Alert, active, compact, short coupled, squarely built. Dogs larger and more powerful than bitches.
Loose skin, frowning expression, harsh bristly coat
Calm, independent, very affectionate, and devoted to people.
HEAD AND SKULL-
Rather large in proportion to body, skull flat, broad, moderate stop. Length from nose to stop approximately equal to length from stop to occiput. Fine wrinkles on forehead and cheeks continuing to form dewlaps. Muzzle distinctive feature of breed. Broad and full with no suggestion of tapering. The lips and top of muzzle padded, causing a slight bulge at the base of nose. When viewed from front, bottom jaw appears wider than top due to padding of lips. Nose large, wide, preferably black but any colour conforming to general coat colour permissible.
Dark, medium size, almond shaped with frowning expression. Amber and lighter colour permissible in paler shades. Function of eyeball or lid in no way disturbed by surrounding skin, folds or hair. Any sign of irritation of eyeball, conjunctiva or eyelids highly undesirable. Free from entropion.
Very small, rather thick, equilaterally triangular in shape, slightly rounded at tip and set high on the skull, with tips pointing towards eyes, set well forward over eyes, wide apart and close to skull. Pricked ears highly undesirable.
Tongue, roof of mouth, gums and flews: solid bluish-black is preferred. Solid pink tongue undesirable. Dogs with self-coloured pigment and amber to light brown eyes would be expected to have a lavender tongue. Teeth strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Padding of lower lip should not be so excessive so as to interfere with the bite.
Medium in length, strong, full; set well on shoulders, with loose skin under neck.
Shoulders muscular, well laid and sloping. Elbows close to the body. Forelegs straight, moderate length, good bone; pasterns slightly sloping, strong and flexible.
Height at withers approximately equal to the length from point of shoulders to point of buttock. Depth of brisket approximately half of height at withers. Chest broad and deep, underline rising slightly under loin. Back short, strong. Topline dips slightly behind withers then rises over short, broad loin. Adult dogs should display moderate wrinkling over shoulders and base of tail. Excessive skin on body when mature highly undesirable.
Muscular, strong; moderately angulated; hocks well let down without excessive wrinkling or thickening.
Moderate size, compact, toes well knuckled. Fore and hind dewclaws may be removed.
Rounded, narrowing to fine point, base set very high. May be carried high and curved; carried in tight curl; or curved over. Lack of, or incomplete, tail highly undesirable.
Free, vigorous and balanced, rear single tracking is normal at a fast trot. Stilted gait undesirable.
Extremely harsh coat, straight and off-standing on the body but flatter on the limbs. No undercoat. Length varies from short and bristly, under 1.25 cm ( half an inch) or longer and thicker, between 1.25 cm ( half an inch) and 2.5 cm (one inch), but still off-standing and harsh to the touch.
N.B. No particular coat length within the accepted length should be preferred above the other. Never trimmed.
All solid colours except white are acceptable. Frequently shaded on tail and back of thighs with lighter colour.
Height: 46-51 cms (18-20 ins) at withers.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
History of the Shar Pei
Differences of opinion or lack of concrete evidence often complicates the history of the origin and development of some of our breeds. But in the case of the Chinese Shar Pei, no such problems occur; everyone agrees that the Shar Pei has existed for centuries in the southern provinces of his native land bordering on the South China Sea. Over two thousand years ago this was the all purpose, general utility dog kept by the peasant farmers of the area.
The Shar Pei was used for hunting such animals as the wild boar or to protect the livestock from predators, but most of all he served as guardian to his master's home. He was selectively bred for intelligence, for strength, and for the valued "warrior scowl" that would increase his menacing appearance and help to intimidate the barbarian thieves, against whom the farmers were always at war. Nevertheless, because of their strength and appearance, these dogs were introduced to a combat role at a later time in history.
The village of Dah Let, in Southern China's Kwangtung Province near Canton, was at one time known as a gambler's haven. Betting on dog fights was a popular past time and the Shar Pei became a favorite contestant. He possessed stamina and determination, but before a battle, the canine contender was given wine and stimulating drugs to heighten his aggressiveness. But while these developments were taking place in our breed, other fight promoters and gamblers were preceding along a different line. Mastiffs, Bulldogs, and other breeds were brought to China from the West, crossbred, and selected for vicious temperament. The native Shar Pei proved to be no match for these bigger, stronger more ferocious dogs. No longer in demand their breeding was neglected and the numbers rapidly decreased.
But what was to be the near fatal blow of the breed occurred when the Chinese Communists came to power. One of their first moves was to impose heavy tax on dogs that only the rich could afford the luxury of canine companionship. And then a further edict declared dogs a "decadent bourgeois luxury" and banned dog breeding. In 1974 the tax on dogs that still survived was sharply increased.
As a result of all this Communist Party pressure, by 1950 only scattered specimens of the noble Shar Pei f the Han Dynasty were left. From isolated South China villages, fanciers in Macao (Portuguese China) and Hong Kong were able to secure an occasional specimen, but the breed was on the brink of being lost forever.
Just how close the Shar Pei came to losing the battle for survival is shown by the fact that the May 1979 issue of the magazine "DOGS", published in New York, carried an article on rare breeds and printed a picture of a Shar Pei, describing it as "possibly the last surviving specimen of the breed". The story was very nearly accurate, and if a copy of the magazine had not accidentally come into the hands of Mr. Matgo Law, a young and energetic Hong Kong dog fancier, the Shar Pei might well passed into history with out further notice.
But Matgo Law, it turns out, owned several of these dogs and with another fancier, Mr. Chung Ching Ming, had already conceived the idea of a rescue operation to prevent the breed from being lost forever.
These two fanciers feared that Hong Kong might some day become a part of the People's republic of china and that the wholesale destruction of the dogs that had occurred in China would be repeated in Hong Kong. The odds seemed hopeless, but reading the article gave Mr. Law an idea.
With the typical Hong Kong flair of intelligent planning and superior execution, Matgo Law composed a letter to Marjorie Fansworth, Editor of "DOGS". In this letter Mr. Law outlined his plans, enclosed pictures of the few dogs he and Mr. Chung Ching Ming had been able to discover from their diligent search of the area, and ended with a plea for help and co-operation from interested American fanciers.
Publication of his letter and pictures in the April 1973 issue of "DOGS" rocketed the Shar Pei from obscurity and possible oblivion to instant star-status and fame. Over two hundred letters poured in, many from buyers anxious to procure puppies or breeding stock. But because the entire number of dogs known to exist at that time totaled only a dozen or so individuals, it was some months before any sales could be made.
Nevertheless, American enthusiasts did eventually begin to receive a trickle of puppies from Matgo Law and also managed to discover a few more isolated dogs in Macao and Taiwan. Within a couple of years of the Shar Pei premature obituary, kennels had been established in various parts of America