|A show dog in perhaps the most commonly seen color in the breed: red. The standard allows all shades of red to include cream, black, blue, liver/chocolate/brown, Isabella/lilac/fawn, and sable.|
|A bone mouth shar-pei|
Another point of variation that many people aren't aware of are the coat variations and color variations. There are three coat types: horse, brush, and bear, with bear being disallowed by the standard. In addition, there are a wide variety of colors. The vast majority are acceptable, but a few are not. Here are the mismarks:
- A non-solid color other than sable
- Flowered (aka piebald, parti-color, spotted)
- Black and tan
Though these are all mentioned in the standard, some are far more common than others. Albino, for example, may not even be present in the breed, let alone dogs in general. If it is, it's likely to be nearly indistinguishable from very pale cream dogs with skin diluted by both the liver and blue genes. If the gene is present, it's a simple recessive for which carriers cannot be easily distinguishable from non-carriers. Brindle and black and tan are quite unusual, but do still occur on occasion. Brindle is dominant to non-black/brindle (aka sable), but would be hidden by dominant black and recessive red. Black, though on the same locus, is dominant over brindle. Recessive red hides any and all black pigment that would have otherwise been expressed. Both of these genes are known to occur in the breed. Black and tan, in contrast, can be hidden by basically every other color seen in the breed. It's recessive to sable as well as hidden by dominant black and recessive red. Since all of these things are true, it makes it quite likely that the genes will never disappear from the population. Instead, they will remain hidden until the right cross causes the color to pop up.
|Flowered red with a blue mask|
Sources are American Kennel Club, Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, University of Saskatchewan, Royal Shar-Pei, and Jewel's Shar-Pei. Images are from Wikimedia Commons or Flickr.com and are under Creative Commons licenses or are copyright free: one, two, three, four, five, six.