Canine Breed Menu

Chinese Shar-Pei

Chinese Shar-Pei

Chinese Shar-Pei
Breed Organization
Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America
Native Country
Other Names
Shar-Pei, Chinese Fighting Dog
Life Expectancy
Approximately 9-10 Years
Litter Size
Average 4-6 Puppies
Breed Group
AKC Non-Sporting
Breed Appearance
Is a breed of dog known for its distinctive features of deep wrinkles and a blue-black tongue. The breed comes from China. The name (English name probably derived from British spelling of the Cantonese equivalent, sā peih) translates to "sand skin" and refers to the texture of its short, rough coat. As puppies, Shar Pei have numerous wrinkles, but as they mature, these wrinkles loosen and spread out as they "grow into their skin". Shar Pei were named in 1978 as one of the world's rarest dog breeds by TIME magazine and the Guinness World Records. The American Kennel Club did not recognize the breed until 1991.

Breed Description
Head: Broad, flat skull. Slight stop. Profuse, fine wrinkles covering the forehead and cheeks continuing into side wrinkles and abundant dewlap. Large nose. Bluish-black tongue.
Ears: Small, fairly thick, triangular. Set on high, lying flat against the head.
Eyes: Deep set, small, almond shape. Dark color.
Body: Powerful and muscular. Strong neck with abundant dewlap. Broad, deep chest. Short back.
Tail: Medium length. Carried erect, straight, or tightly curled across the back.
Hair: Extremely short, horse coat. Extremely harsh to the touch (Shar Pei means sand skin in Chinese).
Coat: Only solid colors, black, tan, brown, beige, and cream.
Size: 40 to 51 cm (16-20 in).
Weight: Approx. 20 kg (44 lb).

This ancient Chinese breed has endured for centuries and still lives in provinces bordering the China Sea to the south. The Shar-Pei has been used as temple guard, fighting dog, hunting dog (boar), and herd guard. In 1947, dogs were officially outlawed in China, but some Shar-Pei's were exported to the United States from Hong Kong in 1970 and to Europe in 1980. One of the most unusual breeds in existence, the Shar-Pei is much sought after by fanciers who love its eclectic appearance. A miniature Pei (weighing 15 kg and measuring approximately 35 cm at the withers) also exists, but is not recognized by the FCI.

All Shar-Pei puppies need early socialization with children, strangers, and other animals. Like other fighting breeds, they can be stubborn, strong-willed and very territorial. Early training can help control these traits before they become problem behaviors. Some people may experience a sensitivity to the harshness of the coat of either length. This is a mild, short-lived rash that can develop on the skin that has been in contact with the coat, most commonly on the forearms.

The Shar Pei is often suspicious of strangers, which pertains to their origin as a guard dog. It is a very independent and reserved breed. Nevertheless, the Shar Pei is extremely devoted, loyal and affectionate to its family and is amenable to accepting strangers given time and proper introduction at a young age. If poorly socialized or trained, it can become especially territorial and aggressive. Even friendly and well-socialized individuals will retain the breed's watch dog proclivities (like barking at strangers). It is a largely silent breed, barking only when it is playing or worried. The Shar-Pei were originally bred as palace guards in China. The breed is amenable to training but can be very stubborn. With repetition and a clear reward system, training is not very difficult. Overall, the Shar Pei can be a dog that is loyal and loving to its family while being very protective and independent.

Prone to kidney failure (amolydosis) which causes a fever and swollen hocks syndrome. One misconception is that the Shar-Pei have skin problems due to their wrinkles. Yes, some Shar-Pei have skin problems, but it is not because the dog has wrinkles, but rather a hereditary condition. Due to over popularity in the 1980s, some Shar-Pei do have hereditary skin problems. However, if you buy from a reputable breeder, this condition should not be a problem. Prone to mast cell tumors. Be sure to find a breeder who strives for healthy dogs. Familial Shar Pei fever (FSF) is a serious congenital disease that causes short fevers lasting up to 24 hours, usually accompanied by accumulation of fluid around the ankles (called Swollen Hock Syndrome). These fevers may or may not recur at more frequent intervals and become more intense. Amyloidosis, a long-term condition, is most likely related to FSF, caused by unprocessed amyloid proteins depositing in the organs, most often in the kidneys or liver, leading eventually to renal failure. There is no early test for FSF, but as it is congenital, the dog is either born with it or without it, and if one attack occurs (usually brought on by excessive emotional or physical stress), the dog will always be susceptible to another. With proper care, a Shar-Pei with FSF can live a completely normal and long life.

This breed makes a good house dog as long as daily exercise is provided. Weekly brushing is sufficient. This dog must be kept extremely clean, and the folds in his loose skin require special care.

Guard Dog, Pet.

Horse Herd