Shar-Pei

The Shar-Pei originated in China and has a history dating back 2000 years. Although the exact place of origin is unclear, statues indicate they came from somewhere in southern China, Tibet or Dah-Lel. The name Shar-Pei literally translates to mean sand skin. This is from the breed's characteristic harsh coat. Shar-Pei were used as general utility dogs for herding and guarding.

They were also known as tomb dogs, relating to the discovery in ancient tombs of 2000-year-old statues bearing their likeness. When China became a communist country, a tax was brought in that made the keeping of dogs a luxury and basically out of reach of the average farmer. In 1947 the tax was increased and breeding banned. This led to the Shar-Pei becoming an endangered breed and it was listed with the Guinness Book of Records in 1978 as the world's rarest dog.

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