Whenever I have told anyone that I have Shar Peis, I get one of two answers. It’s either I have never heard of that before or, “OH! One of those wrinkly dogs!” Why yes, you are correct, my dogs do have wrinkles abound but they are so much more. Also, those wrinkles aren’t as soft as you might think.
The first day I spotted Oscar and Lola, almost six years go now, in a little pen outside a swap meet waiting to be scooped up is a day that I will not forget. Practically in tears from having a bad week, I turned my head and locked eyes with a pretty set of green ones belonging to one part of my pair of soul mates. After tearing my eyes away from this love at first sight, my gaze traveled to what surrounded those eyes. Low and behold they were surrounded by wrinkles flopping everywhere, and right next to him appeared to be his smaller twin. Making a long story short, I told my dad I wasn’t leaving without both of them because why on earth would you break up such a perfect pair? Not to mention they are my personality in dog form.
Aside from my obvious desire to reminisce and show off their preciousness, there is a serious side to their story. Clearly my dogs came from peaceful beginnings. They had gorgeous parents that produced perfect puppies and are lucky enough to not have skin problems or have needed eye surgery. However, how did they get here and what exactly is their purpose as a dog? I can tell from experience that they are not made for hunting and their eye sight leaves much to be desired, but there is something very menacing behind their floppy exterior. If you open their mouths and poke at their teeth, they are sharp as razor blades. When they play with their newly acquired shepherd brother, (we have four dogs total) you find that even when the nape of their neck is bitten the excess skin allows the Shar Peis to turn around on whoever is behind them. Their guard dog behavior is obsessive and the barking borderline causes insanity. None of these things were trained into them, they just sort of knew what to do instinctively.
This peaked my curiosity for some time, and what I found through some research was terribly interesting. The name Shar Pei directly translates to “Sand Skin” which is probably the more accurate label for my monsters. Every time I hold them I end up with a rash. This rough fur however, came in handy for these tough little creatures. Though there is not a lot of information left about this breed, a few things are known for sure. They are an ancient breed, having been around since 200 B.C., they originated in China and were used as guard dogs. Whether they were used to protect royalty or the common farmers is not clear but their behavior proves that they protected people. Sadly, when China became a communist nation there was massive dent in the Shar Pei population. Some people think it was because the government didn’t want this unique powerful breed getting out but their attempt at wiping them out failed. Hong Kong began breeding them as well as Taiwan; they must have realized how cool and special of a breed the Shar Peis were.
Most dog breeds have a story, as well as individual dogs themselves. Oscar and Lola were much luckier than some of the other furry creatures in the world, namely those who were destroyed during the rise of communism in China as well as those still yet to find homes. All too often we think about the history of humans and everything we have gone through to be prosperous. Then I think about the breed of Shar Peis. The breed survived, for lack of a better term, an extinction event and was able to maintain their purpose for hundreds of years. They were made to guard people, and they were made to fight and win. They are a cool breed of dogs that don’t receive the attention and recognition they deserve. Share Peis are definitely more than just being “those wrinkly dogs.”
I knew most of this information off hand, but some of the terminology and clarification I received was from this website. Feel free to check it out!