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Chinese Shar-Pei: A Unique and Remarkable Dog Breed

Sara Ochoa

By Dr. Sara Ochoa

The Chinese Shar-Pei is a very distinctive breed physically, and also a very special breed personality-wise.

These pups will grow to be your best friends in a matter of days!


Shar-Pei is pronounced as shar-pay. Which directly translated means, sand skin.

This meaning alludes to the wrinkly, tan skin that gives them a look that is hard to forget!

Aside from their looks, the Shar-Pei also have an unforgettable personality which will be discussed in a later section.


There are lots of things to note and consider before deciding to find your own Shar-Pei,

That is what this article is for! To answer any questions or concerns you may have.

This article will cover a variety of topics from their unique appearance, to their loyal personality and exercise needs.

Also discussed are their training and health needs, fascinating history, and most importantly, where you can find your own Chinese Shar-Pei pup!


Let’s see if these doggo can steal your heart!



Chinese Shar-Pei Appearance

The most recognizable characteristic of the Chinese Shar-Pei is their loose, wrinkly skin, especially around the face.

This breed resembles many dogs from the mastiff family, although it is closely related to the spitz breed; more specifically the Chow-Chow.

All of these breeds possess twin, blue-black tongues.


Shar-Peis are of a medium build, weighing between 35 to 44 pounds, and standing a stout 17 to 22 inches.

There are so many more unique physical characteristics to explore.

This breed is a somewhat patchwork quilt of all types of specimens!

Starting with their clam shell ears, butterfly-shaped nose, and all-around hippopotamus head; and their wrinkles give them a grandmotherly look.

Their small sunken eyes, combined with the placement of their wrinkles give them a sad or scowling expression.

The body of the Shar-Pei is rather small compared to its larger head and thick neck.

As the Spitz-style demands, the Shar-Pei’s solid tail curves over, but not resting on its back.

Overall they have a very muscular, stocky build.


Cream-colored coats are the most common, however, Shar-peis’ coats can be any solid color except for white.

More information about their coats will be covered later.


Their appearance is definitely what makes them well known but I think it will be their personality that you’ll fall in love with!



Chinese Shar-Pei Personality

Despite their somewhat intimidating appearance, Shar-Peis are known for their calm and quiet demeanor.

They make great family dogs and even a good playmate for your kids.

However, this requires early socialization and training given the dog’s independent streak.

They can tend to be rather headstrong sometimes.

Not to worry, all about their training will be discussed later.


Shar-Peis are undeniably loyal to their family members and those they care about.

Strangers or other dogs are another matter, they tend to be very standoffish when it comes to new people or pets.

Even though they are a very tranquil breed, they will meet any threat with extreme vigor, they are great watchdogs!


Not necessarily known for their boundless energy, Shar-Peis are sooner to be relaxing than playing.

While they are affectionate, it will take some time for your pup to warm up to you completely.

Once they do though, they will be your steadfast companion!


This is a generalization of the breed however, each dog is unique!

They all have their own pros and cons and special quirks!

Lots of love should be enough to soften these regal guardians!



Chinese Shar-Pei Exercise

Adaptability is a strong trait of the Shar-Pei.

Exercise automatically becomes simpler when your pup is content with any activity!

Going on walks or short runs with their owner are great ways to fill their daily exercise quota.

Apartment life suits these doggos, given their lenient physical needs.


Since obedience isn’t one of their strong suits, your Shar-Pei should only be left to roam free in a fenced-in area or a dog park perhaps.

However training can turn all of that around in the most positive way!


Even though Shar-Peis aren’t known as the most intelligent breed, it is still important to challenge them mentally as well as physically.

They enjoy a good game like fetch or tug-of-war.

Buying them their own toys is an easy way for them to entertain themselves as well.


Lastly, don’t neglect your Shar-Pei!

 Make sure you are spending a good amount of time with them and are giving them the attention and care they deserve.



Chinese Shar-Pei Grooming

There are three different kinds of coats a Shar-Pei may have.

The horse coat is short and rough; the brush coat is smooth and long; and the bear coat is more bushy and puffy.


Using a soft bristle brush once a week to eradicate any dirt or debris is the most frequent grooming ritual.

Baths should be given once a month, or of course whenever a situation calls for it.

A grinder is ideal for trimming nails.

Keep an extra special eye on those skin folds found all over Shar-Peis, sometimes even cleaning and drying them is necessary.


Ears should most definitely not be overlooked. 

In fact, it is recommended to start cleaning your Shar-Pei’s ears from a very young age to get them accustomed to the process.

Never use cotton swabs or hydrogen peroxide.

Instead, the most efficient way to clean your pup’s ears is to ‘float’ debris out using an ear-cleaning solution.

While this may sound complicated, rest assured you can rely on your veterinarian to recommend solutions and to explain to you the process of all kinds of grooming strategies.

Also getting vet-recommended shampoo and toothpaste is a must!

It is so important to take care of your Shar-Pei! This will ensure that they are feeling loved!



Chinese Shar-Pei Training

While exercise and training may seem similar, there are so many new things to learn!

It is so important to get a jump start on Shar-Peis’ training!

Why is that? you may ask, first, you don’t want your dog to become the boss of you!

