This ancient breed dates back to the Han Dynasty – circa 220 A.D., but this is the breed that The Guinness Book of World Records named the rarest breed in the world. There are several reasons for the Shar-Pei’s near extinction and several reasons for its come-back.
Originally, the Chinese used the dog for mongoose hunting. The Shar-Pei was also a farm dog, protective of its owner and property. The Chinese tried it in the ring as a fighting dog, but Shar-Pei are not vicious fighters and, fortunately for the dogs, they were not used for long in this capacity.
When the Communists came to power in China, they put a tax on pet dogs. They considered this was a way to stop people from wanting to own dogs and wasting valuable food by feeding them. The tax on dogs increased yearly. By 1940, if you were looking for a dog in China, you would have a problem as dogs were a rare sight. In l960, the Shar-Pei faced extinction.
Matgo Law went to bat for the breed. He was browsing through a copy of DOGS, an American magazine, when he decided to write to the editor Margaret Fansworth He brought her attention to the near extinction of the Shar-Pei. In April of 1973, an article in DOGS let the world know about it as the article was picked up by other media.
In the meantime, Matgo Law worked hard on reviving the breed, breeding his own dogs and seeking available Shar-Pei to breed. He now had the support he needed from Americans and American breeders.
When Neiman Marcus featured Shar-Pei pups in their Christmas catalogue in l983, they became a desired breed.
What kind of dog is the Shar-Pei?
It’s an adorable pup. You would think the pup was wearing its mother’s skin. Loose fur hangs everywhere! The dog does grow into its skin somewhat, but definitely not all the way. If you get a Shar-Pei pup, plan on having an adult dog with loads of wrinkles.
The Shar-Pei is not for you if you love to stroke a dog with silky hair. Shar-Pei means sand skin. Its fur has a bristle texture. It’s a very clean dog, often cleaning itself, much like a cat, and never sheds.
You should be aware that the dog can be aloof, calmly standing like an aristocrat, surveying the world with its almond-shaped eyes. As the dog’s owner, it would be up to you how aloof the dog will be. A Shar-Pei can be loyal, and affectionate, but that depends on how much interaction the dog has with its owner as a pup. As to other people, it’s important not to let the puppy time slip by without socialization. The dog should be taken out to meet friendly people and other dogs as much as possible. People are sure to make a fuss over this one – it’s adorable.
Don’t look for submission from a Shar-Pei. It is intelligent, but will feign deafness when asked to do something it deems unnecessary. Owning a Shar-Pei should make you feel special, though. The dog is a dignified companion. It will be protective of you and your family and there’s no doubt the dog will put a grin on your face most of the time. It is such an interesting dog!
Some authorities claim the dog descends from the animal that was part bear/part dog which roamed the earth centuries ago. They made this determination because the Shar-Pei has a purple/black tongue and inner mouth.
For those interested, we suggested the Shar-Pei for Aquarius in AstroPups – available on Amazon Books in paperback and Kindle.
We almost lost this breed and give thanks to all those who helped to save the Shar-Pei from extinction. In particular, we thank Matgo Law. One person can make a difference and for saving this wonderful dog, that person is Matgo Law.
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Acknowledgement of authors who contributed to AstroPups, which I use to write my blog, can also be found in About Us, top right of page.
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