Shar Pei

Also known as: Chinese Shar Pei
  • Shar Pei
  • Shar pei

General description

The Shar Pei comes from a long breeding selection of guard and shepherd dogs which occurred over thousand of years in Chinese cities and countryside. Nevertheless, this breed has recently become very fashionable due to its unique looks and famous wrinkles causing numerous genetic health issues to develop which are the main flaw in a Shar Pei. The free-spirited and guard-driven nature of the Shar Pei can be softened through early socialization and efficient training. Nevertheless, Shar Peis are guard dogs that bark at the sight of strangers. These dogs are also not too friendly towards other pooches. The Shar Pei has the quality of being an easy-going breed that tolerates a certain amount of solitude and doesn't require constant attentions to be emotionally stable. The Shar Pei is therefore suitable for those who need a pet that can be left on its own, at least for a while.

Shar Pei in short

Aspect and attributes

Characteristics accepts by FCI:

  • Colors: red, fawn, sesame, black, blue, yellowish, apricot, brown, chocolate, lilac
  • Hair: wiry, short
  • Coats: solid

Shar Peis are a medium-sized dog breed that can reach a maximum of 50 cm in height. This type of dog has a muscular and elegant body, and the stocky and clumsy appearance of Shar Pei puppies tends to disappear with growth.

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Costs and maintenance

A Shar Pei puppy can cost between 500 and 800 euro, depending on pedigree and level of training. Buying a puppy from an improvised breeder is always unwise however, even more so when dealing with Shar Peis as they can have numerous genetic diseases or strong behavioral issues. Grooming a Shar Pei is not demanding however it will require multiple vet checks. Therefore, maintaining your Shar Pei won't be very cheap.

Not too economic but not even the most expensive breed

Characteristics Summary


Suitability to apartment life

The Shar Pei breed was created in the Chinese countryside to serve as a factotum dog and it therefore requires to be active. Nevertheless, this dog breed can adapt to a domestic lifestyle specifically because it is a way of remaining close to family with which Shar Peis build a strong and deep bond.

The Shar Pei is suitable to apartment life however it needs some activity

Tolerance for solitude

A Shar Pei is not the most suitable breed for those spending lots of time away from home however it isn't even a dog type that can't tolerate being alone. Shar Peis are balanced, calm and quite independent by nature and these features allow them to be fine even in solitude, obviously without exceeding. Nevertheless a Shar Pei will definitely prefer being amongst loved ones, being cuddled and playing with them.

This breed is moderately tolerant to loneliness

Suitable as first pet

The Shar Pei is loving, playful and fond of children however it can also be overly independent and suspicious. This is why a Shar Pei is not ideal for first time owners. A Shar Pei's very early socialization is necessary to prevent its natural suspicion to take over around strangers, and training should be consistent, free of those uncertainties and mistakes typical of inexperienced owners.

A calm dog breed but not suitable for novice owners


The Shar Pei is generally tolerant, very affectionate and fond of cuddles but yet quite independent. The free spirit that defines this type of dog can sometime be an issue because it causes the Shar Pei to be stubborn however, those looking for a dog that will handle schedule changes and a rather erratic lifestyle may find this breed to be a good choice. However, if your planning on hosting numerous parties don't expect your pooch to be the leading actor. On the contrary, a Shar Pei will tend to be suspicious and avoid strangers.

Quite tolerant but wary of strangers

Tolerance for cold temperatures

Despite the gorgeous wrinkles and "teddy-bear looks", this dog breed does not tolerate cold too well. Although Shar Peis quite enjoy being outdoors, they have issues with excessively rigid temperatures as well as with scorching hot ones. Your dog must be kept inside the house during the coldest winter days and it must be adequately covered.

The Shar Pei doesn't tolerate low temperatures well

Tolerance for high temperatures

If a Shar Pei can't stand cold, it has even more trouble in heat. In summer, you should never let your Shar Pei go out in the warmest hours but instead ensure it always has enough water and monitor its breathing if it seems wheezy or strained. This breed is subject to heat strokes.

The Shar Pei suffers in heat

Friendliness and sociability

Affection towards family

Shar Peis are very affectionate and loyal towards their family which love deeply. They love cuddles and playful interaction, plus they are friendly towards kids if they are exposed at a young age. However, if a Shar Pei is not socialized properly its natural mistrust will take over due to the breed selection aiming at creating a guard dog can take over even around kids.

A breed that is affectionate towards the family

Friendly towards children

Shar Peis have a unique nature. Independent and inclined to guard yet affectionate and playful, the Shar Pei finds a perfect balance when raised by a loving family that can socialize their dog starting as a puppy. In this case, it is a very gentle breed even with children. Otherwise, a Shar Pei can be wary around kids as much as it is around strangers and other dogs.

The love a Shar Pei's has for children depends on the type of training it receives

Relationship with strangers

Despite not having an aggressive inclination, a Shar Pei has a drive to guard. This was exactly the purpose of Shar Peis in China and breeding over thousand of years has left a mark even in modern pets. Due to a natural suspicion of strangers, the Shar Pei will bark in their presence. This feature makes them ideal guard dog which is exactly why Shar Peis were bred in the first place.

