Shar Pei Breed - Dog & Puppy Information & Characteristics

Shar Pei

The Chinese Shar-Pei is a dog breed from China. It is a breed that turns heads and warms hearts with a distinctly wrinkled appearance and stoic demeanour. This compact, medium-sized dog has a rich history and distinctive features, making it a unique pet. Let us explore the key specifications, personality traits, care requirements, history, and other details about the Chinese Shar-Pei.

Key specifications of the Shar-Pei breed

Keep these factors in mind before you bring a Shar Pei dog home:


20 to 27 kg


18 to 20 inches


8 to 12 years 


Double coat

Note: The weight and height mentioned on the table is of a full-grown Shar Pei and not of a Shar Pei puppy.

Physical appearance of the Shar Pei dog breed

The Shar-Pei is a short coated dog, that is well known for its wrinkled skin. As puppies, they might seem to be wearing a coat several sizes too big, with rolls of loose skin cascading over their body. They come in a wide variety of colours such as:

  • Black
  • Cream
  • Red
  • Blue

Fun Fact: The Shar-Pei's excessive skin was a deliberate trait, originally bred into these dogs to make them less vulnerable in dog fights.

Now that you know the various colours of the adorably wrinkled Shar-Pei, here’s their most identifiable features to help you recognise a purebred Chinese Shar-Pei:

  • Medium sized dog with a compact muscular build
  • Broad muzzle, tiny triangular ears, and small sunken eyes
  • High set, tightly curved tail

Shar Pei personality traits

Shar-Peis are dignified dogs with a playful streak and show unwavering devotion once they accept you as their own. They exhibit a calm composure and self-assuredness, making them excellent watchdogs but their inherent wariness of strangers necessitates early socialisation. Shar-Peis may not be overly affectionate, but they deeply value a strong bond with their human family, often subtly seeking companionship. Their protective nature results in a strong guarding instinct for their home and loved ones. Despite their stubborn streak, Shar-Peis can be trained with firmness, consistency, and positive reinforcement, revealing their intelligence and eagerness to please. With the right owner, they become responsive and rewarding companions.

Do Shar Peis need training?

Absolutely, Shar Peis, like all dogs, thrive on consistent training which sets clear boundaries. Despite their independent and sometimes stubborn nature, they respond well to early training focused on basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, come, and leave it. Positive reinforcement through treats, praise, and gentle correction is highly effective with this breed.

Socializing your Shar Pei puppy with various people, places, and animals in safe environments is also crucial. It builds their confidence and curbs potential aggression. Since Shar-Peis were historically bred as guard dogs, they may exhibit possessiveness, but training can help them understand acceptable behaviour. Mental stimulation through toys, training, and games prevents boredom and destructive behaviour. So, training is not just beneficial, but essential for a well-rounded Shar Pei.

How to care for a Shar Pei

  • Health:

    Shar Peis, sadly, are prone to a greater number of health concerns compared to many other breeds. Skin infections within their deep wrinkles are common, so keeping these folds clean and dry is essential. Eye problems like entropion (inward rolling eyelids) and glaucoma are also concerns. A unique condition called Shar-Pei Fever, characterised by recurring fevers and swollen joints, can affect the breed. Regular veterinary checkups are vital to catch potential issues early.

  • Grooming:

    While the Shar-Pei's short coat is relatively low-maintenance, their signature wrinkles require special care. Those adorable folds can trap dirt, moisture, and bacteria, making them prone to skin infections. Regular baths and meticulous drying of the wrinkles are essential. Use a gentle dog shampoo formulated for sensitive skin and pay particular attention to cleaning between every fold. A soft cloth or cotton swab can help dislodge any trapped debris. After bathing, thoroughly dry each wrinkle to prevent irritation and potential infections.

  • Physical activity:

    Shar Peis have moderate exercise needs and are adaptable to their owner's lifestyle. However, they still require regular exercise to stay in shape and prevent boredom. A couple of brisk daily walks along with playtime in a secure area like a fenced yard are often enough to meet their needs. Avoid overexerting your Shar-Pei, especially in hot weather, as their short muzzles make them prone to overheating. If you enjoy more active pursuits like hiking or running and want your Shar-Pei to join in, it's important to gradually build their endurance and watch for signs of overexertion like heavy panting.

  • Nutritional requirements:

    A high-quality, balanced dog food formulated for medium-sized breeds is essential for your Shar-Pei's health and well-being. Look for foods with whole-meat proteins as the primary ingredient. Due to their tendency to allergies, it's wise to choose options with limited ingredients or novel proteins. Portion control is crucial as Shar-Peis can be prone to obesity.

A brief history of Shar Pei

The Shar-Pei's roots stretch back over two millennia to the Han Dynasty in southern China. These versatile dogs served a multitude of roles: hunters, livestock herders, and loyal property guardians. Unfortunately, their loose skin and bristly coat made them desirable as fighting dogs. Political turmoil in China during the mid-20th century nearly led to the breed's extinction. However, a few dedicated breeders saved the Shar-Pei from disappearing entirely. In the 1970s, the breed's unique appearance garnered attention in the United States, leading to a resurgence in popularity.

Frequently asked questions

1. Do Shar Pei get along with other pets?

Shar Pei can coexist with other pets, but early socialisation is key. Their guarding instincts may create tension with unfamiliar animals, especially smaller ones.

2. Are Shar Pei good family dogs?

3. Can Shar Pei stay home alone?

4. Are Shar Pei easy to groom?

5. Do Shar Pei bark a lot?

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