Known in China for the past 2000 years, the Shar Pei is a hunting, herding and watchdog.
Statuettes from the Han Dynasty date the Shar Pei back to 206BC-220AD when they are believed to have originated in Dah Let near the South China Sea.
During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) famine and war reduced dog ownership and interest.
Heavy taxes were imposed on companion pets in China in 1947. Only the wealthy owned pets.
Taxes were raised on existing dogs during 1949 and mass extermination was ordered of all breeds
Dah Let in Southern China is said to be the home of the Shar Pei
By 1950 few specimens remained and these were only to be found on offshore islands such as Macao, Taiwan and Hong Kong but many were used in dog fighting rings.
Because the Shar Pei has strength, stamina and determination they were frequent favoured contestants. Given alcohol and other stimulants, the dogs were pitted against each other as a popular sport.
Fortunately for the breed, gamblers and fight promoters brought in dogs from the west, including Mastiffs, Bulldogs and other similar breeds. They selected the dogs with vicious temperaments and crossbred these dogs to produce bigger, stronger and more ferocious dogs. Since the native Shar Pei proved to be no match for these fiercely aggressive dogs, breeding was neglected and Shar Pei numbers decreased rapidly.
In 1966 the first Shar Pei, Lucky, was exported to the USA.
In 1973 Matgo Law, a Hong Kong breeder, appealed through American magazines for help in avoiding the breeds extinction.
In 1978 the Shar Pei appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records as the worlds rarest dog breed.
Following successful breeding in the USA the first dog arrived in the UK in 1981.
It was another year before the first bitches arrived, one of which came direct from Matgo Law in Hong Kong.
From the UK Shar Pei have been exported to Countries such as Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Italy, Cyprus and Russia. Many of the animals imported into this country in recent years are USA Show Champions and have been very influential in the development of the breed.
BECOME A PART OF OUR CLUB
If you'd like to be part of our future, why not join the Shar Pei Club of Great Britain