The Shar-Pei

By BarkUpToday

Image Credit: Wiki

The Chinese Shar-Pei originated from China. This breed is part of the UKC, Northern Group, and the AKC, Sporting Group. The Chinese Shar-Pei is thought to be an ancient dog breed that came about in the region of Tai Li in the Guangdong Province during the Han Dynasty.

Brief History

The Chinese Shar-Pei is believed to have a peasant’s dog and was expected to be a versatile dog breed. This breed was used as herders, hunters, and guardians of livestock by Chinese farmers. When the People’s Republic of China was formed in 1949, most dogs were slaughtered. A few well-bred Shar-Pei’s remained in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the mid-1960s, the Chinese Shar-Pei was documented in the U.S. 

In 1973, a move was made to save this dog breed by a Hong Kong dog breeder named Matgo Law, who appealed to the U.S to save this dog breed. Many U.S enthusiasts ensured this breed’s survival. The AKC recognized the Chinese Shar-Pei in 1992.

Physical Description

The Chinese Shar-Pei is a compact, medium-sized dog breed that is square-shaped. With the many folds of loose skin covering its head and body, the Shar-Pei is a very distinctive-looking dog breed. The muzzle is oval-shaped and is known as the hippopotamus muzzle. The ears are small, and the tail is high set. The tongue and lips are a bluish-black. 

The Shar-Pei has two coat types. The one is short, and the other being a longer coat that does not exceed an inch in length. The coat can be any solid color or sable. This breed is alert and has a unique look. The lip and top of the muzzle are thicker and cause a slight bulge above the nose. The Shar-Pei has a free and balanced gait. The temperament is regal, intelligent, independent, and slightly aloof!


18-20 inches


45-60 pounds

Life Expectancy

10-12 years


The Chinese Shar-Pei is a serious and alert dog breed. It is intelligent, aloof, yet devoted and loyal to family. This dog breed is wary of strangers and prefers human company to other dogs. Though the Shar-Pei is an independent dog breed, it needs gentle, positive dog training. This adorable dog breed needs a firm hand and consistent training with lots of positive reinforcement.

Socialization needs to start during the first four weeks of puppyhood, where other people need to handle the Shar-Pei puppy. Puppy Shar-Pei’s need to be housetrained early, although this breed is quick to housetrain and seems to know right away what’s required. The Shar-Pei may be aggressive towards other dogs and more so towards other male dogs. 

This is a natural guard dog breed that will defend his family. This breed can also be territorial. Although the Shar-Pei does not need many exercises, this dog breed is not for a household with small children. 

The Shar-Pei does well with apartment living and can be alone for a few hours. This breed enjoys hanging out on the couch and snuggling up to you while you read. Shar-Pei is a noisy dog breed. They snore, grunt, growl, and make a gurgling sound 24/7. That said, this dog breed is fastidiously clean and will let you know when he needs to go out, even during puppyhood.

Activity Level


Special Needs

The Shar-Pei needs what all dog breeds need. Lots of regular exercise, attention, positive dog training, and socialization. This dog breed does well with plenty of wrinkle cleaning to prevent infections. This breed can only benefit from positive dog training classes to help prevent aggression and stubbornness. That said, the Shar-Pei is independent, loyal and devoted to family.

Positive dog training for the Shar-Pei needs to be consistent. Yet, one needs to consider the sensitivity and intelligence of this breed and not break his spirit with unnecessary reprimands. Dog training needs to mold the needs of this wonderful dog breed.

Attentive and experienced pet parents are recommended because this dog breed can be difficult. Socialization needs to start within the first four weeks.

Possible Health Concerns

The Shar-Pei is an active dog breed that may be susceptible to the following health problems:

