Showsight Presents The Chinese Shar-Pei

GETTING TO KNOW THE CHINESE SHAR-PEI

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By Alice Fix

he Chinese Shar-Pei originated in the south- ern regions of China, and truly is an ancient breed. Th ere is evidence that they existed as early

as 204 AD during the Han dynasty. Farm- ers used them for herding, hunting, com- panionship and even dog fighting. Th ey have been referred to in the past as the Chinese Fighting Dog. Th at name is really a misnomer as they don’t really make good fighting dogs. Th e farmers thought that since they had such loose skin, it would give them an advantage over their oppo- nents because they could still turn and fight with all that skin. Over time they learned that Shar-Pei are not good fight- ers, and that when they get a tear in their skin, infection can travel under the skin and multiply quickly. Around 1947 the Chinese government made the decision to discourage dog ownership by placing a tax on it. Many people could not a ff ord the tax so they took their dogs to Hong Kong where there was no tax. Th e dog population in Hong Kong began to swell. With so many dogs running the streets there was a worry that the pure breed dogs lines would disappear. Serious dog breeders in Hong Kong began shipping the best examples of Shar-Pei to the United States so the breed could be preserved. Th e first Shar-Pei began arriving in the United States in 1966. Th ere were several articles written about saving the rare breed dogs, but the most famous plea to save the Shar-Pei came from Matgo Law. In 1973 he pleaded with breeders in the United States to please help save the Chinese Shar- Pei from extinction. Around that time, the Chinese Shar-Pei was considered one of the rarest breeds. If it had not been for the dedication of the breeders in Hong Kong

to do what they could to save the breed, it might be that none of us would have the opportunity to see or own one. We must give them credit for seeing that this unique breed was saved and promoted. After the first Shar-Pei came to Amer- ica, it soon became evident that there needed to be some kind of organization for registering the breed. On April 24, 1974, the first organizational meeting of the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America was held in Oregon. It was decided to change the name of the breed from the Chinese Fighting Dog to the Chinese Shar-Pei because of the negative publicity concern- ing dog fighting in this country. Th ey also wrote a standard and established a regis- try for the breed. Since the breed was so rare, they were often shown on television and in the newspapers because of the unique-ness of the wrinkly skin. As they became better known, their popularity soared as well. Th ey have been featured in many commer- cials having to do with ironing, wrinkles,

washers and dryers. Th ey are no longer considered to be a rare breed. Most Shar-Pei owners feel that our breed has advantages over other breeds, and that they are like potato chips- you can’t have just one. Th eir wrinkles are just one of the most unique things about them. Th e wrinkles are clearly evident when you look at the dog. Some people have been misled to believe that the wrinkles cause skin issues, but that is not true. You should be aware that the wrinkles around the face sometimes can block their view. It is important to approach a Shar-Pei directly from the front so that they can see you. You should also know that most dogs will get less wrinkling as they grow up. Puppies do outgrow their wrinkles. Th ere are two acceptable coat types for Shar-Pei. One is the horse-coat and the other is the brush-coat. Th e horse-coat has harsh short hair that can be prickly. Th is unique hair on the horse-coat is where they got their name. Shar-Pei means sandy- coat in Chinese. Th e coat is supposed to

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