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Shar Pei Breed Standard: Are They Supposed To Look Like That?

Jan 30, 2008
Shar Peis, also called Chinese Shar Peis, are more wrinkled as puppies than as adults. Because of the wrinkles about the mouth, the Shar Pei drools a lot. There are many ways Shar Peis can be disqualified from an AKC show. The Shar Pei's tongue or coat might be the wrong color, or their hair might be too long. Shar Peis were bred to fight and guard livestock, which makes their temperament often ugly. A Shar Pei is a bad choice for the first time dog owner.

When someone sees a Shar Pei for the first time, they commonly react, "My goodness - what is wrong with that dog?" Shar Peis have a distinctive look that you either love or hate. The puppies are deeply wrinkled all over their bodies, but lose most of the body wrinkles as they age. They keep almost all of the deep folds and wrinkles around the face. Their eyes are almost invisible, their ears are incredibly tiny and they usually drool most of the time. The breed standard prefers a head that looks too large for the body.

These grow into massive dogs with solid muscle, making them look like a canine wrinkly-faced equivalent of Mike Tyson. They need plenty of exercise, especially if they are to live in an apartment. Their skin is usually so loose it looks as if you can fit another dog in it. If you come across a purebred Shar Pei with tight skin, it is still a purebred Shar Pei - just not one that can't be shown.

The breed standard for Shar Peis (also called Chinese Shar Peis) described the ideal Shar Pei as standoffish. They should act superior, as if they know they are worth a lot more money than you are. This is not a breed that eagerly greets strangers or easily wags his tail. However, they can be affectionate and playful with their people, usually preferring one family member above the rest. Puppies need to be introduced to other dogs and other people very early in life in order for them not to be aggressive.

The Shar Pei is thought to be descended from the Chow Chow, and, like the Chow Cow, has a blue-black colored tongue (the only breeds of dog to have this quirk). They are incredibly wrinkly when born (as puppies are kind of wrinkly anyway) and they tend to loose most of their body wrinkles as they mature. They usually retain a lot of wrinkles around the head. Their skin is usually loose.

The Shar Pei temperament is perhaps the most surprising, considering the breed is considered so cute in North America. They were bred to be fighting dogs. The loose skin and wrinkles give not only a scowling appearance, but less of a solid hold for an opponent to sink his teeth into. Chinese Shar Peis are a lot like Japanese Sumo wrestlers. They were also bred to fight off human and animal predators from livestock.

As a consequence, these are not very friendly dogs, on the whole. They usually do well with children, but become aggressive to other dogs and to adults. They often bond closest to one member of the family. They make great watchdogs and need a lot of exercise in order to burn up their energy. They are fearless dogs that feel superior to the rest of the world that need few excuses to ignore you. These are not the dogs for first time dog owners.
About the Author
Melissa Coleman has interviewed numerous owners, vets and trainers about Shar Pei history. The Shar Pei usually gets along with kids and other pets except other dogs. Shar Pei information is easy to find if your search the web or go to the library.
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