About The Breed


Is the Shar-Pei right for you?

Chinese Shar-Pei (AKC Non-Sporting Group)
Height: 18 to 20 inches
Size: Medium
Weight: 40 to 60 pounds
Availability: Widely available

Little is known about the origins of the Chinese Shar-Pei, but pictures on pottery suggest that the breed was present even in the Han Dynasty(206 BC). For many years, the Shar-Pei was kept as a general-purpose farm dog in the Chinese countryside, used for hunting, protecting stock, and guarding the home and family. During that time, it was bred for intelligence, strength and scowling face. During the Communist Revolution, dogs were outlawed in China and many were destroyed. The Shar-Pei almost became extinct. Luckily, the ancient breed was dramatically rescued by a Hong Kong business man named Matgo Law, who appealed to Americans in 1973 through a dog magazine to save the Shar-Pei. From those few specimens, the Shar-Pei fancy has grown tremendously over the past decades. Now the Shar-Pei is in the Non Sporting Group of the AKC with over 70,000 dogs registered as foundation stock. When first introduced, Shar-Pei were astronomically expensive. Now they cost about the same as any other pure bred dog.

Description: The Chinese Shar-Pei is square profiled, with a broad, full head, distinctive wide, padded muzzle, and extremely loose, wrinkled skin. (Wrinkles may be more pronounced in puppies.) The ears are very small, in the shape of an equilateral triangle, and lie flat against the head. The unusual coat is extremely prickly and offstanding (there is also a “brush coated” variety with longer hairs and a smoother feel than the “horse” coat). The coat on either variety can be up to 1 inch in length. The brush coat sheds a little year round, but the horse coat tends to shed only during molting periods. Molting may leave the dog looking unkempt. Bathing about once a week and brushing the coat daily during this period will remove the old dead hairs and allow the new coat to grow in. All solid colors and sables are allowed. Another distinguishing characteristic is the blue-black tongue (shared with the Chow Chow). A scissors bite is strongly preferred. The tail is set high, is wide at the base, and tapers to a point, curling up over or off the side of the back.

Personality: Devoted and loyal to their family. Reserved with strangers. Very intelligent, but can be willful. Regal and aloof. Dignified. Sober. Calm and confident. A breed with strong natural guarding instincts, the Shar-Pei must be properly socialized. Many have CD and CDX obedience titles. Firm, positive and motivational training is needed. They become bored easily with prolonged repetition; strive for variety and fun in training. The horse coat variety is generally more dominant, more dog-aggressive and less friendly with strangers than the milder-mannered brush coat variety.

Children: Good with children
Friendliness: Reserved with strangers
Trainability: Easy to train
Independence: Moderately dependent on people
Other Pets: Good with other pets if raised with them from puppyhood
Combativeness: Can be fairly dog-aggressive
Talents: watchdog, guarding, and competitive obedience

Notes: This very clean breed almost housebreaks itself. Because of its padded head, the Shar-Pei is very sensitive to heat. Shade and water must always be available. Puppies grow very quickly and must be fed accordingly. Some owners are allergic to the harsh coat. Shar-Pei generally hate water and try as hard as they can to avoid it. Fevers of unknown origin or swollen hocks syndrome may be the early stages of amyloidosis (kidney failure). See your veterinarian if your dog shows these symptoms.