While the Shar Pei is named for the look and texture of the coat, the feature that truly sets this breed apart is the mass of unabashed wrinkles. Shar Peis have their entire face and body covered in folds and wrinkles that set this breed apart from any other breed in the world. Not even the pug or the English bulldog can give the Shar Pei wrinkles a run for their money. There isn’t far to run, though. Shar Peis are notoriously sedentary, preferring to lounge by the side of their family on a couch than go out and discover the great outdoors. That said, Shar Peis are excellent guard dogs and will do everything in their power to protect their family. Early socialisation is a must with this breed, if you’d like a well-adjusted dog. Shar Peis were, at one point, bred to fight and they can still have a lot of fight left in them. However, if brought up well, these dogs do very well with humans as well as other animal companions. An experienced owner will do best with Shar Peis, because they can be a little obstinate sometimes and need to be shown their place firmly but gently.History
Chinese Shar Peis originated in the southern provinces of China and were initially bred to be hunters, herders, guardians and fighters. Some canine historians believe that the Shar Pei is an ancient breed dating back to the Han Dynasty (200 BC), based on statues that bear a close resemblance to these dogs. However, this inference is hitherto inconclusive, since the sculptures could just as easily be representations of early Chows or Pugs. Around 1949, when the People’s Republic of China officially came into being, almost all breeds of dogs were practically wiped out. Save for a few Shar Peis that were bred in Hong Kong and Taiwan and the single-handed efforts of a gentleman named Matgo Law, the Shar Pei could well have been extinct today. Thanks to Mr. Law, a few Shar Peis were brought to the United States in the early 1970s and gradually, the breed regained its popularity.Unique Aspects
It’s impossible to stop talking about those adorable Shar Pei wrinkles! This does have an alarming history, though. While they were initially bred to be hunting and guarding dogs, their loose, wrinkly coat led them to later be bred for fighting. The coat was thought to be able to protect their internal organs from harm, like soft, overworked armour. Puppies have far more folds and wrinkles than adult dogs, a quality that humans often envy. The Shar Pei is also known for its sandpaper-like coat, which is unlike any other amongst canines. The coat was also bred into the breed to make the dogs offensive to the attacker during a fight. Shar Peis, like the Chow Chows, have blue-black tongues. It was believed that the tongue warded off evil spirits when the Shar Peis would guard the homes and estates of the Chinese nobility.
Cover to cover
Shar Peis have adorned the cover pages of various magazines, because of their luxurious coats and regal expressions. They appeared in the first two episodes of The Simpsons as Martin Prince’s dog. The television series ‘Lost’ also has a Shar Pei called Bobo.
While Shar Peis do not require regular brushing and are moderate shedders, what you need to watch out for is those luscious wrinkles. Especially during the hot months, make sure to dry out every single wrinkle when you’re done wiping your Shar Pei down, because moist crevices are as celebrated as a new nightclub in the bacterial world. Shar Peis are prone to several skin infections and most of them are due to yeast infections caused by an inefficient or hasty grooming session. Ideally, you should clean the wrinkles using a damp cloth about once a week and then ensure that they are dried completely to prevent any infections. There are two types of coat that the Shar Pei can have, one is the bush coat that sheds all year round and the other is the horse coat that sheds only twice a year.
While Shar Peis are usually sturdy dogs, they are prone to several skin infections and a few other ailments besides. Demodectic Mange, Seborrhoea, Cutaneous Mucinosis and Pyoderma are all mostly bacterial and fungal infections that Shar Peis are likely to develop if their coats are not kept clean and dry.Another common condition is called Shar Pei fever, a kind of fever that mostly starts with swollen hock syndrome. In this condition there is swelling of the hock joint, which is mostly accompanied by abdominal pain and vomiting. Diarrhoea and shallow breathing are other symptoms. Temperature can range from 103 to 107 degree. Shar Pei fever can easily be treated with medication.Shar Peis can also develop glaucoma or entropion. The former is defined by an increased pressure in the eye, symptomized by pain and loss of vision. The latter is the inward rolling of the eyelid, usually the inner one. It causes vision loss and irritation and mostly occurs in puppies or adolescent below one year of age. Both can be treated with surgery.Share Peis have a propensity to develop orthopaedic conditions such as Patellar Luxation, Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia and Osteochondrosis Dissecans, which is caused by improper growth of cartilages in the joints.
