The Shar Pei dog breed is a very distinctive one, thanks to their wrinkled skin and coats that can make dogs of the breed look like small children wearing clothes several sizes too large! This unusual trait actually helped the breed during their earlier history, when they were commonly used as fighting dogs. The breed’s loose skin meant that if they were bitten, the animal biting them would be more likely to tear the skin rather than causing deeper damage to the muscles or organs.
Whilst adult Shar Pei dogs grow into their loose skin to some extent and don’t look quite as rumpled as puppies of the breed, the loose, wrinkled skin of the body and face is the breed’s best-known trait, and goes a long way towards contributing to their appeal. However, this type of coat and skin requires special care to keep it healthy and in good condition, which is something that all Shar Pei owners need to get to grips with.
If you are considering buying a Shar Pei puppy and are wondering how to care for their skin and coat, this article will cover the basics of what you need to know. Read on to learn more.
The Shar Pei coat itself is quite unusual in terms of texture, and comes in three distinct types, some of which are not overly common in the UK. First up is what is known as a horse or horsehair coat, which is comprised of very short, almost sharp fur that is soft if stroked in one direction yet harsh in the other. It is similar to horsehair in texture, and can feel almost prickly on the ends.
Next is a brush coat, which is what most UK dogs of the breed possess, and this coat is a touch longer than a horse coat, although still very short. This coat is less prickly, but still quite rough. Finally, comes the bear coat, which is a touch longer and softer again.
All of the Shar Pei coat variants are single layered, and each individual hair tends to be quite thick. Dogs of the breed tend to shed moderately year-round, and will often noticeably increase in shedding twice a year in spring and autumn when the seasons start to change. Like most dog breeds, the Shar Pei benefits from regular brushing and grooming in order to remove shed hair and keep the dog comfortable.
The skin of Shar Peis is very wrinkled, and this is particularly pronounced in puppies, who tend to be much more wrinkly than adult dogs of the breed! This trait is inherent to the breed, and is their most distinctive appearance trait.
However, this wrinkling of the skin comes with some care challenges, which all Shar Pei owners should be aware of.
The very creased, wrinkled skin can rub and become irritated, particularly in dogs that have very harsh or prickly coats. Additionally, shed skin, sebum, dirt and grit can become trapped within the skin folds, again, rubbing and causing irritation. Because the wrinkles of the skin don’t benefit from as much air circulation, moisture or damp that is present within the skin folds can provide the perfect environment for bacteria and fungal spores to grow and reproduce, which can lead to infections, sores and irritation developing.
All of this means that an essential part of Shar Pei care involves checking and cleaning the skin folds, usually on an almost daily basis, in order to keep them clean and healthy.
Using a soft damp cloth or special dog grooming wipes is usually sufficient to clean the skin folds, but it is vitally important to dry them thoroughly too, in order to prevent them trapping moisture that can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria or fungal infections.
Like all dogs, Shar Peis also benefit from being bathed as needed on a regular basis too, again, taking pains to ensure that the dog is scrupulously dry before finishing them off.
As well as the skin on the dog’s body, it is also important to pay special attention to the wrinkles and skin folds on the dog’s face, and these too need to be parted, cleaned and dried regularly. Shar Peis can suffer from irritations and inflammation in the skin folds of their faces as well as their bodies, and they may also end up with food particles trapped within the skin of their muzzles too!
Some Shar Peis have sensitive skin, or may be prone to developing allergies, sensitivities, and hot spots or sore patches, which again requires vigilance and a proactive approach on the part of their owners.
If you have any concerns about your Shar Pei’s skin or coat or need some tips and advice on caring for them and keeping wrinkles clean and dry, talk to your vet, as they will be able to advise you and potentially, recommend the right type of products to use to keep the dog’s skin and coat in good condition.