The Shar-Pei originated from Guangdong, China but its ancestry is largely undetermined. Some believe that the breed may possibly have descended from the Chow Chow but the only similarity between the two breeds is the purple tongue. The English name “Shar-Pei” means “sand skin” or “shark skin.” It was once classified as one of the world’s rarest dog breeds and when the Communists took over China its population was nearly eliminated. Its breeding was revived in Hong Kong.
Distinctive-looking because of its deep wrinkles on the face and the body, and a blue-black tongue, the Shar-Pei stands at a height of 18 to 20 inches and weighs from 40 to 65 pounds. It has a broad and flat head and the muzzle is padded, wide and full with a slight stop. It has small, almond shaped eyes that are sunken and typically dark in colour. The triangular shaped ears are high set and very small. It has a tail that is thick at the base and tapers to a fine point. There are three coat varieties: horse coat, brush coat and bear coat. The horse coat is extremely prickly and rough to the touch. The brush coat has a smoother feel and have slightly longer hairs. Bear-coat varieties are rare and are not accepted as breed standards. There is a wide variety of colours ranging from fawn, red, sand, cream, black, lilac and blue. The breed can also have a dilute coloration where the nose, nails and anus of the dog is the same colour as the coat.
The Shar-Pei is a loving and devoted family dog, very protective of its owner and family. They make good watch dogs and are highly intelligent. They are sensitive to warm weather and prone to kidney failure.