The Chinese Shar-Pei is a large dog with wrinkled skin. It has a square profile with a broad, flat head. The muzzle is wide, padded, full, with a moderate stop. Like the Chow Chow, these dogs have a blue-black tongue. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The small, sunken, almond-shaped eyes are dark, but may be lighter in dogs with a dilute colored coat. The high-set, triangular ears are very small, and slightly rounded at the tips. The tail is thick at the base tapering to a fine point and set extremely high. The dewclaws are sometimes removed. Both heavily wrinkled dogs with large heads and smaller headed dogs with tighter looking skins occur in this breed. Puppies have more wrinkles than adults. Shar-Pei slowly lose their wrinkles as they get older. There are three coat varieties: horse-coat, brush-coat and a rare bear-coat, which is not recognized by the AKC. The bear-coat, does not falling within AKC standard because this particular Shar-Pei has an undercoat and a topcoat exceeding 1 inch. The popular theory about the bear-coat is that it’s a “throwback” to the chow-chow. They are actually quite popular as pet quality Shar-Pei, albeit rare, and often confused with the chow by unknowing owners as well as animal shelter workers. The unusual horse-coat is rough to the touch, extremely prickly and off-standing. The brush-coated variety has longer hair and a smoother feel. The coat on either variety can be up to one inch in length. Coat colors include all solid colors and sables. There is also a lowered, spotted, and a parti colored (flowered) Shar-Pei coat, which is a disqualifying fault in the show ring according to AKC standard.
Shar-Pei are very loyal to their handler. Intelligent playful, active, dominant, and brave. They bond with their family, but are not unfriendly toward strangers. If the dog meets cats and children while they are still young, they usually will not have a problem with them. The Chinese Shar-Pei is easy-going, calm, independent, and devoted. They make a delightful companion and good watchdogs. The Shar-Pei needs a confident handler. If you are uncertain, inconsistent, too soft, or mild, in the dog’s eyes, it will take over as the boss. Shar-Pei need a firm, but gentle, extremely consistent authority figure. The dog must be taught all humans are above him in the pecking order. Those who see themselves as above humans will be stubborn and bold. This breed needs firm obedience training to establish your leadership. They may refuse commands from family members who have not established leadership over them. They need an owner who as the ability to be “Top Dog”. Shar-Pei are generally not fond of water and often try to avoid it. This breed is very clean and one of the easier breeds to housebreak. Mixing other dogs can sometimes be a problem if one of the dogs is displaying dominate behaviors. Socialization is important. However some Shar-Pei are less dominant then others and show lines tend to be less dog-aggressive, mixing well with other dogs. Some Shar-Pei tend to slobber, especially when in pain. It is important to find a reputable breeder when seeking a Shar-Pei. This breed was very popular in the 1980’s. It was referred to as one of the “Yuppie Puppies”, meaning the breeds that were carelessly over-bred. The dogs temperament depends on how the owner treats the dog. Dogs who are allowed to believe they are the boss over humans will developed behavior issues. Dogs who are not taken for daily pack walks will also begin to display a varying degree of issues.
Height: 18-20 inches (46-51cm)
Weight: 40-55 pounds (18-25kg)
Prone to kidney failure (amolydosis) which causes a fever and swollen hocks syndrome. One misconception is that the Shar-Pei have skin problems due to their wrinkles. Yes some Shar-Pei have skin problems, but it is not because the dog has wrinkles, but rather a hereditary condition. Due to over popularity in the 1980’s, some Shar-Pei do have hereditary skin problems. However if you buy from a reputable breeder, this condition should not be a problem. Be sure to find a breeder who strives for healthy dogs.
The Chinese Shar-Pei will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. It is moderately active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
Shar-Pei are sensitive to warm weather, partly do to the wrinkles on their head holding in the heat.
On hot days shade should always be provided. Water should be available at all times. Provided they get enough exercise, they will be very peaceful indoors.
The Chinese Shar-Pei have a considerable need for exercise, which include a daily walk. While out on the walk the dog must be made to heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, as in a dog’s mind the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. Do not over exercise them in the heat, as they are sensitive to it.
Up to 10 years.
The Shar-Pei should be brushed regularly. Their coat is never trimmed. This breed does not have an undercoat. The “bush” 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 hair and allow the new coat to grow in. The harsh coat can sometimes cause a problem with people who are prone to allergies.
The ancestry of the Shar-Pei is uncertain. Pictures on pottery suggest the breed had existed even as far back as 206 BC. It may be a descendant of the Chow Chow, however, the only clear link between the two breeds is the purple tongue. The name “Shar-Pei” means sandy coat. The dogs were used as multipurpose working farm dogs for the Chinese, hunting, tracking, as a ratter, herding, protecting stock, and guarding the home and family. The dogs happily worked all day long. It was also used in dog fighting events where the loose skin and extremely prickly coat made it hard for the other dog to grab onto. The Chinese believed that the image of the wrinkles and black pigmented mouth would scare off any evil spirits. During the Communist Revolution the Shar-Pei population dwindled. In 1973 a Hong Kong business man named Matgo Law acquired a few of these dogs in an attempt to save the breed. He attracted people’s attention through an American magazine. From those few dogs the Shar-Pei’s numbers have risen tremendously and is now one of the more popular breeds in the USA. The Chinese Shar-Pei was first recognized by the AKC in 1992. The breed has over 70,000 dogs registered as foundation stock.
Southern, AKC Non-Sporting
CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, KCGB, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR, DRA