Best Bully Sticks Breed Spotlight: Shar Pei

Today, you’ll learn about a dog that has an ancient history, fierce love for family and is also probably one of the cutest puppies. Best Bully Sticks brings you the Shar Pei. Read about this historic Chinese breed! We think you’ll be surprised! 

History & Background: Considered one of the oldest breeds on earth, the Shar Pei hails from the Guangdong province of China where it was originally bred to be a farm dog, and served many roles. The earliest Shar Pei’s were guard dogs, hunters, trackers and herders.  The Shar Pei’s unique physical characteristics, the black tongue and intimidating “scowl,” were prized qualities to this breed’s early Chinese owners because they believed these traits would ward off evil spirits.

One of the earliest records of the Shar Pei’s existence is seen from pictures on pottery from the Han Dynasty circa 206 B.C. It’s thought this dog has a common ancestry with the Chow Chow, especially as they share the same distinct blue-black tongue.

During the Communist Revolution in China, this breed’s numbers dwindled dramatically. A Chinese business man, Matgo Law, appealed to Americas in 1973 by way of a magazine article.  That same year, 200 Shar Pei’s were smuggled into America.  Most American Shar Pei’s can be traced to back to these 200.

The English form of this dog’s name “Shar Pei” probably came from the British spelling of the Cantonese equivalent, “sā pèih.” This translates to “sand skin” or “sand coat.” This breed was recognized by the AKC in 1991.

Height: 18-22 inches

Weight: 55-65 pounds (males), 40-55 pounds (females)

Coat: In general, a Shar Pei’s coat is dense, short and stands away from the trunk of the body.  The coat’s harshness is a defining feature and can be categorized by three different textures: the horse coat, brush coat and bear coat. Horse coat is the most rough; extremely prickly in one direction and soft in the other. Horse coat is thought to be the most traditional type for the breed. Brush coat is a little longer and softer. Bear coat is very rare and isn’t recognized by the AKC because the coat is longer than an inch at the withers. The bear coat is soft and wavy and is thought to be a left over from Shar Pei’s that were owned by the Chinese wealthy and ruling class.

This breed only sheds twice a year in moulting periods.

Color: The Shar Pei is usually has solid coloring, but the shade can range from anywhere from a traditional sable coloring to red, black, cream, blue and more.

Appearance: This breed has many distinctive characteristics. The Shar Pei sports a blue-black tongue and a hippopotamus shaped head. However, the most recognizable feature of the Shar Pei might be this dog’s wrinkles. As a puppy, the Shar Pei’s wrinkles seem to be over abundant, but as an adult, the wrinkles will only be around the face and head. The original Chinese breeds are less wrinkled and boxier around the face and head as well as have a flatter mouth and nose. The Chinese now differentiate the two by calling them “meat-mouth” and “bone-mouth.”

Overall, this dog is medium sized and very compact, square and sturdy. This dog also has a high-set curly tail, which rests on the back. Shar Pei’s also have triangular ears that are small and close to the head.

Temperament: Shar Pei’s are very indifferent to strangers but extremely loyal to their owners. This is mostly likely because of their background as a guard dog. However, over time this dog will warm up to new people. This dog will only become aggressive if not properly trained or poorly socialized. In fact, this dog is usually pretty quiet, only barking when new people are introduced.

The Shar Pei is extremely intelligent and trains well, but needs a to be socialized early and be given positive reinforcement.

Health: This breed sometimes suffers from allergies and Familial Shar Pei Fever or FSF.  FSF is a serious congenital disease where the Shar Pei will have short periods of fevers and ankle swelling. It’s thought the Western Shar Pei is most susceptible.  Because of the way Shar Pei’s wrinkles sit around their eyes, this dog can sometimes suffer from entropion, which is a condition where the eyelashes curl inward, irritating the eye.

Product Suggestions:  Best Bully Sticks suggests a hearty treat for this stout dog. We think our USA Chicken Jerky would be a perfect fit for the Shar Pei. This crunchy dog treat is 100% all-natural chicken from the United States. Shar Pei’s are sure to love the Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Ball. This ball not only has the highest “5-chomper” rating but has a mint flavor that freshens breath while playing!

Is there a breed you want BBS to highlight? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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