Shar Pei
(Chinese Fighting Dog, Chinese Sharpei)
An unusual, wrinkled breed, developed especially for use in staged dog fights.  For years it was considered one of the rarest dog breeds of the world.
Recent studies analyzing the DNA of the domestic dog breeds have demonstrated that the Shar pei is one of the fourteen most ancient dog breeds, together with three other Asian spitz-type dogs: the shiba inu, the Akita and the Chow Chow. The distinctive blue-black tongue of the Shar Pei and the Chow Chow indicates that they are indeed related. They both probably descend from the Han Dog, an ancient guard dog that existed during the Han Dynasty in China about 2,000 years ago.  Their place of origin is Dali (or, Dailek, Dailet), a town in southern China in the province of Guangdong.
In the seventies the breed was on the verge of extinction. The breeding had been neglected for years and the Dailet fighting dogs were no longer in demand. When the Chinese Communists came to power, a heavy tax was imposed on dog owners and a further edict declared dogs an ostentatious expression of luxury and eventually banned dog breeding alltogether. The breed survived thanks to fanciers in Macao (Portuguese China) and Hong Kong.
Sharpei of
Le Roc du Puynormond, France
Sharpei bitch of ca. 1964
Courtesy of the Shar Pei Club of Hong Kong
See also: Shar Pei types and Shar Pei appearance
The Shar-Pei is an alert and intlligent dog, which learns easily. Due to their molosser heritage, Shar peis often have dominant temperaments and require early socialization and firm training.
The Shar pei is a strong, compact and agile dog. The wrinkled,  loose skin is characteristic of the breed. More about the Shar Pei's wrinkles. The name "Shar Pei" which means "Sand Skin", refers to the slightly abrasive characteristic of the coat.  This coarse coat is a heritage from the Shar pei's dog fighting ancestry that was purposely selected to offer greater resistance to its opponents during fights. More about the Shar Pei's loose coat.
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The Canine Information Library 2003-2008 © All rights reserved. Photos reproduced by kind permission of Inge Bijvoets,, Mrs. Alvarez & Aliu, Le Roc du Puynormond, Kamuniak Shar Peis, Kevin Steel, Shar Pei Club of Hong Kong. No part of may be copied, distributed, printed or reproduced on another website without the owner's written permission.
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References and External Links:

- H.G. Parker, L.V. Kim, N.B. Sutter, S. Carlson, T.D. Lorentzen, T.B. Malek, G.S. Johnson, H.B. DeFrance, E.A. Ostrander, and L. Kruglyak. (2004). Genetic Structure of the Purebred Domestic Dog Science 304: 1160-1164.
- Rossi, Valeria (2005). 333 Cani di Razza. Tutte le Razze riconosciute dalla Federazione Cinologica Internazionale. Milan: De Vecchi Editore
- Shar Pei Club of Hong Kong
alert, but calm
see: appearance
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Although very affectionate with his owner and protective of his human family, the Shar-Pei is usually aloof and independent.
In the last 50 years two major changes occured in the Shar Pei's original gene pool. As a result, today's Shar peis come in different types. The original Shar pei is described as "Bone mouth, horse coat, calabash head and coin tail". More about the different Shar Pei types and the different Shar pei mouth and tail types.
Two Kamuniak Shar Peis
Boyki Tsjoeng Foe
Tsjoeng Foe Kennel, Netherlands
Kamuniak Shar Pei
More about the Shar Pei's appearance and Shar Pei standard
The traditional Shar pei colors are solid black, blue black, black with a hint of rust, brown, red, fawn. Other colors also include lilac, blue and isabella. Cream is less desirable, but nevertheless accepted. If the cream colored Shar pei possesses the Five Red points it is considered very valuable. More about the Five Red Point Shar Pei. Particolored and saddle patters also occur but are not admitted in shows.