Breeding Shar Peis is an amazing adventure thanks to one of the World’s rarest dog breed. Shar Peis are expensive and require a lot of attention, though.
Indeed, when thinking about how to breed Shar Peis, you must understand that these dogs come with some potential complications such as dermatitis due to their skin folds. Familial Shar-Pei Fever is also plaguing the breed.
As an ethical and responsible Shar-Pei breeder, you need to develop your own bloodline with as much health screening as possible.
Background of Shar-Pei Breeding
Shar Pei breeding goes as far as the pre-Christ era, even if back then, the breed was very different. From a fighting dog to a family and kid’s best friend, the breed went through a wonderful evolution.
The Shar Pei finds its origin in the South of China, somewhere in the Hunan province. Some older references to the breed even suggest that the breed has been around since 200 BC.
These Asian dogs were bred and brought up by the people of the Han dynasty to guard, hunt and look after the people. Very popular during this reign, Shar Peis also enjoyed an important position in the Han culture, as shepherd dogs.
However, there was a lag time in between, after the communist revolution of Mao Tse-Tung, where the breed became less and less popular. Ownership and interest declined. Gradually, nobody was breeding Shar Peis anymore.
Had it not been for one man, Matgo Law, a breeder from Hong Kong, Shar Peis would have gone extinct. He began to breed Chinese Shar Peis again because he knew how rare they were. Soon enough, Europe and USA started importing the breed in and not before long, Shar Peis were given status as one of the rarest dog breeds in the world.
People across Europe and America were falling in love with this wrinkled, cuddly dog with a “smooshy” face.
There is now also a miniature version of the Shar-Pei, the Miniature Shar-Pei, that is slightly smaller than the standard variety. It makes for a wholesome and versatile dog that can adjust in the smallest of spaces, provided all its requirements for meals and exercises are met with. The mini Shar Pei grows to about 17 inches in height.
What makes the Shar Pei breed stand out from all the others is their wrinkled body. A lot of veterinary and dermatological institutes have conducted researches on the breed and have found similar results.
It has been concluded that the presence of the wrinkles on the Shar Pei’s body is due to genetic alteration.
This alteration causes the body to produce an excess of hyaluronic acid – a substance that is responsible for causing wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid gathers under the surface of the skin. The amusing thing is that the same component is known to resist wrinkles in human skin!
Shar Peis are amongst the rarest dog breeds of the world. That itself contributes to their vast popularity.
Earlier, somewhere around the early 1900s, there was a time when the popularity of Shar Peis dwindled considerably, during the communist movement. The reason for this decline could be attributed to the fact that the party had started to levy taxes on dogs.
Later, they gained popularity in Europe and the USA somewhere around the 1970s and there has been no looking back for them since then. The breed is known for its steadfastness and loyalty towards its family and is therefore preferred by a lot of families. It is mid-sized, which makes it a good pet for smaller homes or apartments also. Shar Peis make for excellent family dogs and have guard dog instincts too.
Their popularity has only seen an upward incline since the 20th century. The Shar-Pei was the 137th dog to have been added to the AKC.
The American Kennel Club has recognized 16 acceptable coat colors for a Chinese Shar-Pei dog. The most common are black, fawn, or even tan. The breed also comes in shades of blue, cream, red-fawn, apricot, chocolate and more! Some Shar Peis also have, what most canine enthusiasts call, flowered coloration, which means that the dog will have spots of different shades on a coat of black. Shar Peis can also have a diluted coloration, meaning that the nails and the nose of the dog are both the same color as the body. This monotone is one of the things that contribute to the Shar Pei’s rarity and uniqueness.
Shar Peis are not hypoallergenic, but they shed less compared to other dogs. They shed around twice or three times in a single year.
A very prominent feature of the Shar-Pei is their tongue which is a wonderful shade of black and blue.
Health Concerns When Breeding Shar Peis
Shar Peis are healthy, happy and sweet-tempered. They are ideal for dog breeders as well as for families. Their short but muscular built makes them good playmates for kids. Shar Peis can adjust in smaller spaces also since they’re medium-sized pets.
