Tibetan mastiffs or zang ao are considered a sacred dog of the East. In addition to this cultural cachet, its fearsome nature and sky-high price make it the trendy dog of choice for those who want to demonstrate their wealth and status.
But this celebrity pooch and adorable puppy is not for the weak-of-heart and not a house pet. It is known as a ferocious, stubborn guard dog that will fight wolves and leopards and even fight to the death to protect its owner.
Tibetan mastiffs (and other mastiffs) are banned in Shanghai, even in the suburbs, as well as in a growing number of other mainland cities. The blacklist covers 23 breeds, including German shepherds, Rottweilers and bulldogs. This means no matter how much someone is willing to pay, they cannot get a license to raise a mastiff anywhere in the city. The ban was passed last May.
There's good reason for the ban. Reports of injuries and scares caused by illegally raised mastiffs have been emerging. The latest case occurred on September 27 in suburban Songjiang District in Jiuting Town with populous new neighborhoods. A mastiff got loose from its chain, rushed onto Jiuyi Road and attacked six people who were bitten multiple times. They were hospitalized.
The owner paid for medical treatment, plus extra compensation to victims. The owner was fined, not charged with a criminal offense.
In August, a mastiff-mix attacked four people on Zhongshan Road and in July, three banned Rotteweilers injured three people on Anfen Road.
On November 30 last year, another mastiff broke out of its enclosure in Songjiang District and went on a rampage, biting seven passersby. Three received stitches. The owner's negligence was blamed.
Some owners of banned dogs are moving the animals to suburban areas where supervision is less strict. Some make deals with factories, which are allowed licenses for guard dogs among banned breeds, such as German shepherds.