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Would-be dog owners take shine to new breeds

By Su Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-04 15:17

It seems like the whole country has changed its preferences for dog breeds. Since 2012, when a Tibetan mastiff pup sold for 20 million yuan ($2.9 million) in Shandong province, the country has become obsessed with brown toy poodles.

Guo Jishi, who runs a pet dog center in Beijing, said the brown toy poodle has been popular in recent years because it is cute, small and smart.

"You wouldn't expect many Beijingers to have a large house for large dogs. Tiny dogs like poodles are perfect for many who have small apartments," he said. "Besides, poodles are very smart. They understand your orders and even walk on two legs if trained well."

This toylike dog is nicknamed a "teddy dog" in Chinese. According to Beijing Kennel Club, Beijing had about 950,000 registered dogs in 2015, and more than 13 percent of those were toy poodles. Teddy dogs outnumber other breeds like the bichon frise, the golden retriever and the Welsh corgi.

Since keeping a pet was legalized in 1993, the pet market has grown quickly. Many breeds have had their moment, such as the Pekingese, Tibetan mastiff and Labrador.

Guo said the cycle for one breed is about seven years, and now the price of brown toy poodles is dropping, meaning fewer people are buying them.

"There are many reasons behind the popularity. Generally speaking, the popularity of dog breeds is based on fashion trends and scarcity," he said.

"For example, if the TV series Hero Dog didn't have a second season in 2016, sales of Labradors would have been very bad. Many have watched the show and they wanted exactly the same colored Labrador."

Yu Lianhai, founder of 51buydog, a pet store in Beijing, said buyers' tastes can change every month. "Sometimes they just show up and say, 'I want the best-sold breed'," he said.

However, with the market becoming mature, many pet owners are beginning to choose a breed based on their own demands, instead of blindly following others.

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