Chinese Shar Pei Dog Breed Information Guide
Until quite recently, the Chinese Shar-Pei was the rarest dog breed in the world. He has come close to extinction and has endured an unfair and slanderous reputation.
The Chinese Shar-Pei is an ancient Chinese breed that is likely related to the Chow Chow. He is one of only a handful of dogs with a purplish-blue tongue but he is best known for his loose, wrinkled skin. The Chinese Shar-Pei was once a fighting dog in China and the loose skin coupled with the rough, prickly coat allowed the Shar-Pei to be bitten on his back and twist around and face his aggressor.
Today, the Chinese Shar-Pei is far less inclined toward aggression and his wrinkled body is fancied for it’s quirky beauty rather than for its barbaric past.
Chinese Shar Pei History
The Chinese Shar-Pei can trace its roots to the Han Dynasty China, around 200 BCE. At that time, the Chinese Shar-Pei lived in China’s southern provinces as a hunter dog and cattle hand. Barbarous Chinese nobility used the Shar-Pei as a dog fighter until the People’s Revolution frowned on and ended this elite practice.
The People’s Revolution in China promised to eliminate all dogs in China. These efforts were largely successful, with only a few remaining Shar-Pei specimens living in rural areas. One breeder named Matgo Law dedicated himself to preserving the Chinese Shar-Pei and went about exporting the dogs to America. By the mid-1970’s the Shar-Pei was regaining in numbers and in 1991 Shar-Pei was officially recognized by the AKC.
There is an interesting side note here with respect to the Shar-Pei’s fighting ancestry. In North America, dogs who are bred as protectors are known as guard dogs, but in China and Taiwan, these same breeds are called fighting dogs. In China, this label is applied to all dogs who are bred for their protection ability. This twist on semantics has caused the Shar-Pei’s image to suffer immeasurably. As westerners became increasingly fearful of dogs with reputations of aggression, fanciful stories denying the Shar-Pei’s heritage emerged. Suddenly, the previously named fighter dog was elevated to a hunting and companion dog.
Chinese Shar Pei Appearance
Chinese Shar-Pei puppies are unspeakably cute. The grey coated Shar-Pei puppy looks like a forlorn, miniature hippopotamus. As they grow, the wrinkled effect lessens and the Shar-Pei “grows into his skin”. The Chinese Shar-Pei’s head is disproportionately large for his body and his muzzle is hippo-like. Like the Chow Chow, the Shar-Pei has a curious blue tongue and the ears are small and wide set. The Shar-Pei’s eyes are sunken and wide-set, likely a protective mechanism from his days as a fighter dog.
The name Shar-Pei means sandy coat referring to this breed’s rough, prickly texture. The coat appears softer and more malleable than it is. In fact, stroking the fur against the grain can irritate and even scratch the petter’s skin.
Chinese Shar Pei Temperament
The Chinese Shar-Pei is not an especially affectionate dog, but he is devoted to his family. The Shar-Pei is highly suspicious of strangers and he can be territorial and even aggressive unless he is socialized early. The Chinese Shar-Pei is not a normally vocal dog but he will bark at strangers in a most unwelcoming way. The sensible Shar-Pei owner will be not allow small children to play with this dog unsupervised. Even with early training, the Shar-Pei will retain many of his guard dog proclivities.
Generally, when the Chinese Shar-Pei is socialized early he is an amiable pet. Owners often report the Shar-Pei to be stubborn, even obstinate but he will participate in yard games if they are to his liking. The Chinese Shar-Pei has a certain self-possessed confidence that is both comical and charming.
Chinese Shar Pei Exercise Info
The Chinese Shar-Pei needs daily exercise. He will enjoy long evening walks and many hours of yard play. As a precaution, be sure to walk your Shar-Pei during the coolest part of the day. This breed is somewhat heat sensitive and heat exhaustion is possible.
It is tempting to just let your Chinese Shar-Pei merrily play in the garden in lieu of a walk. This is ill-advised as your Shar-Pei needs the mental stimulation that only new sights and smells can provide. A bored Chinese Shar-Pei is prone to destruction, so endeavor to keep him gainfully occupied.
Chinese Shar Pei Grooming Info
The coat of the Chinese Shar-Pei needs only a weekly brushing to allow the natural oils condition his coat. The more pressing grooming requirement involves daily wrinkle inspection. The skin folds in the Shar-Pei are prone to irritation and hotspots. Should this malady occur, seek veterinary attention at once.
Chinese Shar Pei Training Info
The Chinese Shar-Pei is a clever dog, but his palpable sense of self importance makes appealing to his tastes and sensibilities a bit of a challenge. Owners whose training methods are consistently firm but kind will garner the best results. Harshness and leash yanking will do little to earn your Shar-Pei’s trust and cooperation.
Once your Chinese Shar-Pei has learned a skill, he may demonstrate it once or twice on demand, but beyond that he may refuse. This breed is reluctant to continuously repeat exercises they already know. Short, interesting sessions are best for the Shar-Pei, as boredom will preclude his participation.
The Chinese Shar-Pei’s socialization should begin early by introducing him to many people, places and situations. The Shar-Pei will need to develop coping sills for living harmoniously in society without suspicion or aggression towards strangers. Early and thorough socialization should ensure that your Chinese Shar-Pei matures into a trustworthy and temperamentally stable family pet.
Chinese Shar Pei Health Info
Some common health concerns for your Chinese Shar-Pei include; entropion, CHD, patellar luxation, allergies, otitis externa, lip and skin fold pyodermas, hypothyriodism and amyloidosis.
Also of note: the Chinese Shar-Pei is notoriously allergic to many food ingredients, including soy, corn, wheat, gluten and sugar. The Shar-Pei can develop these allergies early unless preventative steps are taken. It is advised to feed your puppy Chinese Shar-Pei only grain-free food to prevent (or minimize) early allergic reactions in the form of skin irritation, itching and sores. Even in adulthood, Chinese Shar-Peis will lead a healthier life if corn, soy, wheat, sugar and gluten are restricted from their diets.
Chinese Shar Pei Right Breed Info
The Chinese Shar-Pei is an interesting an versatile breed. He is not cuddly and affectionate in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, the Char-Pei demonstrates devotion and protection of your family with undivided loyalty. When socialized early, the Chinese Shar-Pei can make a charming pet and amiable companion.
Families with young children may find the Chinese Shar-Pei intolerant of pulled tails and fingers poking in the food dish. Others may find the Shar-Pei standoffish and too self possessed. The ideal family for a Chinese Shar-Pei will have the time and inclination to walk him regularly, properly train and socialize him and to carefully monitor his diet.
When purchasing your Chinese Shar-Pei, resist the urge to purchase a dog inexpensively from a pet store or from an advertisement in a newspaper. You may unwittingly buy a mal-adjusted, sick, puppy mill dog. This is to be avoided at all costs.
More Information about the Chinese Shar Pei Dog Breed