Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The original Shar-pei... a new style icon?

"Loch", a bonemouth Shar Pei owned by Hong Kong writer, Hing Chao

I confess that when I saw this picture my heart beat a bit faster.  I'm sure there'll be some who will whinge about some aspect of his construction, but just look at this dog's head.. distinctive but not overdone. Beautiful, expressive, clean eyes, too.




This dog is an original "bonemouth" Shar Pei and he is featured in the current issue of style mag Hong Kong Tatler, in an article by his owner, writer Hing Chao, charting the history of what happened to this breed to turn it into this... what's called the "meatmouth" Shar Pei.

Shar Pei at Crufts 2012

The claim is that the original Pei was bred with bulldogs, pugs etc to exaggerate the wrinkling to appeal to the Western market.  In other words, what you see in the showring and pet market today is a mutt... not the real thing.

I love that the original breed has been featured in a top style mag... it sends out a strong and clear message... Want a proper Shar-pei or the canine equivalent of a fake Cartier watch?

There are a few bonemouths in the UK. It would be good to see more. And I would also love it if those who own them would enter them into shows to show people that there is an alternative. (Please let me know if you do so I can come and watch.) We were very much hoping to feature this breed - and the latest research regarding the link between the excessive wrinkling seen in the meatmouths and Shar-pei Fever - in Pedigree Dogs Exposed - Three Years On. Sadly, we ran out of room.

I was delighted recently to be invited to join a very health-focused Facebook group dedicated to improving the health of this breed. Clearly there are good and committed breeders out there.

It is not impossible to breed a long-lived, healthy meatmouth Shar-pei. But it is harder.

51 comments:

  1. I don't know about cross-breeding. It's a common slur in the fancy world, meant as an insult to the alleged mongrel and those who value him. I'm suspicious when I see it.

    Just crazy selection for extremes can probably accomplish the same thing.

    And really, what does it matter?

    Does the dog's selected-for physical structure inhibit his welfare?

    Do the selection processes and practices cause genetic damage that inhibits his welfare in other ways that are perhaps not directly attributable visible feature?

    If you answer yes to either of those, who cares whether or not the dog is "pure?"

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  2. Interesting article. I can understand his frustration with the destruction of what was once a distinctive, and likely functional, breed.

    I wonder what the bone-mouth Shar-pei's temperament is like, as he was bred as a fighting dog? I believe modern Shar-pei can have iffy temperaments.

    I have just seen a photo of a Shar-pei x Jack Russell puppy at 6-months, and his head looks remarkably similar to the bone-mouthed Shar-pei's. It wouldn't have been my choice of cross though - both breeds can have iffy temperaments.

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  3. Have to say that every Shar Pei I've met has been fine, but know they have this reputation. Some vets I've talked to believe shar pei can be reactive because skin folds can obscure their eyes, making them anxious, plus also some have problems with their tiny ear canals, making them very sensitive to touch. When we were filming PDE, we filmed one lovely Shar Pei boy who was so terrified of anyone touching his ears that he wet himself every time anyone tried to put drops in his ears.

    Jemima

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  4. The plural of anecdote is not data

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    1. Actually it is! Thanks, I have a great new phrase to use.

      A synonym for a singular "anecdote" is in fact "datum". Data are nothing more than organised anecdotes; each anecdote, a datum. Nice.

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    2. "Data are nothing more than organised anecdotes"

      Funniest thing I've read today.

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    3. LOL.. me too sadly may people actually believe this.. including the blogger

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  5. "In other words, what you see in the show ring and pet market today is a mutt... not the real thing."
    Well, I think, it's not a correct term. To change this dog in this way with outcross (making mutt) we should have more wrinkled dog to mate with. In fact, show-sharpei was made by concentrating of multiple copies of the gene of Hyaluronan acid. The mutation of multiple copies was already preset in the breed (original sharpei is a little wrinkled too). The more copies - the more wrinkly dog is.

