The Chinese shar-pei was and still is a multi purposes dog, with many uses from its people. It was the dog that amused them with the dog-fights, and the one that gave them some extra profit from it. And it certainly was the one that helped them in the hunting and kill the pray in order to feed its humane family. It was also the same dog that could protect their stock animals, could kill the ruts from the fields in order to protect the crop and guard the houses and its family. In difficult seasons it was also a good food supply and its skin was for clothing.
The dog fights buck then to China, were a very popular sport for the lower class, and an easy way to get some extra cash from it, and be respectful to the others for a wile, until next fight. Shar-peis are not born killers , but can be easily get use to it and become an obsession for them. Generally they are very territorial and dominant and they don’t like to question them in this or loosing a battle.
All of their body structure , help hem in the battles in the ring and in the hunt too. Starting from their morphology, they have a unique in the canine world coat. It is very very short and extremely harsh in texture, so much that some times can be painful for as or make as an allergy. The same was happening in the fights, when the opponent dog was trying to grab the shar-pei .It was like having needles in their mouth, very unpleasant, so most of the times the opponent had to leave it and search for another area in their body, and then the shar-pei could have more time to finish its fight.
The next advantage of the breed in the fights was its elastic skin that can be moved separately from its body. That doesn’t mean that must have a lot of fold skin . the wrinkles must be only in face and some in the neck. But its so elastic that when the opponent grab it , the shar-pei could tern not only its head, but all its body if it wanted to and bite buck. This is something that many vets from all around the world have found out with a unpleasant way..
One more plus for the breed is the really small ears and the short tail, that can’t be couched from the opponent easily . the tail is also powerful and set high because of the morphology of the shar-pei. This can be a clean sight that the dog is fearless and ready to fight (in the canine world this means a very dominant dog, dangerous and sure for it shelf ready to fight).
The eyes are clean and with a high level of vision, deep set inside the head but not too much and with that way are protected from bites I hear many breeders and owners to say that shar-pei hasn’t a good vision and view (because of its fold skin to the head and too deep set eyes) and you must be careful when you approach it from beside ,in order not to scare it . this is a clear , ironic prove that we have guide the breed to a wrong direction, and how different is the shar-pei of today from the traditional, but is also a wrong criteria to buy and breed that type of dogs (with eye problems).
One more sight of its powerfulness is its strong jaws with the more rounded canine teeth that many researches say that are more similar to these of a hyena than a wolf . The teeth have a perfect scissor bite that ’’lock’’ the pray or enemy inside.
And at last they have agile and speed to help them in the fight. The shar-pei has the ideal temperament also for this. It’s a dynamic dog with courage that don’t give up easily. The high dominance of the breed , has a little settle down from the breeding today in order to fit this dog to the city and its habits. And wile is still a very loving dog with its family and can get along with other dogs and people, we must be very careful with its socialization from the puppy age ,in order not to have problems in the future. And we also have to keep in mind never to leave our adult male shar-pei with another male shar-pei, or other dominant breed , because this will certainty goes to a super dog fight.
But none of these virtues couldn’t help the shar-pei with the new bigger breeds that came in the sport later. Because the shar-pei may have a big reputation for their technique in fight , but they don’t have a lot of endurance when they have to do with more powerful and bigger breeds. And so, this was the end for the shar-pei to the dog-fights.
And wile the fights were just an entertainment, hunting was a survivor thing for Chinese people. Shar-pei are capable to hunt almost everything. From birds to rabbits and wild boards. Some reputations say that were hunting tigers too. Shar-pei hunt in pack or single. They don’t ’’point’’ the pray or retrieve it (but many of them seems to have this instinct), they just search for it, hunt it and kill it. Their owner –hunter has nothing else to do than follow them. It might be in the hunting pack more than one males but this will not be a problem, since the shar-pei have so strong hunting instinct, that don’t care about anything else wile they run to catch the pray.
They hunt with their fine vision and smelling in a variety of grounds. Their speed help them , especially with the rabbits. A shar-pei can be a perfect friend with other pet animals if you teach it to, but it needs some attention with the more ‘’game pets’’ such us ‘’pet bunnies’’. It will be fine with your cats but be careful because once it will be in a forest it will grab the opportunity to hunt every wild animal it see or smell.
This breed is also a spectacular rut killer (such us bull terriers and jack rassels), and this strong instinct we can see it in modern and traditional shar-pei too. They were guarding this way the fields and rice from the little rodents that were eating the food supplies. Their technique was to find them by tracing or hear them , digging the ground and kill them in their nests or up in the surface. So if you have a hamster or pet mouse it would be a good idea to keep it out of shar-pei’s reach , because this friendship will never go well.
But the basic competence in those days was to guard the house, the family, the life stock and fields of their owner. They don’t need training for this because they have high dominance, and ones they feel something us their own, they will guard it what ever it happens. They guard from their bowl to their master. And the thing that are not very friendly with strangers make this more easy. But they are not barking a lot. Only when its truly necessary. Because they think a lot and have a very good judge they don’t act immediately in a situation. They think first and judge, and then they act. This make them perfect for protection. And be careful because a shar-pei will attack with no special warning..
And at last , in difficult seasons, when they had a shar-pei with no use, because of its low intelligent or instincts, this dog was becoming a food supply and clothing. Only the strongest shar-pei survived in China .
The shar-pei, traditional or modern, has still the same strong instincts(and some modern are perfect sheepdogs too), and its not right to treat them as a non use dog. It’s a dog that loves to work and need it too in order to have a good mentally health and strong bond with its owner. They don’t like doing nothing. So maybe that’s why your shar-pei is sleeping all day, because it has nothing better to do!