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