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  6. I have 4 shar peis ( yes, I am a breeder). 2 are meaty, 1 is medium and I have another that is a bone. She resembles, what I call, the old -school peis. She is only 7 mos old and I am surprised at the overwhelming positive response I am getting about her.

    Also, ALL of my peis have a warm, wonderful disposition. None show any aggression or negative temperments at all. Yes, all 3 would be protective if needed, but all are very loving and laid back. Like any other breed, I believe it is how they are raised.
    Don't over-look a pei if you are looking for a great family pet....you can't believe all you hear or read.

    LUVIN' MY PEIS!!!!

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    1. It's not just "all in how you raise them." Temperament problems are inherited just like other traits. So, if your dogs have nice dispositions it's because it's in their genetic make-up. Yes, socialization can influence a dog's temperament, but it's wrong to say that nurture is a cure all. That's a sure fire way of having an "accident" be it with other dogs or with people.

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    2. Like we don't have enough shar pei in rescue without greedy sods like u!!!!!

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  7. It is very important to distinguish the modern breed, characterized by exaggerated folds and which came about in an attempt originating in the US to 'save' the Sharpei, and the traditional Sharpei, which developed over a long period of evolution and cultural adaptation in South China.

    To answer Fran's question, the traditional Sharpei has a very calm disposition, not easily excitable and quiet when not on guard duty (it has a natural guard instinct). Even though it was used for fighting, anyone who has owned a traditional Sharpei can tell you that it is not by nature aggressive. This marks it out from many specimens of the modern breed whose temperament can be quite unpredictable, sometimes outright aggressive. To the degree the modern breed is a creation involving the use of many Western breeds, it's varied personality is some ways a reflection of that.

    To understand what a traditional Sharpei is like and how it behaves there is no substitute than going back to scientific observation of the original breed which is dying out.

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  8. Nice dog but lets be honest, it does not look like a Shar Pei. You cannot blame the "show Breeders" for breeding those with too much wrinkle. The demand for such dogs has come from the public who have been inspired by the media, the greeting card manafacturers, the advertisers who have created a demand for the highly wrinkled dog. Rhe "show breeders" are breeding for a far less wrinkled dog- more like the highly successful "Wrink" who has been the most successfull Shar Pei in the country for the past few years (and who incidentally is healthy - unlike in the lies that you reported to APGAW Jemmima).

    There is a compromise to be had here. It is possible to have a wrinkled dog that looks like a Shar Pei and is not overdone with associated health problems. But above all the temparament is the most important aspect and the sad fact is that the bonemouth dogs are associated with the sharp temparament that the breed is associated with.

    Carol

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    1. How can it "not look like a Shar Pei" when this was the original Shar Pei?

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    2. You are right. Show breeders are absolutely not at fault for breeding those with too much wrinkles. It's not like they have a choice in these matters.

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    3. Carol, I agree that show breeders are breeding for a *slightly* less wrinkled dog, but they often are still very wrinkled - and certainly way more than the traditional dogs. Here's a picture of top-winning "Wrink" who you cite as "far less wrinkled":

      http://www.spcgb.org/results.php?show_ID=30

      Jemima

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    4. Correction it is the modern dog that does not resemble a shar Pei.

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  9. 'The bone mouth dogs are associated with the sharp temperament that the breed is associated with' - ??? What does Anonymous Carol mean by 'bonemouth' (is it a reference to physical attributes or to the traditional breed?)? If the previous, I would say all bonemouths in the US (and most in Europe) share much the same genetic makeup as the meat mouths so there is no scientific reason why their temperament would be different from the meatmouths (they are often from the same litter). If she was referring to a traditional dog (which apparently does not look like a Sharpei!) I wonder what proof (speaking of lies and unfounded statements) might she have (there being only a handful of traditional Sharpei in the west which we can namely one by one)?

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    1. Perhaps Hing Chao can give us a history of the breed in the UK? My understanding (and I do niot claim to be anything other than a casual observer of the breed)the first ones in the UK were imported by Heather Ligget who lived in Surrey? Certainly in the early days the reputation of the dogs temperaments were that they were ratrher sharp. In my experience that temperaments have vastly improved.

