The Shar-Pei is a breed of dog from China which is distinguished by its deeply wrinkled face and blue-black tongue. The breed was originally bred in China’s southern provinces in order to herd cattle, guard homes, and hunt wild pigs and other such game. It was later used for dog fighting. The breed may have similar origins to the Chow-Chow, the Great Pyrenees and the Tibetan Mastiff. The breed was virtually wiped out following the establishment of the Peoples’ Republic of China as a communist nation. One man, Matgo Law of Hong was incredibly dedicated to the breed and brought a small number of Shar-Pei to the United States during the 1960s to breed. The first Shar-Pei was registered in 1976, and the U.S. and Canada now boast over 100,000 Shar-Pei.
The Shar-Pei is not only recognizable by its wrinkles, but by its unusually rough, loose, prickly coat; as well as its high set, thick, curled tail carried in an arch over its back; and its small, triangular ears. The coat of the breed may be one of 16 solid colors, which include fawn, red, sand, cream, black, lilac, blue, red-fawn, sable, apricot, chocolate, and isabella. The nose of the breed may be black or pink and black, with or without a black mask. The head of the breed is somewhat hippo-like, and its eyes are set deep in its face.
The coat of the Shar-Pei can be three different types; horse, brush, or bear. The horse coat is rough, prickly, and off-standing. The brush coat has slightly longer hair and a smoother feel. The bear coat is much longer than the other two, almost so much so that you can not see the wrinkles.
The breed is intelligent and obedient, although it can also be slightly stubborn and strong-willed. The breed can be suspicious of strangers as well as territorial. The breed needs early socialization as well as obedience training in order to be the affectionate, loyal, friendly dog that it can be.
The breed may have several genetic problems such as allergy-induced skin infections, swollen hock syndrome, Familial Shar-Pei fever, amyloidosis, and entropion.