Chinese Shar-Peis are probably best known for their distinctive and copious wrinkles, a trait bred into the breed to help withstand attacks. Despite their relative popularity in America and their cuddly appearance, Shar-Peis are not for everyone. They can be shy, even unfriendly, to strangers and other animals. They require a great deal of focused care.
Shar-Peis have existed for centuries in China. Statues of dogs strongly resembling modern Shar-Peis have been discovered dating back to approximately 200 B.C. Shar-Peis were originally bred for a number of functions, including fighting, hunting, herding and guarding. Despite their ancient lineage, Shar-Peis became well-known in the United States only in the early 1970s, when they were touted as a rare breed and a focused campaign to appeal to fanciers began.
According to the American Kennel Club, Shar-Peis that adhere to breed standard are medium-sized and compact in build, with short, rough fur and loose skin on the head and body. Shar-Peis are 18 to 20 inches tall at the withers and should weigh between 45 and 60 pounds, males larger than females. The coat of Shar-Peis is harsh to the touch and solid-colored. In fact, the breed's name translates into "sand skin," and refers to the extremely rough texture of the coat.
Individual dogs have their own personality traits, and no two dogs are exactly alike, regardless of breed. With that said, some traits are more typical of some breeds than others. According to the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, Shar-Peis are typically independent dogs, and can be shy or standoffish around strangers, and even occasionally aggressive toward unfamiliar animals. However, these dogs become extremely loyal and devoted to their families. Shar-Peis are considered to be intelligent, calm and self-possessed. The American Kennel Club refers to the temperament of Shar-Peis as dignified and lordly.
Due to their independent nature, Shar-Peis require intensive training and socialization as soon as possible when they are puppies. Adult Shar-Peis do not respond well to the use of force and will become aggressive if pushed too far. They respond better to positive training, wherein the trainer rewards appropriate behavior instead of punishing inappropriate behavior.
Shar-Peis also require specific grooming activities due to their unusual coats and wrinkled skin. To avoid the skin conditions that can develop in this breed, Shar-Peis require weekly bathing, daily brushing, constant attention to flea control, balanced nutrition and clean surroundings. Along with weekly bathing, Shar-Peis also require regular inspections and cleaning of the skin folds to prevent them from becoming infected.
- American Kennel Club: Chinese Shar-Pei Breed Standard
- Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America: Owner’s Guide to the Chinese Shar-Pei
- Animal Planet: Chinese Shar-Pei Guide
- Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America: History of the Chinese Shar-Pei
- Dr. Jeff Vidt: Training the Chinese Shar-Pei
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Shar-Pei Special Needs and Cautions
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