      Carol

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    2. Heather liggett and also pat Pearce from the burgoyne kennels. Pat Pearce was one of the UK breeders who actually went to the mother country of the breed to see the original dog to find the history to meet with the breeders. She was the first to bring to the UK lama black prince the first Chinese import to be registered by the UK KC and she now has dali south china sea hk import registered with the UK KC. If you want a true and open account of the early dogs to the UK you would do no better then to speak to pat president of the mspc.

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  10. Peopple always put to gether Traditionals and Bone mouths. To me Traditional Shar pei is dog who comes from Original lines from China, Bone mouth is western "traditional" and they comes from same western lines.

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    1. Could you restate that? Your grammar is a little...off.

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    2. Sorry my grammar, my homelanguage is not english. I meant that peoples say Traditional when they mean bone mouth and same other way.

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  11. Thanks Kikka, thats surely the most accurate and simplest way to distinguish the traditional Sharpei from the 'bonemouth'

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  12. There are very few American breeders who try to breed for the western bone-mouth. I was able to find one who is trying to create dogs much like Mr. Chao's after her visits to China and seeing the traditional dogs. Her kennel is Colkim Shar Pei. http://www.sharpeipuppies.com/index.htm My dog came from her and although he still needed entropin surgery, everyone can't believe how clean and less wrinkly he is. He has had no other health or skin problems, and his temperament amazes all that meet him. I’m not saying he loves being manhandled for medical or grooming, but he allows it and that’s what matters. Even the vet complimented his temperament, it’s all a matter of good breeding, socializing, and training. Most average dog people don’t believe he is a Pei without the excessive wrinkling. It doesn’t help he is a bear coat which hides the two shoulder wrinkles. His less wrinkly and boney face looks like one that is scolded for in the book Understanding the Chinese Shar Pei. His bear coat also doesn’t cause allergies in friends that can’t be near a brush or sand coat. The bear coat is banned in the ring, even though the first litter of American born Pei had a bear coated puppy, a recessive gene like so many other breeds that is beautiful in its own right (and soft too). The breed does need help, like so many, and I’m proud of those who go against the grain for the sake of the health of their breed not the desires of the judges or the public. Thank you again for bring them to the light so they are not forgotten.

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    1. I agree completely. I have 3 dogs from Colkim's and all are beautiful with few wrinkles and bone mouths. They have wonderful dispositions and two are now seizure alert service dogs. You may find it interesting to know that Colkim's just imported a beautiful Traditional male from Hong Kong in 2011 and now has puppies from him for sale on their website which are clearly labeled with the name "Dali" as a part of the name.

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  13. The modern Meatmouth is a disgrace. The traditional Bonemouth is a beautiful, strong dog, a WORKING dog.

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  14. The 'bonemouth' in those photos looks as though it has masticatory myopathy. But maybe in the breed those muscles are supposed to be so wasted.

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    1. http://www.completedogsguide.com/images/dog-breeds/largepic/Shar-Pei-bone-mouth2.jpg
      Wasted muscles are not a feature of the breed - the cheeks may appear sunken because of the prominent facial bones and loose skin. Shar pei were traditionally bred for a strong bite, which required them to have a round face and level muzzle, reinforcing the skull under the pull of the muscle. In any case, no individual specimen is an accurate representative of the entire breed.

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    2. It's just a pathetic attempt to smear the original type and justify the meat mouth type.

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    3. It's the muscles on the top of the head, not below the cheekbones, that are very wasted too. It's normal for a dog's head to be rounded between the ear and the eye, not sunken. Perhaps it's a very elderly dog.

      Anonymous, you're wrong; I'm not keen on either type, but I do like to see a healthy dog.

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    4. Spoken by someone who has no knowledge of the original dog.

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    5. Anonymous (one person or two?) clearly has little knowledge of medical conditions that can affect any breed or crossbreed, from which that dog appears to be suffering.

