Chinese Shar-Pei

June 5, 2020 // 6 minute read

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The Chinese Shar-Pei is a medium-sized dog known for its unique looks. These dogs have broad muzzles, small, sunken eyes, tiny triangular ears, and bodies covered with folds of loose skin. Their name means “sand skin,” which refers to the unique texture of their coats.

The Chinese Shar-Pei is one of the most famous dog breeds in the U.S., but their popularity is brought about by more than just their looks. These dogs make excellent family and companion dogs with high intelligence and loyalty.

Chinese Shar-Pei Dog

Chinese Shar-Pei Statistics

Dog Breed GroupNon-Sporting
Breed SizeMedium
Height18-20 inches
Weight45-60 pounds
Lifespan8-12 years

Chinese Shar-Pei Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive


The Chinese Shar-Pei’s history can be traced back to 200 B.C. China. Traces of these dogs can be found in statuaries and documents way back in the 13th century, but no historian can pinpoint if these were indeed Chinese Shar-Pei because of their similarities to Pugs.

Back in the Han Dynasty, Chinese Shar-Pei were considered to be peasant dogs. They were a versatile dog breed that aided farmers with several farm works. They were known as hunters, herders, guardians, and fighters of livestock against predators.

When the People’s Republic of China was created, the population of the breed declined to the point of almost being wiped out. Fortunately, few Chinese Shar-Pei were bred in Hong Kong and Taiwan, thanks to the efforts of Matgo Law.

By 1973, Chinese Shar-Pei were brought to the U.S., and a year later, the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America was formed. It was only in 1988 when the American Kennel Club finally registered the dog breed.


The American Kennel Club describes Chinese Shar-Pei as loyal, independent, and calm. They are dignified dogs that are naturally clean when at home. However, though they are generally good-mannered, these dogs are not for first-time dog owners.

Chinese Shar-Pei are known to have an independent trait. So it’s essential that you acknowledge this and still also be able to implement firm and consistent house rules so you can earn his respect.

They are naturally reserved around strangers, but they don’t necessarily become aggressive. But with their loyalty to family, Chinese Shar-Pei are ready to protect when needed.

They make excellent guard dogs and will respond when threatened. And because of his background as fighters, these dogs can be aggressive to other dogs, especially males.

Early socialization is needed if you want these dogs to grow well-rounded. Let them get used to new sights, sounds, people, and animals. Training is also essential, although it might come challenging.

If you can’t do it on your own while they’re a puppy, you can enroll them in a puppy training school.

Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: Regardless of the dog’s breed, it’s highly essential to feed them high-quality food only. The diet of Chinese Shar-Pei must contain good quality protein to help support their growing muscles and energy. You can add in some whole grains, fish oils, and fruits and vegetables for carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins that your dog also needs. Since Chinese Shar-Pei are prone to skin allergies, it’s essential to watch the ingredients you put in. If you’re going for dog food, make sure only to buy those that are premium. Stay away from dog food that contains fillers and unnecessary additives as these have low nutritional content and may cause problems in your dog’s digestion.
  • Grooming: Chinese Shar-Pei have short coats that shed regularly. Though these coats may require minimal maintenance, it’s still best to do some weekly brushing to remove loose hair and debris. It’s even better if you can do this daily so you won’t have a lot of problems when cleaning up loose hair on floors and furniture. Bathe them every month or so. These dogs may have that odor smell, and regular baths will help ease it. Check and clean their ears regularly, too, to prevent ear infection. I also recommend that you wipe down the folds every day or every week to ensure that no dirt accumulates in between those. Nails should be kept short always. Long nails can be painful and will cause a lot of discomforts when they’re running.
  • Exercise: The Shar-Pei exercise needs vary from one dog to another. They’re not the kind of dogs who need lots of activities. They will do well whether you are active or not. A few short walks a day should suffice for these dogs. You can also provide some activities that you can do together to make him happier.
  • Health: Chinese Shar-Pei have a rather short lifespan, and they are prone to a lot of diseases. Shar-Pei fever, the swelling of the hock joint, is unique to the dog breed. This results in reluctant movements, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty in breathing. Demodectic Mange is also common. This is a skin condition your dogs can get if you don’t take care of their skin folds. Other diseases you need to watch out for are hypothyroidism, cancer, elbow dysplasia, seborrhea, pyoderma, patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, and gastric torsion, OCD, glaucoma, and entropion. It’s necessary to watch out for what your dog eats and to clean their folds to prevent some of these diseases regularly. There are also screening tests available that your dog can take so you can detect diseases early. At the same time, you’ll be able to rule out those that your dog doesn’t have.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy of Chinese Shar-Pei is 8-12 years.

Fun Facts about Chinese Shar-Pei

  • Chinese Shar-Pei originated in Ancient China around 200 BC.
  • Their loose skin is designed to protect them in dog fights.
  • Communism in China nearly ended the dog breed; they received a Guinness Book of
  • World Record for the “rarest dog breed” in the late 60s and 70s
  • Their existence was saved by Matgo Law.
  • Shar-Pei means “sand skin”; it refers to the rough texture of the coat and its wrinkled skin.
  • The Chinese Shar-Pei’s tongue comes in blue-black color.
  • Their coat comes in 21 different colors.

Check Out Other Non-Sporting Dog Breeds:
American Eskimo Dog, Bichons Frises, Boston Terrier, Bulldog, Chow Chow, Coton de Tulear, Dalmatian, Finnish Spitz, Keeshonden, Lhasa Apsos, Lowchen, Norwegian Lundehund, Schipperkes, Shiba Inu, Tibetan Spaniel, Tibetan Terrier, Xoloitzcuintli

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