The Shar Pei first came to the attention of Western travelers in the 19th century, who called the breed the "Chinese fighting dog"; these dogs were not nearly as wrinkled as the modern breed and it was used by locals for dog fighting. The Shar Pei was once very popular, but the political turmoil in China in the 20th century was to take its toll on the breed and by the 1970s it was close to extinction. In 1973 a Hong Kong businessman named Matgo Law appealed to the international community, in particular the American Kennel Club, to help save the breed; by 1978 the breed was named by The Guinness Book of Records as the world’s rarest breed, with only 60 remaining. The resultant publicity led to great demand in the United States for examples of the breed, and unscrupulous breeders in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan took to crossing their remaining purebred animals with other breeds including the Bull Terrier, Pug and Bulldog, and selling the offspring to unwitting American buyers. The results of the crossings led to a dog with a much fleshier mouth than the original breed, these dogs became known as "meat-mouth" Shar Peis, whilst the original dogs are called "bone-mouth" Shar Peis.
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