Heidi Merkli (email@example.com)
Created Feb. 6, 1995.
Revision: March 14, 1999
Changes to rescue and club sections
Revision: Sept. 28, 1998
Changes to and new hyper links added.
Revision: Feb. 22, 1998
Changes to health, grooming, diet, FAQ's sections. Addition: Puppy
Revision: Oct. 24, 1997
Additions to frequently asked question section. Correction to mailing
Revision: Sept. 16, 1997
Changes to health and rescue sections.
Additions: Crate Training, Vet List and Mailing List.
Revision: March 10, 1997
Changes to health, rescue and FAQ's sections.
Revision: July 1, 1996
Changes to health and rescue sections.
Copyright 1995-2001 by Heidi Merkli.
Table of Contents
The origin of the Chinese Shar-Pei can be traced to the province of Kwun
Tung and has for centuries existed in the southern provinces of China.
These dogs helped their peasant masters in various tasks such as herding
cattle, guarding the home and family, and have proven themselves to be
qualified hunters of "wild game, usually wild pigs."
The Shar-Pei is believed to have shared a common origin with the smooth-coated
Chow-Chow because of the blue-black mouths and tongues, possibly the Great
Pyrenees, a source of the double dew claws, and the Tibetan Mastiff. It
was believed in ancient times that the dark mouth of the Chow-Chow, exposed
when barking, helped to ward off evil spirits. The first Shar-Pei may have
appeared as a mutation. The Shar-Pei when translated means "sand-skin"
or "shark skin." This uniquely rough, loose, prickly coat enabled the Shar-Pei
to wriggle out of its opponents grasp while fighting in the dog pits. The
coat when stroked against the grain may be abrasive, producing a burning,
itching sensation. Their tail is carried over their backs on either side
exposing the anus. The first tail set is a tightly curled tail, a "coin"
tail. The second tail set is the loose curl, and third is carried in an
arch over the back. The Shar-Pei with his tail sticking out straight or
between his legs was thought to be cowardly. The tail should denote bravery.
While viewing the body head on, if the toes were slightly turned out
this was thought to help the dog with balance according to old-time dog-fighting
fanciers. The Chinese crawling dragon with his feet pointed east and west
was considered a sign of strength. Because of these poor breeding practices
many of the Shar-Pei have bad fronts. A dog with straight forelegs is correct.
Incidentally, any dog in China that protects property is called a fighting
dog, whereas in Canada and the United States they are referred to as guard
Following the establishment of the Peoples' Republic of China as a communist
nation, the dog population was virtually wiped out. If not for the efforts
of Matgo Law of Hong Kong, the Shar-Pei would not be here today. Due to
his dedication to the breed, a small number of Shar-Pei were brought to
the United States in the 1960's and early 70's. In 1974 American and Canadian
fanciers answered Matgo's appeal for help and in 1976 the first Shar-Pei
was registered. The foundation stock brought over from Hong Kong were of
poorer quality then the Shar-Pei we see today. In August of 1991 the Shar-Pei
officially completed the requirements for recognition by the American Kennel
club and was placed in the Non-Sporting Group. In 1992 the Canadian Kennel
Club also officially recognized and grouped the Shar-Pei in group 6, Non-Sporting
g events. Since that time several Shar-Pei are now and continuing to become
CKC and AKC champions.
Together the United States and Canada can now boast over 100,000 Shar-Pei
in the world. This unique breed is also recognized by the FCI, HKKC, and
the CSPCGB. The CSPCGB operates independently receiving no input or influence
from the [British] Kennel Club. I would also mention that the FCI recognizes
the HKKC standard and not the AKC's at this time, as per its general policy
of using the standard from the country of the breed's origin.
The AKC Standard
The Standard is the physical "blueprint" of the breed. It describes the
physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed otherwise
known as type. Some characteristics, such as size, coat quality,
and movement, are based on the original (or current) function for the dog.
Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye color; but taken together
they set this breed apart from all others. The Standard describes an ideal
representative of the breed. No individual dog is perfect, but the Standard
provides an ideal for the breeder to strive towards.