The only problem with Shar Peis is their life expectancy. Shar Peis have a really short lifespan ranging from 9 to 11 years. This is nearly 5 years shorter than most other dogs.
Obviously, there are a few health concerns which you must remain cautious of.
Familial Shar-Pei Fever
The Familial Shar-Pei Fever, or FSF, is a genetic disease causing the dog to suffer from frequent recurring bouts of fever. It is the canine equivalent of the human Mediterranean Fever, which is an autoimmune disease.
In dogs, however, Shar-Pei Fever is extremely serious and can be fatal if not cared for from the very beginning. The worst part is that we still don’t know what causes it, just that it is inherited.
Along with fever, your dog may also limp, indicating pain in the hocks (a canine parallel of human knees). you may even see some swelling around the hocks. Worst still, Shar-Pei Fever can also cause renal failure and damage the liver considerably. FSF is a painful disease that puts your dog in a constant state of inflammation and hurt. Swollen muzzle, vomiting, diarrhea, reluctance to move at all, an oddly arched back – these are all symptoms of FSF in Shar Peis.
Amyloidosis is a disorder caused by the excess accumulation of amyloids in various organs of the dog’s body (often in the liver). The build-up of amyloid proteins (deposits) can make it difficult for the dog’s organs to work properly.
Shar Peis are very susceptible to amyloidosis because this is a counter effect of FSF. During Familial Shar-Pei Fever, the dog’s body begins to produce more amyloids, a particle of protein. These particles stick together and form fibrosis, a clump of fibrous tissue in the organs. These cause the same organs to stop working or become irreparably damaged.
If your Shar Pei shows symptoms like excessive weight loss, vomiting, weakness, shortness of breath, take them to a vet immediately. In all likelihood, one or more of his organs are damaged due to the formation of the fibrosis. This formation and consecutive illness are known as amyloidosis. It is usually caused by a genetic predisposition. A dog with amyloidosis would never truly be treated and should never be bred.
The symptoms can be managed through the right treatments, medications, and diets but the underlying disease just sort of stays. The dog will have to undergo thorough and frequent health checkups for the rest of his/her life.
Entropion, also known as abnormal eye disorder is an irritating condition in dogs, that causes a Shar Peis eyelids to grow inward, making one eye limp and thick. The eyelid that grows inward also has eyelashes that keep brushing against the surface of the eye – the cornea. This frequent brushing can cause scratches to the dog’s eyes, eventually making them go blind. A lot of dogs are predisposed to suffering from entropion because the disease takes form based on the shape of the dog’s face. Being excessively wrinkly sure puts Shar Pei at double risk.
A lack of eye hygiene can further encourage this disease, causing the eyelids to turn in and grow there. A rapid weight loss either by excessive exercise or lighter meals can also lead the path to entropion. The treatment for entropion depends upon the severity of it. Surgical correction is the last resort.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that causes excessive itching, scratching and rashes all over the body. Just like humans get skin allergies, dogs too are prone to them. Especially the Shar-Pei, with its wrinkly skin and infections in its skin folds. The scary thing about atopic dermatitis in dogs is that it can be caused by the most harmless and invisible particles like dust mites or grass mold. How do you keep a dog away from grass!
But there is a way to determine whether your dog is susceptible to this scratchy, annoying disease. The symptoms begin to show as early as when the dog is 3 months old. You must keep a watch for rashes. Being young, Shar Peis will not show evident rashes, so you must look closely before its too late. Check areas like ears, muzzle, between the toes, groin, wrist, underarms – all the moist, dense areas that remain covered usually.
If you do happen to find a rash, a simple dermal test will determine the presence of this disease in your precious Shar Pei. The treatment involves medications, both oral and atopic.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Even though it is more likely to occur in cats than dogs, Vitamin B12 deficiency affects Shar Peis a lot. The reason for such a vitamin deficiency is actually hidden in the pancreas. A lot of dogs fail to digest and absorb the nutrients from the food they eat. This is because the pancreas does not create enough digestive enzymes for the food to break down and get absorbed in the bloodstream. Resultantly, the food goes through the body, undigested and unabsorbed. It is excreted as it is, without providing the necessary nutrition. This is what causes the deficiency of vitamins in the body of Shar Peis.
