The Shar-Pei is an early breed whose origins date back to the Han Dynasty in Southern China. The first recorded history of the Shar-Pei is in artwork dating back to 200BC. They were believed to have descended from the Nordic and Mastiff breeds of ages past. Some even believe that the Chow Chow may share some heritage with the Chinese Shar-Pei, due to the breeds' characteristic black tongues. The Shar-Pei was originally bred to be a farming dog, but they were also used to hunt and were sometimes used for dog fighting. The breed faced the threat of extinction when the communist regime in China outlawed them during the revolution. In 1978 it was recognized in the Guinness Book of Records as the rarest dog breed in existence. They were first introduced to the United States in 1966. When an article was published in 1973 asking the United States to assist with the survival of the breed, American breeders responded and the numbers began to rise. Today the Shar Pei, while not exactly common, is no longer in danger of extinction. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in May of 1988.