Breed Spotlight: Falling in Love with a Shar-Pei


The Chinese Shar-Pei is one of the most popular Asian imports for dog breeds. Part of the Non-Sporting Group, the Shar-Pei stands no more than 20 inches tall and usually weighs between 40 and 55 pounds. Although they are a small to medium sized breed, their lifespan is more like that of a larger dog at 8 to 12 years.

Here is some additional information Shar-Pei breed.

Shar-Pei Breed History

This breed began life as a hunter, guardian and fighter in the provinces of China. While it’s thought that this breed is hundreds of years old, there is no solid proof to back up this claim. However, there are statues in China that appear to look a lot like a Shar-Pei dating back to the Han Dynasty in 200 BC.

Thanks to a gentleman named Matgo Law of Down-Homes Kennels, the Shar-Pei eluded extinction by being bred in Hong Kong following the creation of The People’s Republic of China. The Shar-Pei made its appearance in the U.S. in 1973 and was accepted as a formal breed by the American Kennel Club in 1991.


The first thing you notice about this dog is a lot of skin folds. You might say they appear wrinkly but that really is just skin folds that make him look like he’s wearing an oversized sweater.

Like a Chow Chow, the Shar-Pei has a dark tongue which is usually purple in color. He sports a thick, round tail that curls up over his back.


While the Shar-Pei might look like he would be cute and cuddly, this breed can be aggressive toward humans other than his family as well as other canines so it’s very important to socialize him early. Getting him enrolled in a puppy class will be a great first step.

Unlike breeds like Labradors, the Shar-Pei will quickly assume the Alpha role in your relationship if you do not train him properly. Teach him who’s the pack leader early and often and you’ll have a great relationship.

Health Concerns

One of the biggest health concerns for a Shar-Pei is his stubby nose which causes him to overheat. He doesn’t do well in extreme heat and humidity so if you live in the southern part of the country, it’s important to keep him inside in front of fans or air conditioning.

Going for a run with a Shar-Pei will give you some musical accompaniment in the form of wheezing and snorting.

Never buy a Shar-Pei puppy from a breeder who will not give you the applicable health certificates for both the puppies and the parents.

Beware of and educate yourself about how to identify puppy mills before selecting a breeder.


Early socialization is recommended for this breed. While they are a devoted family pet and very protective of their humans, Shar-Peis need to be raised with children – or exposed to them when young — in order to get along with them well.

Grooming Requirements

The Shar-Pei is a naturally clean dog so it doesn’t take much grooming to keep him looking like a champ. Frequent bathing is not suggested because it can irritate his skin. Use a rubber curry comb or grooming mitt to remove dead hair once a week or so.

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