Shar-Pei is an independent, calm, and loyal dog breed that has been around for hundreds of years. These dogs are famous for their deep wrinkles, folded skin, and a blue-black tongue. They are also known as Cantonese Shar-Pei. These dogs are strong and independent guardians and they are most famous for their intelligence and loyalty. Their appearance is one of the main things why many people choose this dog breed, but there is a lot more than their unique appearance. If you decided that this is the right dog breed for you, you will have to devote your time and energy to training Shar Pei because this dog needs a firm owner who can establish leadership. They are prone to many health problems so you must be very careful when searching for Shar-Pei breeders. If you want to get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an unethical, unofficial, and irresponsible breeder.
FUN FACT: Their name means „sand skin“ referring to their coat.
18 to 21 in (45 to 53 cm)
45 to 60 lb (20 to 27 kg)
This dog breed originates from the southern provinces in China. Shar-Pei dogs date back to the Han Dynasty. They were bred to be hunters, herders, and guardians and they were employed by Chinese farmers. When the Peoples Republic of China was established in the 1949 population of this dog breed was nearly wiped out. Because of the efforts of Matgo Law, this dog breed managed to survive and they were bred in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Few Shar-Pei dogs were brought to the US in 1973 and in the 1974 Shar Pei fanciers formed the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America.
Dog Breed Characteristics
Shar-Pei is a medium-size dog breed that has small eyes with tiny triangular ears and abundant folds of loose skin. Their height from the withers to the ground should be equal to the length of the body. They have a dark tongue much like the Chow Chows and that tongue is considered normal and desirable by dog show enthusiasts.
Shar-Pei was accepted by the FCI on a definitive basis in 1981. They belong to Group 2 (Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossians, and Swiss Mountain-and Cattledogs) – section 2.1 (Molossian, Mastiff type). Their height should be 17,5 – 20 inches (44-51 centimeters) at the withers.
Some serious falts that FCI doesn’t accept are snippy muzzle, large ears, coat longer than 2,5 cm, and spotted tongue.
Shar-Pei dogs should be centimeters 18-21 inches (45-53 centimeters) tall and they should weight 45-60 pounds (20-27 kilograms). They belong to the Non-Sporting group and they were officially recognized by the AKC in 1991.
Grooming and care
Shar-Pei dogs come in many different colors including cream, fawn, solid black, red, sable, and blue. These are naturally clean dogs and they don’t require much grooming to keep them in good shape. They don’t shed much. Weekly brushing will remove dead hair. Bath them only when needed. They don’t have a doggy odor so they don’t require bathing more than every 3 months unless your dog rolls into something dirty. If you frequently bath your dog you could irritate his skin.
Bathing and grooming is the easiest part of the care. The most difficult and the most essential part is getting them dry after bathing. If you don’t dry them well especially their folds and wrinkles most likely your dog will develop a fungal infection. You will need to wipe between the folds to remove all moisture.
Shar-Pei teeth should be brushed weekly to remove tartar buildup and to secure them fresh breath. If they don’t wear down their nails naturally you will need to cut them. Check their ears with every grooming session for redness or bad odor. Wipe their ears with the cotton ball dipped into a ph balanced ear cleaner. Because their ear canals are small they are prone to irritations and infections and that is why you need to be extremely careful and always check them.
If you want your Shar-Pei to enjoy these things when he grows up you will need to start with them early. Make a positive experience for the dog full of praises and rewards and you can be sure that your adult dog will enjoy grooming, bathing, and cleaning.
Exercise and training
Exercise need varies from dog to dog. Shar-Pei is a very adaptable dog breed. They can easily adapt to an active lifestyle as well as living in an apartment with a few daily walks. As long they are with the owner they will be happy.
These dogs are very smart and intelligent but sometimes can be stubborn and that’s why you must be the boss. They will constantly find new ways to do things you will not like. If you want training to be successful you will need to be consistent and firm. These dogs are eager to please and that is what makes training a little bit easier. In most cases, they will learn quickly if you do all the things right.
FUN FACT: Shar Peis are great dogs for participating in agility, obedience, tracking, and rally activities.
To be sure that your dog grows into a well-rounded dog, early socialization is essential. Start from the moment you bring your new Shar-Pei puppy home and be consistent and committed to socialization. To prevent shy or overprotective behavior expose your puppy to many different things, people, animals and that will secure your dog to grow into a well-behaved dog. They are suspicious and reserved with strangers but once they get to know a new person they will be friendly with them.
Shar-Pei - kids and other animals
Shar-Peis are very family-oriented dogs and are very protective of his family, especially children. They are best suited for older kids who know how to make an interaction and play with the dog. To be sure that your dog and kids will get along you will need to teach your kids how to properly approach and interact with the dog and also you will have to expose your dog from an early age to many children so he could get used to them. No matter how good your dog is, you should always supervise their play.
In most cases, they will get along well with other dogs, but that mostly depends if you socialized your dog the right way. If they are raised with other animals and dogs they will get along excellent.
Shar-Pei dogs have a life expectancy of 8-12 years. These dogs are prone to some specific and unusual health problems that every owner and the future owner should be aware of. Their eyes are one of the major problems – they can suffer from entropion, glaucoma, retinal dysplasia, and SARDS. They are also prone to respiratory, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, skin, and gastrointestinal disorders. Like we already said their skin is prone to infections. They can suffer from pyoderma (bacterial infection). It can be primary and secondary and this infection is treated with antibiotics. Like most of the dog breeds, they are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. One more specific condition is Shar-Pei fever (swelling of the hock joint). This will result in abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and reluctance to move. Fever usually lasts 24-36 hours and treatment includes reducing fever.
TIP: Because these dogs are prone to overheating you will need to keep them inside with the fan or air conditioning on during the summer.
There are a few recommended health tests that can confirm that your dog is healthy: hip and elbow evaluation, patella and thyroid evaluation, and ophthalmologist evaluation.
Shar-Pei is a very popular dog breed and because of their popularity, many unethical and unofficial breeders started breeding process to earn money without worrying about puppy healthy, temperament and well being. These dogs are prone to some serious problems and because of that, we advise you to only buy a dog from a reputable and official Shar-Pei breeder. Never buy a dog from a pet shop or a puppy mill breeder because in most cases you will end u with a dog who will develop some serious problems and who will have temperament problems. When talking to the breeders always ask them to show you health certificates of their breeding dogs.
To be sure that you are talking to an official Shar-Pei dog breeder only search them on the World Dog Finder website or at the national cynological association of your country. Prepare questions for the breeder and always choose a few options, if possible, before deciding from which breeder you will buy a dog from.
Shar-Pei is an excellent companion that will enjoy your company. From an early age, you will have to devote your time and energy to training and socialization to secure a well-behaved dog. Like we already said they are prone to some health problems so we advise every new owner to make a research about them so you can prevent those problems. They need a firm owner who will know how to be a leader for this dog to listen. These dogs are very devoted to their family and especially to their owner, so you can be sure that you will enjoy spending time with this dog breed.
World Dog Finder team