Because of copyright
concerns over the collection of all the Standards at any single site
storing all the faqs, AKC Standards
are not typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to
the publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club
for a copy of the Standard
Shar-Pei are extremely devotion to their family, and as with all breeds
early socialization is important. Because the Shar-Pei can be stubborn
and somewhat standoffish towards strangers, puppy kindergarten and general
obedience should be a consideration for a new prospective owner.
Crate training is a positive way to train your dog. Your dog will come
to think of its crate as a safe place to re-treat to when they need some
Many Shar-Pei throughout the world have gained their titles with Companion
Dog (CD), Companion Dog Excellence (CDX), and Utility Dog (U.D.) degrees.
They have also proven themselves in tracking and retrieving. The Shar-Pei
have won many conformation titles and are known to have an excellent gait
when at full trot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is its tongue black? Do any other breeds also have a black tongue?
The Shar-Pei shares this distinctive characteristic with only
one other breed, the Chow-Chow, indicating that there may be a common ancestor.
What happens if a Shar-Pei has a spotted black tongue, is it mix?
If the Shar-Pei has a spotted tongue it is a major fault. The
tongue should be a bluish black unless it is a dilute in which case a lavender
tongue is acceptable. A solid pink tongue is a disqualification.
What colors do the Shar-Pei come in?
The Shar-Pei can be a number of colors. The coat must be solid
in color and any Shar-Pei with a "flowered coat" (spotted) or black and
tan in coloration (i.e. German Shepherd) is a disqualification. Colors
include black, cream, fawn, red-fawn, red, sable, apricot, chocolate, isabella,
and blue. The nose may be black or brick (pink with black), with or without
a black mask. A Shar-Pei can also have what is called a "dilute" coloration.
Meaning the nose, nails and anus of the dog is the same color as the coat,
(i.e. chocolate coat with chocolate nose, nails and anus). All of these
color variations are acceptable and beautiful, but the coat color must
be solid and well blended throughout the whole body of the dog.
The puppies are SO cute and wrinkly! Do they stay this wrinkly?
No, in the adult Shar-Pei the wrinkling is confined mainly
to the forehead and withers. However, some have more wrinkles than others.
Are they good with other dogs? Children? Cats and other pets?
Yes, like most breeds if raised with children and other pets
the Shar-Pei can be a loving member of the family. Puppy kindergarten is
a good way to socialize your puppy with other dogs, people, and unfamiliar
surroundings. When considering a Shar-Pei as your family dog make sure
you see the parents of your prospective pup. This will help you determine
what your pup's temperament will be like. "A well-bred Shar-Pei, bred by
a pedigree-knowledgeable breeder, rarely, if ever, has had a problem with
this in the past 10 years. While it's true some of the original 12 dogs
imported to the United States that make up the breed's genetic foundation
in this country were street dogs with nasty dispositions, conscientious
breeders have made tremendous strides in eliminating people-aggressiveness
tendencies." This is why socialization when young is very important. The
Shar-Pei thrive on lots of attention and interaction.
Why do Shar-Pei shy away when a person tries to pet them on the head or
approaches to quickly?
"The breed's eyes are hooded by skin, which limits its peripheral
vision. As a result, they have difficulty seeing people approach from either
side until they're almost directly in front of them. The sudden appearance
startles the dogs, which causes them to shy away. When approached from
the front, Shar-Pei don't react this way." Always let the dog sniff your
hand and allow him/her time to familiarize themselves with you. Sniffing
is a dog's way of making friends just as we say "Hello" or shake hands.
Young children especially should be taught how to approach a dog and a
child should never approach a dog unless with their parent(s) and the dog's
owner are present.
Are they suspicious of strangers? Do they make good watch dogs?
Yes, they are aloof with strangers and make excellent watch
dogs. They are defensive of their home and loved ones. They are an independent
breed, very owner-oriented. "A plus as well as a minus in the training
situation. Independence is a plus because dogs possess the necessary confidence
to work at a distance from their handlers, but it's a minus because it
sometimes translates into stubbornness". Training sessions should be brief
and not with force. Shar-Pei respond best to praise and or food reinforcement
as a reward for good behavior.