The Shar Pei is suspicious of unknown people and inclined to guard

Friendliness towards other dogs

As much as a Shar Pei is doubtful of strangers it will be of other dogs, maybe even more. A Shar Pei will normally never approach other dogs wagging its tail, on the contrary it may timidly back off or react with suspicion. However, in case you're planning on adopting a Shar Pei puppy or an already well socialized dog you shouldn't encounter problems in getting it used to other pooches.

This breed has a tendency to be mistrustful even of other dogs

Care and health

Coat care and shedding

Shar Peis, especially the subjects with longer fur will shed a lot. In order to completely avoid shedding in the house (which will always occur at some level), your pet will require regular brushing. The very unique fur of a Shar Pei can be irritating for people with a sensitive skin or children.

This type of dog sheds a fair bit and this can become annoying

Salivation and drooling restraint level

Despite the shape of the face, Shar Peis don't have a strong tendency to drool. If you're worried about saliva, you can relax.

Low inclination to dribble

Easiness to clean

There are many urban legends regarding a Shar Pei's cleanliness requirements. Rumor has it that the Shar Pei requires constant cleaning between the wrinkles and that it has a strong disposition to get dirty. Actually, the wrinkles on an adult Shar Pei are less defined than you may think and, since they are mobile they don't tend to accumulate dirt. Best to keep the wrinkles around the face clean, especially in puppies.

A Shar Pei can be kept clean without much effort

Health and diseases

Sadly, Shar Peis are subject to numerous health issues which are typical of the breed and caused by the rushed breeding occurred in the 70's when this type of dog became very popular in the United States. Skin allergies and infections are a common issue, as well as entropion which is the tendency of the eyelid to fold inwards causing infections. Another genetic issue is the Familiar Shar Pei fever (FSF) which causes fevers lasting from 24 hours, sometimes up to 3 days. All of these issues don't help a Shar Pei to be a long-living breed.

Unfortunately the Shar Pei is subject to many genetic health issues

Tendency to gain weight

Shar Peis have quite an inclination to gain weight and they should be fed with care, preferably without moving away from a balanced diet suited to their lifestyle. A Shar Pei must be active or it will get fat which can worsen its already delicate health.

A breed that tends to gain weight

Learning skills

Intelligence and training

Shar Peis are intelligent dogs but not the easiest to train. As previously mentioned, the Shar Pei's independent nature can cause your pet to be stubborn and inclined to dominate inexperienced or weak owners. This breed tends to respond better with a reward based and more playful type of training rather than a stricter one based on reprimands.

An intelligent breed that's not so easy to train

Loyalty and inclination to escape

Shar Peis are not really inclined to hunt and will hardly get too far from home or their family. Conversely, the instinct of a Shar Pei is to be where it believes there is a need for defending the pack. Shar Peis are extremely and exclusively loyal to their family without including strangers and hardly ever any other dog.

The Shar Pei doesn't have a drive to escape

Inclination to bite

As stated, a Shar Pei's behavior will often depend on the type of training it receives. This dog breed is generally well-balanced and, except for a free-spirit and natural suspicion towards strangers, it doesn't have a tendency to become aggressive. Nevertheless, this trait can arise in your Shar Pei if not contained through adequate training and early socialization. A lack of these essential aspects can make your pooch too defensive towards unfamiliar people.

The Shar Pei can be inclined to bite if not trained properly

Hunt drive

This breed was created to guard and help Chinese farmers with their animals. Hence, the hunting instinct has been severely removed by breeding and, today it is hardly present in any subject. When in the woods or countryside, Shar Peis will normally not stray away and instead remain close to their owner.

The Shar Pei has a very low hunting drive

Inclination to bark or howl

A Shar Pei will bark when it senses a threat or when a stranger approaches. This breed may welcome your guests with a loud bark and will never be a postman or courier's best friend. Other than when guarding, your pet won't have a tendency to bark or howl. Basically, a Shar Pei will make noise when needed or when it believes it is necessary.

Shar Peis bark when on guard duty

Exercise requirements

Energy level

Some people believe this breed to be lazy, fond of snoozing more than playing or going out. Generally, this is not really the case. This type of dog loves going out for a walk with the owner even though it doesn't have a real necessity to exercise, and when the weather is too extreme (either too hot or cold) it will definitely prefer to chill in a sheltered space.

Well balanced breed: not lazy nor excitable


Usually, a Shar Pei is a tame breed that won't pull on lead nor play too vigorously. However, when they perceive a danger, Shar Peis can suddenly switch from a calm to an anxious state, protecting their home and family. Other than this are usually very calm pooches.

Normally tame breed that will become anxious when guarding

Exercise requirements

As stated, Shar Peis are quiet dogs that easily adapt to life in apartment and suffer from heat or cold hence their preference to rest when the weather is extreme. Nevertheless, this type of dog requires to be active* especially to avoid gaining weight which is quite a common issue for the Shar Pei.

Shar Peis must move to prevent getting fat

Tendency to play

A Shar Pei loves to play but only with the owner or closest members of the family. The Chinese Shar Pei is not really interested in children and is quite suspicious (if not aggressive) towards other dogs. This is not the most playful breed out there but not even the cold and lazy one described by detractors.

Not the most playful breed yet it loves to play

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