Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 14:48 UK

China Mastiff new must-have item

Ms Wang with her Tibetan Mastiff at Xian airport - 9 September 2009
Ms Wang said she spent a long time looking for her new dog

Tibetan Mastiffs have joined the roster of luxury items coveted by China's wealthy elite, according to a purchase reported by local media.

A young woman paid $600,000 (£360,000) for a Tibetan Mastiff and had a convoy of luxury cars meet her and the dog at an airport, the Xian Evening News said.

"Gold has a price but this Tibetan Mastiff doesn't," the woman, named only as Wang, was quoted as saying.

The dogs typically sell for about $2,000 outside China, breeders say.

Ms Wang and the dog were met at Xian airport after she returned from buying it in Qinghai province in north-west China, home to many ethnic Tibetans.

She was greeted by fellow lovers of Tibetan Mastiffs, who held up a long red banner welcoming the dog to Xian, capital of Shaanxi province.

Ms Wang said she and a friend had spent a long time looking for a true Tibetan Mastiff.

The dogs are fairly rare in Tibet and around the world, and are valued by the nomadic peoples of Central Asia for their skills as watch dogs.

Tibetan Mastiffs were also traditionally used to guard Buddhist monasteries in Tibet.

The dogs are large and fierce, reaching a height of up to 80cm (31 inches) and a weight of 80kg (176 lbs).

Richard Gardiner, chairman of the Tibetan Mastiff Club of Great Britain, said mastiff puppies typically sell in the West for between $1,400 and $2,000.

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