Here's All You Need To Know About Shar Pei Dogs

Breeds, last updated 10th, Dec 2017, Amrita Bandopadhyay

There are several dog breeds that we are very familiar with e.g. the Labrador retriever, Alsatian etc. However there are some that we do not know much about, Shar Pei, Akita, Tosa Inu are some of such breeds.

The name Shar Pei means sandy coat. The breed is noticeable for the wrinkles that they sport; they feature in an anti-wrinkle product’s advertisement!!!

Origin: The Chinese Shar-Pei (also known as the ‘Chinese Fighting Dog’, and nicknamed the ‘Golden Lion’) lived in the southern provinces of China as far back as 200 B.C, possibly even earlier. The DNA analyses say that Shar Pei is one of the oldest dog breeds alongside several sight hounds.

Originally a multipurpose Chinese farm dog, many of the breed's characteristics relate to that work. Their moderate sound structure allowed them to be perimeter guard dogs, working all day. They have retained vermin catching, herding and tracking skills, as their role on the farms was diverse. They were also used as war dogs guard dogs, hunters, fighters, workers, and companions for peasants and farmers.

The breed comes from the Guangdong province of China. It is often said to be the descendant of the Chow Chow but that has not been satisfactorily proven and the only link visible to lay men is the “Black and blue tongue”. It may also be due to the cross breeding with the Chow Chow.

Physical Attributes/Appearance:  The average weight is around 40 to 65 lb (18 to 29 kg), for males it ranges between 55 to 65 lb (25 to 29 kg) and females between 40 to 55 lb (18 to 25 kg). They grow to a height of 18 to 22 in (46 to 56 cm).

  Coat: There are over sixteen recognized colors in American Kennel Club( AKC )1.However the mandate is that the coat color should be uniform, any patch/tan/spot is a disqualifier!Colors include black, blue, cream, fawn, red-fawn, red, sable, apricot, chocolate, and isabella. The Shar Pei comes in three different coat types: horse, brush, and bear coat.All three are rough to touch.

Horse-coat(unusual but regaining ground), rough to the touch, extremely prickly and off-standing, soft in one direction and harsh in the other; Brush-coat, with longer hair and a smoother feel; and Bear-coat (rare, and not recognized by the AKC; Bearcoats are not due to the addition of other breeds),

The rough coat makes it a low maintenance breed. A good bath once a week keeps the coat clean and free of parasites.

Temperament: An intelligent and often stubborn breed, Shar Pei ownership needs careful consideration. They are bright and learn quickly, but early training and socialization are important, as is daily exercise.

The Chinese Shar-Pei bonds quickly with its family, and is extremely devoted. Chinese Shar-Peis are not unfriendly toward strangers, but may bark at them when first introduced. They are fine with children and get along with other household pets, provided socialization has taken place at a young age. They sometimes fight with other dogs.They can grow bored of repetition, so training should be made diverse and interesting.They should be taken for long walks or allowed to play active games on a daily basis. Shar-Peis do not like the heat, and should not be over exercised in hot weather.

Specific Medical Issues:

  • The Shar Pei suddenly reached popularity and as a result faced inexperienced and hurried breeding. As is the case with any rushed breeding the breed developed a lot of issues and the features were also accentuated without consideration for medical conditions. T
  • The major problems a Shar-Pei is exposed to are: Allergy-induced skin infections can be a problem in this breed.
  • Familial Shar Pei Fever  (FSF) is a serious congenital disease that causes short fevers lasting up to 24 hours, usually accompanied by accumulation of fluid around the ankles (called Swollen Hock Syndrome). These fevers may or may not recur at more frequent intervals and become more intense.
  • Amyloidosis, a long-term condition, is most likely related to FSF, caused by unprocessed amyloid proteins depositing in the organs, most often in the kidneys or liver, leading eventually to renal failure.
  • Entropion: It is a common problem, a painful eye condition, 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).
  • These conditions have solutions and the owners can ensure that their pet faces no issues by consulting the vets timely.
  • Most Chinese dogs were killed after the Communist revolution, but the Shar-Pei was kept alive by breeders in Taiwan and Hong Kong, who brought it to America. Touted as the world’s rarest dog in Time Magazine and The Guinness Book of World Records, the breed became popular and was saved from the brink of extinction.
  • Today, they are a popular pet with over 70,000 representatives of the breed registered.These dogs have come a long way. They were recognised by the American Kennel club only in 1991. However they have a steady number of owners now and the base is ever growing.It is an interesting dog to have around for a dedicated owner!!
  • 1 AKC site
  • 2 Dogs by David Alderton