Shar Pei

Shar Pei Shar Pei Shar Pei

The Shar Pei (also known as the Chinese Shar-Pei) is a highly recognizable dog. It has thick wrinkles on its face. It originates from China, hence the second name. It translates to sand skin, due to its distinct texture on its coat as well as the colour. This is one of the most rare breed of dogs of all the breeds, it is also one of the oldest. Its origin can be traced to Guandong. It has been there for centuries. Their traditional role was to help their masters in roles such as herding as well as guarding of property. They have also been shown to be very adept as hunting game. Mostly pigs are their specialty. These dogs were also bred to be fighting dogs and were entered into deadly competition against each other and breeds. It is thought that the Shar-Pei shares a common ancestor with the Chow Chow, this is due to the similar blue-black mouth they both have. It is interesting to note that this breed was classed as a fighting dog, but once the dangerous dog legislation started to sweep the world, this dog was quickly reclassified as a guard dog. It should be noted though that even when this dog is still considered as a fighting dog in China and Taiwan the cost of raising this breed means that it is unlikely that it is being used as a fighting dog in modern times.


This breed is 46 to 51 cm to the withers and 18 to 25 kg in weight. The Shar Pei has triangular ear and a muzzle which is very reminiscent of a hippopotamus. Its tails is very high set for a dog. The Shar Pei comes in many different colours, the most common being red, sand, cream, black, blue and fawn. To be recognized as a pure bred Shar Pei recognized by the AKC the coat of the dog must be one colour. The Shar Pei has three different types of coat. The so called horse coat is very rough to the fingers and is quite prickly. The second variety is the brush coat, this is longer than the horse variety and is smoother. The final variety is the bear coat, it is so long that the distinctive wrinkles often times cannot be seen. The Bear coat version is actually the original version which was popular in China with aristocrats. Unfortunately this linkage to the aristocrats lead this style to be wiped out by the communist revolution. Looking through Chinese art the bear coat is shown in many paintings. Furthermore there are differences in wrinkles, some has large folds ow wrinkles which persist even into adulthood, while the other version has skin which is not usually wrinkly on the body, and the wrinkles only appear on the face and withers.


This dog is known for it intelligence, they can be independent and territorial. Extensive training is required and also they need to be socialized at an early age. This is not surprising though given the heritage of this breed as a fighting dog. It should be noted that with this breed the fur is so harsh that it may provoke a temporary rash in the owner. The Shar Pei is quite suspicious of strangers, making this dog a pretty good guard dog and watch dog. Without the proper training this dog can be quite aggressive. Apart from when it is barking at strangers in its watch dog capacity it is quite a silent breed.

Grooming and care

This breed has little to no shedding. They do need significant amounts of exercise, they need a minimum of a daily walk. Make sure to not exercise too much in the heat as this could cause problems for this breed. This breed can either be active or quite lazy when at home, so the outside walk needs to be tailored for this. Generally these dogs will do ok in an apartment.


These breeds live an average of 8 years. Allergy linked skin infection have been a problem with this breed. Familial Shar Pei Fever is a breed specific problem which leads to the dog getting fevers which last for a day and which are accompanied by fluid building up on the ankles of the dog (called Swollen Hock Syndrome). These fevers can get more often and get stronger. It should be noted that Familial Shar Pei Fever is not a death sentence in any way, and the dog can have a happy healthy life as long as it is managed properly. They also may suffer from Amyloidosis which is caused by amyloid not being processed properly. Eventually this can lead to renal failure. This dog also may suffer from entropion (where the eyelash curls inward), if it is not sorted out then the Shar Pei may go blind. Shar Peis are also more likely to be allergic to certain basic food products. The reaction will be of the form of a bad skin reaction. If this is noted then sticking to a grain free diet should help