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Shar pei are like marmite, you either love them or hate them. Their unique expressions, personalities and temperament make them loving pets to have around.
Now I am sure many of you reading this will have heard horror stories about having to clean their wrinkles after every meal and every Shar Pei having skins issues that can't be controlled. This just simply isn't true. Yes Shar Pei are more PRONE to skin issues, but this is mainly due to fact that they are a highly sensitive breed, many will have intolerences to yeast. Yeast is found in practically 99% of manufactures dog foods, hence why so many dogs will have skin issues. Personally our Shar Pei went through this, we changed her on to a raw diet and within 6 weeks her skin was perfect again and we have never had a problem since.
Eye tacking is a method, that involves placing a few stiches in the eye lid just to keep it from rubbing on the eye itself. This is a tempory measure while the pup is still growing into it's skin. If eye tacking is unsucessful then entropian surgery may need to be done. A simple operation to remove a small amount of the eye lid to prevent rubbing.
Temperament, typically the breed is aloof with strangers, there are expections to the rule, I happen to know one who thinks everybody is her best friend and was placed on this planet to give her attention. They make brilliant guard dogs and have an acute hunting instinct still.
They don't like water. It's not in their genetics, heck some of them don't even know how to swim and sink if in deep water! You will have a battle to get a Shar Pei to go potty if it's raining, most will just hold it untill it's dry again. BUT put a lead on to go for a walk and it could be raining a monsoon, they wouldn't care.
Coat, Shar Pei's are short coated there are three types of coat; Horse, Brush and Bear. Horse coat is the shortest less than 1cm in length and can possibly give people with sensitve skin a rash while they get used to it. Brush coat is the most common ranging from 1am to 5cm. Bear coat is a recessive gene throw back and is in excess of 5cm in length, this coat is not accepted in the show ring.
Colouring, there are many different types of colours, the most popular by far is fawn (gingery red coloured coat with a black mask and dark black tongue). You can get standard pigmented colours, which means the dog will have a black mask and dark blue/black tongue or a dilute, which means the dog has no black colour, the tongue will be a light lavender colour. Flowered dogs are unaccepted in the show ring and are two or more colours.
I know people say they grow to look like their dogs but l am sure l will never have that many wrinkles. We have two of these lovely creatures and we really love them dearly. They originate in China where they were first bred as fighting or farming dogs. They were at one time the rarest dog in the world but now there are many dogs around. Not enough though that we don't get stopped every second step by people asking what on earth it is, the most regular comment being 'I've seen one on the telly, but never a real one' and 'Arn't they ugly, but in a really adorable way' Hmm??? They are about the size of a boxer and are a really gentle, affectionate breed. I actually think that my dogs think they are people as they want to be with you all the time sitting with you on the sofa not in a dog like position at your feet. They watch TV with us (NO, l mean really watch)and talk to us when they want something, jumping about and really talking. I can only describe it as this because when it happens no-one can believe the way they are, you can almost appear to have a conversation with them. Its very amusing. They are brilliant with children, l have three ranging in age from 9 to 20 and they have never shown any sign of agression towards the children. Even the boy who suffers from ADHD (attention defecit hyperactivity disorder) and is running all over the show and sometimes really agravating the dogs, they seem to know that he means no harm and just sort of look at him distastefully and walk away. The twenty year old daughter was attacked by an alsation at a fair ground when she was 9 and l had to drag her out from underneath the animal, since then l have always been really afraid of dogs. It took many years of persuasion from my husband to allow the family to get a dog for a pet. But boy, l don't regret it for one second. The dogs give so much to us. I know that you can never trust any animal 100% but l woul
d trust these as much as is humanly possible. They are very good at guarding the house, if they hear any noise at all they bark their heads off, if l were a burglar l would certaily be put off by it. Mind you if they were actually to get in l think the dogs would probably just lick them to death. Thye are so affectionate to everyone but hopefully the barking would be deterant enough. There are two types of coat, Horsecoat (we have a bitch in this coat type called Kato), this coat is very prickly, short, rough and can cause a rash in some peoples skin. I suffer if l touch her at all with the inside of my forearm and l have a brother-in-law that comes out in a complete rash head to toe if he touches her at all. The other type is Brushcoat where the fur is longer and much softer (we have a dog in this type, Bruno is his name). He is like a big teddy bear but the only problem with this is he does moult and as he is white/cream the fur is very noticable everywhere. There is another coat, the bearcoat, but these are quite rare in this country and have very long fur like a long haired german shepherd. The first time l saw one l couldn't believe it was a Shar-Pei. The dogs do suffer from their skin, they get something similar to excema, the vet says it is a form of demodectic mange, the fur just falls of and becomes very patchy and unsightly. We tried loads of different foods for them and nothing seemed to help. Then we tried James Wellbeloved Lamb and RIce Kibble. Within 2 weeks of starting this we were able to see improvements in the coat. Now there are no problems at all. Some people think its cruel to keep the dog on the same food all the time, but they do have some of our food and even when they don't they do not seem to mind. It is brilliant food and they are truly thriving on it. If l had to say anything about the breed it would be that they are not really very good with other dogs (as they think they are peop
le). When mine see another dog they just bark and growl (its the only time l see any agression). I've never let them over so l don't know what they'd do if l did. I think its because they see another dog coming over and are wondering what this strange creature is thats coming over to us people (including them of course). Well to sum up, l have had no problems with the dogs at all now that the coat situation is sorted with the James Wellbeloved food. I have never had any problems with the folds or wrinkles and the eyes are fine (they are known to have problems with their eyes due to the heavyness of their wrinkles above their eyes causing the eyelashes to turn into the eye). A simple operation at your vets to cut a piece of the eyelid away therefore bringing the eyelid and lashes back sorts it out at a cost (in my vets) of about £50. They are beautiful animals and l feel very proud to walk down the road with them and would recommend enyone get one.
The Sharpei is a lovely dog. Originally native of China they have many many wrinkles. It is believed that they developed this way so that if they got bitten by another dog and were being held by the flesh they could still defend themselves and retaliate due to the loose skin and wrinkles. These wrinkles can cause problems though especially around the eyes and ears so make sure that they are regularly inspected and taken to the vets immediately if there is any sign of a problem. They do not have fur but have course hair similar to sandpaper or horsehair. If you have very sensitive skin conditions then beware as their hair can cause irritation causing a sort of 'stubble rash'. They are also one of only a handful of dog breeds that have black tongues, webbed paws and sweat which means they very rarely pant even in very hot weather. Our dog actually loves the sun and sits in the garden in the summer. You must be very careful with Sharpei's out in the sun as they obviously do not have dense fur to protect their skin. An easy way to help with this is to put a wet T-Shirt on them. It works a treat but you wouldn't really want to go out in public like it!! Our sharpei has a brilliant character and is very gentle. Although quite big in size he wouldn't harm a fly and prefers to sleep all day (or eat!!). With regards food, Sharpei's are notorious for having problems with their digestive system and our dog inparticular has to have a gluten free diet. Sharpei's are great with all types of people, both children and adults alike (although beware as they do like sniffing people!). When they want to they can run really fast and are strong although with our dog this only happens when he has a funny 5 minutes every now and then. He prefers to lounge around. For years I had always wanted a Sharpei as due to their unusual looks they always seemed to appear on greeting cards etc. Finally I have one a
nd I don't regret it one bit!