The ear of the Shar Pei
The FCI standard describes the ear of the Shar Pei as follows:
Very small, rather thick, equilaterally triangular in shape, slightly rounded at tip and set high on the skull with tips pointing towards eyes; set well forward over eyes, wide apart and close to skull. Pricked ears highly undesirable.
The correct appearance of the ears is often discussed beyond the FCI standard. The standard says it quite clearly. Pricked ears are not only highly undesirable, they are also an eliminating fault.
Shar Pei ears in China
To understand proper ears of the Shar Pei, we have to look at the time in China before there was a standard that regulated pure breeding. The ears close to the skull are one of the characteristics of the breed. And despite earlier unregulated breeding and frequently cross-breeding of related local South Chinese breeds, the breed-typical ears (as well as other special characteristics) have almost always genetically prevailed. However, at that time there also used to be Shar Pei with pricked ears , the genetic heritage of other local breeds. Even though the shape of the ears did not have the highest value in China, the small, close to the skull ears were preferred and with the beginning of purebred breeding, pricked ears have gradually disappeared. But there are still some breeders who occasionally cross breed with a local dog with a lot of Shar Pei characteristics, these dogs often have pricked ears and are not called Shar Pei but Tu Sha. Tu Gou are local hybrids that have a very special look depending on the region. Tu is called Earth in English, Tu Gou means Earth Dog. A Tu Sha with pricked ears is called "earth sand dog". These dogs are usually bred specifically as working dogs (as example for hunting but unfortunately also as fighting dogs by few people), where purebredness and the look is not important, but the function of the dog has the higher priority.
There were also different names in Chinese for the different ear types. The cloud ear, the shell ear, the rustling ear, the silk flower ear, the plum ear, the rose ear, the horn ear and so on.
The cloud ear and the shell ear are the most common ear types among the purebred Shar Pei in China today. The cloud ear is wrinkled, and the shell ear is smooth.