The vast majority – in the upper 90s of percentage – of American and European shar-pei go back to the same tiny gene pool of mostly Down Home’s dogs, bred by Matgo Law. Mr Law basically reconstructed what most people know as shar-pei with whatever dogs he could find that looked like shar-pei. Mostly he didn’t know their ancestry as he bought them from markets, smuggled them in etc… Not to mention it’s common knowledge than once in the USA there was smooth chow added by at least one breeder and suspected bulldog blood slipped in. I believe the brushcoats were/are very rare in China and I suspect the infusion of smooth chow is what altered the coat and evolved the phenotype of the Western dogs so rapidly. Add to that breed club splits, bitter rivalries, overbreeding, more inbreeding and the usual political dog showing nonsense. No wonder the breed type was a mish mash and no wonder these lovely dogs are in the state they are in health wise. If everybody that had a vested interest earning money/ribbons from their shar-pei had been honest about their show winners and breeding practises, they could have eliminated FSF in the breed a decade or more ago. As the show world is a microcosm of life in general, I expect too much I know.
I’ve known many of these dogs and had the good fortune to watch my friend’s shar-pei breeding program over 15 years. She’s retired now apart from the odd judging appointment. The variety you could get in one litter was quite a surprise. Colours, coats, sizes, tailsets, build – you name it! What always tickled me was that the wrinkliest pups would be the horsecoats that grew up to look like the dog pictured above. But as time passed the litters became far more uniform when the modern American lines came in and were extensively used. But, you could/can always get a surprise in there somewhere and a lot of the pet bred ones are still a very mixed bag.
I love this breed with all my heart and appreciate both “traditional” and “Western” types. Though I have to say that the bearcoats are the real beauties in my eyes. Standard interpretation wise, it hasn’t suffered physiologically in the way bulldogs have as most modern dogs are moderate in body type and wrinkling. But like many breeds it’s suffered for human vanity and popularity. And I don’t believe for a moment the Chinese breeders have done any better of a job as they have the same motivations at heart as the Western dog fancy does, even if the aesthetics are slightly different. Even more so because I have seen what the Chinese are doing to the Tibetan Mastiff. I fear far more for that noble breed’s future than I do for the shar-pei.
The other day I saw a Shar pei profile: head and tail and general shape. Black (every single hair!), smooth (just a couple of wrinkles on the head), and too small – about the size of a pit bull terrier. I drove around the block for another look and asked the owner. He said it was a shar pei cross. Interesting that the big blocky sher pei head and the single bend, tapered, pointed, over the back tail came through the cross loud and clear. Just sayin’.
Crossbreeding follows the Forrest Gump rule of genetics… “Laaake a box a’ choclits – you never know watcha gonna get” – he-he! I’d say shar-pei are pitbull sized as they are supposed to be around 18 to 20 inches tall. But both pitbulls and shar-pei vary quite a bit either way from the set standard. Do you know what the dog was crossed with?
What Kathy says is generally true, shar pei crosses tend to retain a strong type. Especially since shar pei are usually crossed with pit bull type dogs, since they have a similar size and shape, large heads and strong, stocky muzzle – plus many bullies have highly amenable earsets for pei crosses. Labrador and Rottweiler crosses are fairly common too.
I doubt that the quote presented is part of an official club standard. It reads far more like an individual’s comments about the breed. No doubt the standard does have its problems, but a direct quote from the official document would better fit the headline..
What happened to this breed when they came to the Western World is a sad thing indeed.
As a Shar Pei owner I am part of the online Shar Pei community and hear/read about so much of the heartbreak that is associated with the state of health in the breed. I think about the potential pitfalls for my little peis health daily…
They are wonderful dogs…I hope the breed can be saved and preserved…
Our breeding has had an impact even in their home country though…it is rarer to find a traditional looking dog there than a Western looking animal these days.