Behind The Breed Dogs

Behind the Breed: Chinese Shar-Pei

Shar-peis are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world!

This wrinkly, iconic dog is actually one of the oldest dog breeds in the world! The history of Shar-Peis can be traced back 2,000 years to China’s Han Dynasty, where peasants were thought to have bred them to hunt, herd, and guard livestock. The name translates to ‘sand coat’ or ‘sand skin’, which refers to the dog’s wrinkly, sandpaper-like coat. Shar-pei have another unique trait – their blue-black tongue! They share this trait with one other breed, the chow chow.

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Their loose skin folds on their face make it look like they’re constantly scowling but they can be really sweet and affectionate with their family. Shar-pei can potentially be aggressive with other dogs because they were historically used in dog fights and as guard dogs. Their loose coat allowed for an extra layer of protection, as they could still get away from a dog if they grabbed on and their internal organs wouldn’t be damaged.

Care for these dogs is fairly easy, as they’re laid-back, low-energy dogs. Grooming is fairly easy, as their short coats only need brushing once a week and bathing a few times a year. After a bath, make sure to meticulously dry between their folds and wrinkles to avoid a fungal infection. In fact, make sure to regularly pay attention and clean both their folds and ears to avoid any issues.

Shar-pei puppies are essentially a cute, sentient pile of wrinkles when they’re first born but eventually, these dogs do grow into their skin and lose some of their wrinkles over time. How wrinkled a shar-pai might be depends on their coat, as there are three varieties (horse, brush, and bear). Those with a horse coat have the least amount of wrinkles once fully grown and their coats are usually very stiff, prickly, and short. Brush coats, on the other hand, have a longer coat than the horse coat variety (their coats get up to an inch long) and have a softer, more wrinkled coat. Lastly, there are the bear coats, which aren’t considered breeding or show quality because of their long, soft hair and undercoat.

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Shar-pei are stubborn, intelligent, and often eager to please their owners, so positive reinforcement training will be vital. They can, at times, be aggressive/reactive towards other dogs (and even strange humans) so it’s important to figure out how your dog might react to a strange dog before letting them interact or play. Because of their short noses, shar-pei are brachycephalic and don’t do well with vigorous exercise or in hot weather and high humidity. Short daily walks are perfect for this breed but if you’re looking for a jogging partner, a shar-pei would not be a good dog for you.

This breed is a great watchdog and often very loyal and affectionate with their families. Because of their chill temperament, they’re great in an apartment or house but it’s important to remember they’re still medium-sized dogs and often weigh 45-60 pounds. While there are many great things about this breed, shar-pei are a poor choice for novice dog owners.

Have you ever had a shar-pei? Let me know in the comments!

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