Let's talk about one of the rarest dog breeds, the Shar-Pei. There is a lot to learn about this unique breed.
All About the Shar-Pei Dog Breed
The Shar-Pei dog breed is an ancient breed that has been around for centuries. This breed is known for its distinct wrinkled look and loyal, protective nature. The Shar-Pei is a versatile breed that can be used for various purposes such as guarding property or simply providing companionship. If you are considering bringing a Shar-Pei into your life, this blog post will provide you with everything you need to know about this unique and endearing breed.
History Of the Shar-Pei Breed
Over 2,000 years ago, statues depicting Shar-Pei dogs were made in China during the Hang Dynasty. Their name derived from the Cantonese language, when translated their name means "Sand Skin". The reasoning behind "Sand Skin" is due to their natural wrinkled skin. They were raised to guard, hunt and be formidable fighters, so gripping their skin feels like holding a handful of sand. Allowing them to escape one's grasp. During China's communist revolution, Shar-Pei nearly became extinct. Luckily a breeder in China contacted an American admirer of this rare breed, who intervened before they could become extinct. The Shar-Pei breed then became almost celebrity like. Multiple magazine covers and advertisements featured this breed.
What Does a Shar Pei Look Like?
The Shar-Pei breed has numerous unique features. Their loose wrinkly skin is for sure a stand out. They have a short haired coat which has a bristle like texture. Shar-Pei are born with pink tongues but in a matter of two months the color begins to change. Adult Shar-Pei are one out of the two breeds in the world to have blueish black tongues. The darker the coat the darker their tongue appears. In lighter coats their tongue looks more lavender like. Another stand out is their short, blunt like snouts, often referred to as "hippopotamus- shaped". This breed is definitely a stand out!
The Shar-Pei Temperament
Shockingly the Shar-Pei breed acts almost cat like. They enjoy a good cuddle session but only on their terms. They may not be the best snuggle partner but they show their love and loyalty in other ways. For example, they love to have their owners always in sight. They are very protective, so them keeping their eyes on you is just to make sure everything is okay!
As puppies they enjoy any and everybody's presence. When they are grown and know the family better, they become devoted. In general, they are not interested in meeting new people outside their family. Introducing socialization to puppies at a young age is important. As a result, they learn that strangers are not a threat.
Dogs of the Shar-Pei breed are highly intelligent. They're strong-willed, which causes them to make independent decisions. Training a Shar-Pei requires diligence and positive reinforcement. That being said, it is best to be an experienced dog owner if you're considering on bring in a Shar-Pei to your life.
Health Risks and Concerns
The Shar-Pei breed does encounter a lot of health-related issues. Let’s get into their most common ones.
A common condition for the Shar-Pei breed is called "entropion". One potential issue of the appearance of this breed of dog is that excess facial wrinkles can affect how the eyes are able to see. Their eyelids, especially the lower lids, if they appear puffy and swollen, their rough like fur will begin to brush against it and cause more irritation. Compounding the pain, they start to squint which causes the problem to worsen. The cornea can become pigmented and ulcerated, resulting in permanent blindness. Watering or excessive moisture around the eyes indicate a problem.
The wrinkling of their skin is another way an infection can occur. Their folds could act like incubators to bacteria. Typically, this condition affects the folds around the muzzle, causing the skin to become red and moist. It is extremely important to groom Shar-Pei regularly and really clean and inspect their folds. Brushing of their skin creates natural oils which is a natural coat protector.
Hypothyroidism, a familiar disease with Shar-Pei, where there is a lack of thyroid hormones. The thyroid hormone regulates the metabolic rate of every cell in the body. Everything slows down without thyroid hormone, with the effects being most evident on the skin. Hair loss accompanied by dandruff and pigmentation is common. In most cases a "water line" which is a clear line of separation due to skin irritation. Although this condition is generally not itchy, secondary infections may be itchy as the immune system is also slowed down.
How To Take Care of a Shar Pei
Shar-Pei are relatively easy to care for. Exercise requirements are not as high as those of many other breeds of its size, and is typically a quiet breed. These dogs, as is often the case, don't typically like to get wet, so a trek through muddy puddles may not be in the cards.
Shar-Pei are not known for their high energy levels. It is uncommon to see these furry friends participating in anything agility like. Getting a good walk in everyday and kept in an enriched lifestyle at home, they will be content.
There isn't much to the grooming regimen for a Shar-Pei. They have coats that do not require much maintenance, usually just brushed on a weekly basis to remove hair that has died. Shedding does occur but is very minimum.
Being that this breed is prone to skin infections, it is vital to properly dry them in-between their folds after bath time.
Due to their small ears, they can also be at risk of developing ear infections. It is recommended to use high quality cleansers to get those ears squeaky clean.
It is important to have a high quality, portion controlled diet and always have access to fresh water. Shar-Pei tends to guzzle down their food. Being prone to gastric torsion, incorporating a slow feeding bowl would be ideal. After feeding time, whether is a wet or raw food diet, it’s crucial that you clean their mouths to remove the extra residue. Doing that will decreases the chances of infections growing in their mouths.
Shar-Pei Are Paw-Some!
The Shar-Pei breed is definitely a unique one. They have amazing characteristics, such as being protective, loyal, intelligent, quiet and devoted. They may seem like a lot of work to care for in their health-related ways, but as a pet parent you would do anything to keep your furry best friend happy and healthy!