Shar Pei: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health


The Shar Pei stands out for its rough and wrinkled coat. It has an extraordinary character and characteristics that are difficult to find in any other companion pet, which make it a magnificent guard dog. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the Shar Pei breed.


Character of the Shar Pei breed

Very loyal to their owners, the Shar Pei has a playful, active and intelligent character. It displays a very brave and domineering temperament, and can even be somewhat aggressive with its peers. It is very close and is very attached to its family.

Its relationship with children is good, but it does not tolerate, for example, abuse or rudeness. In this sense, it is convenient to accustom them from when it is a puppy to being handled by the little ones as well as educating the children well about what treatment they should give their dog.

Something similar happens with their relationship with cats, with whom the Shar Pei can coexist. Even if they are not great friends, only if they have done it from a very young age, otherwise it is possible that they will be considered as a trophy, a game. In the same way that happens with rodents and other types of pets .

As a companion dog it can become. It is a pleasant and calm companion, with very few demands and affectionate. Always with an outstanding point of independence and an open distrust towards strangers.

However, contrary to what you may think, this is not a mere luxury animal, an exotic ornamental possession with which to surprise friends and neighbours, but goes much further. It makes an excellent watchdog and has a very active demeanor that enables it to perform a large number of tasks.

It also loves to develop some activity from time to time in which to perform physically and mentally, such as agility and obedience. Disciplines for which it is not expressly designed, but in which it performs very well, without ever reaching the level of excellence of other races.

For the rest, this is a dog that adapts perfectly to any situation. You can adapt well to life in a house in the country as well as in a small apartment in the center of the city.

Despite being originally a farm dog, it is not very fond of living outdoors, since for many years its main place has been inside the house, together with its family.

And the truth is that it is a breed that is very easy to have at home, that hardly annoys and that is usually never a reason for complaints from the neighbours, as it is neat to the extreme, silent and quite independent.

In fact, there are those who find many proximity between the personality of the Shar Pei and that of cats. In addition, like these, he does not like water at all and always stays away from it.

Another peculiarity that must be taken into account is that it does not like excessive heat, which can cause significant respiratory disorders, so it must be avoided that it is too hot and if the animal is part of the day in the garden or on a patio It is advisable to provide a good shady spot where it can shelter from the sun.

With these little care, the proper care, and the necessary daily exercise, the Shar Pei is a perfectly balanced animal.

  • Energy: medium level. Work animal, needs to do some activity and exercise daily.
  • Temperament: it is calm, independent and loyal, it is a very affectionate dog with all the members of its family.
  • Adaptability: high. Quiet and very clean, it adapts to living in any environment.
  • Sociability: high. It is very affectionate with the family and tolerates other dogs and even cats, although other pets could be taken as prey animals. Be suspicious of strangers.
  • Health: normal. It may have dysplasias or joint problems. And its wrinkled coat can give rise to some skin conditions.
  • Longevity: low. Live 8-10 years.
  • Utility: versatile. It is basically a guard and companion dog, but it has also been used as a working aid on farms.
  • Use: hunting, guarding and company.

Shar Pei Features

The name of the shar pei dog means “sandy hair” and refers to the particular touch of its coat, a characteristic that makes it unique in the world.

Compact, square and with a short back, it is a strong dog with powerful muscles. With short and very rough skin, the abundant wrinkles on its skull and withers stand out above all, as well as its small ears and its snout similar to that of a hippopotamus.

Shar Pei breed standard

Let’s take a closer look at the shar pei and the breed standard :

