A cute Shar Pei plays in the grass.
A cute Shar Pei plays in the grass.

Shar Pei

avatarAlanna Mallory, BS, LVT, VTS (SAIM)

Height18 - 20"
Weight45 - 60 lbs
TypeNon-Sporting
Life Expectancy9 - 11 years
Area of OriginChina

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

The Shar Pei (also known as the Chinese Shar-pei and Chinese Fighting Dog) is an ancient dog breed with a dominant personality. In Chinese, Shā pí means "sand skin," which is a direct reference to the breed's coarse hair coat. They were initially bred by peasants for fighting, hunting, and guarding, but have an appealing appearance that stands in contrast to their ability as brawlers. The breed is known for their signature loose, wrinkly skin, and "hippopotamus" face. The bristly texture of their skin and thickness of their muzzles makes it difficult for opponents to latch onto them during a fight. The Shar Pei has become less aggressive and more manageable over the years, but still requires the firm hand of a strong leader. They are best as the only pet in a household, as their assertive, stubborn nature may lead to fights with other dogs. They also lack the patience needed for interaction with kids, and, therefore, are not recommended for families with small children. The breed also requires frequent exercise, particularly agility training and brisk walks. Though they may be a bit headstrong, they are rather intelligent and easily house broken.

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

Where Is the Shar Pei From?

The Shar Pei is believed to an ancestor of the Han Dog, which originated in Ancient China. They also share physical similarities with Mastiff breeds and the Chow Chow. Early breeders sought to maintain the wrinkly nature of their skin, since it benefitted them in battle and prevented traumatic injuries.

The breed faced extinction in the 20th Century, due in large part to bans placed on domesticated animals under Communist rule in China.

In 1973, Matgo Law, a Hong Kong-based breeder, sought the assistance of American breeders to help save the Shar Pei from extinction. His plea was a success, and Shar Peis were shipped to the United States for repopulation.

Thankfully, their numbers increased over the years, and they were eventually added into the American Kennel Club Studbook in 1988.

Where Is the Shar Pei From?

The Shar Pei is believed to an ancestor of the Han Dog, which originated in Ancient China. They also share physical similarities with Mastiff breeds and the Chow Chow. Early breeders sought to maintain the wrinkly nature of their skin, since it benefitted them in battle and prevented traumatic injuries.

The breed faced extinction in the 20th Century, due in large part to bans placed on domesticated animals under Communist rule in China.

In 1973, Matgo Law, a Hong Kong-based breeder, sought the assistance of American breeders to help save the Shar Pei from extinction. His plea was a success, and Shar Peis were shipped to the United States for repopulation.

Thankfully, their numbers increased over the years, and they were eventually added into the American Kennel Club Studbook in 1988.

Care

What Kind of Diet Does a Shar Pei Need?

Shar Peis need a diet that takes their potential for food allergies into consideration. It is recommended that you monitor their eating habits closely and consult a veterinarian if they have any adverse reactions to their diet. These could manifest as gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea or skin issues like itching and redness.

Caring for a Shar Pei

What Kind of Diet Does a Shar Pei Need?

How Much Grooming Does a Shar Pei Need?

Are Shar Peis Healthy Dogs?

How Much Training Does a Shar Pei Need?

How Much Exercise Do Shar Peis Need?

What Kind of Diet Does a Shar Pei Need?

Shar Peis need a diet that takes their potential for food allergies into consideration. It is recommended that you monitor their eating habits closely and consult a veterinarian if they have any adverse reactions to their diet. These could manifest as gastrointestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea or skin issues like itching and redness.

What Are the Physical Characteristics of a Shar Pei?

Shar Peis are well loved for their wrinkly bodies. Their faces bear a striking resemblance to the hippopotamus, and are accompanied by tiny drop ears and thickened muzzles.

Shar Peis typically have sunken, dark brown eyes, though color may be lighter in relation to the pigmentation of the dog.

Like their kindred spirit the Chow Chow, Shar Peis are physically strong (and strong-willed) dogs. Their history as fighters is reflected in their deep, wide chests and muscular frame.

Shar Peis have a very distinctive tail. It is held high on their backend and curls upward, resting on either side of the back. The base is thick and tapers towards the tip.

A Shar Pei’s front legs are strong and straight. Their feet are compact and shoulders are muscular and laid back on the torso.

Shar Peis come in a variety of colors, including fawn, cream, red, black, chocolate, and sable.

The hindquarters of a Shar Pei are brawny and angular. Legs are parallel with short hocks, and feet are compact and of a medium size.

Shar Pei Facts

1

The Guinness Book of World Records named the Shar Pei the rarest dog breed in the world in 1978. At that point, only 60 Shar Peis remained.

2

Ancient Chinese statues depicting dogs that resemble the Shar Pei date back to the Han Dynasty (200 BC).

3

The Shar Pei and Chow Chow are the only dog breeds to possess blue-black tongues.

Other Breeds to Explore

Chow Chow
Pug
Tibetan Mastiff

References

  • Morris, Desmond. Dogs: The Ultimate Dictionary of Over 1,000 Dog Breeds. Trafalgar Square, 2002.
  • American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book. Random House Digital, Inc., 2006.
  • Wilcox, Bonnie and Chris Walkowicz. The Atlas of Dog Breeds of the World. T.F.H Publications, Inc., 1995.
  • Chinese Shar-Pei Breed Information. American Kennel Club, 2021.

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