Second, if you want to raise a well-mannered and well-rounded dog, puppy training and getting them to socialize early on with both people and their fellow animals is so important!


Aside from the basics like housebreaking them, there is also the option to train them for canine events.

While Shar-Peis aren’t typically enrolled in obedience trials, lure coursing and nose work are events that are enjoyed by most of this breed.


When it comes to training, Shar-Peis are rather sensitive if scolded or reprimanded harshly.

So responding in love and positive reinforcement is the most effective way to train.

Take this time to bond with your pup!



Chinese Shar-Pei Health

Due to their unique breeding, there are a few minor concerns that should be noted for anyone thinking about getting a Shar-Pei.

One of the problem areas is the eyes.

Eye disorders including entropion, glaucoma, retinal dysplasia, and SARDS have been found in this breed.


Because of their unique skin folds, infections can be common if not treated.

Demodicosis is a harsh aftermath of neglected skin. This involves skin irritation, inflammation, and infection.


The most serious problem found in Shar-Peis is FSF (familial shar-pei fever). This involves short fevers lasting from twenty-four hours up to three days. Amyloidosis is the longer-term version of FSF.

FSF is treatable, but conditions like this are why it is so important to have a scheduled veterinarian visit for your pup.


As with any dog, a balanced diet is very important to ensure your dog is not being under or over-fed.

High-quality dog food is a must and fresh clean water should be available at all times.

Remember a healthy dog is a happy dog!



Chinese Shar-Pei History

The Chinese Shar-Pei originated from, obviously, China!

For much of its long history, China has been kept uninfluenced by outside trends or fads.

So the Chinese culture became very unique, 

As such, even their dog breeds were one of a kind.

From the humourous Pug to the stately Chow Chow. However, none of these Chinese canines measured as one-of-a-kind as the Shar-Pei!


The Shar-Peis go back 2,000 years all the way to the Han Dynasty where they were known as peasant dogs.

Shar-Peis were expected to be versatile to fit the stereotype of peasants’ dogs.

They played a variety of roles.

Particularly favored by Chinese farmers, the Shar-Pei acted as hunters, herders, and guardians of livestock against all types of threats.

These jobs helped mold them into the rugged, yet regal; simple, yet intelligent breed we have today!


In 1949, the attitude towards this breed shifted drastically.

The Communist rule disapproved of dog ownership and eradicated most of the mainland’s purebred population.

However, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, a few of the precious Shar-Pei breeds were spared.


The Shar-Peis’ U.S. history is recorded to have begun in the mid-1960s, but American interest in the breed didn’t begin until 1973.

That same year, a breeder from Hong Kong named Matgo Law captivated the interest of the U.S. to save the vulnerable breed from extinction.

Eager American dog lovers jumped at the chance to help, and thus ensured the breed’s survival!


What an exciting history!


Where Can I Find My Own Chinese Shar-Pei?

Chinese Shar-Pei

To answer simply, you can find this breed on many puppy websites.

But if you want to ensure you are finding the best version of the Shar-Pei, then this section is for you.


Finding a reliable breeder is step one.

You want to be one hundred percent sure that your pup has had the best care and has been raised well.

That said, be careful about what websites you find yourself on. There are many puppy mills and scams on the internet. 


A responsible breeder should have had scanning done of their pups.

They should have all the proper documentation and should be able to inform you of any health concerns.

More than that they should be open and willing to answer any of your questions.

A good breeder should be knowledgeable about each pup and their special traits and characteristics.


Make sure you get a chance to meet your pup and get to know them before deciding to take home your own Shar-Pei.

Lastly, if you are looking for a furry companion you can find them here at VIP Puppies!

See if the Shar-Pei is the right fit for you!



Q: Are Shar Pei “clean” dogs?
A: The Shar Pei is basically a very clean dog. He avoids dirt and grime, hardly a Shar Pei will wallow in carrion or willingly walk on muddy ground.


Q: Does the Shar Pei need a lot of exercise?
A: The Chinese Shar Pei is a very active dog that is always happy to be outside, but it is also very frugal and does not need extreme exercise like some other breeds. But he likes to be busy. Many Shar Peis like to observe their surroundings and just watch out.

Q: Does Shar Pei shed a lot?
A: During the change of fur, and since the Shar Pei has such short fur, it is reminiscent of a trickling Christmas tree. But normally, the Shar Pei only loses coat moderately.


In Closing

Chinese Shar-Pei

So, having heard all of that, do you think the Shar-Pei could be the dog for you?

From their unique looks to their human-like personality and emotions, did these pups tug on your heart?

With their longing faces and heart-melting eyes, how could you not fall for these pups?

Their adaptability makes them perfect for an apartment or a farm dog!

They can suit a single or family atmosphere, and they make great playmates for your kids!

The Shar-Pei could be the lifelong sidekick you have been searching for!



American Kennel Club (2022). Chinese Shar-Pei

Retrieved from the American Kennel Club:


Britannica (2023). Chinese Shar-Pei

Retrieved from Britannica:


Wikipedia (2023). Shar-Pei

Retrieved from Wikipedia:


The Chinese Shar-Pei (2023). FAQ

Retrieved from The Chinese Shar-Pei:


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