A Shar-Pei is a basal breed of dog which comes from Canton, China originally. It is an ancient breed and has existed for a very long time and has ties with other ancient breeds of dogs. It is mostly recognized for its wrinkles and its black and blue tongue.
The original name of the dog translates to English as “Sand Skin” as the dog was named in Chinese. The modern breed was recognized in the 19th century by the American Kennel Club. At one point their numbers declined very much but are not stable.
History & Origins
The origin of the Shar-Pei dog has been traced back to some very ancient breeds. In fact, it was recently revealed that the breed is very close to the grey wolf. But other ancient dog breeds which are direct or indirect ancestors to the Shar-Pei are some Arctic breeds. These may include the now-extinct Taymyr wolf of North Asia, the Siberian husky and Greenland dog.
The Shar-Pei breed was identified as a basal breed and it predates the modern versions of this dog that have been established in the 19th century. They have existed and have been used in China since ancient times. The likeness is found on many objects from the Han dynasty. The record indicates that they were mainly used as fight hounds and were the Emperor’s favorites.
The original Shar-Pei actually came from the Guangdong province of China. But this type of dog was much different than the one that we have today. The loose and prickly skin which the dog now has been specifically developed to fend off wild boars. So its original purpose was to hunt. Later its use was found in the arena as the dogs became great fighting dogs.
Shar-Pei Characteristics & Temperament
Shar-Pei dogs are a very independent and reserved breed. But they are very much loyal and devoted to their masters. They do not accept strangers so easily which is because of their background in being guard dogs. This is why you have to introduce them and give them time to adapt to any guests that you may have. This is why when training your dog you have to provide it with early socialization. The best way to do it is when they are still puppies. If you fail to do that you might get a very aggressive dog that will bark at any stranger.
When training a Shar-Pei you will notice that they are stubborn. This is why it is important to introduce compassionate and positive training. They will respond to it much easier and it will be even better if you introduce a reward system. On the other hand, negative remarks will affect the dog badly. But generally speaking, the dog is very loving and loyal and he will do anything to protect the family. He is especially good with children and will protect them equally.
Appearance, Colors, Size
The appearance of a Shar-Pei is very much unique. They have triangle ears and a high-set tail. But their signature mark has to be the wrinkles that they dogs have. These wrinkles are much more visible when the dog is still a puppy but tightens up as the dog grows. But it all depends on a dog to dog, as some may keep their wrinkles even in their adulthood. But the only parts which keep the wrinkles are the face and the shoulders. Also, the characteristic of this dog is its blue-black tongue.
They are medium-sized dogs. They can grow up to be about 18 to 22 in height and usually weigh about 40 to 55 lb for females and between 55 to 65 lb for males.
The Shar-Pei is recognized with a total of sixteen characterized colors. What is important here is that every Shar-Pei needs to have a solid color. If they are spotted or have black and tan in coloration, the dog will be disqualified from any competition. The colors which are accepted are black, blue, cream, fawn, red-fawn, red, sable, apricot, chocolate, and isabella.
Unfortunately, when introduced to other markets the Shar-Pei suffered a decrease in health. Namely, many inexperienced breeders had various kinds of experiments which resulted in bad health of the dogs. This is why Shar-Pei dogs today have a much-decreased life cycle. Their lifespan is only 10 years.
There have also been some new types of illnesses that they started suffering from. Today the established health problems characteristic for this breed include atopic dermatitis and skin infections. Also be on the lookout of demodicosis and Familial Shar-Pei fever, which is often a hereditary condition. Another problem is entropion, which is an eye condition that has to be treated surgically in many situations.
Grooming & Shedding
Shar-Pei dogs are very light shedders. Their short and specific coat does not cause a mess around the household and you will like this dog only for that in some situations. Also, you really do not need to groom their coats so much.
They are naturally coarse and even bathing the dog more than a few times a year is not recommended. You can do that only when you have to. As far as other grooming goes, due to its wrinkled skin, you have to clean the wrinkles and inspect it quite often. The same goes for the year and the eye area so infections do not occur.
Shar-Pei Price and Breeders
Nowadays, it has become fairly easy to get a Shar-Pei dog. Breeders exist in various developed countries of the world. Still, most are in China and the price is not cheap for some people. IF you want to get a pure bread Shar-Pei dog, you can do so by paying a sum of money between 1,000 and 1,800 US dollars.
Many people are looking for alternative ways of getting a Shar-Pei. It has become quite a usual practice to rescue a dog or adopt one. With a dwindling population at some point, Shar Pei dogs are not spread all over the world and are not only popular in their home country of China. To attest for that there are many breeders and rescue organizations. To help you chose a Shar-Pei of your choice, try contacting the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, Inc. for more information.