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Other Names: Chinese Shar Pei
The Shar Pei is a breed of dog originating from China, whose distinctive feature is its deep wrinkles. As young puppies, they have lots of wrinkles, but as they mature, the wrinkles disappear as they “grow into their skin”. The Shar-Pei’s coarse, bristly coat gives him his name: Shar is a gritty type of sand, and pei is Chinese for dog.
Appearance: The Shar-Pei is a compact, square, muscular dog with a blocky head that brings a hippopotamus to mind, blue-black tongues, tiny ears that lie against the head, and a short, curled tail.
Coat:There are 2 distinctive types of coat textures: horse and brush. The horse coat is very short and harsh, and the hair is straight and it stands off from the body, and can also cause an irritating rash on some people.The brush coat is longer than the horse coat, but at the same time it is just as harsh; as well, the hair should be no longer than one inch at the withers. Colours: most popular being that of a tan, but others include that of fawn, cream, black, red, chocolate, sable (two colors of hair, one dark and one light), apricot, a dilute shade of red, and silver, a dilute shade known as blue in other breeds, and more.
Average Lifespan: 8-10 years
Temperament: Shar-Pei are very loyal to their handler. Intelligent playful, active, dominant, and brave. They bond with their family, but are not unfriendly toward strangers. If the dog meets cats and children while they are still young, they usually will not have a problem with them. The Chinese Shar-Pei is easy-going, calm, independent, and devoted. They make a delightful companion and are good watchdogs with a strong protective instinct. Shar Peis are utterly devoted to their family, and want to be with them as much as possible. If relegated to the backyard and excluded from family life he will not only be miserable but may also exhibit behavioural problems.
They are very easy to housebreak as they are naturally very clean. The Shar-Pei needs a confident handler. If you are uncertain, inconsistent, too soft, or mild, in the dog’s eyes, it will take over as the boss. Shar-Pei need a firm, but gentle, extremely consistent authority figure. The dog must be taught all humans are above him in the pecking order. Those who see themselves as above humans will be stubborn and bold. This breed needs firm obedience training to establish your leadership.
They do need exercise, but enjoy playing as well as running and walking. They will need daily walks to keep them happy and healthy. Shar Peis do not like to get wet, and bad weather may well put them off going out. As Shar Pei are sensitive to heat exercise should be undertaken in the cooler parts of the day and shade and fresh water should be available at all times.
The folded skin of this breed needs a lot of attention to keep it in good condition, and stop skin problems developing. Some lines have very close set tails and these must be inspected and cleaned to prevent infection. Shampoos must be chosen with care and, as the nails grow very quickly, must be trimmed regularly. The eyes as well should be inspected daily. The coat itself just needs a going over with a soft brush.
Shar Pei Health Problems
Ectropion is a medical condition in which the lower eyelid turns outwards. The condition can be repaired surgically.
Entropion is a medical condition in which the eyelids fold inward. It is very uncomfortable, as the eyelashes rub against the eyeball constantly. Entropion is usually caused by genetic factors and may be congenital. Trachoma infection may cause scarring of the inner eyelid, which may cause entropion.Treatment is a simple surgery in which excess skin of the outer lids is removed. Prognosis is excellent if surgery is performed before the cornea is damaged. Entropion has been documented in most dog breeds, although there are some breeds (particular purebreds) that are more commonly affected than others.
Cherry eye is the term used to refer to canine nictitans gland prolapse, a common eye condition in various dog breeds where the gland of the third eyelid prolapses and becomes visible. This condition usually must be corrected, mostly through surgery, because the gland produces some of the eye’s tears. Older methods of cherry eye correction involved simply removing the gland, but it is a last-resort procedure today (complemented with a lifetime of eyedrops if performed), as the gland’s purpose was unknown then. Modern methods of cherry eye correction involve repositioning of the gland to its normal location. The success rate of this type of surgery is approximately 80% in most breeds.
Hypothyroidism – an endocrine disease that results in the abnormally low production of thyroid hormones. The symptoms of hypothyroidism include lethargy, mental depression, weight gain and a tendency to seek out warm places. Hypothyroidism can also affect the coat and skin, causing hair loss and excessive dandruff.
Swollen Hock Syndrome
The most common of the Shar Pei health problems is called Swollen Hock syndrome, which is the inability to break down and remove amyloid proteins which causes an the proteins to build up and take over the kidneys and liver. This disease is frequently found between four and 18 months of age, but can be discovered at any time.
Swollen Hock syndrome is characterized by lethargy, fever, decrease in appetite, occasional fever, stiff or swollen legs, and muzzle tenderness and swelling. A low protein diet that is high in parsley and natural sulfur can help cure some of the symptoms associated with Swollen Hock Syndrome, though there isn’t technically a cure for the disease itself.
Infections, sores or rashes can develop in the folds of the skin if they are not properly cleaned. Shar Pei owners must make sure not to subject their pets to moist or overly heated environments, as the skin folds hold moisture, and cause mold, sores, and rashes. The best way to avoid this if the dog must be wet, is to make sure to take a clean towel and lift up each of the skin folds and assure they are completely dry before laying them back down.
Hip dysplasia – a malformation of the hip joint resulting in a poor fit between the head of the femur bone and the hip socket. This condition can be alleviated by surgery, at some cost to dog and owner. Because dysplastic dogs often produce dysplastic puppies, buyers should ask if both the sire and the dam of the puppy in which they are interested have been rated clear of hip dysplasia. Do not take yes for an answer without seeing a certificate, and ask for a copy to take to your veterinarian.
Shar Pei History
The Shar Pei is one of the world’s ancient dog breeds and is believed to have originated in China’s Kwangtung Province. Although there is no definite date as to when the sharpei first came into existence, there are some historical drawings and statues from the Han Dynasty that feature an animal that closely resembles the breed and date as far back as 200 B.C.
Despite the fact that the shar pei has been around for a long time, his actual ancestry is still shrouded in mystery. Many people think that he is a descendant of another Asian breed – the Chow Chow. However, the only distinct connection between these two canines is their purple or blue/black tongue. Other dogs they have been linked to include the Great Pyrenees and the Tibetan Mastiff.
It is likely that they were originally bred as general purpose farm dogs. Their jobs consisted of hunting and guarding livestock, as well as their home and family. They were prized for their intelligence and fighting capability and were also said to have been protectors of samurai warriors and Chinese Royalty.
As time passed, the shar pei were used for animal fights. With their impressive strength, strong jaws, sharp teeth, loose skin and bristly fur, they became known as ultimate fighting dogs and could easily break free from a grasp and crush their opponents.
Although sharpeis spent many centuries thriving in China, they almost became extinct when the dog population was practically eradicated when the People’s Republic of China was established. It was through the efforts of a dedicated Chinese businessman from Hong Kong, Matgo Law, that the breed was saved and introduced to America in the 1970’s.