Chinese Shar-Pei

FCI GROUP: Pinscher and Schnauzer – Molossoid and Swiss Mountain and Cattledogs

FAMILY: livestock dog, mountain dog, Northern (companion)

Allowed as pet in Singapore HDB Flat: No

Origin: China (Han Dynasty), 1200s. Pictures on pottery suggest the breed had existed as far back as 206 BC. By the 13th century, strong evidence in the form of writings describing a wrinkled dog point to the breed's existence. Its origins are unknown, but because only it and the Chow Chow have blue-black tongues, and both come from China, it is likely that they share some common ancestry. During the Communist Revolution the Shar-Pei population shrank towards the point of extinction. The turning point occurred with a 1973 article alerting American enthusiasts to the breed's awfully low numbers. Touted as the world's rarest dog, enthusiasts vied to obtain the few available Shar-Peis. The breed has since been brought from the brink of extinction to the height of popularity.

Original Purpose: Hunting wild boar; dog fighting; ratter; herder; protector of livestock and homes.

Behaviour and Temperament: Independent, calm, self-assured, alert, regal, friendly.

Breed Characteristics: Loving to his family but reserved with strangers. The Shar-Pei is generally not fond of water and often tries to avoid it. Has low tolerance to heat.

Physical Features: 45.5 to 51 cm; 20.5 to 27 kg. The tongue is blue-black (like Chow Chows). The original Chinese description of the Shar-Pei included a head like a “melon-shaped pear,” ears like clamshells, a nose like a butterfly, a back like a shrimp, and a neck like a water buffalo. Solid colours include black, cream, fawn, or red.

Coat Type and Grooming: A distinctive feature of the breed: short, harsh and sandy coat. The coat is straight and offstanding on the body, but generally flatter on the limbs. No undercoat. The coat may vary in length from 1 cm to 2.5 cm. Never trimmed. Low maintenance; once-a-week brushing. Special care needed for folds of the skin. Moderate shedding.

Life Expectancy: 9 to 10 years.

Health Concerns: Skin allergies, orthopaedic problems (OCD, elbow dysplasia), eye problems (entropion). The breed is vulnerable to kidney failure (amolydosis), causing fevers, often occurring with swollen hocks.

Exercise: Moderate. The Shar-Pei’s demand for exercise is considerable. Daily walks are necessary, but refrain from exercising them in the heat, to which they have low tolerance.

Housing: Can adapt to any living situation. Can be suited for apartment living if sufficiently exercised. Shades should be provided in the yard and water made available at all times.

Sociability: If not socialised, not good with children. Reserved toward strangers. Not good with other dogs but usually gets along fine with other pets if socialised early. Show lines tend to be less dog-aggressive.

Trainability: Low to average; this independent breed needs firm and patient training, however, this breed is very clean and one of the easier breeds to housebreak.

Activities: Companion, obedience.

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