The history of the Chinese Shar-Pei can be traced as far back as the Han Dynasty (200 CE), with Shar-Pei-like dogs being found on pottery dating back over 2000 years. Due to the shared demographics and geography, as well as some physical similarities, the Shar-Pei is believed to share common ancestors with both Chow Chow and Mastiffs. The ancestors of the modern-day Shar-Pei were originally used for hunting, herding, sentry work, the cruel sport of dogfighting, and even as a food source.
The breed was almost lost in its native homeland of China during the Communist Revolution, and their numbers suffered a dramatic decline. However, the breed's plight came into the spotlights when it was discussed in a magazine during the 1970s. Roughly 200 Chinese Shar-Peis were imported to the United States, of which the American variety was developed.
Today, there are two varieties of Shar-Pei that are recognized: the Traditional, Eastern, or Bon-Mouth Shar-Peis still found in native China, and Wester or Meat-Mouth Shar-Peis. Traditional Shar-Peis tend to be rangier, leggier, and lighter in bone with minimal wrinkles. The Western varieties have been specifically bred to have an abundance of wrinkles and tend to be heavier in build.
View the Shar-Pei's full breed standard