Chinese Shar-Pei History
The name is both singular and plural. In Chinese it means“ sandy skinned” (or “shark skinned”). The original dogs apparently had short harsh coats. The hair is thick but sparse and does not split like most and has sharp points. The short coat, known as “Horse Coat”, may cause skin irritation in some people. The longer coat (1 inch or 25mm maximum) known as “Brush Coat”, causes less irritation. Some say that the “brush coat” was developed outside of China, whilst others say that the “Horse Coat” originated in southern China and the “Brush Coat” in northern China.
In common with many breeds the origin of the Shar-Pei is clouded in folklore. It is suggested that they existed during the Han Dynasty(206BC – 220AD). It has been claimed that they were used primarily for protection of farms and people from wild animals and bandits in the Chinese countryside. Others claim that they were used for herding. Yet another theory is that they were used for hunting (primarily mongoose).
The use of Shar-Pei as fighting dogs was apparently confined to southern China and it has been said that they had to be drugged to fight. Gambling was the main reason for the fighting, rather than the temperament of the dog. With the introduction of larger, fiercer dogs from Europe their breeding was neglected.
Beginning with Mao Tse Tung, heavy taxes were placed on dog ownership which lead to all dogs being slaughtered by the thousands.
In the mid-1960’s the Shar-Pei was taken to the USA as the Chinese Fighting Dog, but was not popular. About the same time, a breeder named Matgo Law in Hong Kong began collecting what he thought were Chinese Shar-Pei. In 1973, when he felt that he was loosing the battle to save the breed from extinction he wrote an article in the USA Dogs Magazine appealing for help. This gained many replies from the USA. In 1978 Guinness Book Of World Records listed Shar-Pei as the world’s rarest dog breed. This lead to the importation into the USA and UK From there they have moved into most countries (including China), and some have also been imported into Australia from Hong Kong too.
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