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Chinese Shar pei history



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Chinese Shar Pei origin


Though opinion about the ancient origin of a Chinese Shar Pei is widespread and conventional, it in fact is no more than the one of hypotheses. Although the ancient statuettes resembling Shar Peis do exist, they can represent Pugs or Chow Chows as well. Historically dogs never were an object of much worship in the Chinese culture, and there are no competent sources helpful in tracing the history of the Shar Pei breed before its first appearance in the USA. The theory alleging an ancient origin of Shar Peis is disproved by Marco Polo’s notes, for instance. He had been living in China for several years but never mentioned Shar Peis in his notes published in 1271 after his return; meanwhile he described Pugs and Chow Chows in detail. What seems to sound more trustworthy is a history of Chinese fighting dogs. It started right after 1751 when the Chinese emperor permitted a seaborne trade in the Pearl River Delta in Guangzhou. The first Chow Chows also appeared in Great Britain in 1775. Gambling was outlawed in China, therefore when British sailors introduced a dogfight, a common entertainment in those days, it briefly became extremely popular in Southern China. Due to paucity of English dogs participating in dogfights Chinese tried to breed their own fighting breed by crossing English breeds like Bulldog and Mastiff with smooth-coated Chow Chow. Likeness of a Chow Chow and a Shar Pei is evident. And the Chow Chow is the only breed in China which was used as hunting and shepherd dogs and as companions as well. And it is Shar Pei that is also known by these talents.
Since the end of 1950’s dog of fighting breeds have been remaining only in Hong Kong due to the Communists’ struggle against dogfights. Their further destiny is cloaked in mystery. Dogfights were underground and small wonder there were no any written records except the records of stakes. The very existence of the Chinese fighting dog breed itself is still disputed in China so far. Many consider the Chinese fighting dog breed being extinct and recreated in 1960, although it is known that Hong Kong Kennel Club registered the breed as early as 1949 and these dogs can be considered thoroughbred Chinese fighting dogs.
In attempt to preserve the breed some of Hong Kong breeders crossed these dogs with Bullmastiffs, Chow Chows, Bulldogs, Boxers, Pit Bulls and other breeds possibly, unwillingly or intentionally creating as a result a new breed – Shar Pei. Since then Shar Pei breed is developing in two different directions. First is the original fight dog – Chinese Shar Pei and the second is the American type of Shar Peis originated in Hong Kong in 60’s.
What was the purpose of crossing the Chinese Fight Dogs with other breeds? Probably there were two intentions. One was an attempt to improve the qualities of few fighting dogs remained and recreate the breed which was on the edge of extinction. Other was probably an intention to create a unique breed fully satisfying American customers. The brand new breed eventually was bred, distinguished by more solid bone structure, greater number of wrinkles, large head, smoother hair and mild temperament of the American Shar Pei. This new breed won American breeders’ favor at once, which thereby provided a buoyant demand for it.
American period of the Shar Pei breed’s history is another story, and we shall return to it some another time.

Автор: Yana Mishina
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