Shar Pei


A medium sized Shar Pei
Shar Pei Quick Summary
Also Known As
Height (at withers)18-20in (46-51cm)
Weight45-60lbs (20-27kg)
Hair Colour(s)Sable
Lifespan8-11 years
Energy LevelLow
Litter size4-6
Barking TendencyMedium
Exercise requirementsMedium
Ease of trainingMedium
Suitability for kidsMedium
Animal compatabilityMedium
Aggression levelsMedium
Distress if leftLow

The Shar-pei is a heavy and solid looking dog. The body is square in profile with a broad chest, well sprung ribs, strong and straight legs and a very high-set tail. The head is broad and flat with a wide muzzle, small dark and sunken eyes, high-set and small triangular ears, and a dark nose. The distincive feature of this breed is the loose and wrinkly skin to the body and face. The coat comes in three varieties: the horse coat, the brush coat and the rarer bear coat. The horse-coat is rough and prickly; the brush-coat is longer and smoother; and the bear coat variety tend to have longer hair at the withers. The colouring tends to be sable.


Shar-peis are calm, brave and confident dogs that can also be quite affectionate and playful. They bond well with their families and become very loyal to their owners. Early socialisation is important with this bold breed to reduce stubborn and dominant behaviour, and they must be taught to know their place in the pecking order. They also require daily exercise to help maintain their calm demeanours, and take note that these dogs can be prone to slobbering. They are intelligent and pretty easy to housebreak, but will tend to take instructions from only one person who has gained their respect as the top dog. For this reason they are more suited to owners with some experience of dog ownership and training, as owners will need to display confidence and assertiveness. Shar-peis are fine with older, more experienced children they have been raised with, and also with household cats and other pets when socialised early. However, they can have problems with other dogs that try to be dominant. They tend to be aloof around strangers and make good watch dogs.

History & Skills

Shar-peis originate from China and have a long history that can be traced back to the Han dynasty. They were initially used as fighting dogs but were also used for shepherding, hunting and as guard dogs for farms and families. This breed very nearly became extinct, and was once known to be the rarest dog in the World, before an appeal in the 1970s saw their numbers grow.

Breed Specific Ailments

Chinese Shar-peis tend to live between 8-11 years, and some of the health problems noted in this breed include swollen hock syndrome, hip and elbow dysplasia, entropion, extropion, and sore in the skin folds.


Chinese Shar-peis are are low shedders that shed more heavily on a seasonal basis, and so may not be suited to those people with allergies. Their grooming requirements are not too bad, and the coat will simply need brushing regularly and also bathed once a month and thoroughly dried. The folds in their skin should be checked regularly for signs of irritation. The ears should be kept clean and dry, and these dogs' heads should not be washed because they have very small ear canals that can be prone to infection.

Exercise & Environment

Chinese Shar-peis tend to live indoors and can be suitable for small homes such as apartments. They need a considerable amount of exercise, which will have the benefit of making them calmer while indoors. A daily walk and access to an outside area should meet most of their needs. As they were bred as fighting dogs, they should be kept on a leash to avoid confrontation and fighting with other dogs. These dogs are sensitive to heat due to their folded skin and are suited to moderate to cooler climates. Also, they do not like the water, and have very sensitive ear canals that should be kept dry.


FCIFCI - Federation Cynologique Internationale
KCThe Kennel Club (UK)
AKCAKC - American Kennel Club

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