Do Shar-Pei snore?
Yes, Shar-Pei snore, some more then others. The Shar-Pei also
snort which may be mistaken for growling. As with all squashed-faced breeds,
Bulldogs, Pugs, etc., snoring and snorting go hand-in-hand.
Do they shed much?
No, only once a year to lighten their dense coat for the summer.
Always use a bristled brush or a hound glove.
How long do they live?
They live to be approximately 8 to 12 years of age but some
have been known to live as long as 15 years or more.
Is the Shar-Pei suitable for apartment living?
Yes, but they need daily exercise otherwise they will begin
to feel pent-up. This should include more then just taking them out to
do their duties.
Are Shar-Pei intelligent?
Shar-Pei are very intelligent and excel in obedience training.
They are quick to learn therefore training should be varied in order to
maintain their interest.
Do Shar-Pei drool?
Only after they eat do they get slobbery due to water getting
trapped in the folds of their muzzle. Oh, and of course if they are offered
some tasty treats!
Can Shar-Pei tolerate extremes in temperature?
Shar-Pei should not be left in the sun for long periods of
time as they can get over heated easily. In cold weather the Shar-Pei are
fine but should not live as an outdoor dog. Remember to put Vaseline on
the pads of their paws to protect them from the salt some cities put down
for vehicles. This salt can burn the pads of their feet and be very painful.
The Shar-Pei do not do well with climate extremes, "because of the health
problems living as an outdoor dog presents (i.e., flea bite dermatitis,
inhalant allergies to plant material) and because of the breed's possible
increased susceptibility to airborne diseases such as parvo. The social
isolation associated with living as an outdoor (or kennel) dog also is
not beneficial to this owner-oriented breed".
What is the general disposition of a Shar-Pei?
"The Shar-Pei is a bright, affectionate dog that makes a terrific
companion animal. In addition it is an able contender in the obedience
or agility ring when trained with the appropriate methods. It is easily
house-trained, exceptionally clean and requires minimal grooming. And,
it is stable and temperamentally dependable when bred by reputable breeders
knowledgeable in genetics".
In general, dogs with any of the following conditions should not be bred.
You want to make sure that the parents of the puppy you may be considering
have been cleared or checked for any of these conditions. The following health
conditions are not present in all Shar-Pei. This is an introduction to health
problems that may occur in this breed and is not intended as a generalization.
If your veterinarian requires more information about the Chinese Shar-Pei,
send the name and address of your veterinarian (for overseas orders, send
$2.00 in U.S. funds for postage) to:
Jeff Vidt, DVM
210 S. Park Street
Westmont, IL 60559-1940
The Shar-Pei are 1 of 14 breeds that can have this condition. This is where
the eyelid rolls in towards the eye, rubbing against the cornea and irritating
this sensitive structure. Watery eyes, infection, even a corneal ulcer,
can occur. Surgical correction is required. Dogs with this condition should
not be bred, as a genetic component is suspected.
The thyroid glands secrete a hormone which controls the basic metabolic
rate of the entire body. Inadequate hormone levels reset the body to function
at a lower metabolic level. In that case, dogs fatten easily on a normal
diet, become sluggish, and are easily chilled. Hair changes are most noticeable
and include loss of hair from the flanks and back, increased pigmentation
of the skin, scaling and seborrhea (an abnormality in the production of
skin cells.) Secondary bacterial infection of the skin is common. The ears
may also be affected, filling with thick, yellow greasy material which
may predispose the dog to ear infections. Blood tests will determine the
level of thyroid function and administration of thyroid hormone can treat
Familial Shar-Pei Fever and Amyloidosis
Familial Shar-Pei fever also known as "Swollen Hock Syndrome" (SHS) typically
may include the following symptoms:
"Familial Shar-Pei Fever (FSF) is an episodic fever disorder. Shar-Pei
with this disorder have one or more bouts of unexplained fever, usually
103-107 degrees but rare cases may go higher. Fevers usually start when
they are less then 18 months old but sometimes the first attack is not
until they are adults. Fever episodes usually become less frequent with
age. Fevers last 24-36 hours in most cases without treatment". The disorder
is "thought to result from an inability to regulate the immune system.
