My personal views on the Sharpei

I would like to tell you some “history” about the Sharpei today. The first Sharpei was first presented to the western world in the 1968, and it was then called as a Chinese fighting dog. The Sharpei was not accepted as a breed until the US President Nixon visited China in 1972. His visit opened up China to the west. People started to welcome everything from the east, from Kung Fu to Panders, Chinese wine to Chinese tea ….

At the same time, there was a Mr. Mantgo Law in Hong Kong who claimed to be an owner of a “Sharpei”. But instead, the so-called “Sharpei” was a cross of a Chowchow, Bullterrier, bulldog and the original Sharpei, from Dai Lek. The dog was named as “Meatmouth” by the original Sharpei-lovers, because they do not accept it as the pure breed Sharpei. Mr. Law, later, used the name of the Sharpei and brought the dog to the west. He did light up the name of “Sharpei” in the world, but, ironically, he has nearly brought about the extinction of the pure Sharpei.

You may ask why I suggest the dog Mr. Lau introduced to the west is such a “mix”? I will proceed to explain.

During the 1960s there were two major groups of dog owners in Hong Kong as well as in Macau. Some (mainly the wealthy ones) treated their dogs as pets for entertainment, dog show and exhibitions, others treated the dogs as guards and fighting dogs. People at that time were not interested in pure breed, instead they were more enthusiastic about the function of the mixed ones.

For example, the origional Sharpei was admired and well known for his skillful and tactical fighting ability, but lack of endurance. On the other hand, endurance is one of the best traits of a Bullterrier. Thus, two dogs were often being mixed to produce a well-rounded fighting dog. Other dogs such as bulldogs, Boxers, Chowchows and Mastiffs were also good combinations with the Sharpei. At that time, dogs from both Hong Kong and Macao were always in the dog fight ring.

So, how do you differentiate between the Meatmouth and the Sharpei? Let’s make a comparison!

The Meatmouth in fact is a mix of a group of dogs. At first, people cross breed the Sharpei with Bullterrier, then with a Boxer. And the Meatmouth was the result of the interbreeding a new hybrid itself. The Meatmouth has a stiff and dull out-look and a distinctive pungent odor. Most of them have eye and skin problems. The winkles of a Meatmouth puppy are more excessive and swollen as a puppy. For adults, the winkles will not disappear and will get more intense. A Sharpei is different. Winkles of the puppy stage will fade away once reached adulthood; only those on the head will stay. And most of them will appear in one of the three Chinese characters, SHOU (longevity), FUK (fortune) or MAN (ten thousand).

According to the experience and the teaching of the seniors in this field, a standard Sharpei should have the following Characteristics, such as Calabash like head, shell like ears, black bean triangular eyes, toad like mouth, borax nose, bamboo leaf like tongue, old woman face, pipa like legs and garlic like hoof…..etc.

I will be delighted to share more details about Sharpei with you if you have the same interest in the original Sharpei as me.

Lee Fuk Wah