much as $1.6 million, has dropped to around $2,000.
“If I had other opportunities, I’d quit this business,” said Gombo, a veteran breeder in China’s northwestern province of Qinghai. “The pressure we’re under is huge.”
Since 2013, about half the 95 breeders in Tibet have gone under, according to the Tibetan Mastiff Association.
“In some ways, the cooling passion for Tibetan mastiffs reflects the fickleness of a consuming class that adopts and discards new products with abandon,” the Times reported.
“Fads are a huge driving force in China’s luxury market,” Liz Flora, editor in chief of Jing Daily, a marketing research company in Beijing, told the Times. ”Han Chinese consumers have been willing to pay a premium for anything associated with the romanticism of Tibet.”
Other factors in the trend’s demise include unscrupulous breeders who mated purebred Tibetan mastiffs with other breeds, and the breed’s reputation of being aggressive.
Tibetan mastiffs are fiercely loyal, increasing the likelihood of attacks on strangers, experts say, and in the past couple of years some Chinese cities have banned the breed.
(Photo: Nibble, a Tibetan mastiff, was checked by veterinarians after being saved from the slaughterhouse by a group of animal rights activists; by Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 21st, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal rights, animals, breeders, breeds, china, dogs, fads, mastiffs, pets, slaughterhouse, status symbol, style, tibet, tibetan mastiffs, truck, wealthy
It’s a well-known but little publicized fact that some dogs competing at Westminster and in many other dog shows aren’t brought into the world in a 100 percent natural way.
Since the 1960s, breeders have been harvesting semen from male purebreds — one technique for which is demonstrated in the video above — and inserting it into females in hopes of creating champions.
The American Kennel Club, though it doesn’t allow cloned dogs to participate in the dog shows it sanctions, has no problem with permitting those who are products of artificial insemination.
Over the decades, as with artificial insemination in humans, the technology has progressed and become widely accepted. (My view is, if we are going to widely accept something, we shouldn’t balk at watching it.)
While some human, uh, effort is involved in the semen-gathering method depicted above, more state of the art techniques involve artificial vaginas and electro-stimulation. Even today though, to get the canine juices flowing, breeders commonly use a female dog in heat, parading her in front of the male. She’s referred to as a “teaser bitch.”
Breeders say practicing artificial insemination can help improve the quality of breeds. For sure, it gives them more control, allowing them to overcome logistical obstacles, such as when a male and female are living on opposite ends of the country. They can still have a long distance relationship, so to speak.
It allows a champion male to breed with many more females than would be physically possible through traditional one-on-one mating. It allows older male dogs to continue reproducing after they can no longer mount a female. And it allows a male dog to keep producing offspring long after his death, which is the case with a champion Old English sheep dog named Yoshi.
Yoshi, under his registered name, Lambluv Desert Dancer, won more best in shows than any other sheep dog. He won Best of Breed at Westminster three times, most recently in 1999. He died in 2006, but he could still be daddy to more than 100 future litters.
“I have about 100 straws,” his owner Jere Marder told Bloomberg.com, in reference to the frozen semen samples from Yoshi she has in storage.
No product of artificial insemination has won at Westminster, but last year’s runner up in Best in Breed was a dog created with 17-year-old sperm from one of Lambluv’s sheep dogs.
“Most serious breeders that I know of have something in store,” says Marder, who owns Lambluv Old English Sheepdogs. “If anything, it’s just a precaution; otherwise, if anything happens to your champion dog before you can breed him, you’re out a good chunk of money.”
“It’s definitely a market — and one that’s growing,” said Randall Popkin, owner of the California-based Breeder’s Veterinary Services, which has been storing frozen semen and inseminating dogs with it since 1984.
“When I first started, few breeders were doing this,” he said. “Nowadays, you travel to dog shows and there’ll be three companies there offering to freeze your dog’s semen.”
According to the American Kennel Club, the number of registered purebred litters conceived with frozen semen has risen by 26 percent over the past decade. In 2013, the year for which the most recent data is available, the AKC registered about 2,200 litters that were produced via artificial insemination. That’s about 1 percent of all AKC-approved litters.
The Bloomberg article notes there are downsides.
In 2009, a Pembroke Welsh corgi breeder sued an animal hospital after her dog was allegedly accidentally inseminated with sperm from a Great Pyrenees — a breed roughly five times her dog’s size. The corgi nearly died giving birth.
In addition, there have been lawsuits over samples that were damaged during shipping or produced puppies that didn’t look purebred. In 2012, a jury awarded $200,000 to a Pennsylvania breeder who had sued a veterinary hospital for accidentally defrosting more than 100 samples from her champion poodles.
Marder, who sat out Westminster this year, says she’d love to see one of dead Yoshi’s offspring win there someday. Doing so, the article said “feels to her as if she’s keeping her old dogs alive.”
