Shar Pei - The Chinese Wrinkle Dog

By: granola
The Shar Pei is commonly known as the Chinese Wrinkle Dog. Indeed, the origins of this wrinkly dog can be traced to China, though exact lineage used to create this breed is up for debate. Some believe there's a tie to the Chow based on the fact that both have purple tongues and that some dogs carry their tails like a Chow. There are some suggestions of ties to other breeds, but most are purely speculative. What is certain is that the Shar Pei was represented on pottery that dates back several centuries making this a very old breed.

What many people don't realize is that there was apparently a purpose for the selective breeding that created the extra folds of skin on this dog. One of the uses for the Shar Peis of centuries ago was dog fighting. Other dogs had difficulty grabbing and holding those loose folds of skin on the Shar Pei, making it a formidable adversary in the fighting ring. Today, those folds of skin make this dog unique in the dog world, and have created a demand by those looking for an unusual pet.

Despite those early breeders who apparently used the Shar Pei as a fighting dog, the Shar Pei of today tends to be very calm. That's not to say they aren't protective, but that most dogs of this breed are simply easy-going canines that are very tolerant. That tolerance is especially afforded to family and close friends who interact with the dog often, though these dogs do tend to be "one-man canines." They often favor the person who handles and cares for them most and sometimes simply refuse to acknowledge commands or requests from anyone else.

The unique look of these dogs made them extremely popular a few decades ago. Their popularity quickly ran its course, leaving many of these dogs in shelters or abandoned. In some cases, "puppy farms" turned out massive numbers of Shar Pei puppies without regard to screening and there were many of these dogs with behavioral problems - largely the result of poor bloodlines and poor care of both parents and pups. Time is rectifying the situation, though temperamental dogs still occur as a result of that period.

It was the looks that attracted so many people to these dogs, and those same looks that quickly made people dismiss and abandon them. Some Shar Pei have skin problems - not due to the wrinkles but simply as part of their genetic makeup. Many people who owned Shar Peis during the time of their fad popularity believed that extra care of the wrinkled coat would solve those problems and were disenchanted with the dogs when that proved untrue.

Unlike people, the Shar Pei tends to become less wrinkled with age. The Shar Pei may come in several colors with fawn or light brown being the most common. Though mottled Shar Pei do occur, most canine organizations don't recognize anything other than solid-colored Shar Pei for competition.

If you have a sufficiently strong will to not allow this wrinkled dog to walk all over you, you may very well find that it makes an excellent companion.
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