Shar Pei

Fun facts about the Shar Pei

The Chinese Shar Pei is a tough, wrinkled and loyal pooch. Originally bred as a guard dog, the well trained Shar Pei usually enjoys frolicking with the family as much as a good woof. The distinctive and adorable wrinkles and skin folds do come with strict cleaning instructions and some notable health issues to be aware of. Regardless of whether you’re an owner or a borrower, if you want to learn all about the Shar Pei breed, read on.



Doggy member Rolo, the blue Shar Pei

What is a Shar Pei dog?


A Shar Pei is a Chinese dog breed, originally bred for hunting, fighting and guarding. The standard Shar Pei is a medium sized dog breed, usually standing at between 46 - 56cm at the shoulder and weighing between 16 - 29 kg (depending on gender and size). They have wrinkly skin and usually a short, coarse coat which may be a variety of different colours. 


The word “Shar Pei” actually roughly translates as “sand skin”, or “rough, sandy coat”. There are three types of Shar Pei coat: the horse, brush and bear-coat. The horse coat is the shortest and coarsest coat and is reportedly more associated with a dominant temperament. The brush coat is slightly longer and is typically associated with a calmer temperament. The bear coat Shar Pei has a longer coat still - more than an inch long at the withers (where the bottom of the neck meets the back). Shar Pei lifespan is usually over ten years.



Doggy member, Mocha


The Shar Pei arguably shares similar ancestry to another Chinese dog - the lion-like Chow Chow. Both breeds have a distinctive blue-black tongue and are thought to be related to the ancient Han Dog - a Chinese guard dog in existence around 2,000 years ago.


Unfortunately, the Shar Pei is susceptible to a number of health conditions. Some breeders can provide more information on this, such as health screening of Shar Pei puppies and family history of certain conditions. Skin problems, eye and ear problems are among the most common issues. “Shar Pei fever” and “Shar Pei syndrome” have also been described as Shar Pei specific issues which may require specialist attention. 


Shar Pei borrowers and owners should note that the breed does not tolerate heat well so careful precautions should be taken. Due to these issues, prospective owners should consult a breeder or experienced veterinarian to find out the best way to deal with these issues and look into comprehensive pet insurance in case any problems arise.


Miniature and Toy Shar Peis have come into existence through selective breeding along a recessive gene line which produces smaller pups. These smaller types are not recognised by official Kennel Clubs and so information is not so widely available.


How much exercise does a Shar Pei need?


The UK Kennel Club recommends up to one hour of exercise per day for an adult Shar Pei. However, if it is warm outside, it is best to keep Shar Peis somewhere cool as they don’t tolerate heat well. If you own or are borrowing a Shar Pei puppy, the amount of exercise should be reduced accordingly. Shar Pei’s have a fast growth rate and so they can suffer from bone and joint problems if not exercised in an appropriate way.


Aside from exercise, Shar Peis will also need those adorable (but high maintenance) wrinkles cleaned regularly (possibly daily) and their coats should be groomed once a week.


Chinese Shar Peis made it into our top 5 laziest dogs and are sometimes referred to as “couch potatoes”. However, every dog is different: owner member, Julie, describes her Shar Pei, Morrissey, as: “full of energy and fun he loves attention and enjoys a good walk.”



Doggy member, Morrissey


What is the temperament of a Shar Pei?


The Shar Pei temperament will of course vary depending on how each dog is raised and socialised but typically they are a loyal, protective and independent breed. As the history of the breed is linked to guarding, they can be territorial and stubborn if poorly trained or socialised. They may be wary of strangers and may become vocal if they are worried or playing. However, a well trained and properly socialised Shar Pei puppy can become a very loving family dog.


Diesel the Shar Pei sounds like a pawesome pup:


“Diesel loves playing with toys - balls, ropes... He loves running and goofying around. He likes to be sure you are around and sometimes he is literally stuck to you. He is really good with everyone, still a bit shy and afraid of other dogs. Diesel is amazing and super cute. Really easy to keep him happy and he loves kisses”


Doggy member Diesel, enjoying a carrot


Shar Pei training: are Shar Peis easy to train?


Shar Peis enjoy pawsitive reinforcement in their training - think treats and lots of encouragement. Due to their guarding background and sometimes a stubborn streak, overly assertive or strict training will often cause Shar Peis to become worried and could provoke an aggressive reaction. Rewards, repetition and patience will be far more likely to get tails wagging and Shar Peis sitting nicely. As such, to see your Shar Peis best side, start training and socialisation early and gently possibly with help from an experienced breeder or dog trainer.


Sky the Shar Pei is described by her owner, James as: 


“a lovely girl who loves people and walks [but] she will run away given half the chance. She is typical of her breed, loyal and lovely but I describe her best as a large cat...”

If you need help teaching your Shar Pei to come when called, check out this Hound Hack and the dos and don’ts of training:



High paws to our lovely community for letting us share these facts about their Shar Peis. Paws crossed you found them helpful :)


Looking to borrow a dog - how about a pawsome Shar Pei to join you on a walk? Or would you like your Shar Pei to make a new friend? Why not sign up to BorrowMyDoggy today.

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