A dog that has never gone unnoticed due to its unique appearance and is now one of the breeds with the highest rate of notoriety in the world. Everything about the Shar-Pei is unique: its history, its appearance, and its temperament. Originally from China, there is news of it from the year 206 BC, being the animal symbol of the Han dynasty. Grave guard, defense dog, combat dog, guard dog, and finally a wonderful companion dog. Its extraordinary appearance led it to be named the world’s rarest breed in 1978 by Time magazine and the Guinness Book of Records.
Shar-Pei means “sand skin”
This is the meaning of the Chinese ideograms “Sha” which means sand and “Pi” which means skin, clearly referring to the peculiar touch of its coat, which gave the breed its name; although a literal translation proposes that it would be “sandpaper coat or skin” in allusion to the short, rough and bristly hair of the Shar-Pei. Some experts explain that the origin and selection of this type of hair are due to the remote time when the Shar-Pei was a defense, combat, or fighting dog in China, suggesting that this extremely rigid hair was “unpleasant” in the mouth of other dogs or animals that tried to attack them.
The true hallmark of this breed throughout the world is the striking folds or wrinkles that form throughout its body. These wrinkles are especially abundant and thick when they are puppies and in the juvenile stage of the dog. As it reaches adulthood, they soften or disappear in some areas, remaining more visible on the head, withers, and neck.
Why does the Shar-Pei have wrinkles?
But what is it that produces this unique characteristic in the canine world? A group of researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) discovered the origin of the mucinosis present in Shar Peis: an inherited disorder that is responsible for the characteristic wrinkles of this breed.
Mucinosis is a skin disorder characterized by excessive accumulation of mucin in the dermis; mucin is a lubricating substance that protects body surfaces from friction or erosion.
In said study, it is stated that this genetic alteration accelerates the activity of an enzyme responsible for excessive production of hyaluronic acid, a substance that gathers under the skin, increases its thickness, and produces wrinkles. This increased thickness and excessive wrinkling are the cause of the inherited skin disorder called mucinosis cutis, in which there is a buildup of mucin in the layers of the skin.
Hyaluronic acid and Shar Pei wrinkles
Mucinosis in the Shar-Pei is due to an accumulation of hyaluronic acid (one of the main components found in the space between tissue cells) in the skin structures. This causes them to present high levels of hyaluronic acid in their bloodstream as well.
How to take care of Shar-Pei skin
As we have seen, the skin and the formation of wrinkles make up a substantial aspect of the physiognomy of this breed, so it is not surprising that it is an essential point of attention when it comes to the care and prevention of dermatological disorders.
The presence of wrinkles and folds increases the risk of harboring bacteria or fungi. Some of the skin pathologies that are frequently referred to in Shar-Pei can be pyoderma, pododermatitis, allergic dermatitis, cutaneous mucinosis (shown as small bumps or blisters that are suppurated mucin, on extremities or under the neck, among others). other areas of the dog.
Shar-Pei Wrinkle Grooming
Therefore, preventive care for the health of a Shar Pei’s skin is essential to promote its health and well-being, right from when it is a puppy. A correct and almost daily inspection routine ( making sure that there is no moisture or dirt between the wrinkles ) and regular cleaning of the skin (with baby wipes, for example) contained in the folds is essential to minimize these problems.
If the dog does not have any of the aforementioned problems, it is a breed that does not require specific care in the maintenance of its coat: weekly brushing and experts recommend very spaced baths, only or twice a year to preserve fat as much as possible. the feature that protects your skin.
How much does a Shar-Pei weigh?
– Height at the withers: from 44 to 51 cm
– Weight: from 17 to 25 kg (in its standard the weight is not fixed). All solid colors except white
are supported. The tail and back of the thighs are often a lighter color. Darker shading along the back and on the ears is permitted.