Shar Pei: Dog Breed Profile

Shar Pei
Photo by style81 on Pixabay

The Shar Pei Dog is an ancient Chinese breed. Their blue-black tongue, wrinkled skin, and bristle-like coat make them stand out from other dogs, and they can’t help but be noticed by many dog lovers.

The Shar Pei dog is not the best dog for novice owners. They are brilliant breed and known for their independent nature.

Despite their sturdy physique, the Shar Pei is also prone to various health-related issues.

When with their owners, they can be aggressively loyal and overly protective.

Breed Overview

  • Group: Non-Sporting
  • Height: 18 – 20 inches (to the withers)
  • Weight: 45 – 60 pounds
  • Coat and color: Short, bristle coat. Several shades
    of solid colors, including black, blue, chocolate, and cream
  • Life expectancy: 8 – 12 years


  • Affection Level: Medium
  • Friendliness: Medium
  • Kid-Friendly: Medium
  • Pet-Friendly: Low
  • Exercise Needs: Medium
  • Playfulness: Low
  • Energy Level: Low
  • Trainability: Low
  • Intelligence: High
  • Tendency to Bark: Low
  • Amount of Shedding: Medium


The Shar Pei has ties with very ancient Chinese history. We are not sure how far back this dog goes, but some statues have a striking resemblance to this dog that dates back to the era of the Hang dynasty in China, and that was over 2,000 years ago.

It’s believed that they were bred for their fighting and hunting skills. The toughness and the wrinkles in their skin would have made it challenging for their opponents to get a firm grip.

The name “Shad-Pei” was gotten from the Cantonese translation from the words “Sand Skin.” The breed almost went extinct during the communist revolution in the mid 20th century.

A Chinese breeder in the 1970s, pleaded with the American dog enthusiasts to help save the breed. Steps were taken to send a few dogs over to the United States, where the population of the breed had a resurgence.

Shar Pei has been featured on the cover of popular magazines and was involved in many high profile ad campaigns. Demand for the breed in the ’70s and ’80s was so intense that the dog suffered as a result of overbreeding.

The Shar Pei was officially recognized by the (AKC) American Kennel Club in the late ’80s. Ever since their popularity has dropped somewhat, and this has helped the breed in terms of responsible breeding.

Shar Pei differs significantly in appearance. The older, traditional shape from the breed’s origin “China” is commonly referred to as the ‘Bone-Mouth.

The Bone-Mouth is taller, slender, and has much fewer wrinkles, while the Westernized variety is known as the ‘Meat-Mouth.’

The Meat-Mouth is much stockier, has more wrinkles, and has a broader, fleshier head.


The Shar Pei grooming routine is considerably straight forward. Their fur doesn’t require excess maintenance, usually a weekly brush out to have dead hair removed is just fine. Their shedding is not excessive.

Shar Pei is naturally clean and often have an aversion to water. It’s unlikely that owners find them playing in muddy puddles.

If a bath is required, ensure that you properly clean between their folds dry as they are easily prone to skin infections. Cleaning their mouth after meals is also an excellent way to keep their teeth healthy.

It is also essential that you have their small ears cleaned as they can quickly become infected if not properly maintained. High-quality cleansers are recommended in cleaning their ears.

The Shar Pei don’t bark unless when they really have to, and they do not have the exercise needs of dogs their size.

They are not known for being high energy dogs and do not need an excess work-out routine to stay healthy. Owners should, however, provide them with good daily walks and provide enough space for them to play when they need to.

A Shar Pei must receive appropriate training and enough socialization from when they are young. Shar Pei is very intuitive and is typically wary of strangers and other dogs.

This means they don’t do well with other pets around.

Common health issues

Shar Pei can be prone to various health complications. Some of these are commonly attributable to the uncontrolled overbreeding that’s happened when their number exploded in the ’80s.

Because they are flat-faced (brachycephalic), they can be quickly get irritated by excess heat. Great care is needed for this breed when they are exposed to too much heat.

Adopting a Shar Pei from a reputable breeder will minimize the risk of developing genetic disorders.

Nevertheless, some of the problems that you should watch out for may include;

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Skin Problems: Due to their excess skin folds, the breed can develop skin infections that may include pyoderma
  • Gastric Torsion or Bloat
  • Ear Problems: Their narrow ear canal can often lead to bacterial and yeast infections
  • Skeletal and joint issues: This could consist of hip dysplasia and luxating patella
  • Eye Problems: This could consist of cherry eyes, glaucoma, and entropion “rolling in of the eyelids.”
  • Shar Pei Fever: This breed-related condition can cause the dog to develop a high fever, become lethargic, have swelling of the hock joint, and have diarrhea and/or vomiting

Diet and Nutrition

As with many dogs, it is vital to feed your Shar Pei a high-quality diet that is carefully portion-controlled. Also, make sure that your dog has easy access to freshwater.

Since the Shar Pei can quickly contact bacterial skin infections, ensure that their mouth is cleaned up after eating from any residue when you are feeding them any raw or wet food.

You should also consult with your veterinarian for the best meal plan for your dog, so they don’t develop any Gastric Torsional complications.


  • The Shad-Pei is a very loyal dog that would instead remain independent.
  • The brews are a generally low energy dog that fits well into apartment living.
  • They do not require plenty of grooming.


  • These are dogs known for being prone to several health issues.
  • A high level of patience is needed when training the Shar Pei, mainly because they don’t readily obey commands.
  • They don’t do well with other pets and can quickly become aggressive towards strangers.

Buying or Adopting a Shar Pei dog

It is always essential to do some research when you’re buying a puppy. This would enable you to look for a reputable breeder.

It would also help you to monitor the health of your puppy before adopting or buying them from the breeder.

Ensure that a registered breeder is selected and that the mother and puppies are bred in a very good environment.

Also, ensure that appropriate health checks have been made. Because Shar Peis aren’t suited for novice dog owners, it means that most of them frequently end up in rescues.


Shar Peis aren’t the easiest of dogs when considering the potential health problems they are faced with.

They are also not easily trained, so it would help to reconsider your lifestyle, motivation, and experience before providing one a home.

It’s extremely important to deal with a responsible breeder who knows his job before getting a Shar Pei puppy.

While the Shar Pei remains a unique dog that has won the heart of many, these are other dog breeds that you may be interested in;

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