Dogs suffering from this disorder are at risk of dying from a related disorder,
amyloidosis. Affected Shar-Pei with amyloidosis have an inability to break
down chemicals released in the bloodstream when inflammation results from
abnormal deposition of amyloid protein throughout the body. While not all
dogs with Shar-Pei fever die of amyloidosis, when they do, death most commonly
occurs between the ages of 3 and 5 years".
Swelling of the hock joint and sometimes other joints can be affected.
Reluctance to move.
Sometimes a swollen painful muzzle.
Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and shallow breathing.
The CSPCA has setup a charitable fund. A tax-deductible donation may
be made payable to:
CSPCA Charitable Fund
c/o Lee Arnold, Chairman,
P.O. Box 7007, Bedminster,
The mite, Demodex canis, starts off as small dry areas on the head, chest,
and legs of the Shar-Pei. Because the dog scratches to relieve the intense
itching, the skin becomes red and raw with a leathery look about it. Check
with your veterinarian for prescribed medication, shampoos, and other appropriate
Severe rancid body odor which comes from raw, scaly, bloody skin. Could
be caused by hypothyroidism, yeast infections, and or food allergies. This
situation should be immediately discussed with a veterinarian and the appropriate
shampoos and medication can effectively treat this condition.
Overbites are very common. This can occur due to the misplacement of the
incisors causing an overcrowding. Extraction at a young age can prevent
the adult canines from cutting into the hard palate.
Tight Lip Syndrome
This is where the excess flesh from the lower lip covers the teeth making
it difficult for the Shar-Pei to chew. This excess flesh also traps food
and is usually associated with an overbite.
Due to the breed standard calling for small ears, this results in the Shar-Pei
having very narrow ear canals. Attention should be taken in cleaning the
ear thoroughly with a vet prescribed ear solution. Do not use a Q-tip to
dig down in the ear canal. Use a make-up pad to gently clean the ear and
then let the dog shake.
Nose - Stenotic Nares
These dogs snore because of excess flesh. If the dog is unable to pass
air with ease, surgery to altar the folds of the nostril may be necessary.
An "elongated soft palate" is likely to be the cause of "respiratory distress."
This is a weakness is the carpal ligaments which causes instability and
bowing forward in young puppies. Decrease the protein level and exercise
on a non-slippery surface. In severe cases soft wraps will be in order.
Is where the knee cap slips out of its socket. Any Shar-Pei with this condition
should not be bred.
A dysplastic dog has an abnormal hip joint where the femur and acetabulum
are misaligned. This can range in severity from mild (controllable) pain
to dogs in such agony they must be put down. Make sure the parents of any
puppy you consider has been cleared of Hip Dysplasia through the Orthopedic
Foundation for Animals.
"Megaesophagus and or diaphramatic hernias may not be detected until the
dog is much older when they will appear underweight or emaciated with a
history of vomiting. This is a developmental defect possibly a delayed
maturation of the esophageal nueromuscular system. Mild cases in young
dogs can improve with careful feeding." Feeding the dog by elevating the
food in such a way as to raise the dog's front end. Putting food bowls
on a stair or two and then allowing them some time to digest in the same
position may help.
"Mucin is the substance in the Shar-Pei skin that causes all the wrinkling.
It is clear and stringy and acts like glue in fight wounds." Some Shar-Pei
have an excess of Mucin causing it to form clear bubbles on the skin that
may rupture and ooze. May be associated with possible allergies and can
be treated by a alternate day steroid therapy.
Being one of many deep chested breeds, bloat can occur in Shar-Pei. Can
also be caused by the way you roll your dog. Although similar to colic
in horses, "bloat and torsion occur when the stomach swells with gas and
then twists and cuts off its blood supply. Without timely surgical intervention
the condition is fatal". The dog must see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Often complicated by food allergies and or Chronic stress diarrhea. Usually
responds to a strict hypoallergenic diet.
