Shar Pei | Information & Dog Breed Facts


Shar Pei are easily recognizable by the folds of skin on their body and their frown. They have a very square complexion and with a short distance between the front and rear legs. They offer a powerful appearance and a good bone.

At the first glance at the Shar Pei, one might think that he is clumsy, and looks like a hippopotamus. In fact, representatives of the breed do not differ in slowness, they are very fond of outdoor games, long walks.

With regards to the resemblance to a hippopotamus, the Shar Pei, due to the folded skin and the peculiar shape of the head, really resembles this animal. The sullen appearance and strict disposition make the dog an excellent guard. It will be difficult for novice dog breeders to cope with the wayward temperament of the Shar Pei, therefore this breed is suitable for strong-willed people who have experience with dogs.

Shar Pei

In this Pets Feed article, we will explain everything about the Shar Pei: its origin, its character, some of its most common diseases as well as the strengths and weaknesses of this breed of dog.

Find out what a Shar Pei really is, and decide if you should adopt a dog with these characteristics or, on the contrary, you should keep looking for your best friend:

Breed history

It is believed that the breed originated in the southern provinces of China more than 2 thousand years ago. The first mention of such dogs, as the favorites of the emperors, dates back to 220 BC. e. The further history of the breed could be called tragic if not for a happy ending. The breed has developed among all segments of the population with varying success. During periods of war and famine, it was forgotten, and then again taken for breeding.

The communists who came to power in the 20th century decided that pets were a luxury and taxed the owners. Naturally, this caused colossal damage to the breed. In the 50s. only a few litters of Shar Pei were known in Macau and Taiwan.

The Shar Pei breed was restored by American breeders headed by Herman Smith, who brought the first Shar Pei to the United States in 1965. In 1971, Dogs magazine published an article about Shar Pei as a rare, almost extinct breed. She was seen by the breeder Matgo Lowe, after which he turned to American fellow dog owners with a request for help and provided a plan for the revival of the breed. Over the next few years, enthusiasts tracked down and ransomed the surviving dogs, and then transported them to Hong Kong. These few individuals became the founders of the breed. Unfortunately, breeders had to constantly resort to closely related crossbreeding, which could not but affect the health of the breed.

In 1971, the American Kennel Association registered the Shar Pei as the “Chinese Fighting Dog”. After 5 years, the breed was recognized by the International Cynological Federation. In 1979, it was decided to change the official name to “Chinese Shar Pei”.

Shar Pei

Breed standard

In ancient times, the ancestors of the Shar Pei were fighting dogs. The main distinguishing features of the breed are its blue-black tongue and numerous folds of skin. It is not surprising that the descendants of fighting dogs have a strong constitution, average size.

The appearance of a square, compact body shape is created. The weight of adults is about 20 kg., The height at the withers is 44-51 cm. Males are superior in weight and height to females.

The head is relatively large, the ears are small, triangular. The tips of the ears are rounded, directed towards the eyes and close to the head. The eyes are dark, small. The muzzle is broad; any hint of tapering is not allowed. Large, wide nose. The tongue, depending on the color of the coat, can be: blue with pink spots, bluish-black, purple, lavender, blue.

The croup is straight, the back is short. Folds of skin are welcome at the withers, at the base of the tail. Legs are straight, muscular, parallel, of medium size. Another feature of the Shar Pei is a high-set tail (the anus is completely exposed). Ring-shaped or curved over the back.

The skin is unique, hypertrophied folded. Shar Pei dogs have an unusual coat, it is hard, short, sticking out on the body. The hair is bristly without undercoat.

Two types of colors are allowed:

  1. Basic color with black pigment of varying intensity: deer, black, sable, mahogany, isabella, blue, cream.
  2. Dilute group (excluding black): isabella, chocolate, apricot, sable, cream, red, lilac.
Shar Pei puppies

Personality and temperament of the Shar Pei

In the standard, the character of the Shar Pei is described in several words: independent, calm, devoted to the family. Behind this stingy characteristic is a full-fledged, very temperamental personality.

