Dog Health & More
Though the Chinese Shar-Pei is the 134th breed recognized by the American Kennel Club, the dog breed has been around for hundreds of years. He was developed to guard, hunt, herd, and later, fight, and is known for his characteristic short, bristly coat, loose, wrinkled skin, and devotion to his family. Today, the Shar-Pei mostly enjoys life as a beloved companion.
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His name means "sand skin," referring to his distinct, bristle-like coat. But that's not the only thing unusual about the Chinese Shar-Pei. He's a solid mass of loose wrinkles — folds of skin that make him look like he's wearing a bulky, oversized suit. His tiny ears sit atop a large, powerful head with a short muzzle and purple tongue. The finishing touch is a thick, round tail that curls over his back.
To be sure, the Shar-Pei is an interesting-looking dog, and his looks alone are enough to prompt many would-be owners to choose this breed. But there's more to the Shar-Pei than his unique appearance.
This breed is calm enough that he can live in an apartment. He's also an independent-thinking, sometimes aloof dog. His heritage as a guardian and fighting dog make him an excellent watchdog and guard dog — so much so that he must be taught not to overreact to people and animals he doesn't know.
Early training is essential for the strong-willed Shar-Pei. He needs an owner who is able to establish leadership firmly and kindly, and he tends not to respect the owner who doesn't do so. He's a quick study, so training is generally easy as long as he's not showing his stubborn streak.
Grooming is a cinch with the Shar-Pei. He's a naturally clean dog and frequent bathing isn't necessary or recommended. With all those wrinkles, however, he can be prone to skin problems so extra attention and care may be needed in that area.
The Shar-Pei isn't as popular as he used to be, which is actually good for the breed. Increased popularity leads to increased breeding, especially by unscrupulous breeders who breed with no regard for health, temperament, and conformation. Unfortunately, that's what happened to the Shar-Pei in the 1980s. Responsible breeders have been working to regain the breeds' loyal, loving temperament, and to diminish or eliminate health problems.