Pricey pups

We road test the most ex­pen­sive pets to buy — and to pam­per

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH -

THERE are close to five mil­lion pet dogs in Aus­tralia, but we are in­creas­ingly turn­ing our back on the scruffy old mutt of old in favour of de­signer pooches which can cost al­most as much as a new car.

The ti­betan mas­tiff — bear-like dogs weigh­ing up to 100 kilo­grams — takes out top hon­ours as the most ex­pen­sive breed of pooch in Aus­tra- lia, and the world. The rare breed is ex­tremely pop­u­lar in China, with one de­vel­oper pay­ing $2 mil­lion for a puppy in 2014.

Back home, Kristie Bates from Eun­gai Creek near Port Mac­quarie is one of only two breed­ers in NSW and she has a wait­list of two years for her pup­pies that sell any­where be­tween $4000 and $8000 each. But they, and other breeds, can fetch even more, up to $10,000, if the pooch is bred from pre­mium im­ported sperm. A new Mit­subishi Mi­rage ES man­ual hatch­back can be had for $12,250.

“In China they are seen as a sta­tus sym­bol, but here peo­ple like to have them be­cause they are beau­ti­ful and look like a big lux­u­ri­ous bear, but they are also lov­ing and ex­tremely good guard dogs,” Ms Bates said.

“We do get Chi­nese buy­ing them here, but 90 per cent are sold as fam­ily com­pan­ions.”

She said a breed’s price was dic­tated by rar­ity, and some­times its hip­ness fac­tor.

“They are a rare breed. They were orig­i­nally bred in Ti­bet to pro­tect stock and monks used them to guard the monastery, but they are a very loyal and de­voted fam­ily dog that is good with kids,” she said.

Rachelle Moore from Sin­gle­ton has had lots of dogs in her 49 years, but

she fell in love with the ti­betan mas­tiff when her 22-yearold daugh­ter Maddy brought home Lo­gan. Parker then joined the fam­ily and 12week-old Henry, who cost $8000, is the lat­est ad­di­tion.

‘If I could have 20 of them I would. They are just an amaz­ing dog, they are so easy go­ing and gen­tle. They are huge, but grace­ful as well. It’s a lot of money but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Mrs Moore said.

An anal­y­sis of the most ex­pen­sive breeds com­mand­ing top dol­lar by Pet In­sur­ance Aus­tralia (PIA) found the hip­ster dog of choice, the french bull­dog, came in at sec­ond place with pup­pies rang­ing in price from $2000 up to $10,000.

“The pop­u­lar­ity is most cer­tainly due to the cute fac­tor as no one can deny how stun­ning this wee breed is,” Nadia Crighton from Pet In­sur­ance Aus­tralia said.

“The french bull­dog is also a very pop­u­lar celebrity dog, so it’s only nat­u­ral that the global trends we see in breeds re­flect those that are seen in more preva­lent im­ages and in the me­dia.”

Lowchens, chow chows and samoyeds are also top dol­lar fetches, fall­ing into the ex­otic and fluffy cat­e­gory.

While most of the ex­pen­sive pooches are pretty, the good old english bull­dog and the rot­tweiler are pop­u­lar and ex­pen­sive breeds be­cause of their char­ac­ter.

But buyer be­ware: an ex­pen­sive puppy can cost more to main­tain than a small car be­cause of in­her­ent is­sues with decades of se­lec­tive breed­ing.

An­other PIA anal­y­sis, of 2017 ve­teri­nary claims, re­veals the breeds putting the pinch on the purse.

The rot­tweiler tops the list for big­gest claims, mainly be­cause they are more com­mon than other breeds, but ac­cord­ing to Dr Sarah Goldsmid from the An­i­mal Re­fer­ral Hos­pi­tal this breed can suf­fer a lot of joint prob­lems.

“Rot­ties get a lot of el­bow and hip dys­pla­sia which of­ten need surgery, they might need a hip re­place­ment, and surgery on el­bow dys­pla­sia can cost $5000 per leg,” Dr Goldsmid said.

Great danes may look ma­jes­tic but they are prone to gas­tric di­la­tion volvu­lus, or twisted stom­ach, which can kill if not treated with surgery.

“It’s the most com­mon thing they get and part of the stom­ach my die off, and then they may need plasma trans­fu­sions and it can cost $8000 to $16,000. They can also have spinal prob­lems,” Dr Goldsmid said.

She said dachshunds “are prone to slipped discs which can cost $3500 to $4000, but with MRI imag­ing and surgery it can cost $8000 to $10,000, so the moral of the story is get in­sur­ance.”

In con­trast, Timmy, a three-year-old mal­tese ter­rier, is avail­able at the RSPCA’s Ya­goona cen­tre for $320, mi­crochipped, vac­ci­nated and de­sexed. “Golden oldies” over eight years of age from the RSPCA go for $150.

Celia Treloar and great dane Jasper. Pic­ture: Sam Ruttyn

Three-year-old Hai­ley Bates snug­gles up to a three-mon­thold ti­betan mas­tiff bred by her mother Kristie, who is one of only two NSW breed­ers of the huge and ex­pen­sive dogs. Pic­ture: Nathan Ed­wards

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