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Profile: The name Shar Pei roughly translates into English as sand-skin. The Shar Pei does have a rough skin and tough coat. Everything about this breed is tough its personality, its physical strength and especially its history. For centuries Shar Pei were strictly Chinese. They were not allowed outside of the borders. The first Shar Pei did not reach Western shores until 1966.There is no consensus among Shar Pei information sources where in China the breed originated. Tradition indicates the small village of Tai Lai in Southern China as the home of the Shar Pei breed. They are most likely mutations from Chow Chow crosses that were line bred or inbred in order to emphasis their mutations, most notably of the loose skin and the abundance of wrinkles. Pottery and statues of wrinkled dogs from the Han dynasty (ca 200 BCE) have been discovered. The first written reference to a wrinkled dog was in a 13th century Chinese manuscript.Many Westerners were entranced by the Shar Pei's incredibly wrinkled look. They were so ugly, they were cute, was the general consensus. But the history of the Shar Pei clearly shows that these are not dogs to sit placidly at the feet of yuppie owners. These are strong dogs in all respects strong in body and strong in their wills. First they protected livestock and the farmer's family from human and animal predators, and then they became the dog of Chinese dog fighting pits.Although it was great for China to outlaw dog fighting during the Cultural Revolution, they also outlawed the dogs. It is estimated that most of the genetic pool of Shar Pei were slaughtered. China has recently changed its mind about the necessity of the Cultural Revolution and now allows many Chinese practices once outlawed. Sadly, it is thought that dog fighting has since resumed in China. North American and European breeders of the Shar Pei breed are now learning from their mistakes, as has the American buying public. Shar Pei were dropped like hot potatoes in the 1990's, which lead to the rise of many Shar Pei rescues in many states. Because of their temper and their large size, they are not found in puppy mills as they once were. Shar Pei are now bred for an improved disposition, as well as for their looks.The future for the Shar Pei looks grim to those who love to see things unchanged. There's just not enough of a gene pool in order to assure the future of this unique dog breed. Considering some of the problems many have discovered with keeping Shar Pei, perhaps that's for the best. Shar Pei are prone to many health problems. The most worrisome (and painful) is inverted eyelids, where the eyelashes constantly rub against the eyeballs. This can be cured with an expensive operation.The Shar Pei has a sketchy history at best. There is lots of incorrect Shar Pei information out there.
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