Shar Pei Breeders, Breed Clubs and Rescue
The Shar Pei (pronounced Sar Pay, and without a plural) is truly an ancient breed. There are statuettes from the Nan Dynasty which ruled China in the period 206 BC to AD 220 depicting Shar Pei; they are thought to have originated near the South China Sea where they were used for hunting and herding and they were also used for dog-fighting. When China opened its borders stronger and fiercer dogs were introduced such as Mastiffs, which the Shar Pei was no match for and that heralded the beginning of the decline of the breed. Punitive taxes were imposed on dog ownership during the early 20th Century and in 1947 the taxes were increased and breeding banned on the Mainland. The dwindling numbers of Shar Pei were only found on the islands of Macao and Hong Kong. In 1973 Matgo Law, a Hong Kong Chinese breeder appealed to dog fanciers in the USA to help him save the Shar Pei and this marked the turning point in their fortunes.
The first dog arrived in the UK from the USA in 1981 and in the next four years 350 dogs were registered with the Kennel Club. Unfortunately many of the early dogs were not very good examples and had problems such as excessive wrinkle, entropion and too short in the leg. Fortunately dedicated breeders worked hard to improve the health of the Shar Pei and it is now a much healthier dog who has found his way into many pet homes. In fact the breed has overcome its initial problems to such an extent that a Shar Pei has won through to the final of the highly prestigious Pup of the Year competition in the UK, a remarkable achievement winning as he did against puppies from the entire Utility Group.
As a puppy the Shar Pei has a lot of loose skin which he grows into although he retains wrinkle on the head and into dewlaps. The most singular feature about him is a short and bristly coat. This is always in solid colours – black, red and shades of fawn and cream, frequently shaded with a lighter colour. Shar Pei can be translated as ‘sand skin’ which refers to the texture of the coat. It is possible that the Tibetan Mastiff and the Chow Chow played a part in the creation of the breed.
Medium sized, the Shar Pei stands at up to 20″ and squarely built he is not a heavy dog though very solid. He has a lovely temperament, calm and affectionate and very attached to his family. He is the kind of dog where it would take forever going out for a walk as you would be continually stopped by people curious to know about him.
Rescue and Rehoming
If you need to rehome your own dog, first contact the breeder to see what support she can offer. If that doesn’t resolve your problem then contact a designated Rescue organisation (if one exists) or a Breed Club.