Meet the Breed: The Chinese Shar-Pei



  • Height: 18"- 20”
  • Weight: 45-60 pounds
  • Historical function: multipurpose farm dogs including guarding, hunting, vermin control, fighting, and herding
  • Modern function: Companion
  • AKC classification: Non-sporting

Physical Characteristics:

The Chinese Shar-Pei, often just called the Shar-Pei is a large dog with wrinkled loose skin. "Shar-Pei" means sandy skin, and their coat is quite coarse and prickly. Their tongue is blue-black like the Chow Chow. The wrinkles tend to smooth out with maturity. There are many coat colors available.

History of the Breed:

The Chinese Shar-Pei was developed as a palace guard. The dogs were also used as farm dogs for many tasks. Their large muscular bodies, and prickly loose skin also made them difficult to bite in the dog fighting rings. The Shar-Pei population dwindled during the communist revolution but revived when they became popular in the U.S. after 200 dogs were smuggled in and a Chinese businessman made a plea for them in a dog magazine to save them from extinction during the 1970s.


The Shar-Pei needs a good amount of early socialization to counteract that suspicious nature they tend to have as they were bred to be guard dogs. They can be aloof with strangers but very devoted to their family. Trainable, but repetition may cause boredom. As a dominant, brave dog, this is not a dog for the first-time owner.

  • Best suited for: Active families who have experience in handling dominant dogs who can spend time socializing this dog to many types of circumstance and people.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog bonds deeply with its family, therefore this dog likes to be near the family.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Easy care short coat requires occasional brushing. Prickly coat may cause an allergic reaction in some people.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk
  • Life expectancy: Up to 10 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to kidney and skin problems. Also prone to mast cell tumors.

Breed Club Links: Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America Perfect Pairings:

Have any stories about a Chinese Shar-Pei? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Jasleen Kaur.

This entry was posted by Mary.
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