Interview with myself

A while ago, someone I interviewed asked me why I didn't get interviewed too. At first I thought it was weird because I didn't want to put myself in the foreground of my own page, but when I asked a few other friends said they found the idea interesting too.

So I asked many different people from the Shar Pei world to send me questions that they would ask me in an interview. I really enjoyed answering these questions.

Sandra, how did you come across the Shar Pei?

My husband and I lived in China for many years. At first we had two dogs. A Miniature Schnauzer (Einstein) and a local mix (Paula). Every day we were confronted with the same situation outside. Other dog owners were enthusiastic about the Schnauzer and Paula was ignored or derogatorily called "the local mix". I've always liked to swim against the tide and swore to myself that my next dog would be explicitly a local breed. So I first researched which Chinese breeds actually exist. And the first picture I saw of a Shar Pei on the internet blew me away. From that point on I knew I wanted a dog like that.

Hunde
Paula & Einstein

What made you choose the Shar Pei over any other breed? Have you considered other Chinese breeds?

At the time I first fell in love with the Shar Pei, I asked Google for advice on Chinese breeds, and it only showed me the official breeds. Today I know so much more about so many unrecognized local breeds in China. And yes, the Huzi Gou (bearded dog) and the original Sichuan dog are both breeds I could get as excited about as the Shar Pei. But I also like newer breeds like the Chuandong Hound or the Kunming dog.

Why did you choose the Chinese version over the western version of the Shar Pei?

I never consciously chose a “version”. I had first decided on a breed. After our first Shar Pei, my beloved Balu, died, I knew very quickly that I wanted a Shar Pei again. It was pretty much immediately clear to me that the next Shar Pei, like our first one, should come from China. At the time we lived in Switzerland, but my heart was still in China.

Another reason was a conversation I had with Matgo Law a year earlier when he visited us in Switzerland. At the time, he encouraged me to get involved with the breed in its country of origin, China. And that's exactly what I did and still do to this day.

Balu
Balu

Another reason was that I was already vaguely thinking about possibly breeding in the future. When TiHo Hannover was in the testing and development phase of their SPAID test, I sent in a blood sample from Balu. In a later conversation with the supervising scientist, I learned that Balus marker tested in Hanover did not match the other tested Shar Pei from Europe or those imported from Hong Kong. She told me at the time that Balu is genetically a Shar Pei and seems to come from a completely separate population. And that was another reason why I went to China to look for a new Shar Pei. At the time, I thought it might be genetically important.

What are your breeding goals?

My personal goal is to protect and promote the original Shar Pei population directly in China. I want to preserve something that I think is worth preserving. Because of my breeding here in Switzerland, I only have a small influence on the population there, but I can help there to make the original breed known again.

My breeding goal here is first and foremost to consistently maintain the health standards I have for my breeding dogs. I want to continue participating in studies and scientific projects with my dogs.

Why do you want to preserve the original Shar Pei?

Because we still have original dogs, even if there are really very few. And I was moved and infected by the enthusiasm, love and devotion that I see from the old Chinese breeders for their endangered breed. And when I see the test results of my dogs in terms of COI and genomic diversity, that alone is a reason why I rely on dogs from the country of origin in my breeding.

China
Shar Pei in China

Are you considering mating with Western Shar-Pei to improve health and genetic diversity?

No, not for my own breeding. I had had the idea before. In the meantime, however, I have moved away from it and see no advantage in it for my dogs. I want to protect the original dogs, not save the Western Shar Pei.

I often have requests for a puppy from breeders. Most are interested in a female puppy. I'm very torn on this. Because with the aim of doing something good for the western population, male dogs would make much more sense if they were used sensibly.

Are there other traditional Shar Pei breeders outside of China that you know and would work with?

I know breeders who say they breed traditional dogs. But what is it really? If I ask 10 breeders, I get 10 different answers. I don't like the word "traditional" at all. Maybe someday genetic testing will give us an answer. So for now I have to say no. But I’m always in favor of working together.

But that can and will certainly change. Because times are changing and more and more people act more consciously when choosing their future dream dog. I can tell by how much more informed most of my potential future puppy owners are. And who knows, maybe there will be one or the other future breeder among them that I can inspire as much as the Chinese inspired me.

Where do you see the relationship between the Shar Pei of China and the Shar Pei of the West?

They are all genetically defined as Shar Pei. So all are Shar Pei. This is their relationship. We are actually only talking about different populations that have developed in different directions through breeding.

China
Puppy in China

Is there room for both – or is there really only one type?

There is one breed, the Shar Pei. I don't see the breed as having different types. Rather different populations. And I see carriers of genetic traits for potential health problems and trait free dogs.

Where do you see the original Chinese Shar Pei in 10 years?

In China I hope that he will become better known again, that people there will be proud of their own special breed and that there will generally be more interest in Chinese breeds. Because if more original Shar Pei are in demand in their own country, then breeders can finance their own breeding again. One of our main problems in China at the moment.

Here in the West I just hope we all will get more knowledge about the breed and its origins. And it would be great to meet up in 10 years with all the owners and the dogs that will come out of my kennel by then. Only then can I see whether what I am doing here is good, right and makes sense.

What is your greatest concern for the future of our breed?

In China, my biggest concern is that we won't be able to motivate enough young breeders before the old breeders eventually give up. Priceless knowledge and dogs would be lost.

My biggest concern here in the west is that we will continue to just accept the general poor condition of the breed , that breed-specific illnesses and allergies will be tolerated as normal. That these problems in breeding are swept under the carpet instead of facing them.

Many Shar Pei owners are often confronted with veterinarians who hardly know the problems typical of the breed and often a lack of understanding for our breed by veterinarians is lamented? What do you think about that? What do you look for in a vet?

Lily
Lily

I don't really have an opinion on this, I have a great vet clinic. And I've never had a Shar Pei with breed specific diseases. And I believe that many veterinarians already have a lot of understanding for their patients. What many veterinarians fail to understand is the increase in sick animals in their practices that ethical breeding could prevent.

What I look for in a vet? That they treat their patients based on evidence and science, not on myth and homeopathy.

If I had no further knowledge of the Shar Pei and asked you what to think about before getting one, what advice would you give me?

Run as far as you can when a breeder tells you that all of their dogs and puppies are always healthy and have never had any problems.

When you first became interested with the breeding topic, what was it that most concerned you about the breed?

The ignorance of many breeders about general and population genetics. The lack of willingness to draw conclusions from scientific findings. Because everything that worried me about the dogs is only a result of the previous breeding work.

Which people can get a puppy from you? What selection criteria do you have? What do you look for in a future owner?

Anyone can express their interest in one of our future puppies. Of course I have selection criteria, the most important thing is my gut feeling. Because it has to fit humanly above all, I would like to have contact with my puppy owners in the future.

China
2 days old puppies in China

What do I look for most in potential future owners?? That they are curious and ask questions.

If it doesn’t work out for the new owners and their dog, what support would you offer them?

As a top rule: A responsible breeder always takes a dog back and finds a solution!

However, I can think of very few reasons why it shouldn't work for a new owner. Because you got to know them well enough before the puppies are handed over.

However, I don't have any experience in this area yet, maybe I should be asked this question again in 10 years.

Do you have a contract? What are the most important points in your contract?

Yes of course I have. But the problem with sales contracts starts when you sell a puppy abroad. My contract of sale is legally binding here in my country. If I sell a puppy, say to the US, then that is a completely different matter. 

So a lot is based on trust and gut feeling.

 

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