  • General appearance: active, compact and with a square body constitution, it has a short back and is characterized by multiple wrinkles on the skull and in the area of ​​the withers.
  • Size and size: medium / large.
  • Height at the withers: between 44 and 51 cm for males and between 40 and 49 cm for females.
  • Weight: between 19 and 24 kg for males and between 15 and 22 kg for females.
  • Origin: China.
  • Body: in the area of ​​the withers and in the region of the birth of the tail it presents some folds.
  • Head: rather large, in proportion to the body, it has peculiar wrinkles on the forehead and cheeks that extend downward, forming a double chin.
  • Skull: flat and broad.
  • Muzzle: characteristic of the breed, it is wide from the base, where it sometimes has a bulge, to the tip, with no signs of diminishing. The lips and upper part of the muzzle are very fleshy, and both the tongue and the palate, the gums and the lips are bluish-black in color, although sometimes the tongue has pinkish spots or, in dogs with dilute-colored fur, is solid lavender in color.
  • Nose: it is large, wide, with the nostrils well open and black in color, although it can adopt any other shade that harmonizes with the color of the coat.
  • Eyes : They are almond-shaped, scowl, and are dark, or sometimes lighter in color in dogs with thinning fur. Around the eyes there is a certain profusion of skin, folds and hair, but they are not so abundant as to prevent the normal function of the eyeball or eyelid.
  • Ears : very small and rather thick, they are shaped like an equilateral triangle with a slightly rounded tip. They are set high on the head, far apart from each other and well attached to the skull, with the tips directed towards the eyes.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is moderate.
  • Jaws: strong, they have a perfect scissor bite. The meatiness of the lower lip does not exceed so much as to interfere with the function of the jaws.
  • Neck: of medium length and strong, well set on the shoulders. Below the neck the skin is loose and forms a small dewlap.
  • Chest: broad and deep, reaching up to the elbows. The lower body line is raised slightly below the loin.
  • Back: it is short and strong, with a broad and slightly arched back. The rump is rather flat.
  • Forelimbs: they are straight, of moderate length and have strong bones. They do not present wrinkles. The shoulders are muscular and sloping, well set. The forearms and arms are strong and robust.
  • Hind limbs: muscular, strong and moderately angled, they do not show wrinkles either. Seen from behind, they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. Their legs are robust and have strong muscles. The hocks are quite close to the ground.
  • Feet: of moderate size, compact but not squashed, and have strong finger joints. The hind feet do not have spurs.
  • Tail: set very high, it is thick and round at the base and gradually tapers to a fine point. It can appear tall and stooped, carried in a closed curl, hunched over the back or falling towards one or the other side of it.
  • Skin: unique in the canine mute. It is rough, short and has multiple folds and wrinkles throughout the body.
  • Hair: distinctive of this breed, the hair is single-layered, short (between 1 and 2.5 cm), hard and bristly. On the trunk, the coat is straight and separated from the skin, but on the extremities it appears tighter.
  • Color: Shar Pei can come in almost all possible solid colors except white. Sometimes the tail and back of the thighs are pigmented in a lighter color than the rest of the body, and sometimes darker shading appears along the back and also on the ears.
  • Movement: the trot is the favourite movement of this dog, which advances with a free, agile, balanced step and achieving a good reach with the front limbs and an inert impulse of the hind limbs. When the animal increases speed, the feet tend to converge on a center line.
  • FCI Classification: FCI No. 309 GROUP 2 – Pinscher and Schnauzer, Molossian, and Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs -Section 2 Molossian

Shar Pei puppy

If you are considering adopting or buying a Shar Pei puppy, there are a number of aspects that you should know before choosing this breed of dog.

The independent nature of the Shar Pei makes it necessary to subject it to a strict training and socialization process when it is a puppy. If not, it can become a dominant adult who questions its master’s authority.

To avoid accentuating this natural suspicion of the unknown, it is important to start the puppy as early as possible, exposing it to different situations, noise, crowds of people and the presence of other dogs.

If you want to adopt an adult Shar Pei, it is also convenient to do so. It will never be an extremely jovial and extremely sociable animal, but at least it will have a proper demeanor.

The best proof that the canine temperament is mouldable is evident when one looks at show specimens, which, as they are accustomed from birth to travel, to be touched by people who are not from their family and to live with other dogs, they behave naturally and tolerate all these circumstances well, without showing enthusiasm but without showing any sign of nervousness or discomfort.

If you buy it from a Shar Pei breeder, make sure they are responsible and serious. Indiscriminate and uncontrolled breeding led to the birth of specimens with excess wrinkles for a few years, which can negatively affect the animal, as it reduces its movements and increases the risk of skin infections.

The fluffy appearance of the Shar Pei and that peculiar snout similar to that of a hippopotamus can be misleading, since it is not a luxury puppy, but a courageous guard dog that, in its work of defending the home, can reach be even aggressive.


