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China Style Dog: Kandi Sterling Book
Chinese Shar-Pei: Hybrid Dog?
drop cap: D id the Chinese Shar-Pei ever really have a chance? A chance to be a pure bred dog or to be generally healthy? There is good evidence and history that suggest the answer would be no. Above is a photo from a most excellent book by Kandi Sterling featuring a "China Style" Shar-Pei. At first glance I would tend to say "Where are all the wrinkles and that fluffy little fat we have come to know and love?"

What many of us have come to know and love would be considered the "Western" version of the Chinese Shar-Pei with high probability that it was especially bred "just for us Americans". There is no doubt that our canines' ancestors were leaner, taller with tighter skin and longer legs. So how did this transformation take place?

What is "certain" about the history of our breed is that it is "uncertain". But it would be safe to say there was a time that this dog was purely a companion or working dog and a time that it was used for the purposes of fighting. During this time it was used for fighting the owners were not interested in purity of breed they were possibly gamblers and their interest was money.

To cross breed the Shar-Pei with another breed was of no harmful consequence to these gamblers. As a matter of fact it would have been beneficial to take the good "fighting" qualities the Shar-Pei possessed, the looser skin, strength, loyal protective character and replace the bad "fighting" traits like lack of stamina and naturally non-aggressive nature. By mixing the breed with other specimens they were able to possibly create a Hybrid Fighting Machine. It has been suggested that before the practice of cross-breeding the Fighting Shar-Pei was drugged to make him more aggressive in the ring and to give him, artificially, what he lacked naturally.

There is no gray area here these dogs are our pups' ancestors. The second "mixing of the gene pool" would have occurred when Matgo Law began exporting Shar-Pei to the United States. People of the East have stated that his foundation stock was of questionable mix to begin with. Then the entire foundation stock that re-established this breed in the United States was extremely small which means the genetics of our modern Shar-Pei were formed from a very limited stock. To complicate this "hard enough" situation brothers were bred to sisters, daughters were bred to fathers from the pure necessity of re-establishing the breed.

This in breeding was perhaps a necessary evil of which there was basically no other alternative however the potential damage to the health and future of the breed can not be ignored. Basic and logical genetics tell us, to say the least, this was not a good thing. If you have a Labrador Retriever the chances are good that you have a Black Lab, Chocolate Lab or a Yellow Lab. This breed seems to enjoy an extreme stability, health and consistency that we do not see in Modern Shar-Pei.

Due to the history that the Shar-Pei encountered he never really had a chance to have a strong foundation for his health and purity. Through the efforts of responsible organizations like the CSPCA and the AKC and even more so responsible professional breeders the Shar-Pei might be put "back" on track with stabilized health for future generations to enjoy. This can't be motivated by profit and it shouldn't be done by trial and error in the back yard by amateurs (Thank you Marion). This leaves little doubt that there will always be two different specimens no matter what is done. An Eastern Shar-Pei and a Western Shar-Pei or an Ancient Shar-Pei and a Modern Shar-Pei.
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