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    6. You don't know the dog..Mary just like I don't know you but I do know that you clearly don't know what your talking about with regard to traditional shar Pei.
      By the way it's sue Walsh here owner of traditional dogs and I have been in the breed for many years. Your right regarding health issues but you need to direct this towards your friends in the show ring breeding the modern wrinkled meat mouth.

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    7. "By the way it's sue Walsh here owner of traditional dogs and I have been in the breed for many years"

      So you're saying that it _is_ normal for the 'traditional' shar pei to have wasted masticatory muscles, as I asked in my first comment? Thank you; it's good to have a breed expert set the picture right, all breeds having different characteristics as they do.

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    8. And you're right - I don't know the dog; in fact I don't know any shar peis of either variety, or anyone who breeds them. But in the course of my work I have come across several dogs or differing breeds who have had masticatory myopathy - in fact I have one myself, which is how I recognised the medical condition from the photograph. It's no slur on the dog or its breeding, so there's no need to be so defensive.

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  15. Having read through some of these posts I have seen comments that probably born of ignorance of the original breed. How many of you commenting on this blog have been to the mother country and been to see the origins of the traditional dog and meet with the breeders of this ancient dog ? The modern dog was the result of a direct response to an advert run by Matgo Law to save the Shar Pei by his own admission the dogs he had were not of pure decent. Oh yes before you ask I have met Matgo. I have no intention of entering into online slanging but what cannot be disputed that the dog in the ring today is almost a different breed to the original dog. Call it what you will, progress if you want but the fact remains that the modern dog together with all of the health issues is a million miles away from the original dog. Keep breeding the wrinkles, the entropian and the dogs with amaloidosis and let's see where the modern dog ends up and you don't need to understand any breed in particular for the answer to come and slap you straight between the eyes.

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  16. Sue, I guess this is you. There are such entrenched opinions about Sharpei based on what people have seen or known the modern meat mouth that tempers flare and people jump to hasty conclusions before they have a clue what they are talking about. And then it becomes an egoistic debate about who's right and who's wrong. All a bit of a waste of time in my opinion. If anyone has been to HK (and Daileck 10 years ago) they would realize that the traditional Sharpei was bred for function and that an unhealthy dog simply has no room for existence in a country where people did not in general keep pets.

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  17. Thankyou for the great picture I think they are stunning and I tried my self to get Shar pei as close to that as I could 3 years ago. I did show but no one liked us as she was not that wrinkly. Then on our second year of showing I starred getting offers of puppies to show as mine is well trained and nice, but I always said yes if you get a flowered. Like the bear coat these can not be shown in the ring as most high end breeders will drown them, soethingi keep hearing this week from breeders that do breed for he flowered. Then after I told them that most stopped talking to me again. Now we do doggy dancing and obedience and no one talks to me there as she is not a collie, I can't win but we have fun and she is fantastic at both.

    I don't think you will find a breeder who will show a bone mouth in the ring as its too clickey and no judge would place on basis of breed SPEC. If you do find one let me know as I would love one just to keep pi**ing off the breeders I know in the show ring and to try and get the more out there in the public eye beyond the birthday cards I keep getting.

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  18. Thankyou for the great picture I think they are stunning and I tried my self to get Shar pei as close to that as I could 3 years ago. I did show but no one liked us as she was not that wrinkly. Then on our second year of showing I starred getting offers of puppies to show as mine is well trained and nice, but I always said yes if you get a flowered. Like the bear coat these can not be shown in the ring as most high end breeders will drown them, soethingi keep hearing this week from breeders that do breed for he flowered. Then after I told them that most stopped talking to me again. Now we do doggy dancing and obedience and no one talks to me there as she is not a collie, I can't win but we have fun and she is fantastic at both.

    I don't think you will find a breeder who will show a bone mouth in the ring as its too clickey and no judge would place on basis of breed SPEC. If you do find one let me know as I would love one just to keep pi**ing off the breeders I know in the show ring and to try and get the more out there in the public eye beyond the birthday cards I keep getting.

