About the Shar Pei
The Basics | About the Chinese Shar Pei
The Chinese Shar-Pei, an ancient and unique breed, is thought to have originated in the area around the small village of Tai Li in Kwangtung Province, and has existed for centuries in the southern provinces of China, apparently since the Han Dynasty (c. 200 B.C.). More recently, a Chinese manuscript of the 13th century has been translated; it refers to a wrinkled dog with characteristics much like those of the Shar-Pei.
The name “Shar-Pei” itself literally means “sand-skin”, but translated more loosely as “rough, sandy coat” or “sand-paper-like coat” and refers to the two distinctive qualities of the Shar-Pei coat – roughness and shortness – which make the breed unique in the dog world. The Shar-Pei shares another distinctive characteristic with only one other breed, the Chow-Chow, in having a blue-black tongue, which may indicate an ancestor common to both breeds. However, proof of such a relationship is difficult.
For more information, visit the Chinese Shar Pei Club of America.
Is a shar pei right for you?
Shar pei can be aloof, independent and not overtly affectionate. Their independence and intelligence can make them difficult to obedience train. They are territorial and may not be friendly to strange people or animals. Shar pei are prone to ear infections, eye problems, kidney disease, debilitating fevers, skin problems, and have poor immune systems. Shar pei, bred for fighting and protection, are extremely strong dogs – a small forty-pound shar pei can easily pull a full-grown human to the ground when on a leash.
That’s the bad news. If you haven’t been scared off, then here’s the good news:
Shar pei are loving and loyal to their families. With proper socialization and introductions, most shar pei are just fine with other dogs. Many shar pei, particularly the horsecoats, are playful clowns with endless energy to entertain you. Their intelligence can make training a challenge, but it also makes them good dogs for any sort of work you can find for them (obedience, agility, tricks, etc.). Naturally clean, shar pei are usually easy to housebreak. Many of the health problems of shar pei can be managed by preventive health care and a high-quality diet.