Shar Pei dog breed characteristics, origin and care

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Shar Pei breed characteristics

  • Size: Medium
  • Traits: Calm. Loving. Independent.
  • Maintenance: High maintenance, regular brushing and bathing required
  • Best Suited To: Experienced dog owners

A wrinkly wonder, Shar Peis surely are the standouts of the canine kingdom. But under those immense folds of skin and a face only a Shar Pei owner would love is a devoted and docile pet that would do anything for their human masters.

If you an experienced dog owner that is looking for a rare dog challenge, a Shar Pei may be the right pet for you.

Where I'm From

The Shar Pei originates from China where it was revered as a farming, hunting and guard dog. They were also used in dog fighting battles. The Shar Pei is thought to be a very old breed that was nearly brought to extinction during the Communist Revolution in China. It took one man by the name of Matgo Law to appeal to Americans in the early 1970s to save the breed. Eventually 200 dogs were brought to the US of which most of the Shar Peis of today in the West come from though they remain relatively rare breed.

In Australia, Shar Peis became popular after appearing in a toilet paper commercial in 1982. Even so, fewer than 1000 dogs are thought to be in the country.

What I Look Like

Shar Peis certainly have a distinctive dog style. They are renowned for the extra large loose skin on their bodies especially around their face, which gives the appearance of deep wrinkles and of wearing an oversized coat. This coarse bristly fur comes in a short “horse” coat or slightly longer “brush” coat. Shar Peis come in a range of solid colours including red, fawn, sable, cream, blue and black. With a strong body, short ears and a curly tail, Shai Peis are an exotic looking dog.


How I Act

Shar Peis are attentive dogs that love to be with their human family. However, they can be unfriendly to strangers and are territorial of the home so early training is a must. Nevertheless, Shai Peis can be wonderful and loyal pets for the right owners. Shar Peis are need experienced and authoritative owners that can manage any dominance issues or wilfulness. Therefore they are not the ideal pet for first time dog owners. Shar Peis often prefer people to other dogs so need to be socialised consistently and obedience trained from a very young age to become acclimatised to their canine compatriots and environment.

Due to Shar Peis rushed breeding in the 1970’s, the dogs were known to be aggressive though breeders now claim this trait is no longer dominant. Even so, it is important to check the behaviour of a puppy’s parents to make sure you are getting a well-adjusted and docile dog.

Shar Peis only need a moderate amount of exercise of around 30-45 minutes per day to stay in good shape.

Looking After Me

Shar Peis need to be fed a serving of high quality dry dog food twice a day as per packaging instructions.

The Shar Peis coarse fur is a natural dirt repellent with little doggie odour. However, Shar Peis still need a weekly brushing and a bath every few months. If you going to bathe your Shar Pei be sure to properly dry them properly paying special attention to in between the skin folds in order to avoid infection.

Due to their short noses, Sher Peis are prone to overheating in summer months and care needs to be taken to ensure they have cool, temperature adjusted resting quarters when the weather warms.

Shar Peis can be prone to a number of health issues including Shar-Pei Fever, thyroid issues and hip or elbow dysplasia. Due to the Shar Peis large sized and wrinkly skin, they can also be prone to a range of uncomfortable skin disorders including dermatitis and eye problems such as glaucoma or turned-in eyelids.

It is advisable to check the temperament and medical history of a puppy’s parents and view veterinarian clearance certificates to ensure you get a healthy dog though not every ailment can be predicted. Be very wary of uncertified backyard breeders.

Shar Peis have a lifespan of 10-12 years old.


  • Shar Peis are real head turners! They can be a great choice for practised dog owners that are looking for a smart and independent canine companion.
  • They only bark when threatened and are generally fairly quiet dogs, which is good for the neighbours.
  • They're cute!


  • Shar Peis can be hostile to other dogs or small animals. Care must be taken to properly socialise the dog from a young age to temper any aggressive tendencies.
  • Shar Peis are sloppy droolers! So it is best to keep a washcloth handy and cover up any furniture with some throws if you don’t want them slobbered on.
  • They're folds make them higher maintenance than other dogs, and susceptible to infections if not properly cleaned.
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