Shar-Pei Puppy Answer Sheet ©by Jeff Vidt, DVM
Introduction to the Chinese Shar-Pei
The Chinese Shar-Pei was, at one time, listed as the "rarest” dog in the world. That has certainly changed and now it has become a very popular house pet.
The breed is most known for its abundant wrinkling and the swollen appearance of its muzzle. It originated in southern China about 200 years ago and almost became extinct in the 1950’s. Due to the combined effort by both Hong Kong Shar-Pei breeders and American dog fanciers, the breed has made a dramatic comeback. In 1991, the Chinese Shar-Pei became the 134th breed to be added to the AKC registry. At that time it was placed in the Non-Sporting Group.
Diet and Feeding
The Chinese Shar-Pei puppy grows very rapidly during the first four to six months of age. It is generally accepted to maintain a growth rate of two to three pounds per week during this time. In most cases, the Shar-Pei puppy does fine on regular brand-name adult food diet and does not need to be on a puppy formulation. If you have started your puppy on a puppy diet, that’s fine. But it is generally advised that you switch to adult diet somewhere between four and six months of age.
Feeding one cup of food per six pounds of puppy weight, split between three feedings daily works well. At about six months of age, start feeding the pup twice a day and continue twice daily feeding as an adult. It is convenient to feed a dry food as it is less palatable and the pup will tend not to over-eat on it. It also gives the pup something to chew on besides the furniture.
Rawhide chew bones are fine as long as the pup doesn’t eat them. You are well advised to keep an eye on the puppy when these have been made available to them. Nylon bones also work well. Avoid rawhide chips or sticks and cow hooves as these may cause problems.
Many Shar-Pei puppies have some degree of entropion or "rolling in” of the eyelids. This is an inherited condition in the Shar-Pei. If your puppy is having problems such as PERSISTENT squinting, mucous eye discharge or it paws at the eyes a lot, it may be necessary to place TEMPORARY stitches in the eyelids. This is known as EYE TACKING. This procedure keeps the eyelids from rubbing on the eyeball while the puppy is growing into it’s head folds.
In severe cases, or in puppies over six months of age, a PERMANENT corrective eyelid surgery may need to be done. This is known as ENTROPION SURGERY.
Four major categories of skin diseases are seen in Shar-Pei puppies:
Skin infections (Pyrodermas)
Skin fold infections/irritations
These conditions can all look very similar with symptoms such as patchy hair loss, reddened skin, itching and sores. Only a veterinary examination can establish a diagnosis so the correct treatment can be started. Fortunately, these conditions are usually treatable, although a routine care program may be need to be implemented.
Familial Shar-Pei Fever
This is a condition peculiar to the Shar-Pei and is characterized by lethargy, lameness, loss of appetite and a high rectal temperature (usually 104° - 107°F). Another common clinical sign often accompanying the fever is swelling of a joint, usually the hock joint. This painful swelling can also involve the wrist,, and the lips. They often are painful in the abdomen and have a characteristic roached back. It is often seen for the first time in puppies.
Call your vet immediately if you suspect this condition is affecting your puppy. This is often called SWOLLEN HOCK SYNDROME or HOCK FEVER by Shar-Pei breeders.
Routine Maintenance Procedures
There are routine care procedures you should do on your Shar-Pei puppy, both to maintain the good health of your pup, and to prevent disease problems from developing.
- Ear cleaning with a good ear solution
- Nail trimming with clippers or a dremel
- Cleaning the lip folds regularly
- Brushing the teeth with a good canine tooth paste – do no use human tooth paste
- Inspecting the skin and coat frequently – oiling the skin or wrinkles is not advised.
- Monitoring bowel/bladder function
- Monitoring body weight and condition
- Training the Shar-Pei puppy is very important and most easily done early on, as it is difficult to physically dominate an adult Shar-Pei. While the puppy is young, practice opening the mouth, doing the nails, cleaning ears and taking the food bowl away while the pup is eating.
Dominance exercises such as laying the pup on it’s side or back are also very good training exercises. Socialize the pup by exposing him to other people, especially children.
After a few vaccinations, it’s a good idea to get the puppy around other dogs. Check with your vet or kennel club for PUPPY KINDERGARTEN CLASSES and OBEDIENCE CLASSES.
Shar-Pei puppies respond very well to positive reinforcement training using food rewards and lots of praise. Don’t allow the pup to chew on you fingers or nip at people as this will become a real problem in the adult Shar-Pei. Play retrieving games with your Shar-Pei, but don’t encourage aggression by playing tug-of-war games. Take your puppy for short walks to give him a positive outlet for his energy.
By nature, the Chinese Shar-Pei puppy housebreaks at an early age. The following points should be remembered:
- Crate training is highly recommended.
- Take the puppy to the same spot in the yard so he learns to associate relieving himself with that spot.
- Puppies usually have to go out after naps, meals and play times.
- After the puppy eliminates, praise him and bring him into the house. Take him out later to play. It’s important to separate play time and bathroom time.
- Avoid paper training. This tends to be an intermediate step the puppy has to learn, and then unlearn.
- Watch for signs that the puppy has to relieve himself, such as circling in the house, going by the door, sniffing, etc. Take him out to his spot in the yard and praise him when he eliminates in that location.
- Don’t allow the puppy access to the entire house. Limit him to one or two rooms initially until he is reliable.
- Don’t punish the puppy for making a mistake. Just resolve to avoid the problem in the future by watching him more closely and praising him when he does the behavior that you want .