The Chinese Shar-Pei, despite its wrinkled skin, is a dog breed that is relatively easy to care for. Whether at home or in the show ring, a Shar-Pei requires very little to keep clean and show-worthy. There are some concerns to keep in mind, though.
The show line Shar-Pei, much as his pet quality brothers and sisters, is a relatively clean dog. He does not have a heavy doggy odor. Bathing him once every 12 weeks is recommended, provided he has not rolled in muck or otherwise requires a bath. In fact, bathing him too much, or too regularly, can irritate his skin. The problem occurs in getting him dry post-bath: his wrinkles and folds must be thoroughly wiped down with a dry towel to keep away fungal or yeast infections. The only time bathing might be increased to once a week is for shedding season with the "brush" type coat. A pre-show bath and thorough drying is a good start.
Shar-Peis come in two recognized coats when it comes to show lines: "brush" coats and "horse" coats. The AKC standards for the breed require the coat to be harsh and no longer than one inch in length. This coat is never trimmed, but should be regularly brushed with a rubber curry or grooming mitt at least once a week. When shedding season occurs, brushing should be done daily to keep the dog from looking unkempt. As the Shar-Pei is shown in its natural state, much of the efforts that other dog breeds require pre-show are unnecessary for this breed. Shedding is otherwise minimal. A curry brush and hair dryer set on low heat should be sufficient pre-show.
All types of puppies should be handled from an early age to accept people dealing with their mouths and feet. By doing so, a pet owner can easily brush his dog's teeth to cut back on bad breath and tartar buildup. Teeth-brushing is recommended two or three times per week. Brushing pre-show is a must.
Nails and Ears
A Shar-Pei's ear canals are delicate. Check them weekly for irritation or odor. Use a cotton ball with a gentle ear cleaner during checkups to wipe the ears clean, especially before a show. Never place water in the inner ears of this breed or any other. Finally, if when the dog walks across the floor and each step clicks audibly, a nail trim is needed. Be aware that dogs have blood vessels inside their toenails that can be cut - an inexperienced groomer may wish a veterinarian or professional groomer to do the trimming instead pre-show.
Dondi Ratliff is a certified secondary English teacher in Texas. Her articles typically cover topics regarding animals both wild and domesticated. Ratliff holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Tarleton State University, a Master of Arts in teaching from Texas Woman's University, and a Master of Arts in English from Tarleton State University.