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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mongolian Dog-Fur Coats: Ruff for the Previous Owner

ULAN BATOR -- It's a dog's life in Mongolia.

Stray hounds are vanishing from the streets of the capital, Ulan Bator, to end up as Mongolia's latest fashion fad.

Dog fur coats are the winter vogue in the capital of this land of windswept steppes, where the freeze lasts for months.

"Dog skin products are very profitable," said Moenkhtsetseg, owner of the Moengon Erdene Co., which set the trend in stitching dog-fur coats. "They offer a net profit of about 50 percent," she said. "Plus they're very warm."

So popular are the pooch parkas at 51,000 tugriks ($110) apiece that all are sold even before they can make it out of the factory door.

Customers, mainly Russians, hang about the doorways of the workshops watching as Mongolian workers match dog skins for color, cut them into strips and sew them into coats.

Moengon Erdene, whose core business of coats and hats made from marmot, fox, sable and lamb fur gave it a 30 million tugrik net profit last year, added dog fur coats to its inventory in 1995.

The first experimental batch of 74 coats sold so quickly that the company was convinced its products had a ready market.

Most eager for dog furs are Russian buyers, officials said.

But dog fur supply, the cheapest link in the business, poses a bit of a problem. The company buys skins cheaply from private suppliers, but they are not a sufficiently stable source for mass production.

"In the future, if dog farms could be established and skins prepared on a large scale, we would have the potential to move to mass production and boost exports as well as domestic sales," Moenkhtsetseg said.

Among the current suppliers is the Noets company. It has two gunmen shooting their prey in Ulan Bator's streets as part of a government-funded program to rid the city of stray dogs.