(Photo: Yoshi, from the website Lambluv.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 19th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, artificial insemination, artificial vagina, breeders, breeding, breeds, dog shows, dogs, harvesting, pets, purebreds, semen, sheep dog, sheepdog, sperm, teaser bitch, westminster, yoshi
Backers of increased restrictions on dog breeders in North Carolina recorded a conversation with a state Senator who opposes the bill at a meeting earlier this month and, as a result, some Republican leaders say there will be no vote on a proposed puppy mill law this year.
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca said Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, was recorded without his knowledge during a private meeting, and that those who taped him planned to use the recording to “force” senators into passing the bill.
“It is wrong to secretly record private conversations with members of the General Assembly and then threaten to expose those conversations to the media to force legislators to meet specific demands,” Apodaca said. “That is nothing short of political extortion and represents a new low in lobbying for legislative action. To dignify those actions by moving ahead on this issue would set a dangerous precedent while condoning and encouraging these unethical tactics.”
Janie Withers, the community activist who recorded the Jan. 16 meeting with Rabon, said the recording wasn’t a secret. She said she routinely tapes meetings, and that the tape recorder was sitting in plain view to all, including Rabon.
The bill passed the House last year, and has been pushed by both Gov. Pat McCrory and his wife, Ann.
In the recording, Rabon, using more than a few expletives, criticized the McCrorys for publicly supporting the bill.
“It was bullied out of committee by the executive branch,” Rabon (pictured at left) says in the tape recording, obtained by WRAL-TV . “The executive branch had absolutely, absolutely no business sticking its nose in the legislature on that sort of issue.”
He said Ann McCrory’s advocacy, including a visit to the House chamber to watch the May 9 vote, was “against all laws. … There is a strong line between opinion and lobbying. When you pick up the phone and you are in a position of power and call individual legislators and offer advice or praise or this or that, you are, under the law, lobbying, and you must be a registered lobbyist in this state to do that.”
Coming across as a bit of an Alpha dog, Rabon makes it clear that he is against the bill, and that it would be unable to pass without his support.
“That bill is not going to pass,” Rabon, a veterinarian, told the group. “Angels in heaven cannot make that bill pass.”
He said he planned to introduce a “stronger” bill that he said would not negatively impact on hunters and livestock owners: “ … When I do it, it will be done at the right time, and it will pass,” he said. “I’m in the top five members in power in the Senate. The best shot you folks have ever had, you’re talking to.”
Gov. Pat McCrory and his wife, Ann, have both pushed for the legislation, which is designed to set minimum standards for people who keep at least 10 female dogs primarily to breed and sell the offspring as pets. McCrory urged its passage again on Monday.
“Just because someone uses foolish tactics, there is no reason to stop good legislation which needs to be passed here in North Carolina,” McCrory said.
(Top photo: From a 2012 puppy mill raid in NC, courtesy of Humane Society)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal welfare, animals, ann mccrory, apodaca, bill, bill rabon, breeders, breeding, dog, governor, humane, janie withers, law, legislation, meeting, north carolina, pat mccrory, pets, politics, proposal, puppy mill, rabon, recording, republican, restrictions, secret, senate, senator, tape recording, taped, wral
While he’s not viewed as particularly warm and cuddly by Democrats — at least when it comes to helping humans in need — N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory says he wants the public to adopt abandoned and mistreated dogs, and he and the first lady are opening up the governor’s mansion (or at least its yard) for an adoption event tomorrow.
McCrory is shown in this News & Observer video petting a pomeranian, seized in a recent puppy mill bust in Pender County.
Lexi will be among as many as 30 dogs — some coming from as far away as Greensboro and Charlotte to attend — who will be available for adoption at the event, which runs from 10:30 a.m.to 12:30 p.m. Saturday
While it seems odd protocol for an adoption event, anyone wishing to attend is asked to RSVP by today — by emailing email@example.com.
The governor and first lady Ann McCrory are also promoting a bill to set minimum standards for breeding operations.
While the proposal isn’t too tough, relative to measures passed in other states, it sets standards ensuring that dogs have daily exercise, fresh food and water, shelter and veterinary care at breeding operations with at least 10 females.
The measure passed the House but didn’t get heard in the Senate before it recessed. The General Assembly reconvenes in May.
“I’m not going to give up on the bill,” the governor said at the press conference announcing the adoption event Wednesday. ”This dog issue is not a Democratic or Republican issue — it’s an independent issue for every one of us.”
The McCrorys have one dog, Moe, who lives at their Charlotte residence.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adoptable, adoption, adoptions, animals, ann mccrory, bill, breeders, charlotte, dogs, event, executive mansion, first lady, governor, governor's mansion, greensboro, guilford county, health, humans, legislation, lexi, north carolina, pat mccrory, pender county, pets, pomeranian, proposal, puppy mill, raid, regulations, rescues, safety, seized, shelters, standards, wake county
Ann McCrory, who normally leaves the politics to her husband, released a statement Wednesday supporting House Bill 930.