Some Shar-Pei can be susceptible to allergies caused by food, grass, plants
(indoor and outdoor), flea bite dermatitis an allergy based condition where
the dog develops an itchy rash in reaction to flea saliva after being bitten.
Try to keep the dog's living quarters and play area as flea free as possible.
Other allergies are "Inhalant allergies" that causes the dog to lick his/her
paws, scratch, and rub its muzzle. "Eliminating the allergy's cause, using
the correct type of shampoo and administering antihistamines or cortisone
are common forms of treatment". Always consult a Shar-Pei knowledgeable
veterinarian for proper treatment and care. "In addition some breeders
believe the Shar-Pei has a weakened immune system that makes it more susceptible
to and less able to recover from airborne viruses such as parvo. This condition
makes timely inoculation especially important".
"In regard to cancer, several forms have a high incidence in the breed.
At present, the CSPCA is surveying club members to determine which are
most prevalent. Once isolated, the organization's Charitable Trust plans
to fund relevant cancer research".
Food allergies may cause skin and stomach diseases. This breed should have
a well balanced, preservative free diet and one that is low in protein,
approximately "(16-21%)." Some alternatives to rawhide and store bought
treats are raw or cooked veggies when ever you are steaming some up for
yourself, nothing from the cabbage family or onions, and most fruits such
as bananas, apricots, apples, etc. are also healthy alternatives to store
bought treats. No table scraps because we as humans tend to dress up our
veggies with butter, margarine, salt, sugar, and/ or gravy. Anything with
soya or beef, dyes, or chemical preservatives liked BHA, BHT, or Exthoxyquin
should be avoided. Instead look for foods that are preserved with vitamins
A, C, or E. A chemical-free food is often enough to make a huge difference
in a dog's health.
The Shar-Pei requires minimal maintenance. Brushing with a good bristle
brush every other day keeps its unique coat in excellent condition. Bathing
may occur occasionally using warm water and a good shampoo recommended
by a vet. Contrary to popular belief the Shar-Pei do not need to be bathed
week. This constant bathing will make the skin dry (increase itching) and
cause the coat to look dull. By doing this you will wash all of the dog's
natural oils away. Only bath the dog if he/ she smells with a vet recommend
shampoo for general bathing needs. The nails of a Shar-Pei grow fast so
frequent clipping is in order. Always touch your puppy's paws and the puppy
all over to get them used to grooming. Because the Shar-Pei have tiny ears
frequent cleaning is a must. Usually once every week or every two weeks
depending on the individual dog. Use cotton swabs or make-up pads (cotton
ones) with an ear solution from your vet. Do not use Q-tips as it may push
the waxy build-up further down the ear canal. After you have cleaned the
ears let them shake and then later clean the excess. The ears, eyes, and
the whole body in general should be inspected frequently to have a happy,
Puppy Buyer's Guidelines
These are just a few suggestions a new prospective owner of a Shar-Pei
puppy should be aware of and consider when looking for a new puppy:
* Puppies should at least be 8 weeks of age before going to a new home.
A puppy needs adequate time with his/ her littermates and mother for proper
socialization to begin.
* Buyers should see both parents. "Although it's normal for a Shar-Pei
to behave in a standoffish manner when in the presence of strangers, neither
the sire nor the dam ( nor puppies) should behave in a shy or aggressive
* Buyers should look for a puppy that is confident not shy, aggressive
* Health should be of the utmost importance for a new prospective owner.
No discharge from the eyes or nose, distended or potbellied abdomen, dull
coat, and no lethargic behavior.
* Check with the kennel club in your area if you are not sure about
what papers you are entitled to, but you should not be asked to pay extra
for the registration papers of your new puppy. Papers included in the purchasing
g price of your pup are a signed pedigree, copies of the contract of sale
and health guarantee, a complete health record that includes the dates
of worming and a veterinarian's certificate proving inoculation. "The breeder
also should provide written proof he or she will take the puppy back within
a limited period of time if it is found to be ill or suffering from some
defect. Dogs should be examined by a veterinarian within 48 hours of the
sale. Pet quality dogs should be sold with a spay/ neuter contract or limited
(i.e. non-breeding) registration".
