A pretty unusual looking dog breed is the Chinese Shar-Pei or simply Shar Pei. In Ancient China, it was a palace guard dog and a favorite breed for the sport of dog fighting. Nowadays, it is a rare and prized breed due to its trademark wrinkled appearance, hippopotamus muzzle and droopy face. The coat colors among Shar Peis is also quite diverse. This dog breed makes a loving family dog, active and ideal for a small house or apartment.
Basic Shar Pei information also involves its care and maintenance. Due to its unique skin and appearance, the Shar Pei does require a lot of care and grooming. In this article, learn how to care for a Chinese Shar Pei.
Caring for Your Shar Pei
The following activities constitute the main areas in looking after a Shar Pei.
✏ A young Shar Pei or a puppy needs to be socialized to become familiar with humans and other animals. Shar Peis are very friendly and social, if they have met people during their formative years. If cloistered, they can become shy or very aggressive and will have separation anxiety issues, if you leave them alone. Proper Shar Pei training and behavior is essential for having a well-developed, obedient and happy dog.
✏ The Shar Pei has a possessive and territorial nature, especially when it comes to you, his owner. As such, his loyal nature can make him a tad aggressive towards other dogs, while on a walk. So keep him on a leash for walks and keep a firm hand, to prevent him from pulling on the leash.
✏ Make sure your Shar Pei gets a walk daily, especially if you live in an apartment. While it is not very active, Shar Peis need regular exercise and walks, otherwise they can get overactive indoors and if you want a spic and span house, you do not want an excited Shar Pei.
✏ Chinese Shar Peis are very sensitive to heat and humid temperatures due to their thick coat. So if your Shar Pei is outdoors, make sure he has plenty of shade and water, to keep him cool. If he has had an intense workout, bring him in for a while to cool down or let him rest for a bit.
✏ The thick wrinkles and short coarse hair require attentive grooming. Brush your Shar Pei at least 5-7 times a day. One a week, brush his coat down with a bristle brush to remove dead hair. Do not trim or cut his coat.
✏ Shar Peis do not like water and hence do not like baths. They can be very evasive, when it comes to bathing time. Bathe them as required (once a week), especially if they have been playing around in the mud. Shampooing should be done once, every 2 weeks, not more than that. Shampoo can dry up the Shar Pei's sensitive skin. Also while bathing your Shar Pei, do not wet his ears. They are highly sensitive and could get infected.
✏ After bathing, dry your Shar Pei properly. No moisture or water should remain in the folds of his skin or his wrinkles. You can use a hair dryer on a low heat setting, avoid aiming it at the eyes.
✏ Nails are a key body part to groom. They need to be trimmed every 2 - 4 weeks. Do not allow your Shar Pei's nails to grow very long, as it can get very painful to walk on long nails. He may develop ingrown nails or a limp. Don't clip them very short either, you may cut the flesh instead. Your Shar Pei may not like this part of grooming and could squirm, so if you face difficulties, take him to the vet to get the nails trimmed.
✏ Ears are another sensitive body part. Check your Shar Pei's ear canal once a week, to detect any ear infections. Redness or swollen ears with an odor is a sign of infection. The thick ear flaps can cause accumulation of wax, so you need to clean the ears with cotton buds. Do so gently.
✏ Your Shar Pei's cute, droopy face with those soulful eyes can convince you to feed him the entire larder. But diet is one area of Shar Pei care to be especially cautious about. If you buy manufactured pet food, choose high-grade and quality products. Less vegetables and grains, more meat. Avoid soy, corn and wheat ingredient foods. The less fiber, the better.
✏ If you make your own dog food, then ensure rich protein sources in the prepared food. Chicken, fish and beef, lightly cooked with little water will do. Minced or small cuts are good. Fish is very healthy, especially for the Shar Pei's skin. You can boil bones of mutton or beef for your pet to chew. Include some raw or cooked vegetables and rice. Eggs, scrambled are good as a variation.
✏ Treats or snacks can be human food like yogurt, sardines and sometimes cheese. Chocolate in rare and small quantities is ok. Avoid dark chocolate completely. You can add vitamin and nutrient supplements to your Shar Pei's diet. Cod liver oil in small doses, once a week in regular food will not hurt.
✏ A Shar Pei must be fed 2 times a day, do not overfeed him. Being a dog, he'll keep eating as long as you refill his bowl, so monitor his intake to prevent weight gain. Puppies especially, have a tendency to hog if allowed to. Shar Peis are heavy droolers, so wipe their mouths after they eat or drink, to prevent a trail of drool on your floor.
As with most dog breeds, the Shar Pei is vulnerable to inherited and breed-specific diseases and illnesses like skin, ear and mouth problems. Their eyes are highly susceptible to infections. But such health risks aside, the Shar Pei is so much more than just a fancy breed. It is loving and loyal with a touch of goofiness. It's unique appearance and look makes it stand out from the dog crowd. Kids and adults alike love it, so it makes a great family pet as well as a companion animal. Do right by your pet and invest in its health and care. With the above steps, your pooch will be healthy, happy and a joy to have around.