The Chinese Shar-Pei dog breed is one of the oldest dog breeds, originating in China at least 2,000 years ago. Confirmed records exist from the 13th century in the southern province of Guangdong. The Chinese Shar-Pei was used for hunting, guarding, and herding. It was also used as a fighting dog – both in fighting pits and in war. Despite his fighting history, the Chinese Shar-Pei today is a companion dog.
Sadly, the Chinese Shar-Pei nearly became extinct when China became a communist country. The dogs barely existed in the countryside. However, a few were bred in British Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Hong Kong & Kowloon Kennel Association helped to introduce the Chinese Shar-Pei in the United States. He was originally introduced as a fighting dog. But the Chinese Shar-Pei did not gain in popularity in the United States until the 1970s when his near extinction status was publicized. It was not until 1988 before the Chinese Shar-Pei was accepted into the American Kennel Club (AKC) in the Miscellaneous Class. And he wasn’t accepted into the Non-Sporting group until 1991 (officially in January 1992).
The Chinese Shar-Pei may be descended from Mastiffs and spitz-type dogs. And he is a close relative of the Chinese Chow Chow, also a spitz-type dog. The resemblance of the Chinese Shar-Pei to the Mastiff is the thick heavy skin and short bristly hair. His resemblance to a spitz is his curled tail. His independent nature is also reminiscent of a spitz, as is his loyalty to his family.
Like the Chow Chow, the Chinese Shar-Pei has a blue-black tongue, fleshy muzzle, thick build, and curled tail. Both dog breeds are reserved and wary of strangers. They can be stubborn and sometimes aggressive with other dogs. Careful positive reinforced training is needed. The Chinese Shar-Pei is not highly affectionate or playful, but he is extremely devoted to his family. He is generally a calm and quiet companion, suitable as an indoor dog. But he does need daily walks.
The Chinese Shar-Pei stands about 18 to 20 inches tall and weighs about 45 to 60 pounds. He should be a solid color such as red, fawn, blue, black, or white. His coat, which is very harsh and short, needs little brushing. More attention will need to be paid to his skin between the wrinkles to make sure there are no irritations or infections. The face of the Chinese Shar-Pei is fleshy and he has wrinkled skin on his large head and back shoulders and neck. He has small sunken eyes and small triangular ears. His tail is thick and short and curls up over his back.
As with most purebred dogs, the Chinese Shar-Pei is prone to a number of genetic health issues. The most common is allergies and skin issues. Due to the thick folds of skin around his eyes, he is also prone to have eyelid problems. The Chinese Shar-Pei also tends to have ear problems and as a large dog breed, he is also prone to hip dysplasia. Patellar luxation can also be an issue. In patellar luxation, the knee cap can slip out of joint, causing terrible pain and lameness. To reduce the chances of getting a Chinese Shar-Pei with health problems, research the breeder thoroughly. Being an AKC registered dog does not, by itself, promise a healthy dog. Most reputable breeders will be members of the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America. A reputable breeder may have also had the parents of the pups tested for dysplasia and other health problems. A properly bred Chinese Shar-Pei can be great with children, whereas an improperly bred Chinese Shar-Pei can have aggression problems.
If you are considering a Chinese Shar-Pei, you will be rewarded with a loyal family pet. Grooming maintenance is minimal and exercise requirements are average. Be sure to use positive reinforcement in training in order to help overcome his willful nature. And socialize early to avoid aggression issues with other dogs.
For more information about the Chinese Shar-Pei, visit our Dog Lover’s Book Store with Amazon.com. The dog breeds tab has lots of great books about the Chinese Shar-Pei, including the Barron’s “Shar-Pei, a Complete Pet Owner’s Manual”.
The Chinese Shar-Pei Dog Breed Figurine from AnimalFigurineStore.com