* The price of a pet quality Shar-Pei, and again it depends on where
you live, should be between "$300-$500" in the United States and in Canada
$600-$800. Show quality starts at $1000 and escalates from there.
Shar-Pei Vet List
This is a list of Shar-Pei knowledgeable vets throughout North America,
overseas and abroad, compiled by the CHIS-L list members (Chinese Shar-Pei
mailing list). It can be found at:
You can also try this web URL for the vet list maintained by the Shar-Pei
Breeders & Lovers Network.
Shar-Pei Mailing List
This is the website for eGroups. At this link you will find a list of email
groups geared to Chinese Shar-Pei fanciers.
Contact your local kennel club or the parent clubs listed below for a list
of breeders in your area.
The American Kennel Club
5580 Centerview Drive,
Raleigh, NC 27606.
Publication: American Kennel Gazette
The Canadian Kennel Club
100-89 Skyway Avenue,
Publication: Dogs in Canada
Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America
8075 Clouse Rd
New Albany, OH 43054-9716
Publication: The Barker
Chinese Shar-Pei Club
Publication: The Wrinkle Gram
Shar-Pei Club of Victoria Inc.
Shar-Pei Club of Russia
P.O. Box 392
Victoria, Australia, 3128
Shar-Pei Club of Great Britain
449 Chester Road North,
- Publication: The Wrinkle
The Shar-Pei Club of Sweden
504 75 BORÅS
The Shar-Pei Club of France
German Shar-Pei Club
Alberta Shar-Pei Association
25 Valley Cres.
Lacombe, AB T4L1R9
Please visit the CSPCC Official Rescue Web Site at http://www.geocities.com/
Please visit the CSPCA Official Website at http://www.cspca.com/rescue.htm
Rescue throughout the United States
For a rescue closer to you contact the Shar-Pei club in your area or your
local kennel club.
Sara Rogers, San Jose, CA
Shar-Pei Rescue of Nashville, Tennesse
- Nashville, TN.
Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue
Redmond WA 98073
Dominion Shar-Pei Rescue Club,
Virginia Beach, VA
SE. Michigan, USA
Amy Cox (313) 697-1137
Lancaster, PA., USA
Deb Sylvia, (717) 898-8049
Dawn Hertzog, (717) 397-6362
Northern Virginia, USA
Sharyl Mayhew (703) 754-0158 (leave message)
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Deborah J. Cooper, (708) 848-2226
The Mid-Atlantic Chinese Shar-Pei Rescue Operation
Rescue for abused and abandoned Shar-Pei.
Joyce Hanes for more information at:
Phone (301) 881-1221.
Mrs. Barbara Sellers at (703) 221-5327
You can also send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other rescue links:
Chinese Shar-Pei, The - Debo.
Chinese Shar-Pei, World of The - Nicholas.
Shar-Pei, Book of The - Brearley.
Chinese Shar-Pei, Understanding The - Redditt.
Chinese Shar-Pei, An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet - Redditt.
Puppy Book, The Chinese Shar-Pei - Redditt.
References used for this FAQ include:
Nicholas, Anna Katherine. Chinese Shar-Pei. New Jersey: T.F.H.
Paulus, Elly. "China Dog." Dog Fancy. Jan. 1995: 44-45.
Pflaumer, Sharon. "China's Wrinkled Wonder." Dog World. Mar.
Weathers Debo, Ellen. The Chinese Shar-Pei. New Jersey: T.F.H.
Tintle, Linda DR. DVM. "Familial Shar-Pei Fever, Swollen Hock Syndrome
and Familial Amyloidosis of Chinese Shar-Pei Dogs: a recently described
syndrome of dysregulation." The Barker. July/Aug. 1994.
Tintle, Linda DR. DVM. "Chinese Shar-Pei a Guide for The Veterinarian
American Kennel Club Inc. The Complete Dog Book. 18th ed. New
York: Howell, 1992.
Chinese Shar-Pei FAQ
Heidi Merkli, email@example.com
Have you hugged your Shar-Pei today?