A property developer paid 12million yuan for the golden-haired one-year-old at a luxury pet fair in the eastern province of Zhejiang yesterday, local media reported reported.
'They have lion’s blood and are top-of-the-range mastiff studs,' the dog’s breeder Zhang Gengyun told the Qianjiang Evening News, adding that another red-haired canine had sold for 6million yuan.
Enormous and sometimes ferocious, with round manes lending them a passing resemblance to lions, Tibetan mastiffs have become a status symbol among China’s wealthy.
The record-breaking animal was 31in (80cm) tall, and weighed 90kg, Mr Zhang said, adding that he was sad to sell the dogs. Neither was named in the report.
'Pure Tibetan mastiffs are very rare, just like our nationally treasured pandas, so the prices are so high,' he said.
One red mastiff named Big Splash reportedly sold for 10million yuan (£971,000; $1.5million) to a coal baron from the north of China in 2011, in the most expensive dog sale then recorded.
Not only is red considered a lucky colour, but Tibetan mastiffs are thought to be holy animals, blessing their owners' health and security.
But it seems that leonine gold now carries a higher premium among wealthy collectors of the rare breed.
The buyer at the Zhejiang expo was said to be a 56-year-old property developer from Qingdao who hopes to breed dogs himself, according to the report.
The newspaper quoted the owner of a mastiff breeding website as saying that last year one animal sold for 27million yuan at a fair in Beijing.
But an industry insider surnamed Xu told the paper that the high prices may be the result of insider agreements among breeders to boost their dogs’ worth.
'A lot of the sky-high priced deals are just breeders hyping each other up, and no money actually changes hands,' Mr Xu said
Owners say the mastiffs, descendants of dogs used for hunting by nomadic tribes in central Asia and Tibet, are fiercely loyal and protective.
A breed not recommended for novice dog owners, they are intelligent yet stubborn to a fault and require strict obedience training and an understanding of canine psychology.
The animals are said to be capable to confronting predators the size of wolves and leopards. Last year a Chinese zoo was slammed for trying to pass off a Tibetan mastiff as a lion.
TIBETAN MASTIFF FACT FILE
Originating with nomadic cultures of Tibet, China, Nepal, Ladakh, and Central Asia, Tibetan mastiffs were bred as guard dogs to protect herds, camps, monasteries and palaces.
Their name is in fact a misnomer. The animals are not true mastiffs, but were dubbed so by early Western visitors to China simply because it means 'big dog' - a better name would be Himalayan mountain dog.
Despite its plentiful coat, Tibetan mastiffs don't suffer from the usual 'big-dog' smell that affects many other large breeds.
Because of the demand for the dogs, breeders have often used unscrupulous means to increase their value. Photos of the animals are often photoshopped to exaggerate desirable features, while some buyers have reported bringing new dogs home only to find they lose their colour and much of their 'hair' after the first bath.