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Tibetan Mastiff May Die Out

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2006/01/24; January 24, 2006.]

CRI Online
Tue Jan. 24, 2006

Due to the factors of human impact and natural deterioration, Tibetan mastiffs are decreasing in number and China's pure-blood Tibetan mastiffs are facing the danger of extinction.

Prof. Niu Feng with the School of Life Sciences of the Northwest University for Nationalities has been engaged in research on Tibetan mastiffs for many years. He said that pure-blood Tibetan mastiffs are generally 1.33 meters in length and as strong as calves. They can weigh up to over 70 kilograms with big heads and short legs. Inhabited on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau featuring high altitude and low temperature, Tibetan mastiffs are universally acknowledged as the oldest rare dog species existing in the world by now.

Tibetan mastiffs are rough, fierce, fast-running and sharp-nosed. To local residents, Tibetan mastiffs can protect their territory and food and are adept in attacks and friendly to their owners, so that they can help safeguard houses and yards and herd horses and sheep. Therefore, in Tibet's pasture areas, Tibetan mastiffs are regarded as "sacred dogs" to guard pasture, cows and sheep by local Tibetan.

With boosting economic and social development as well as improving living standard in China, the pet market is seeing rapid growth, and Tibetan mastiffs are winning more understanding and acceptance from people. Driven by commercial profits, people crossbreed the Tibetan mastiffs with choice male parent as meat dogs, among which a great deal were purchased, transported, crossbred and butchered by humans. Pure Tibetan mastiffs are barely seen in their original birthplace currently, and natural degradation has added to their risk of extinction.

Experts indicated that the decrease in the number of pure Tibetan mastiffs has called for international attention. More and more foreign and domestic forces join hands to protect Tibetan mastiffs. People have established various types of Tibetan mastiff protection associations and carried through selected breeding and pure breeding, setting a favorable breeding foundation for the protection of this species.

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