Chinese Shar-Pei – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Chinese Shar-Pei is an ancient breed with great guarding skills. Read on to discover more about this famous wrinkled dog.
Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
18 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder
40 to 55 pounds
Life Span:
8 to 12 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Chinese Shar-Pei is an independent and calm breed that originated in the southern provinces of China.

There, from their earlier days, the Chinese Shar-Pei was valued as a herder, fighter, guardian, and hunter.

This is purebred with an ancient pedigree. They are best known for their wrinkled skin, blue-black tongue, and sunken eyes, next to tiny triangular ears.

A literal translation of Shar-Pei is: ‘sand skin.’

Shar-Pei is a lovely breed who is highly loyal and in love with his humans.

They are always suspicious of strangers and other dogs, which is why they shine in homes where they are the only pet.

Early training and socialization are mandatory to have a well-behaved Shar-Pei.

Through training, you can only be sure that Shar-Pei won’t try to be a leader over his humans.

Beneath all those folds of skin, you will always find a medium-sized dog with a compact body. The fur comes in many colors, but white.

The coat can be of three lengths, short, shorter, or long.

Their temperament is more cat-like than dog-like. Chinese Shar-Pei dog will come to you for love and affection when he wants it and on his terms.

As puppies, they will love everyone and approach everybody.

If you don’t mind having a dog who attaches strongly with his owners, and you love wrinkle look, this dog might be for you.

Quick Facts

Real name: Shar Pei
Other names: Cantonese Shar-Pei, Chinese fighting dog, Shar-Pei
Origin: China
Breed type: Working Dogs
Weight: 40 to 55 pounds
Height: 18 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 8 to 12 years
Litter Size: 4 – 6 puppies
Color: This breed comes in 18 standard colors
Coat: Bristle-like coat with a lot of loose wrinkles

Chinese Shar-Pei History

The famous wrinkled dog, the Chinese Shar-Pei originated in China, hence the name.

This breed is originally from the southern provinces of China, where they were much appreciated as a fighter, guardians, and herders.

Some historians and dog lovers believe that Chinese Shar-Pei is an ancient breed, although there is no evidence to support this claim.

Some documents show that this breed goes back to the Han Dynasty (200 B.C.). This breed’s faith was closely linked with the transformation of the dynasty toward the People’s Republic of China, which lead to low numbers of Shar-Pei. However, luckily to the efforts of a single person, Matgo Law this breed survived.

Thanks to his efforts, a significant number of Shar-Peis were brought to the States in 1973 and people fell in love with them immediately.

In 1974 the first Club was formed, and the National Specialty show was held in 1978. American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1991.

Chinese Shar-Pei Physical Appearance

Chinese Shar-Pei is a well-built dog of great posture.

Males are bigger than females, usually standing 18 to 20 inches and weighing up to 55 pounds.

This is a medium-size dog of strong substance, with loose skin and famous wrinkles mostly on the face. Their body is usually square-like with their head being large and covered with wrinkles.

The neck is of medium length and strong. The tail is set high and represents one of the most famous trits in Shar-Pei.

The coat is harsh, short, and straight. When it comes to colors, this breed may appear in up to 18 different colors. However, only solid colors are accepted.

If there is any shading they must be identical in color to the coat.

Overall movement should be free and balanced. This breed always stands still and firmly on the ground, with a calm and confident posture.

Chinese Shar-Pei Personality

The Shar-Pei is often seen as part of bigger families.

This is a great dog for all families, as long as they are trained right, and children know how to interact safely with dogs.

They are highly protective of their family members, which is why only experienced family members should be responsible for walks.

They are strong-willed, which is why they will try to get things their way. As such, they are recommended to experienced dog owners, who will be able to bear having a four-legged shadow.

As a highly protective breed, the Shar-Pei makes a great guard dog, especially if there are treats afterward as a reward.

This breed was used as a pit-fighting dog, which is the main reason why they may be aggressive toward other dogs.

If your house is a multi-dog home make sure that you introduce dogs to each other at a young age and in a safe environment.

As for the children, as long as they know how to behave toward dogs there shouldn’t be issues. However, no child should ever be left without supervision. This applies to other dogs, as well.

