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"One reason a dog
can be such a comfort when you're feeling blue
is that he doesn't try to find out why."

Author Unknown


Chinese Shar-Pei

The Shar Pei or Chinese Shar-Pei is a breed of dog known for its distinctive features of deep wrinkles and a blue-black tongue. The breed derives from China. The name (pinyin: sha pí; English name probably derived from British spelling of Cantonese equivalent sa peih) translates to "sand skin," and refers to the texture of its short, rough coat. As puppies, Shar Pei have numerous wrinkles, but as they mature, these wrinkles disappear as they "grow into their skin". Shar Pei were once named as one of the world's rarest dog breeds by Time magazine and the Guinness Book of World Records, and the American Kennel Club did not recognize the breed until 1991.

Small, triangular ears, a muzzle shaped like that of a hippopotamus, and a high-set tail also give the Shar Pei a unique look. For show standard, "the tail is thick and round at the base, tapering to a fine point" (AKC standard February 28, 1998).

Shar Pei come in many different colors such as fawn, red (rose), sand, cream, black, lilac and blue. They resemble the Chow Chow due to having the same blue-black tongue.

Shar Pei comes in three different coat types; horse, brush and bear coat. The unusual horse-coat is rough to the touch, extremely prickly and off-standing and is closer to the original Shar Pei breed in appearance and coat type than the Brush or Bear Coat. This coat is fairly prickly, and can be rough or irritating when petting in the opposite direction of the fur. The Horse Coat is generally thought to be more active and predisposed to dominant behaviour than the Brush Coat. The brush-coated variety have slightly longer hair and a smoother feel to them. The Brush Coat is generally considered to be more of a 'couch potato' than the Horse Coat.

Unlike the two coat types above, the Bear Coat does not meet breed standards and therefore cannot be shown. The coat is much longer than the Brush and Horse Coat, so much so, in most cases you can't see the famous wrinkles. A Bear Coat can occur in any litter.

Shar Pei usually come in two varieties: one is covered in large folds of wrinkles, even into adulthood (the Western type). The other variation has skin that appears tighter on its body, with wrinkles just on the face and at the whithers (the original type).

The Shar Pei is often suspicious of strangers, which pertains to their origin as a guard dog. In general the breed has proved itself to be a loving, devoted family dog. The Shar Pei are also very independent and reserved breeds. Nevertheless, the Shar Pei is extremely devoted, loyal and affectionate to its family, and is amenable to accepting strangers given time and proper introduction at a young age. If poorly socialized or trained, it can become especially territorial and aggressive. Even friendly and well-socialized individuals will retain the breed's watch dog proclivities (such as barking at strangers). It is a largely silent breed, barking only when playing or when worried. The Shar Pei was originally bred as palace guards in China and eventually as fighting dogs. While this breed is adorable it is also very protective of its home and family, a powerful dog that is willing to guard its family members at all costs.

The breed is amenable to training, but can get bored from repetition. Overall, the Shar Pei is a dog that is loyal and loving to its family while being very protective & independent.


Chinese Shar-Pei
Other names: Shar-Pei, Chinese Fighting Dog
Country of origin: China

The Shar Pei is known to have many different health issues. Allergy-induced skin infections can be a problem in this breed caused by poorly selected breeding stock. Familial Shar Pei fever (FSF), and swollen hock syndrome, (SHS), are also a serious problems for the breed. The FSF disease causes short fevers lasting up to 24 hours, after which there may be no recurrence or they may recur at more frequent intervals and become more serious. A possibly related disease is called amyloidosis, and is caused by unprocessed amyloid proteins depositing in the organs, most often in the kidneys or liver, leading to renal failure. At this time there is no test for these seemingly prevalent diseases. A common problem, caused by irresponsible breeding, is a painful eye condition, entropion, in which the eyelashes curl inward, irritating the eye. Untreated, it can cause blindness. This condition can be fixed by surgery ("tacking" the eyelids up so they will not roll onto the eyeball for puppies or surgically removing extra skin in adolescent and older Shar Pei).

Chinese Shar Pei are notoriously allergic to food products that contain soy, corn, wheats, glutens and sugars. Often the consumption of these types of poor quality foods result in allergic skin reactions. Shar Pei whose food intake is restricted to better quality foods free of corn/soy/wheats and glutens, will enjoy much healthier lives with little or no skin irritation, itching, or sores.

The Shar Pei breed comes from the Guangdong province of China. The original Shar-pei from China looked very different from the breed now popular in the West. People in southern China, Hong Kong, and Macau differentiate the Western type and the original type by calling them respectively "meat-mouth" and "bone-mouth" Shar-pei.

The ancestry of the Shar-Pei is uncertain. It may be a descendant of the Chow Chow, however, the only clear link between these are the purple tongue. However, pictures on pottery suggest the breed was present even in the Han Dynasty (206bc). For many years the Shar-Pei was kept as a general-purpose farm dog in the Chinese countryside, used for hunting, protecting stock, and guarding the home and family. During that time the Shar-Pei was breed for intelligence, strength and scowling face. Later, it was used in dog fighting. The loose skin and extremely prickly coat were developed to aid the dog in fighting, making the Shar-Pei difficult for the opponent to grab and hold on to. During the Communist Revolution, dogs were rescued by a Hong Kong business man named Matgo Law, who appealed to Americans in 1973 though a dog magazine to save the breed.

DNA analysis has concluded that the Shar Pei is one of the most ancient dog breeds.