Chinese Shar-Pei: Breed Information

The Chinese Shar-Pei is a unique and versatile dog breed known for its distinctive, deeply wrinkled skin and blue-black tongue. Originating from China, this breed was historically used for hunting, herding, and guarding. Shar-Peis are medium-sized, muscular dogs with a broad, flat head and a high-set, curled tail. Despite their somewhat stern appearance, they are usually calm, confident, and devoted to their families. They can be reserved or suspicious towards strangers, hence early socialization is crucial. Their short, rough coat comes in a variety of colors and requires minimal grooming. It is important to pay attention to their health as they are prone to certain conditions like skin disorders and eye issues.

History Of Shar-Pei Dog Breed

The Chinese Shar-Pei is one of the most ancient dog breeds, with a history dating back over 2000 years to the Han Dynasty in China. Shar-Pei, which translates to “sand skin”, refers to the breed’s short, rough coat. Initially, these dogs were used for a variety of tasks in rural China including hunting, herding, and guarding homes and livestock. Their unique loose, wrinkled skin was also believed to protect them from wild boar attacks, and their scowling face and harsh coat were thought to deter evil spirits.

Despite their long history, the breed nearly faced extinction in the 20th century. After the Communist Revolution, dog ownership was discouraged in China, leading to a severe decline in the Shar-Pei population. In the 1970s, a Hong Kong businessman named Matgo Law appealed to the Western world for help in saving the breed. The dogs that were subsequently brought to the U.S. helped revive the breed. Due to dedicated breeding programs, the Shar-Pei was eventually recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1991, and it has since gained popularity as a companion dog worldwide.

Shar-Pei.

Personality Of Shar-Pei Dogs

The Chinese Shar-Pei is one of the most ancient dog breeds, with a history dating back over 2000 years to the Han Dynasty in China. Shar-Pei, which translates to “sand skin”, refers to the breed’s short, rough coat. Initially, these dogs were used for a variety of tasks in rural China including hunting, herding, and guarding homes and livestock. Their unique loose, wrinkled skin was also believed to protect them from wild boar attacks, and their scowling face and harsh coat were thought to deter evil spirits.

Despite their long history, the breed nearly faced extinction in the 20th century. After the Communist Revolution, dog ownership was discouraged in China, leading to a severe decline in the Shar-Pei population. In the 1970s, a Hong Kong businessman named Matgo Law appealed to the Western world for help in saving the breed. The dogs that were subsequently brought to the U.S. helped revive the breed. Due to dedicated breeding programs, the Shar-Pei was eventually recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1991, and it has since gained popularity as a companion dog worldwide.

Size And Weight

The Chinese Shar-Pei is a medium-sized dog breed. Typically, adult Shar-Peis stand between 18 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder, with females being slightly smaller, usually standing between 17 to 19 inches tall. As for weight, adult males typically weigh in the range of 55 to 65 pounds, while females usually fall between 40 to 55 pounds. However, individual sizes and weights can vary, so it’s always important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the ideal weight for a Shar-Pei based on factors such as diet, age, and overall health.

Health

Chinese Shar-Peis are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they can be prone to specific health issues. Here are some of the more common health concerns associated with the breed:

  1. Shar-Pei Fever (FSF): Also known as Familial Shar-Pei Fever, this is a hereditary inflammatory disorder that causes recurring episodes of fever and swelling in the hocks (ankle joints). If untreated, it can lead to kidney and liver damage.
  2. Skin Issues: Due to their unique wrinkled skin, Shar-Peis can be prone to various skin disorders, including bacterial skin infections, also known as pyoderma, which can occur in the folds of the skin.
  3. Entropion: This is a condition where the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes to irritate the surface of the eye. It can lead to pain, corneal ulcers, or even vision loss. It often requires surgical correction.
  4. Hip Dysplasia: This is a hereditary condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket, leading to arthritis over time.
  5. Hypothyroidism: This is a disorder of the thyroid gland, which can lead to various symptoms, including lethargy, hair loss, weight gain, and skin problems.
  6. Demodectic Mange: This is a parasitic skin condition caused by mites, which can lead to hair loss and skin infections.

Regular vet check-ups and a good, balanced diet can go a long way in keeping a Shar-Pei healthy. Prospective owners should seek reputable breeders who screen for health conditions in their breeding dogs to ensure the healthiest possible puppies.