No matter how well-behaved they might be with other dogs, never leave them without supervision. There is intense aggression living in this breed even today and it should be monitored.

Like every dog, the Shar-Pei needs proper training and early socialization.

Expose your Shar-Pei to new people, new places, and unknown situations as soon as your veterinarian gives you a green light.

Chinese Shar-Pei Training

Training should start as soon as you bring your Shar-Pei home.

Make sure that you use the socialization window to teach your dog basic commands, how to behave in the house, and to follow house dog rules.

To get the maximum out of training sessions keep them:

  • Fun
  • Short
  • Consistent
  • Packed with treats
  • Supported with right training toys

To get the maximum from training on rainy or too hot days, make sure that you master indoor games.

This way your Chinese Shar-Pei will have enough space to burn out his energy both outside and indoors.

At times you may find that Chinese Shar-Pei is stubborn, but consistent training should help you deal with this feature. This medium size dog should respond well to clicker training and only positive reinforcement methods.

No dog should ever experience harsh methods.

If you have difficulties training this breed, think about puppy classes. This can be a great bonding activity.

Chinese Shar-Pei Grooming

Grooming requirements will depend on the dog. Still, you can expect to provide:

  • Weekly brushing
  • Weekly gums and eyes check
  • Regular ears cleaning
  • Monthly naild trimming or grinding

Make sure that you have the right grooming tools on hand, to make the whole process easy and fast.

Bathe Shar-Pei only when he gets dirty.

Dogs don’t need frequent bathing as humans do. When bathing, make sure that you use specially designed shampoos for dogs. If your veterinarian recommends it brush his teeth regularly.

Chinese Shar-Pei Health

Chinese Shar-Pei, just like other dogs, can develop certain conditions over time.

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health issues. This is why it’s so important to work with responsible breeders.

Responsible breeders will always screen puppies for specific conditions and present you medical documentation on puppies.

Plus, reputable breeders care about their reputation, which means that they will be more than happy to show you the facilities, and let you meet the mother dog.

Since they care about dogs a lot, they will ask you a lot of questions. Why? They want their dogs to have a good home. Therefore, they will ask a lot of questions to make sure that you are the best choice for their cute puppies.

If you are not given this approach, walk away, because you are standing in the middle of a puppy mill.

Also, responsible breeders will always be honest about possible health problems in the future, and how they can prevent them.

This doesn’t mean that your Chinese Shar-Pei will experience any of the following issues.

In fact, it only means that you should know about them and do your best to prevent it.

This is where regular veterinarian check-ups step in. In fact, prevention is the best key when it comes to keeping your Chinese Shar-Pei healthy.

Health issues that Chinese Shar-Pei might experience:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Entropion
  • Retinal dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Skin fold infections

If you are getting this breed, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian about proper care.

Since they have folded skin, special care might be needed to keep it clean.

Chinese Shar-Pei Nutrition

If you want to keep your Chinese Shar-Pei healthy for as long as possible, you need to care about his nutrition.

High-quality food should be enough to keep his health balanced. Make sure that you provide food that is appropriate to the dog’s age, size, and activity level.

There aren’t many purposes for feeding puppies with senior food and vice versa. Why? They won’t get any of the nutritional benefits that will strengthen their health.

Learn which human foods are safe for dogs, and which should be avoided no matter what.

If you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or nutritional needs, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian.

Is Chinese Shar-Pei For You?

Getting a dog should always be seen as a serious decision.

If you have a large family make sure that every family member is on the same page.

You will need support and someone to keep Chinese Shar-Pei entertained during the day.

If you love dogs who are great guarding dogs, but not much of a barker, this is a breed to consider having.

On the other hand, if you are not a fan of snuffling, snorting, and even snoring this breed shouldn’t be on your list.

Also, if you have a cart this isn’t a breed for you.

If you want a dog who:

  • Prefers silent moments over heavy barking
  • Is confident in every situation
  • Lives to protect his family
  • Is docile

Also, if you want a dog that is intelligent and easy to train, then Chinese Shar-Pei is for you.

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