  • Amyloidosis: This occurs when amyloids are deposited throughout the body. The Shar-pei may show deposits of amyloids in the kidneys, causing decreased kidney function and possible kidney failure. Amyloidosis can be attributed to another hereditary disorder, familial Shar-Pei fever. This is when the hocks become swollen, and there is a pain in both hocks and stomach. Symptoms also may include anorexia and diarrhea. Shar-Pei’s with this fever may develop amyloidosis caused by chronic inflammation.
  • Canine Cancer: Mast cell cancer is common in the Shae-Pei. Symptoms are masses that grow and shrink repeatedly. This is caused by the histamine release that results in intermittent swelling. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
  • Retinal Dysplasia: This is an abnormal development of the retina that is present at birth. It can result from trauma, a genetic defect, or damage while in the womb caused by viral infections.
  • Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARDS) This condition is common in Shar Pei’s and results in sudden blindness. It is also known as toxic metabolic retinopathy and silent retina syndrome. This mainly affects female Shar Pei’s that are middle-aged, overweight, with possible Cushing’s symptoms. There is no treatment for SARDS. Symptoms include excessive thirst, panting, excessive urination, and increased appetite.
  • Glaucoma: This occurs when there is an imbalance in the production and drainage of fluid in the eye and causes a buildup of fluid that increases eye pressure. This can destroy the retina and optic disk. Symptoms include dilated, sluggish pupils, mild congestion of the veins of the conjunctiva, and enlargement of the eye. Consult with your veterinarian.
  • Entropion: This is the turning in of the edges of the eyelid. The eyelashes then will rub against the eye surface. This condition can be inherited. Surgery may correct the defect.



The Shar-Pei needs regular exercise every day to stay fit and to not pick up weight. The Shar-Pei does well living in an apartment and having short walks. It also does great with more active canine sports like agility, rally, obedience, and tracking. Positive dog training for this active dog breed is beneficial because it helps with socialization and mental stimulation. All dog breeds do well with positive dog training—Shar-Pei’s love traveling by car and hanging out in pet-friendly restaurants and cafes. 



Without high-quality nutrition, your Shar-Pei can suffer from numerous problems ranging from skin allergies, malnutrition, obesity, and other health issues. Low-quality nutrition will affect all dogs, no matter the size and age. 

Today many dogs are obese. Lack of the correct amount of exercise and poor nutrition are contributing factors. Obesity in the Shar-Pei can result in joint problems, arthritis, and heart disease. It may lead to a shorter life span and decrease your Shar-Pei’s quality of life. Consult with your veterinarian as to the best dog food for your Shar-Pei and about home-cooked meals for your Shar-Pei with added vegetables, fruits, and supplements.

Here are some nutritional tips for feeding wet canned food:

Wet or canned dog foods

  • Easily combined with dry kibble
  • Must inspect first five ingredients
  • Need to watch out for thickener’s like “gum” used
  • Necessary to stay away from wheat gluten that is used in wet foods to bind the protein content of the food
  • Numerous “complete and balanced” brands are of high quality.
  • Numerous varieties such as turkey, chicken, beef, liver, duck, salmon, and venison.
  • Supplemental varieties available which are perfect for supplementing a varied diet
  • Easy to feed
  • Easy to carry if at dog shows or out camping.
  • Convenient in times of illness when your dog needs to have a change of diet

That said, keep in mind that the most expensive dog food is not necessarily the best dog food.

Well-balanced dog food should use real meat as its first ingredient. It should also not use harmful preservatives, flavors, or artificial colors. Always read the ingredients list, and don’t get swayed by great packaging or advertising.


This dog breed requires minimal grooming. The wrinkles and folds need to be wiped and cleaned daily to prevent dirt from building up. If your Shar-Pei enjoys hanging out and rolling in the mud, bath times should be as needed. That said, nails require regular trimming, and ears should be inspected for ear infections and cleaned weekly. 

Grooming needs to begin during puppyhood so that your Shar-Pei is comfortable with everything. Daily teeth brushing with a canine paste and canine toothbrush is necessary to prevent a buildup of plague. Our veterinarians will recommend a twice-yearly dental cleaning for your Shar-Pei. This is extremely necessary to maintain good dental hygiene in your Shar-Pei.

Adopting a Shar-Pei

The Shar-Pei is a smart and willing dog breed that is easy to live with. They make for wonderful apartment companions and are smart. That said, if you’re adopting a Shar-Pei, be sure that he has plenty of regular exercise and socialization. The Shar-Pei enjoys travel and thrives in a room full of friends. This very social dog breed does not get on with other dogs too well and does need supervision around small children.

If your Shar-Pei has any behavioral issues, you will need to contact a positive dog trainer and your veterinarian to ensure that there are no health issues that have been overlooked. Although the Shar-Pei can be stubborn, this very intelligent dog breed is most times a terrific best friend. 

Whether you’re adopting an Airedale Terrier or a Shar-Pei, make sure that you have the time, patience, and suitable home environment for your new furry best friend. Dogs are lifelong companions and deserve a loving, stable home environment!

Woofs & Wags!


Text Copyright © 2021 by BarkUpToday