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Shar Pei 101: History Of The Shar Pei

Jul 1, 2008
Because of China's zoophobia, the Western World would never have heard about Shar Peis if not for the diligent efforts of Hong Kong businessman Matgo Law. Shar Peis became victims of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Along with many other Chinese traditions and art forms, Shar Peis were outlawed and mostly destroyed. Matgo Law managed to rescue some and get them spirited away to Western countries. He started exporting Shar Peis in 1973. By the 1980's, there was a craze for Shar Peis, which led to much indiscriminate breeding.

Many reliable Shar Pei information sources have come to the conclusion that the dogs sent to America were particularly inferior. These dogs are thought to have inherited several health problems (such as skin disorders and inverted eyelids) and had some nasty tempers to boot. But they are the only gene pool of Shar Peis available. They will always be a rare breed and need experienced, confident, physically strong owners.

Shar Peis were thought to have been originally farm dogs, meant to guard livestock, the farm and the farmer's family. Even today, Shar Peis are very protective and leery of strangers. But then they were taken off of the farm and put into the spotlight of the dog fighting pits of China. This is probably when the emphasis on loose skin and wrinkles occurred. A Shar Pei is supposed to have enough skin to cover two dogs. Loose skin makes a fighting dog harder to damage.

Sadly, the dog-fighting pit is responsible for the development of many breeds especially bulldog types being developed in England about the same time Shar Peis were being honed to their current look in China. Unlike Shar Peis, the bully breeds in England (including the Old English Bulldog and the much-maligned Staffordshire Bull Terrier) were selected to be aggressive with other dogs but be eager to please any person.

A Hong Kong businessman, Matgo Law, managed to rescue many Shar Pei dogs and get them exported to Western countries through the Hong Kong Kennel Club. In the 1980's, the cost of a pure bred Shar Pei puppy in America was astronomical.

It is harder, but training a Shar Pei is possible. However, only those experienced in training and living with large, active dogs like Rottweilers or Boxers should attempt to take on a Shar Pei.

The future for the Shar Pei looks grim to those who love to see things unchanged. There's just not enough of a gene pool in order to assure the future of this unique dog breed. Considering some of the problems many have discovered with keeping Shar Peis, perhaps that's for the best. Shar Peis are prone to many health problems. The most worrisome (and painful) is inverted eyelids, where the eyelashes constantly rub against the eyeballs. This can be cured with an expensive operation.
About the Author
Melissa Coleman is a passionate lover of the Shar Pei and has a popular website that can show you how to have a happy, healthy and well behaved Shar Pei . Among other topics there, you can also learn all about Shar Pei History plus a whole lot more.
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