Calabash head, clam shell ears, black-bean triangular eyes, old lady’s face, roof tile mouth, bamboo tongue, butterfly nose, yellow cattle neck, grass carp body, shrimp waist, hard wire tail, persimmon butt, column arms, pipa thighs, and garlic clove paws. These are terms used to describe a particular breed. Is this a fabulous breed standard, or what?
Early Chinese Shar-Pei breeders used the things they saw every day to describe their breed. “Roof tile” mouth was taken the tiles used to cover Chinese homes, and when you see such a tile and compare its curve to the curve of a “meat mouth” dog, the reasoning becomes obvious:
Same with the “clam shell ears:”
We didn’t have permission (or $35) to pay to use a picture of Shar-Pei toes, but compare this with the picture of garlic cloves below. Spot on, right?
Colors were equally descriptive. “Snuff box” could be coffee brown, yellow coats could be Matte Yellow, or Big Golden Yellow, while there was “Fire Red Coat.” Sometimes we think the old ways were best. There’s no mistaking what writers of a standard meant if more of them used items known to most of us, like “bedroom slipper feet,” a phrase sometimes used to described Cavalier King Charles feet. You can picture this in your mind easily!
Thumbnail image: “Mischief” by Gillian Singleton is available in poster, print, towel, mug and more here. Roof Tile Mouth Shar-Pei image found on Pinterest and happily credited upon receipt of information. “Clam Shell Ears” Shar-Pei photo credit: gomagoti Hannibal the shar-pei via photopin (license)