“… Passing legislation to establish basic standards of care for large commercial dog breeding facilities is a very important issue to me, and to people across our state,” she wrote.
“ … I hope you and other members of the General Assembly will continue to advocate for this bill, and other legislation establishing higher standards for commercial breeders. These policies increase our quality of life in North Carolina and ensure better care for dogs across the state…”
The bill sets basic standards of care for operations that use more than 10 females for breeding.
Many say it is a watered-down version of previous attempts to pass a puppy mill law, but add that the compromise is better than nothing in a state some breeding operations have been relocating to in an attempt to avoid regulation.
“North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast without puppy mill laws,” explained Caleb Scott, President of North Carolina Voters for Animal Welfare told Fox 8 News. “We are a puppy mill destination in North Carolina because we have no laws on the books. Puppy millers gravitate to our state.”
The minimum standards required by the bill, as it has been amended, would notapply to breeders of hunting dogs, sporting dogs, field dogs, or show dogs.
It now heads to the Senate.
WRAL described Ann McCrory’s letter as her “first foray into public advocacy” since her husband took office.
The McCrory’s have a Labrador Retriever named Mo.
(Photo: Erin Hull / The Daily Tar Heel)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 10th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 930, animal welfare, animals, basic, breeders, care, conditions, dog breeders, dogs, exemptions, first lady, house bill 930, hunting dogs, law, north carolina, pat mccrory, pets, politics, proposal, proposed, puppy mills, requirements, show dogs, standards
The American Kennel Club is doing a much better job of protecting bad breeders than it is protecting dogs.
That’s the gist of this investigative report that aired yesterday on NBC’s “Today” show
The accusations aren’t exactly new, and weren’t exactly uncovered by NBC, but it’s good to see the issue getting some national attention.
The AKC, investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen notes, calls itself ”the dog’s champion …
“But critics say there’s an ugly reality you don’t see: Some AKC breeders raising diseased dogs, malnourished, living in their own filth. It’s so disturbing that now two of the country’s largest animal welfare groups, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society, are condemning the AKC.”
The report included an interview with one dog owner, who purchased a Great Dane from a kennel only weeks after that kennel was inspected by the AKC and found in compliance. The puppy turned out to have intestinal parasites, an upper respiratory infection and a congenital eye defect.
“Law enforcement went into the kennel just two months later, and rescued dozens of dogs,” Rossen reported.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, is featured heavily in the report, and makes the point that the AKC should be working with animal welfare groups to protect dogs instead of protecting bad breeders and fighting laws that would crack down on them.
AKC Director of Communications Lisa Peterson, also interviewed for the report, says she would give the AKC an “A” for its inspection program.
But when the reporter asked how many breeders are producing AKC-registered dogs, she said, “That’s a great question. We don’t know.” And when asked what percentage of AKC registered breeders end up getting inspected, she wouldn’t offer a ball park figure.
“We do thousands of inspections annually,” Peterson said. “We’ve done 55,000 inspections since the year 2000.”
“But what percentage of breeders actually get inspected?”
“… I don’t have that figure,” Peterson said. “I’m sorry.”
Peterson said there are nine AKC inspectors in the U.S. Asked “Do you think that’s an adequate number?” she said, ”That’s the number that we have.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 2nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: akc, american kennel club, animals, aspca, breeders, breeding, club, conditions, dog, dogs, hsus, humane society, humane society of the united states, inspections, investigative, jeff rossen, kennel, laws, legislation, nbc, news, pets, report, today, today show, wayne pacelle
Chicago’s oldest pet store has decided to stop selling dogs purchased from breeders.
Sonja Raymond, whose family has been operating Collar & Leash since 1956, says the shop will deal only in adoptable dogs from shelters and rescues, according to CBS in Chicago
Raymond said she’d been considering the switch for five years – after noticing animals coming into the store with genetic defects and incurable illnesses, despite the assurances she received from her suppliers that the pups didn’t come from puppy mills.
“You know I had gone on the word of my distributors that I get my dogs from — that ‘Oh yeah these people are reputable, I’ve known them for years,” she said. “Within the past year I have found out they lied.”
Also pushing Collar & Leash to make the switch was the The Puppy Mill Project, a Chicago-based non-profit organization created to raise awareness about cruelty in puppy mills.
“We’d been in touch with the Puppy Mill Project Founder, Cari Meyers, for a long time, and realize it’s time we take this jump with them to help make a statement to put an end to puppy mills,” Raymond said.
“We will no longer buy and sell cats and dogs from mills and are proud to align ourselves with The Puppy Mill Project,” she said.
“It’s my biggest hope that as they become humane, other Chicago pet stores selling dogs and cats will follow in their footsteps, said Puppy Mill Project founder Meyers.
The store will hold a grand re-opening weekend Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptions, animals, breeders, chicago, collar & leash, dog, dogs, humane, oldest, pet, pet sales, pet stores, pets, puppies, puppy mill project, puppy mills, sales, sonja raymond, store