At $1.5 million, a 180-pound (and growing) 11-month-old red Tibetan mastiff named Big Splash has become the worlds most expensive dog.

Eleven-month-old red Tibetan mastiff Hong Dong

Its Chinese breeder, Lu Liang of the Tibetan Mastiff Garden in Laoshan near the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, sold the 11-month-old puppy to a Chinese multimillionaire coal baron from Northern China earlier this month.

The previous record price for a dog was $1,465,000 paid last year for a Tibetan mastiff called Red Lion.

In 2009, a Chinese woman known as Wang paid $582,000 on a 18-month-old Tibetan Mastiff named Yangtze No. 2 after she visited the remote border region between Tibet and western Qinghai province. The woman flew home to Xi’an Xianyang International Airport in north-western Shaanxi Province to be met by a convoy of 30 black Mercedes led by two Mitsubishi sports utility vehicles and a committee of local dog lovers holding a red banner welcoming Yangtze No. 2. When this piece of news came out, it has sparked controversy among Chinese people. A plenty of Chinese netizens condemned that the millionairess was apparently showing off her wealth.

Wang with Yangtze No. 2

Lu said the dog is a “perfect specimen” of the breed, worthy of the extravagant price tag.

“When I started in this business, ten years ago, I never thought we would see such a price,” Lu said.

This particular Tibetan mastiff puppy is considered “a perfect specimen,” and Lu estimates that the buyer could recoup his investment in the dog in just a few years by hiring it out to other breeders for as much as 100,000 yuan ($15,000 in stud fees for each female bred to the pricey pooch.

“The price is justified,” said Lu, who runs the Tibetan Mastiff Garden in Laoshan, near the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.

“We have spent a lot of money raising this dog, and we have the salaries of plenty of staff to pay,” Lu said.

Big Splash, or Hong Dong in Chinese, enjoys a diet of chicken and beef, with occasional delicacies like sea cucumber and abalone. The breeder says he spends more than $5,000 a month maintaining his five prized beasts.

Tibetan mastiffs, legendarily owned by both Buddha and Genghis Khan, are an ancient breed long revered as adept guard dogs and legend has it that Tibetan mastiffs provide their owners with a blessing to their health and security. Tibetans believe the dogs are the reincarnated souls of monks not good enough to be reincarnated as people or enter the heavenly realm.

A Tibetan mastiff

A Tibetan mastiff

The Tibetan Mastiff, also known as Do-khyi , meaning ‘home guard’ has been used for centuries to guard herds of domesticated farm animals, villages, monasteries, palaces and private homes, according to Wikipedia. The males can grow to heights of 31 inches tall and can weigh as much as 275lbs.

The dog is considered a primitive breed with a temperament that can vary from one dog to another. They are considered to be both ‘noble and impressive animals’. The breed is commonly identified as independent, intelligent and are renowned for being loyal and territorial in nature.

A female model with a Tibetan mastiff

They are rarely found outside Tibet and China, making them an especially exclusive breed. In China, they are considered a state protected animal, and there are reportedly just 15,000 in the country, most belonging to the wealthy.

These big, thick-furred dogs are prized in China and elsewhere for their luxuriant coats and noble bearing. They have become a status symbol representing affluence in China. Along with the widespread craze, Tibetan mastiff dog shows are frequently held in China.

Handlers display Tibetan mastiff dogs

A Tibetan mastiff at a recent Tibetan mastiff show in Wuhan of Hubei Province in China

A Tibetan mastiff at a recent China All-Breed Dog Show and Training Contset in Nanjing of Jiangsu Province in China

A Tibetan mastiff at a recent Tibetan Mastiff exposition in Langfang of Hebei Province in China

Any thought about buying one?