Care

Caring for a Chinese Shar-Pei involves several key aspects related to diet, grooming, exercise, and healthcare.

Diet: A balanced diet that is appropriate for their age, size, and health status is crucial. Shar-Peis can be prone to obesity, so it’s important to monitor their food intake and not overfeed them.

Grooming: Despite their short coat, Shar-Peis require regular grooming to keep their skin healthy. Their unique wrinkles need to be cleaned regularly to prevent bacterial infections. Always dry them thoroughly after baths to avoid moisture buildup in the skin folds.

Exercise: While not overly active, Shar-Peis still require regular exercise to keep them fit and mentally stimulated. Daily walks and playtime in a secure area can suffice.

Healthcare: Regular vet check-ups are vital to monitor and prevent potential health issues common to the breed. Pay special attention to their skin and eyes. Dental care is also important, with regular tooth brushing recommended to prevent dental disease.

Training and Socialization: Shar-Peis are known for their stubbornness, so consistent, patient training is required from an early age. They respond best to positive reinforcement methods. Early socialization with various people, animals, and environments can help them grow into well-adjusted adults.

Living Environment: Shar-Peis can adapt to living in both houses with yards and apartments, provided they get sufficient exercise. However, they do not tolerate extreme temperatures very well, so make sure they have a cool place to retreat in hot weather and are kept warm during cold seasons.

Remember, every Shar-Pei is an individual, and what works best for one may not necessarily be the same for another. Always consult with a vet or a professional dog trainer if you encounter any difficulties with care or training.

Shar-Pei.

Shar-Peis And Children

Chinese Shar-Peis can make good family pets and can get along well with children, particularly if they’ve been raised together from a young age. However, it’s important to note that Shar-Peis are naturally reserved and can be sensitive to loud noises and abrupt movements, which some young children might not understand. Therefore, interactions between Shar-Peis and young kids should always be supervised to ensure the safety of both the child and the dog.

In general, it’s important to teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while they’re eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

Also, keep in mind that Shar-Peis can be somewhat aloof and might not be as playful or tolerant as other breeds. Therefore, they might not be the best fit for very active children or those who want a pet to engage in rough-and-tumble play.

As always, socializing your Shar-Pei from a young age will help them be more comfortable and friendly around children and other pets. It’s important to introduce new experiences, people, and environments gradually and positively.

Feeding

Chinese Shar-Peis can make good family pets and can get along well with children, particularly if they’ve been raised together from a young age. However, it’s important to note that Shar-Peis are naturally reserved and can be sensitive to loud noises and abrupt movements, which some young children might not understand. Therefore, interactions between Shar-Peis and young kids should always be supervised to ensure the safety of both the child and the dog.

In general, it’s important to teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while they’re eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

Also, keep in mind that Shar-Peis can be somewhat aloof and might not be as playful or tolerant as other breeds. Therefore, they might not be the best fit for very active children or those who want a pet to engage in rough-and-tumble play.

As always, socializing your Shar-Pei from a young age will help them be more comfortable and friendly around children and other pets. It’s important to introduce new experiences, people, and environments gradually and positively.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Chinese Shar-Pei is a breed steeped in ancient heritage and distinct physical characteristics. With their unique, deeply wrinkled skin, broad head, and protective nature, they offer a blend of loyalty and independence that can make them a truly special companion. Their rich history, from their origin as working dogs in China to their brush with near-extinction and subsequent revival, lends a touch of resilience and tenacity to their personality.

Caring for a Shar-Pei requires attention to their specific needs, particularly in terms of their diet, skin care, exercise, and socialization. A well-cared-for Shar-Pei can be a calm, devoted, and protective family member who brings great joy and companionship. Whether you’re an individual or a family, in a house or an apartment, the Shar-Pei can adapt and thrive as long as their needs are met. Their unique looks and character can bring a distinctive charm to any home. As with any breed, responsible ownership and understanding of the breed’s characteristics are essential to ensuring a happy, healthy life for these remarkable dogs.

About The Author

Marc Magny is a seasoned dog owner and breeder, lending his expertise to captivating and informative articles. His deep understanding of dogs and their behavior, health, and breeding practices enriches his writing, offering invaluable insights to readers.

With his practical experience and passion for dogs, Marc’s articles serve as a comprehensive guide for dog lovers. His work resonates with the joy of dog ownership, positioning him as a trusted voice and resource in the pet parenting journey.