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  19. Hi Cara, this is very much a work in progress. You are absolutely right about the breed standard - the trouble is the breed standard was drafted specifically to accommodate the meat mouth, with Mr. Matgo Law playing a role in that. However, even so I should stress that the existing breed standard was deliberately relaxed to ACCOMMODATE the modern type. That is to say if we judge according to the word and spirit of the actual breed standard, for all its imperfections, it actually describes the standard of a traditional dog better than an exaggerated meat mouth.

    Read for example the charactiertics: 'relatively loose skin, frowning expression, harsh bristly coat'. Now a lot of the Sharpei in the ring have EXCESSIVE loose skin, and without the necessary 'harsh, bristly coat'.

    Read again 'Head and Skull', which should exhibit 'MODERATE wrinkle on forehead and cheeks. ... lips and top of muzzle may be SLIGHTLY padded.'

    Now do these descriptions fit in with the actual form and looks of many of the Sharpei in the show ring, and particularly the meat mouth developed by many breeders? The answer will have to be no.

    The trouble really is that people have a deeply entrenched idea of what a Sharpei looks like, and the bias of pre-conception is hard to change, particularly for those who have vested, commercial interest in the modern breed, and whose livelihood depends on it.

    Luckily, in its country of origin, it is now wide recognition for the original bone-mouth type, and if you go to China Sharpei are judged according to their confirmity to a traditional dog. It is to be hoped that people will simply recognize historical facts for what they are and respect the difference between a modern and traditional Sharpei.

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    1. It is not only the Sharpei which has a problem with the ideal dog described in the standard and the ideal dog in the judges mind being very different things. The German Shepherd standard never described the roach backed,cow hocked examples which sometimes win.
      Sharpei are not my favourite breed as their bristly coat makes me itch but good luck to all those breeding Sharpei who may need to visit the )itchy) vet less often!
      VP

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    2. Hi hing, I think your right but I know what side if the fence most judges sit. I will have a look at breeders over in China to see what they are doing and may import if my husband would let me. Even with mine people say she's not very wrinkley, where I have to explain about there history and how they are not agressive dispite the 'fighting' word in their name. Would love to see one in a show over here.

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  20. Hi Hing your right of course and no point wasting time and effort on nonsense. All are entitled to an opinion, however most is valueless unless it is given with proper knowledge based on experience. Sue

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    1. You are right that unsubstantiated facts can have little value, but there are so many different ways people gain experience with dogs. Showing, training, volunteer work, providing health care, and pet ownership can give very different experiences, and pure research can be as valuable, in some cases, as decades of experience, so I'm afraid I don't quite agree with your statement. The problem with using experiences to create facts is that there are often not enough repetitions to be accurate. I have heard a lot of people say that they would never get this or that breed because they knew one that was horrible in some way. They were convinced every dog in the breed was a demon because ONE dog was. Most of them would never think that it wasn't fair to judge only on their own experience.

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  21. Let me clear this up. I was referring to proper broad based experience based on years in a breed not a one off issue. No more from me on this topic

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  22. HIng, if your still following the posts on here can you contact me with any info on breeders in China as google is giving me nothing. I know China has daft rules over its internet over there and i think google is banned over there.

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  23. Hi Cara, best to discuss further via email. If you are already a registered member of the Traditional Chinese Sharpei International Club Facebook group, you will easily find me. Send me a private message with your email.

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  24. I have a bone mouth, people stop in the street to ask me about her. Shes a real show stopper!

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  25. I have a bone mouth sharpei. she's great! Super quiet yet protective she doesn't go anywhere where she can't her our son . We've had her 3years now and haven't had any eat eye or joint issues like our friends with meatmouths. We get tones of compliments also disbelief that she is a sharpei and not some sort of mutt

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  26. A friend of mine just got angered out of her head when I told her the towel like shar pei is a result of genetic damage done over generations, and that a healthy and real shar pei should be smooth.

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