The character of the Shar Pei is largely determined by the purpose for which it was bred. The Shar Pei had many assignments. He worked as a hunter, watchman and shepherd. For outsiders, Shar Pei are independent, even arrogant, with a pronounced sense of their own dignity, and sometimes even aggressive. Actually, the dog does not harbor warm feelings towards strangers, treats it with apprehension and distrust. At home, the Shar Pei allows himself to relax and be a real family member, affectionate, friendly moderately playful, patient, attentive and devoted. These qualities make the dog an excellent companion and a good watchdog.

Shar Pei strive for leadership in everything, they have a dominant character and an innate sense of territoriality. They are alert and smart, sometimes they can be aggressive towards their fellows. Independence and ability to make decisions, traits characteristic of shepherds, are manifested to a greater or lesser extent in every dog.

Shar Pei


With proper care, maintenance and nutrition, Shar Pei can live up to 10-11 years. By nature, he has excellent immunity. It rarely gets sick, mostly health problems occur due to improper feeding and maintenance. Most often, Shar Pei suffer from the following diseases:

  • Entropion is the turn of the century.
  • Demodectic mange is a skin disease caused by a tick.
  • Food allergy is a negative reaction of the skin to food.
  • Primary seborrhea – defined by an unpleasant odor, flaking of the skin and excess sebum on the skin.
  • Fever is a hereditary disease. Symptoms: vomiting, disruption of the gastrointestinal tract, high temperature. Correct treatment leads to complete recovery.
  • Bloating – occurs due to improper diet and poor quality foods.
  • Dysplasia – joint problems. In a severe stage, it leads to immobility.
  • Inflammation of the ears – may be due to water getting into the ears and poor-quality cleaning.
  • Fungal diseases – occur due to a violation of the hygiene of the skin folds.
  • Many diseases can be avoided with regular veterinary checkups and routine vaccinations.
Shar Pei puppy

Basic care

It is very important for Shar Pei dogs to live with their owners. Only under the same roof with them will the pet be completely happy. In the yard, in a close, closed aviary, and even more so on a chain, such an animal is not recommended to be kept.

Accommodation is ideal for this breed. They have excellent self-control, they yearn alone, but at the same time they do not play naughty. In other words, leaving the Shar Pei alone in the apartment, the owner does not have to worry that upon returning home he will see damaged furniture or shoes. Even when he is very sad, the pet will not damage the property in the house.

It is necessary to provide a temperate climate, since the head of the Shar Pei is too sensitive to overheating, heat is contraindicated for such animals, they normally tolerate cold, if only not the scorching rays of the sun. You also need daily long walks. Physical activity contributes to the normal development of the dog. When planning an exit with a Shar Pei outside, make sure that the weather is not too hot, if the thermometer goes off scale, take a short walk in the shade or walk your pet in the mornings and evenings when the weather is cool.

Among all hygiene procedures, ear care should be distinguished. Ear cleaning is done once a week. During the procedure, special tampons are used (cotton is prohibited) and a special solution. It should be borne in mind that Shar Pei have thin auditory canals. A short ear canal can be easily injured if you don’t know how to clean your ears. Ideally, take the advice of a specialist who will clearly show you how to properly care for your ears.

There is another important point in ear care. It is forbidden to wash your hair while bathing. If water gets into your ears, you can get serious infections.

The rest of the hygienic care for Shar Pei is quite simple:

  • Brush the coat 2-3 times a week, removing dead hairs.
  • Bathe every 30-40 days with a special shampoo for dogs. Common human detergents can cause skin irritation and, as a result, skin problems.
  • It is important after bathing to thoroughly cleanse the skin folds from the detergent and dry them with a hair dryer. Regular baby diaper rash powder is recommended. Such funds will help to avoid inflammation and the appearance of fungal infections.
  • Regular brushing of teeth, the procedure prevents the appearance of tartar and promotes clean breathing.
  • Wipe eyes 2-3 times a week.
  • Cut off the claws as they grow.


