Chinese Shar-Pei

Canis lupus

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© Liliya Kulianionak/Shutterstock.com

These dogs have blue and black tongues!


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Chinese Shar-Pei Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Canidae
Genus
Canis
Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Chinese Shar-Pei Conservation Status

Chinese Shar-Pei Locations

Chinese Shar-Pei Locations

Chinese Shar-Pei Facts

Fun Fact
These dogs have blue and black tongues!
Temperament
Loyal, intelligent, protective
Diet
Omnivore

Chinese Shar-Pei Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Fawn
  • Red
  • Black
  • Cream
  • Sandy
Skin Type
Hair
Lifespan
9-11 years
Weight
35-44 lbs

Chinese Shar-Pei as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Shedability
Trainability
Intelligence
Tendency to Chew
Size
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
High
Separation Anxiety
Moderate
Preferred Temperature
Average climate
Exercise Needs
Low
Friendly With Other Dogs
Moderate
Pure bred cost to own
$750 to $1,500
Dog group
Non-sporting
Male weight
35-44 lbs
Female weight
35-44 lbs

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The Chinese Shar-Pei is smart and intelligent, making it easy to train. They make great guard dogs, due to their intimidating look and loyalty to their family.

Chinese Shar-Peis are compact and medium in size, though they are not mixed with any other breed. They have a broad hippopotamus-like muzzle and a tongue that is blue and black. Their eyes are small and sunken, their ears are tiny and triangular, and their skin has abundant folds. Their coat has a sandpaper texture, complemented by the wrinkles on their coat. They are strong, independent, and suspicious of strangers. This breed is known for its loyalty and intelligence and sometimes has a price as high as $1,800 for a purebred puppy.

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3 Pros and Cons of Owning a Chinese Shar-Pei

Pros!Cons!
Good guard dog: If you are looking for a dog that can watch over the home and family, this would the perfect choice for you to consider.Training: These dogs can sometimes be difficult to train. When teaching them new commands, make sure to be a firm and confident pet parent while dealing with them.
Affectionate: These pups are very affectionate and are very protective of their owner’s families.Strong-headed: They are strong-headed and often want to be independent and make their own decisions rather than blindly following commands. This can sometimes be a problem for their owners.
Low exercise needs: These dogs need only a low level of daily exercise which means that they can happily stay in an apartment.Health problems: These dogs are prone to several health problems which can be a difficult thing to handle for the owners sometimes.
Blue Shar Pei Dog in green grass in a park. The Shar Pei, or Chinese Shar-Pei, is a breed of dog known for its distinctive features of deep wrinkles.

The Chinese Shar-Pei is an affectionate dog with low-exercise needs.

©Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock.com

Evolution and Origins

The Chinese Shar-Pei is named for its rough coat with shar-pei translating to “sand-skin.” It is thought to have originated in China around 200 BC and was used as a hunting and guard dog. It was once popular as a fighting dog due to its thick skin but after larger breeds were introduced, it suffered a decline and its population further decreased in the late 1940s when the Chinese government imposed high taxes on dog ownership. This breed almost become extinct and during the 1960s and 1970s they were considered one of the rarest dogs in the world.



In 1979, Life magazine responded to a plea from a breeder in Hong Kong named Matgo Law to keep the breed alive by putting one of the dogs on its cover. It was immediately successful and sales of Shar-Pei puppies rapidly increased and the breed was saved from extinction.

Some breeders in the U.S. bred Shar-Peis to be smaller and with more wrinkles, creating what they call the Miniature Shar-Pei at around 16 in, which has been met with resistance from some breeders of traditionally sized Shar-Peis.

Health and Entertainment for your Chinese Shar-Pei

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Chinese Shar-Pei sitting on the grass in the garden.

The Chinese Shar-Pei originated in China in 200 BC and was used as a guard dog.

©David Raihelgauz/Shutterstock.com

Size and Weight

The Chinese Shar-Peis are compact and medium in size. They are about 17 to 20 inches tall and usually weigh between 35 to 44 pounds. These dogs have short and very harsh coats and do not usually have loose hair. Their coat comes in various colors like fawn, red, brown, white, black, and cream.

