Mysterious of the dog: Chinese Shar-pei by Amelia Cudzikova, Heathside school

Mysterious of the  dog: Chinese Shar-pei by Amelia Cudzikova, Heathside school <i>(Image: Amelia Cudzikova)</i>
Mysterious of the dog: Chinese Shar-pei by Amelia Cudzikova, Heathside school (Image: Amelia Cudzikova)

The Shar Pei are quite an unknown breed yet when you see them you can have no doubt that it is one. With their wrinkly faces and large muzzles, they are unlike any other breed.


Size: Medium

Height: 18-20 inches

Weight: 20-27 kg

Life expectancy: 8-12 years


Colours: Tan, black, lilac, fawn, red and sand


History of the Shar-pei


They were believed to have originated in 200 BC in China. It gained popularity as a fighting dog due to its excessive skin acting as a shield if they were to be bitten the skin would stop the bite from damaging any vital organs. When China's communist party came into power in the 1940’s they imposed high taxation on dogs and eventually banned dog breeding altogether. This caused the Shar Pei numbers to drop drastically and in the late 60s and 70s, ‘The Guinness Book Of Records named it the rarest dog breed.


The Shar Pei appeared in 1979 on the cover of ‘The Life’ magazine in opposition to the strict communist laws. This led to the Shar Pei being brought to the USA sparking a frenzy of popularity among celebrities, desperate to get the new cute wrinkly Shar Pei puppies.


But with so few dogs left, they were difficult to breed as the gene pool was too small so the Shar Pei was bred with dogs that were genetically similar such as the Chow Chow and Shiba Inu. The small gene pool also caused many new Shar Pei’s to have many health problems but now as the Shar Pei number is growing the problems are also disappearing slowly.


The personality of the Shar Pei


For those who know the Shar Pei they are incredibly stubborn, going to people if they want scratches and if they have enough they simply turn their backs and don't look at you. Yes, many Shar-Peis act like prima donnas. The shar-pei is also a very quiet dog never really barking unless they feel there is danger, for our own, she only barks when someone walks into the house. Other than that they do the usual: snort, grunt and whine. The Breed is also very clean, not liking water or mud, if you have to walk them in the rain they do a very good job at making you feel guilty. The only issue is drooling, they drool a lot and I'm not even exaggerating.


They are independent dogs but are a great guard, having a strong bond with their family so they are good dogs if you have children as they are very patient and can handle them. My own one always checks everyone regularly in the night to make sure we are all in our beds but going to the bathroom at night is not an enjoyable experience as when you get out there is a small shadowy figure staring at you and then following you to your bed. I feel as though I've been caught sneaking out by my parents! The Shar Pei can have a playful nature but all dogs are different, some like playing more than others or hate it altogether.


Shar Peis are very clever with an excellent memory which is brilliant but not at the same time. My own Shar Pei despises showers and trying to get her ready is like a secret mission because she always knows and goes into hiding! We even speak a different language when mentioning ‘shower’ so she doesn't panic. But to no avail, it never works.

Overall the Shar Pei is quite an interesting breed with a strong personality and excellent qualities. They are a clever, loyal guard as well as a good friend.