The Chinese Shar Pei

Grooming Advice

Dating back to 200BC, this ancient breed was saved from extinction in China and registered with the Hong Kong KC and subsequently with the AKC gaining full registration in 1992.

His silhouette, with the “hippopotamus” muzzle, loose skin and wrinkles combined with a compact, square body and harsh short coat makes this breed an interesting stand out and created great curiosity when they debuted in the show rings. His characteristic blue tongue does lend some thought to the rumours of long ago associations with the Chow. Perhaps? Perhaps not? Nothing was recorded for posterity and he was primarily a peasants dog, used for hunting, guarding and herding.

His high set tail is a breed characteristic showing anus uplifted and the tail base thick and round, tapering to a point.

Shar Pei is literally “sand skin” or “sandpaper like coat” alluding to the standard request for a short and rough coat, without shine. A soft coat is a fault, so the emphasis is for that “must have” harsh coat.

Now they do say extremely harsh coat so our focus is to keep hydration & coat vigour, be kind to the skin as many Shar Peis experience sensitive skin issues, and yet, keep this coat harsh and without shine.

The best routine you can undertake is to bath, oil and blow dry during the week and for the show, bath and blow dry without oiling. Blow drying ensures all the loose skin and wrinkles are dry and you are removing any dead hair regularly. Takes effort but is by far the best routine to get into.

It is a relatively simple procedure. You don’t have oodles of coat, nor trimming to do. You just need to be consistent each and every week.

Between shows and for the show, bath with 1/2 Plush Puppy Sensitive Skin Shampoo and 1/2 Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo. Dilute 5:1 i.e. 5 parts water to one part shampoo. The Sensitive Shampoo will assist the issues that many Shar Pei have and the Whitening Shampoo is not softening, will tone the unwanted warm hues the coats can exhibit especially when coat is ready to shed and work with all the solid colours of the Shar Pei. This is a great mix for both show and between times. The coat can get oily and be hard to cleanse and this mix will make sense of it all for you.

However, between shows you do need to make sure the skin and coat are hydrated and a little Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil diluted 1 teaspoon into a 1/2 bucket of warm water and the whole quantity sponged liberally through to the skin and left on - do not rinse out but do blow dry to keep those wrinkles and loose skin dry.

Make sure you also work Seabreeze Oil - UNDILUTED - into the elbows and hocks to keep the skin supple and discourage callouses. Leave on - do not rinse off. The Seabreeze Oil is magical - it is not greasy and will work wonders on the skin and coat. A real must do step. Please ensure Seabreeze Oil and indeed, any product does not get sloshed around the eyes. Whilst they are gentle and safe, no dog likes the irritation of foreign substances into the eye. It only encourages tearing and thus staining. They don’t even like water sloshed in the eye! Neither do I.

For show bath just eliminate the Seabreeze Oil from the routine. Shampoo only and then blow dry.

Between shows, please apply Plush Puppy Sunshade to the topline and back of head. This will deter sun fading and the dreaded unwanted warm tones that creep into the coat colour range especially as the coat ages. A good slather worked with your hand right along the top areas that are exposed to sun.

His coat is not to be trimmed and must not be longer than 1” or 2.2 cms. That’s explicit and so is the express request for an Extremely harsh coat. Does not get clearer than that.

You never use Conditioners of any sort on this coat as they will flatten and soften. The coat is meant to stand out somewhat on the main body and somewhat less on the limbs. Blow drying will assist the lift to this coat whether it be a “horse coat” or a “brush” coat. Hence the Seabreeze Oil which will give you the hydration and won’t flatten nor soften and allow you to consistently blow dry without harm to the health of the coat. Blow drying will also assist to keep the silhouette from looking raggedy. The continual rolling of the coat by lifting all dead hair weekly with the dryer, will shape a far better outline.

Now for the show, and you can do this on show day, it’s important to keep the harsh texture and no shine, so apply when the coat is dry, Plush Puppy Powder Puff Terrier. Don’t go overboard. This is very performent, instant coat hardener and a little bit goes a long way. Stick the end of the brush - Plush Puppy Pure Bristle Brush, which you would also use from brushing this breed - pointed head in first, dip, and then tap lightly on inside of tub to remove excess. Now apply with about 2 rows of the edge of the brush by a flick motion, down into the coat and up, rather than straight through. Repeat throughout the coat to assess when enough is enough. So, perfect texture and no shine! What else could you ask for?

You should always take to the show - Plush Puppy Wonder Wash and a towel for a quick spray, foam up and towel dry off any areas that are muddy, dusty or peed on. This works a treat and cleans wonderfully, no pun intended!

A light mist of Plush Puppy Odour Muncher to deodorise any greasy skin odours Shar Peis can have and you are pretty much ready to show. The hard work has been done before in the weeks leading up to the event. No coat is made overnight. You can mask, cosmetically cover etc but the stress at the show is worse and far better you are done and dusted with this quick routine on the day because you did the hard yard for many long weeks beforehand.

The Shar Pei is lordly. I did love that descriptive. He really is snobbish and independent with that calm, confident stance and his characteristic scowl.

He stands firmly and on the move at a trot, will start to converge to centre line of gravity as he settles into the gait.

Whilst standoffish with strangers, he is devoted to family and is regal, intelligent and dignified. This individual character in the ring is captivating. He is a breed alone from the far distant times of Chinese culture and as enigmatic as the old pictures of those long gone people with their eastern life and inventions. He really can look right past you. I see this and know this is a long chain of dogs just being a Shar Pei. You do have a dog to be well proud of.

- Cheryl Le Court