Height (Male)17-20 inches tall
Height (Female)17-20 inches tall
Weight (male)35-44 lbs, fully grown
Weight (female)35-44 lbs, fully grown

Common Health Issues

The Chinese Shar-Pei, while it is a beautiful and smart animal, can come with health issues if you choose an unreliable or inconsistent source to adopt them from. Hip and elbow dysplasia is rather common in this dog, which is an incredibly painful condition in the misalignment of the joints that can result in low white blood cells. Patellar luxation also impacts the bones, causing misalignment in the femur in the hind legs.

Autoimmune thyroiditis is another common condition, inflaming the thyroid. It often is caused by the antibodies in the dog’s body that ends up attacking the thyroid, and it can be deadly.

Due to the shape of the eyelids, many conditions can arise that affect the eyes. Entropion, for example, is caused when the dog’s lower eyelid turns inward, causing the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball. Retinal dysplasia, however, may happen when the folds in the retina cause lesions that could lead to blindness.

These dogs can also develop glaucoma and cataracts. Overall, the health problems of a Chinese Shar-Pei include:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis
  • Patellar luxation
  • Entropion
  • Retinal dysplasia
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Skinfold infections.
Chinese Shar-Pei close-up in an autumn garden.

Due to the shape of the Chinese Shar-Pei’s eyelids, many health conditions can arise that affect the eyes.

©Liliya Kulianionak/Shutterstock.com

Temperament

Chinese Shar-Peis are rather cat-like when it comes to their temperament; they tend to march to the beat of their own drummer, providing attention when they want to receive it themselves. They can come to cuddle with you, but it depends on their mood. Still, these dogs can get suspicious of strangers.

These dogs are intelligent and strong, and they are affectionate toward their owners. They are also quite devoted. They can also make excellent watchdogs. Shar-Peis are great family dogs and are very protective of the families that they live with.

These dogs are strong-willed and prefer making their own decisions rather than blindly following a command.

Chinese Shar-Pei isolated on white

The Chinese Shar-Pei is almost cat-like in its temperament.

©Erik Lam/Shutterstock.com

How to Take Care of a Chinese Shar-Pei

The Chinese Shar-Pei can be a fickle pet, so it is important to be fully prepared to give them what they need. Here are a few considerations that you should have in mind in their food, grooming, and even their training.

The Best Dog Food for Chinese Shar-Peis

You should feed your Shar-Pei healthy food and a natural diet with lean meats will do your dog good. You can add other whole ingredients to your Shar-Pei’s diet, including fruits and vegetables, but high-quality dog food would be beneficial.

Keeping the right type of diet supports the health of the Chinese Shar-Pei, protecting and improving the quality of its hair and skin.

A-Z Animals believes the best dog food for Chinese Shar-Peis is Victor Super Premium Dog Food – Performance Dry Dog Food.

Since this breed has such a wide range of potential health concerns, we think this beef recipe covers all the bases. There’s glucosamine to keep joint problems at bay, carrots and taurine for eye health, with selenium, fatty acids, and amino acids for the immune system. It also has just the right balance of vitamins and minerals for healthy skin and coat.

Follow this link to buy Victor Super Premium Performance dog food on Chewy or Amazon.

Best Protein Rich
VICTOR Purpose Performance Formula Dry Dog Food
  • 81% meat protein with premium-quality beef, chicken and pork meals
  • Ideal for sporting pups and those with high physical demands
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for long-term joint health
  • Fortified with vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, protein and amino acids
  • Promotes digestion and immune health


Check Chewy Check Amazon

Maintenance and Grooming

For grooming your Shar-Pei, brush them as often as you want. You can mostly brush it at least once a week. If you want to keep their coat in the best condition, brushing twice a week is more than enough. Their coat has a texture similar to that of sandpaper.

These dogs usually have their teeth in good condition. However, to help them better, you can always brush their teeth twice a week. The deep wrinkles on their skin also need to be cleaned and also dried up after, preventing any infections that they might have under their wrinkles. These dogs are not mixed dogs and do not usually have loose hair.