Although it is an active breed, Shar Pei will do the exercise offered as long as they can play freely. As a recommendation, an adult dog should enjoy an hour of daily exercise, although he will gladly accept more exercise time if offered.

If the dog shows a fight with other specimens, measures must be taken to ensure that it does not become a problem for itself.

Shar Pei


Feeding a Shar Pei is not easy. There are many things to consider:

  • If the appetite is good, you need to make sure that the pet does not overeat. Overfeeding a Shar Pei will turn it into a lazy, apathetic animal. Also, if you are overweight, your kidneys will suffer.
  • If the appetite is poor, the pet refuses to feed, try to walk with him more and increase physical activity. This will help improve your appetite.
  • In case of a categorical refusal to feed, change it. It is necessary to change the diet very carefully, since the Shar Pei is quite sensitive to the composition of the feed. Also, representatives of the breed are prone to food allergies. Therefore, it is not recommended to change the food system often; if you have to do this, carefully monitor the dog’s reaction to certain foods.
  • Feed adult dogs 2 times a day.
  • Up to 1.5 years old, feed with dry food, which contains all the additives necessary for normal life.
  • After 1.5 years, Shar Pei’s appetite deteriorates significantly. During this period, it is recommended to transfer the dog to a natural way of feeding.
  • Food in liquid form (soup, broth, etc.) is prohibited. The food should be thick or dry. The basis of the diet is meat and offal. Cereals, vegetables (potatoes are excluded), fruits are added. Low-fat kefir, eggs and fish are recommended as a delicacy.
  • Sausages, legumes, spices, sweets are strictly prohibited.

Training and education

For all the stubbornness of the Shar Pei, his training takes place without much difficulty, if you take into account all the features of his character and listen to the advice of a cynologist. In the process of education and training, it is very important to reward your pet with praise and treats.

You need to start training from three months. To tame the dominant disposition and reduce the level of aggression from puppyhood, it is necessary to involve the Shar Pei in games with children and pets. Early socialization. Close acquaintance with the surrounding world contributes to the fact that the character of the dog will become calmer and more patient.

During training, rudeness and violence are excluded. Severity must be reasonable and fair. The training course is not fear, but the trust of an animal in a person.

Shar Pei

Shar Pei Dog Breed Highlights

Like any other type of animal, Shar Pei has its own disadvantages and advantages, which should be known to every owner of such a dog and everyone who plans to buy a puppy of the specified breed:

Positive points

  • Shar Pei is calm and confident by nature.
  • It is easy to train for the house because it likes to be clean.
  • It is not known to be a “barker” being a calm dog by nature.
  • Very loyal and dedicated to its owners and its family.
  • Shar Pei is a natural watchdog that protects its owners and their property.
  • Excellent choice for people with older children who know the needs of the breed.

Negative points

  • It can be stubborn when the mood takes it.
  • Not the best choice for new owners.
  • This dog can be aggressive towards other dogs and animals.
  • Shar Pei puppies and dogs are expensive to buy.
  • Known for suffering from various health problems that can lead to high veterinary bills.
  • Shar Pei is known for snoring a lot thanks to its flat face.
  • Dogs of this breed can be distant and suspicious with people they do not know.
  • It can protect excessively its owners and their property.
  • Shar Pei develops with human society and never likes to be alone for too long.
  • It is prone to fungal infections that spread in the dog’s wrinkles.
Shar Pei puppy

Shar Pei Fun Facts

  • There are many interesting things to tell about this dog breed:
  • Scientists believe that Shar Pei, Tibetan Mastiffs and Chow Chow have common ancestors.
  • Shar Pei is one of the oldest dog breeds of Chinese origin.
  • In tombs dating from the 3rd century BC, found the remains of dogs resembling modern Shar Pei.
  • In ancient China, Shar Pei dogs were called “dogs that licked the sky” because of their dark tongue. It was believed that with its help, animals can scare away evil spirits.
  • In 1978, the Shar Pei was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the rarest breed in the world.
  • The coat of these dogs often causes allergies. Therefore, it is advisable that all family members communicate with the puppy before buying.

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