Amongst all vitamins, vitamin B12 is the least soluble and so doesn’t get absorbed at all. If your young dog seems confused or lethargic and has trouble maintaining its weight, they are most likely to suffer from a B12 deficiency. The straight treatment for this is to inject Vitamin B12 supplements in the bloodstream directly.
Ear Yeast Infections
The one thing that a Shar Pei has is a tightly shut ear canal. This creates a warm, moist and conducive environment for yeast to grow and thrive. Shar Peis have triangular ears that usually stay upright, but when at ease, the ear flaps seem to close the ear canals completely.
Eventually, you will begin to notice a foul smell coming from the dog’s ears. A sure-shot sign of your precious Shar Pei suffering from an annoying ear infection is scratching and vigorous shaking of the head. If you see him or her indulging in frequent and violent scratching or shaking its head furiously like trying to get rid of something, it is probably because the dog’s ear itches and they are in discomfort. More serious symptoms of ear infections are ear discharge accompanied by a horrible smell.
Treatments are simple and oral – your vet may prescribe ear drops and medication to get rid of the infection soon. You could prevent the infections from happening by cleaning out your dog’s ears regularly and effectively, with a soft cloth.
How To Breed Shar Peis
Breeding Chinese Shar Peis is a breeder’s dream. They are rare, friendly, sweet and obedient. They are easy to train and absolutely cute apart from being fairly healthy.
Breeding Shar Peis only requires genuine know-how of dog pedigrees, because you don’t want to get stuck with the wrong bloodline. They come in a variety of colors, so it is easy to get confused too soon. For Shar Pei breeders, the time’s right – because the demand for Shar Peis is only increasing.
Shar Peis give birth to 4-6 puppies at a time. In some extraordinary cases, the litter size may even go up to 8 or 9. Even miniature Shar Pei will give birth to 4-6 puppies in a go.
As a Shar Pei breeder, if you don’t already have takers for the puppies, be ready to look after the pups yourself. The puppies need some TLC from the start, ear cleaning being of prime importance. After the litter is born, try and get it tested for genetic conditions so you can act on them early on and avoid as many diseases as possible.
Shar Peis are usually a healthy breed with no reproductive trauma as such. Their pregnancies are comfortable and mostly problem-free.
The only thing that can possibly pose as a threat to them is the fact that their small bodies have slightly narrow birthing canals. As a breed, the Shar-Pei is muscular and the puppies are excessively wrinkly. This may result in painful and difficult labor. It is not unusual for a Shar Pei breeder to call for a Cesarean section for the bitch, but it is avoided due to medical reasons at times.
When breeding Shar Peis, one must keep in mind that they need a lot of socialization. You need to ease them into human and other animal bonding slowly and steadily. Shar Pei breeders of the 1900s would breed Shar Peis for their ability to fight. They may be small but they can be ferocious in a dog fight. Soon after, dog fights were banned and Shar Peis were no longer taken to arenas. But their instincts may still have some residue from their fighter ancestors.
Shar Pei breeders and owners alike must make the efforts to try and have them bond with other humans, be friendly to other animals. They are not an aggressive breed, but they need a certain amount of training to be able to survive joyfully in a family. A Shar Pei that has been withheld from socializing might grow up to have a bitter and short temperament. To ensure that they remain their calm and happy self, even around agitated children, you must work on their social skills from a very young age.
The Miniature Shar-Pei
The Miniature Shar Pei, as you can imagine, is a smaller version of the standard Shar Pei. Mini Shar-Peis grow up to 17 inches in size and are unique in their own quirky way. This miniature Shar Pei was created from the genes of a runt from the original standard Shar Pei litter and so, with no additional genes or qualities, it does not classify as a separate breed in the AKC.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any differences. The most glaring one being the size of course. Miniature Shar Peis come with the sweet-natured temperament and the loyalty and steadfastness of standard Shar Peis, but in a smaller pocket sized version. Excellent for keeping in smaller homes, these are fierce and devoted.