Shar Peis are alert, independent and calm dogs, not often prone to drama or resorting to attention-seeking tactics. They are warm and affectionate with their family but can be aloof towards strangers. As in the case of several breeds with an independent streak, early socialisation and firm but gentle training served with a large dollop of patience, is the best way to have a well-adjusted Shar Pei. They prefer the companionship of humans to other dogs, but are rarely averse to canine company if brought up well from an early age. Calm and confident, Shar Peis are famous for developing an intuitive understanding of their families. Because they were once bred to fight, Shar Peis will need to quite categorically be conditioned to accept other dogs and humans. Positive reinforcement and treats are the best way to achieve favourable results with this breed, since they are confirmed foodies.Environment
While they need regular exercise, both mental and physical, Shar Peis make great apartment dogs. They’re quite content to curl up in a cosy chair, but they can gain weight easily, if you don’t keep an eye on their diet and exercise regimen. Like all other brachycephalic dogs, Shar Peis don’t do very well in warm or humid climates. Added to their difficulty to cool warm air before it reaches the lungs because of their flat noses, their profound wrinkles make them quite susceptible to skin infections. They are not meant to be outdoor-only dogs, so ensure that they have equal access to the indoors and the outdoors.Training & Intelligence
Shar Peis make excellent guard dogs as their instinctively protective nature kicks in at an early age. Be sure to socialise your Shar Pei to accept as many people and animals into their circle of trust. They are independent and often obstinate dogs, so training should involve patience and a firm yet gentle demeanour. A way to a Shar Pei’s heart is through his or her stomach. Training will be most effective when treats are involved as the promise of food is a great motivator for this breed. It isn’t difficult to housebreak a Shar Pei, however, be sure to start the training as early as possible.
Shar Peis are generally healthy dogs and there aren’t many complications involved in their breeding process. They attain sexual maturity when they’re anywhere between six to nine months of age, though they are still too young to be mated at this point. With any breed, it is best to consider mating your dog once he or she is at least two years old. Finally, if you have to mate your dog, make sure you do it responsibly. Find enough families for the potential four to six puppies that each litter will have, well before the puppies are born. Interview the families and know for sure that the little Shar Peis are in good hands for the rest of their lives.Puppies
Shar Pei puppies are easily amongst the cutest there are! As puppies, they have far more wrinkles than their adult counterparts and this adds to their already adorable looks. Early socialisation and training is a must for their naturally suspicious and aloof dogs. Introduce them early to as many people, animals, sights, sounds and scents as you can, to ensure that they grow into well-rounded and warm adults. During housebreaking, crate training is recommended, although you will have to ensure that the puppies see the crate as a homely, positive environment and not as the place they go to when they are punished. Shar Pei puppies love to discover the world with their tiny teeth, so make sure you expose them to as many puppy-safe textures and tastes, while teaching them bite inhibition as early as possible.
The most noticeable thing about Shar Peis is undoubtedly their wrinkles. As puppies, they have a profusion of wrinkles which slowly reduce in number as they become adults. Shar Peis have broad and deep chests with short backs. The legs are muscular and strong. The forelegs are straight and the hind legs are relatively more angular. The feet are compact and the toes, well knuckled. The head is large with a flat skull and a broad top. The nose is black, as is the tongue, which is another feature that stands out. The ears are thick and rectangular, pointing towards the nose. The eyes are dark and the muzzle is fairly long and broad. The tail is curved and set high on the back. Because of their wrinkles, Shar Peis always wear a worried look on their face, but the worrying usually stops there; they are relatively calm, confident dogs. Shar Peis stand 18-20 inches tall and weigh between 40 and 55 pounds (18-25kg). The standard colours of the Shar Pei include cream, grey, blue merle, black and fawn.