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Shar-Peis are an ancient Chinese dog breed that may have existed as long ago as 200 B.C., although modern specimens are changed somewhat from their Shar-Peis were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1992. While they can make great pets, they are not perfect for every home.
In the Home
Shar-Peis are usually wary of and aloof around strangers, but they're devoted to their families. As such, they may not be the best dog if you often have visitors to your home. They're known to be fairly stubborn and independent, so it's important that you train them from an early age, using positive reinforcement techniques, so they don't take advantage and try to rule the roost. As long as you can provide them moderate exercise and appropriate bathroom breaks, they're happy to live in a home without a yard.
Despite being fairly large dogs, Shar-Peis have modest exercise requirements. They need a daily walk of around 20 minutes; a little longer is preferable. They are heat sensitive, so you should be careful not to walk them too long in hot weather. In addition to their walk, you should exercise them and keep them stimulated by playing games -- such as fetch or tug-of-war -- indoors or in a fenced yard.
Shar-Peis have wrinkles all over, so they need more grooming than the average short-coated dog. Bacteria can get trapped in the folds of their skin, which can lead to infection and discomfort. As such, they need daily inspection and cleaning of their skin folds, as well as frequent baths, sometimes as often as every week. They'll also need daily brushing and proper flea control to avoid other skin conditions these dogs are predisposed to.
Like most purebred dogs, Shar-Peis are prone to a range of medical conditions that result from such selective breeding. They commonly get an eyelid problem called entropion -- which may need multiple surgeries -- caused by their wrinkled faces. They're also predisposed to getting impacted hair follicles, demodectic mange, hypothyroidism, ear infections and swollen hock syndrome. If you're concerned about these conditions, consider rescuing a mixed-breed dog. If you have your heart set on a Shar-Pei, think about rescuing an older dog; if the dog you adopt has any existing medical conditions, some shelters will pay for treatments throughout his life.