At almost $2 million, is this the most expensive dog ever?

A hunting dog, the Tibetan mastiff is thought to have lion’s blood – perhaps that’s why a prominent Chinese developer paid such a high price for one. (Photo credit: Sergey Lavrentev/Shutterstock)

It’s not a lion, though it has a fluffy mane.

It’s not a very hairy bear, though at more than 200 pounds it is certainly a sizable animal.

It’s a Tibetan Mastiff, one of the most coveted and pricey dogs in the world. Thought to be a lucky charm, Tibetan Mastiffs have become a kind of status symbol for Asia’s super-wealthy elite.

Once a prized hunting dog in Central Asia and Tibet, the Tibetan Mastiff was thought to have lion’s blood. Now the breed is known for its loyalty, its guarding abilities, and, of course, that fluffy coat.

People are certainly willing to pay out the big bucks to get their mitts on one of these leonine canines. In fact, a golden-haired Tibetan Mastiff puppy was sold Tuesday at a luxury pet fair in China’s eastern province of Zhejiang for a whopping $2 million USD. A prominent Chinese property developer and aspiring dog breeder from Qingdao was the lucky bidder.

This recent sale tops the previous record holder, fellow Tibetan Mastiff Big Splash, who was purchased in 2011 for the staggering sum of nearly $1.6 million.

“Pure Tibetan Mastiffs are very rare, just like our nationally treasured pandas, so the prices are so high,” explains the overjoyed breeder, Zhang Gengyun.

But President of the American Tibetan Mastiff Association, Martha Feltenstein, tells the Washington Post the breed isn’t as rare as Gengyun lets on.

“It’s quite puzzling why they are fetching such a high price in China,” Feltenstein says, explaining that while she loves the breed, Tibetan Mastiffs are quite common in Asia and do not have a long life span because of their size.

Other experts have their own theories.

“A lot of the sky-high priced deals are just breeders hyping each other up, and no money actually changes hands,” industry insider Xu tells the Huffington Post, explaining the phenomena.

Whatever the reason, the Tibetan Mastiff craze doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon — at least if China’s more than 800,000 millionaires have anything to say about it.

Sources: Huffington Post, Washington Post