In Those Early Days

Tail of Shar Pei is another important feature to distinguish the breed from other breeds of dog.​

Ms. Michela Barbieri Vice President of Italian Shar Pei Club asked me to write about. The difficulties you’ve encountered during the period when Shar Pei was al most extincted. Some Shar Pei people said. You have saved the Shar Pei from extinction. Truly and honestly I answered. It was just a sheer opportunity that I came across with Shar Pei in the mid-1960s. Sincerely, how one guy’s effort could save an endangered species! Let me tell you some of the difficulties I faced in those early years with Shar Pei breeding.

I was interested in Shar Pei after I met with the first one and tried to observe as many dogs as I could locate in villages, open markets, dog-fighting pits.

Much to my surprise I saw a great variety of Shar Pei or Shar Pei-like dogs, in different head types, sizes and coat types and colours. One fawn male dog I recall, chained in front of a shop in Macau, had a large head with undershot jaw and a low-to-ground body shape of a Bulldog, but in a typical coat of Shar Pei!

In those agesmany Shar Pei were used in dog fighting by their owners as a game of gambling. As far as the dog fought hard and won the bet, nobody would care about how the dog looked like. For the purpose of winning in dog fighting owners cross-bred Shar Pei with other imported dogs with fighting background. Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Boxer … with the weird hope to crate an invincible fighting machine. In this way pure-bred Shar Pei was gratually dying out and left all varieties of Shar Pei-like dogs in the fighting pits.

I hate dog flighting from the first time when I saw one. How horrible it was to see the blood drained down from the head, ears … the poor animals were washed in the blood!

Other than fighting Shar Pei had many excellent characters. Shar Pei is independant, self-disciplined, love of cleaness, devotes to family, strong memory, reserve to strangers (take some time to make friends) the characters of Chinese of the older generation. Great characters to man’s best friends and lovely member of a family.

It was the sparkle in my mind, Shar Pei should deserve much more than a fighting dog. And I set a pian to breed for its revival.

Fighting Shar Pei/ dogs were not registered.

Registration was never care by their owners. With no breeding records. One could judge how good was the dog only by looking at it … its general appearance, make and shape etc as it appeared in front of you. That Shar Pei might have a Bulldog as a grandfather, or a Boxer in its background …. you could never know. Sometimes you saw the mother of a puppy or heard about who was the father. The features you were able to see and examine were the only judgment and assessment you could rely on and consider in the pian of breeding. Therefore, only the resulting puppies of a test breeding could teli you how good or bad of heritage of a certain dog or bitch. Some unexpected results pop up in litter of puppies and
culling had to be done. The heartbreaking part of the procedure.

Regardless of pedigree, the golden rule in choosing breeding partners in pure-bred stock is the balance of virtues and faults of the male and female. In those days generally good examples in both sexes were rare. Most of Shar Pei had a number of superfical faults not for a good matching up in breeding. Overal! Ghood stock were difficault to locate and be available for service. Some faults of an otherwise overal! good Shar Pei would be tolorate and engaged in the breeding programme. Faults such as bigger ears, spotted tongues, more aggressive in temperament. There were however some faults that I had particularly watched out … narrow snipy muzzle, wide short muzzle, undershot bite, down-eur! tail, vicious temperament. In those early days of breeding it needed a lot of luck and a long time and more effort to have good dogs for breeding or to breed a good puppy.

When the opportunity came and a very good example of Shar Pei turned up in the kennels, inbreeding and close linebreeding methods were employed for the purpose of fixing good traits into the breeding line within a shorter period of tíme. Nevertheless, these breeding should be used in the right tíme and situation and very carefully.

In those early days, besides planning to breed for the re-establishment of Shar Pei, I also had a dream: One day in the future years the brutal fighter Shar Pei is able to pose proudly side by side with any other pure-bred dogs inside the show ring, competing with one another by his outstanding and beautiful features and type. NO more by fighting.

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