The Chinese Shar-Pei has been in the United States since 1972. For over 20 years, it was commonly over-bred with little concern for its genetic weaknesses and indiscriminantly sold to whomever had enough money. The results were disastrous. Today's reputable breeders are waging a relentless battle to reduce those inherited problems, like skin conditions, kidney failure, hip and knee defects, entropion, cancer, and blindness. Even though questionable temperaments seem to be an issue of the past, the drawbacks of owning a Shar-Pei still exist unless buyers do their homework and research not only the breed but the person they buy it from.
Since being recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1992, the Chinese Shar-Pei stands proud in show rings from coast to coast, but in some cases, that too has had a negative effect on this breed's welfare. When breeders only concentrate on what will win in the ring, health issues can take a back seat to breed type. Therefore, when selecting a Shar-Pei, it is important to remember that titles alone do not guarantee good health. Only responsible, researched breeding against health problems will contribute to the improvement of the breed's health and help to insure healthy individual dogs. But regardless of all this, the breed has endured in the last 30+ years. The Shar-Pei remains unique, fun, and endearing from pupyhood to senior citizen status. Quality breeders are bringing health back to this fascinating breed, and choosing a breeder wisely will help contribute to the overall well-being of the Shar-Pei.
Contributed by Ellana Clarke, www.chi-kuan-sharpei.com
The following health screenings are often performed by responsible Chinese Shar-Pei breeders:
CERF Screening (Canine Eye Research Foundation)
Hip Dysplasia (OFA or PennHIP)
Thyroid Function Test (blood test)