Finding A Shar-Pei Puppy
I consider the following steps when finding and selecting a Shar-Pei puppy:
- Deciding if you want a Shar-Pei puppy
Try to find out as much about the breed as possible before you start looking for a new pup. This involves reading books about the breed, talking to people who own Shar-Pei and checking on the Internet. The Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America has a web site at www.CSPCA.com and my web site at www.drjwv.com has a lot of useful information including a listing of Shar-Pei books and a listing of Shar-Pei health problems. The Shar-Pei does have some unique health problems such as Familial Shar-Pei Fever which can result in kidney failure at a young age, entropion (rolling in) of the eye lids, tight lip syndrome, cancer, etc. which you should become well-versed on before searching for a puppy – you will definitely want to ask questions concerning Shar-Pei problems of the breeder you choose. I would say that the health care expenses for a Shar-Pei are very much towards the high end of the scale in general. This doesn’t mean all Shar-Pei require expensive medical care but that one should be prepared for that possibility. I would even recommend a medical savings account be set up for the puppy ahead of time. This is a savings account in which you deposit, on a regular basis, funds for potential medical care. With this in place, any unexpected medical expenses will not cause as immediate a hardship on the family finances. Issues of routine maintenance procedures such as bathing, nail trimming, and ear cleaning, puppy housebreaking and training, yard cleanup, crate training and exercise should be discussed and planned for in advance of deciding to get a puppy. Who is going to let the pup out during the day while you’re at work? How do I puppy-proof the house? Does my apartment lease allow me to have a dog and are there size restrictions? Will my vet see Shar-Pei? Where can I go for puppy kindergarten classes and basic obedience training?
- Finding a Shar-Pei Breeder
I would strongly advise against purchasing a Shar-Pei from a pet shop or puppy broker. The quality of the pups usually isn’t the best, the health is often questionable and you don’t deal with the breeder of the pup directly. I would solicit Shar-Pei breeder recommendations from veterinarians, Shar-Pei owners, the Shar-Pei breed publication called The Barker, and the AKC web site at www.AKC.org and click on Breeder Referral. The breeder’s location may limit the choice although a quality pup is well worth the trip. You might check out AKC shows in your area and talk with Shar-Pei breeders who are attending the show.
- Selecting the Right Shar-Pei Breeder
You are selecting a breeder with a lifelong commitment to you and your puppy in mind. Also your breeder should have a commitment to the breed and a goal of producing dogs which will better the breed. I don’t think any question is too tough to ask the breeder and you should expect straight and honest answers. Also remember that the pup you are considering is the product of a breeding program (hopefully) or a line of dogs and doing some research of other dogs produced by the breeder and their lines may useful. Consider the following checklist:
- Will the breeder allow you to see the pup’s parents (sire and dam)? How is their health, longevity and temperament?
- What are the major causes of death in the line?
- Will the breeder freely discuss health issues in the breed?
- Is the breeder active in the breed demonstrated by having membership in the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, showing their dogs in obedience, conformation and/or agility, membership in the American Kennel Club, supporting breed rescue?
- Will the breeder give you references to check such as veterinarians, other puppy owners, friends, etc?
- Does the breeder have an information packet for your review?
- Will the breeder give you a copy of the puppy contract to review? Does the contract contain a health guarantee?
- Does the breeder vaccinate the pups, worm them, check stool samples, etc?
- Selecting a Puppy
I am often asked what I look for in a Shar-Pei puppy. I start out by evaluating a puppy for any structural problems such as loose kneecaps, entropion (rolling in of the eyelids), bite problems, hernias, etc. If I am purchasing a “show” puppy I make sure the dog doesn’t have a “bear” coat (over 1 inch in length), doesn’t have a pink or spotted tongue (flowered tongue) and doesn’t have “prick” or upright ears. These are disqualifications in the show ring. I don’t recommend picking the most wrinkled puppy – these are more likely to have future eye and skin problems. I then evaluate the puppies according to temperament. I try to select an outgoing puppy — not the one that stays back and watches the other pups when I approach the litter. I also don’t want an overly aggressive pup or the one that barks a lot. I do like pups who don’t mind being handled, will explore their surroundings and don’t freak out in novel situations. Remember, a puppy’s adult personality will be shaped by a combination of breed, individual genetic behavior and the socialization and training they receive during their first 4 months of life. I think Shar-Pei are very leader oriented and need to know you are the leader or they will quickly start doing things their own way. Some breeds can be left to their own devices and will still end up being compliant, manageable and good pets. Shar-Pei do not fit into this category. Early puppy training is extremely important in our breed and as an owner you must be prepared to spend a lot of time training and exercising your puppy. If you work hard and consistently for the first 6 months of the pup’s life you will end up with a very loyal, dependable and well-trained companion. If you don’t commit to training, don’t have the time or don’t have the inclination spend the time with your pup I would not recommend getting one. It would be better to wait until your schedule frees up. I would also advise you don’t select your puppy at the first visit – it’s amazing the changes that occur in the pups over even a few days. Impulse buying is not a good idea – if you have to wait to get a good pup, so be it!
- Be Prepared For Your Puppy
Have your check list ready ahead of time:
- Bowls for food and water
- A crate – I advise a crate with double latches on the door.
- Leash and collar
- Nail clippers
- A veterinarian who is Shar-Pei friendly.
- A training class, especially one offering puppy kindergarten classes.
- When You Pick Up Your Puppy
Be sure you receive a signed copy of the dog’s contract, the AKC papers for that puppy, copies of vaccination/veterinary records, some of the food the puppy has been on (usually 7-14 days worth), and any other information the breeder usually gives out. Be sure to have the breeder’s information and their veterinarian’s information also.