Shar Pei education and training

Regarding the education and training of the Shar Pei dog, in principle this breed is suitable for any owner.

Provided that this is, above all, a very self-confident person and with very clear ideas when approaching the education of your dog.

It is not essential to have a lot of experience or extensive knowledge about canine behavior, but it is important to act coherently and develop a consistent and solid work, supported, if necessary, by the advice of a professional or more experienced people.

Indeed, the Shar Pei is one of those dogs that needs a firm treatment, with an iron fist, but always in a silk glove.

Its point of independence can lead them to question the orders it receives before executing them if he detects that its owner is hesitating, but if it does not show signs of weakness, the animal perfectly assumes the hierarchical organization of the family.

If too humanized treatment is given at home, this breed can suffer from the well-known small dog syndrome, with the consequent alteration of behaviour and the appearance of possible very annoying disorders.

Therefore, it is extremely important that the entire family is directly involved in the education of your pet. If not, the dog will most likely not obey the orders of those whom it considers to be not within the line of command.


Food of the Shar Pei breed

As for the Shar Pei diet, you have to be very careful and selective when choosing a diet for this dog.

On the one hand, the needs of your energy expenditure must be taken into account, and on the other, it is very important to take care of the fat intake that is supplied to you.

Both in quantity and, above all, in quality, since the good condition of your skin and hair derives directly from it.

What must be avoided by all means is that a state of obesity develops. Especially in the stages of growth and old age.

This alteration in weight is currently very widespread among all races, to the point of being considered a pandemic, it is the triggering cause of many other more serious diseases.


Shar Pei health and diseases

The Shar Pei is not one of the longest-lived breeds in the world, as its life expectancy is around 10 years.

Obviously, these are statistical data and it may be the case of specimens that exceed that age, depending on the care they receive and their living conditions.

There are certain diseases and conditions of different kinds that occur in this dog with a higher incidence than in other breeds. For example, kidney failure that is not very severe but that leads to fever and mobility problems . Also, some skin problems due to the amount of wrinkles that abound in your body.

The latter is actually a genetic disorder that can be avoided by responsible breeders. But that became widespread with the breed’s boom in the 1980s and 1990s.

When this problem appears, it is characterized by a moist and purulent state in the area of ​​wrinkles that requires constant care to avoid the formation of more severe wounds.

And something similar happens with the proliferation of eye diseases. They mainly affect the eyelids and usually appear in specimens that are especially wrinkled and with an abundance of loose skin. Something that can be avoided if a serious and responsible breeding program is followed.

Likewise, as with almost all large breeds, it is necessary to control that the Shar Pei specimens are free of some joint conditions. Such as hip dysplasia, elbow or the dislocated knees. Although the truth is that the incidence of these pathologies is lower in this dog than in others of similar size.

Other than that, this breed is in pretty good health. It does not present serious disorders, except that it can snore frequently and breathe with difficulty in very hot environments. But these are minor problems.

Obviously, the best way to prevent the appearance of any type of disease is to contact a trusted veterinarian.

It is who is in charge of designing general preventive health programs. A routine schedule of annual vaccinations and revaccination against the most common diseases. Whether infectious, seasonal or due to legal requirements, as is the well-known case of rabies.

Also a guideline for external and internal deworming. Since parasites can be vectors of transmission of multiple diseases or even alter the effectiveness of vaccines by depressing the immune system.

Also, periodic check- ups to control the weight and the condition of the hair, skin, mucous membranes, eyes, ears and mouth, so that the appearance of any more serious condition can be prevented.


Specific care of the Shar Pei breed

Regarding the aesthetic care of the breed, this is quite simple. In fact, along with the typical wrinkles that are so characteristic, another distinctive sign of this dog is its coat.

It stands out for its rough texture, like sandy or similar to sandpaper, a bit in the style of the tongue of cats. The care of this hair only needs a weekly brushing using a natural bristle brush.

The bathroom of these animals is reserved only for when they are very dirty. It is essential to thoroughly rinse their hair to avoid the appearance of dryness and subsequent flaking.

NEVER leave traces of moisture, especially in the area of ​​folds that form between wrinkles. It is advisable to use a powerful dryer or air ejector.


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