10 Wrinkly Facts About the Shar-Pei

Is that a dog or a pile of towels? This melty-looking pup is certainly one of a kind, and has an interesting history to match.


As with many dog breeds, the true origin of the Shar-Pei is shrouded in mystery. Many believe that the dogs are an ancient breed, citing figurines from the Han Dynasty dating back to 200 BCE, which bear a striking resemblance to the wrinkled pooches we know today. Others counter that the figurines could just as easily be pugs or chow chows and mention that Marco Polo made no mention of them while traveling in China (he did write about the chow chow).

The dog's original purpose is also a bit of a head-scratcher. Some suggest the breed was developed by royalty as guard dogs. Others say that peasants bred the dogs to hunt, herd, protect stock, and guard the home. A third group believes Shar-Pei were bred to fight; they were, in fact, used with some frequency in the pits until better fighting dogs, like mastiffs, were introduced.

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