They are an exact miniature – with the same black and blue tongue, the triangular ears and the similar muscular built. Shar Pei breeders must be careful of the weight because miniatures tend to have a predisposition towards obesity. The AKC does not accept miniature Shar Peis over 45 pounds, so their diets are very important.
Everything about the miniature Shar Pei is like the standard version of it! The three types of coats: horse, brush, and bear. While the horse coat is short and rough to the feel, the brush coat is super soft, almost to the point of being velvety. The bear coat is longer and wavier and even smoother – but nowhere near smooth as the brush coat.
Miniatures do not have the advantage of color, as they come in limited shades of white, fawn red, lilac, and the likes. They do show some amount of dilution but no flowered patterns for miniature Shar Peis.
Miniature Shar Peis also face the same health issues as their standard counterpart. The only difference is that their inclination towards suffering from dermatological diseases is far lower than that of the standard variety. But apart from that, they too face health issues like amyloidosis, entropion, kidney failures, etc.
Miniature Shar Peis are currently extremely popular. There is a vast amount of research being conducted on this rare breed and the miniatures are being developed, getting better with time. Miniature Shar Pei breeders are touting this new little breed to be the next big thing – a solid sturdy and versatile companion, with no issues of space.
Shar Pei – Common Questions
Here are some quick answers we want to give you about common recurring questions from Shar Pei fanciers.
How much exercise do Shar Peis need?
Shar Peis need a regular period of exercise each day, consistently. This breed of dogs faces health concerns from obesity, owing to its short size. So be prepared for a lot of walks, runs and fetch!
Shar Pei breeders are advised to start training these cuddly little wrinkly puppies, as early as possible. The reason for this is that Shar Peis can be very headstrong at times and if they don’t grow up with the right amount of training and ample running around, they can grow up to be very stubborn.
Shar Peis are amongst the most loyal breeds in the canine world, so you don’t want to ruin this rare dog breed, owing to negligence. Lively games and activities, exercises that stimulate their brain as well as their body – like hide and seek are excellent options for a growing Shar Pei stud or dame.
Are Shar Peis good guard dogs?
Shar Peis can make for excellent guard dogs. Their ancestors in traditional China were brought up and bred to be fighter dogs.
While these Shar Peis now are extremely tamed and have been toned down, their instincts can make them excellent guard dogs. They are highly intelligent and easy to train. You can easily mold them into becoming a guarding dog for your home.
Don’t go by their wrinkly cuddly faces, because when push comes to shove, these can be ferocious little dogs with a lot of muscular power. Their size is misleading to how strong they really are. Their hearing is sharp and their ability to perceive the presence of strangers and dangers around them is commendable too.
What’s the best diet for Shar Peis?
An active Shar-Pei should be fed a lot of proteins with a minimal amount of carbohydrates. Home-cooked meats, eggs, and vegetables are good food choices for them. If feeding your dog store-bought food, ensure that you look for the carb-free dog food.
If the Shar-Pei in question is not super active, reduce the food intake drastically. By inactive we mean going for a couple of 15-minute walks around the block and sitting at home the rest of the day. Then, you only need to feed them the same balanced diet. Rich in proteins, with a minimal to moderate inclusion of carbs. Just cut the quantities!
Is the Shar-Pei hypoallergenic?
No, Shar Peis are not hypoallergenic. They have very short hair and shed very little fur – about twice a year only. But that does not make them hypoallergenic.
Humans with pet allergies are not allergic to the hair or the fur of the pet, but the particles present in their saliva and skin. They are allergic to the danger and the drool that falls out of the dog. Shar Peis may shed fur very little, but they drool a lot and they also shed a lot of dander, making it difficult for a person with allergies to be around them.