Training

While Shar-Peis are smart, they are strong-minded and love to make their own decisions. Therefore, they can pick up commands quickly but often like to go their own way.

They do need a firm pet parent to guide them and train them. It is important that their training starts early on in life, helping them to develop good habits in the long run.

A beautiful, young red fawn Chinese Shar-Pei dog standing on the lawn, distinctive for its deep wrinkles and considered to be a very rare breed.

Chinese Shar-Peis are strong-minded and love to go their own way.

©Alexeysun/Shutterstock.com

Exercise

Shar-Peis are usually always alert but do need low to moderate levels of exercise daily. These dogs can happily stay in an apartment but bringing them along on a walk or two each day keeps their need for low to moderate exercise.

They are good for being companions to the elderly as they can accompany them on slow walks. These dogs do not consider dog parks to be ideal playgrounds and are often wary and suspicious of an unknown company.

Human (Homo sapiens) - elderly adults

The Chinese Shar-Pei makes a good companion to elderly owners.

©Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Puppies

A Shar-Pei puppy has to be taken care of the same way as you normally take care of an adult. However, some things need to be kept in mind while dealing with Shar-Pei puppies.

For instance, the food portions should be smaller for Shar-Pei puppies. They also need to be trained at an earlier stage in life so that they can develop good habits.

Chinese Shar-Pei puppy playing outside in the garden.

A Chinese Shar-Pei puppy should be trained and socialized from an early age.

©Waldemar Dabrowski/Shutterstock.com

Chinese Shar-Pei and Children

Shar-Peis make great family dogs and can be very playful and very protective with and for the children of the family. However, it is always advised that you keep these dogs only when your children are slightly older. Toddlers should not be left unsupervised with these dogs.

Dogs Similar to the Chinese Shar-Pei

The Chinese Shar-Pei is not the right choice for every person, but that’s okay. Here are a few dogs that are similar to Chinese Shar-Pei, giving you a few alternatives to find the right match.

  • Chow Chow: These dogs are incredibly calm and confident and make great watchdogs. Their fur is much fluffier, which means they will need much more grooming.
  • Pugs: These dogs are very loyal and friendly and have big personalities, though they are much smaller than the Chinese Shar-Pei.
  • Corgi: These dogs are great with children and do not shed a lot. They are also easily trainable.
chow-chow

The Chow Chow’s coat is fluffier than the Shar-Pei’s so will require more grooming.

©Flower_Garden/Shutterstock.com

Famous Chinese Shar-Peis

While there might not be many famous Shar-Peis in the world, there are a few famous Instagram accounts that you can go check out to see these dogs online. Some of them include @sharpeisofinstagram, showcasing individuals of this breed, and @franklinandleo, Shar-Pei brothers living in Australia.

Here are a few popular names for the Chinese Shar-Pei:

  • Bella
  • Lune
  • Max
  • Bailey
  • Charlie

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?

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Small
Medium
Large
Xtra-Large

If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Kids
Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

Yes
No
How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
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What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
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About the Author

Catherine Gin has more than 15 years of experience working as an editor for digital, print and social media. She grew up in Australia with an alphabet of interesting animals, from echidnas and funnel-web spiders to kookaburras and quokkas, as well as beautiful native plants including bottlebrushes and gum trees. Being based in the U.S. for a decade has expanded Catherine's knowledge of flora and fauna, and she and her husband hope to have a hobby farm and vegetable garden in future.

Chinese Shar-Pei FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a Chinese Shar-Pei?

The Chinese Shar-Pei is a medium, compact-sized dog with a strong and intelligent personality.

Are Chinese Shar-Pei good dogs?

Yes, the Chinese Shar-Pei makes a great family dog and is also great with children.

How much is a Chinese Shar-Pei puppy?

The purebred puppy usually costs around $750 to $1,800.

Do Chinese Shar-Peis have health problems?

Yes, like all the other dogs, the Chinese Shar-Pei dogs also suffer from a couple of health problems, some of them include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, autoimmune thyroiditis, patellar luxation, entropion, retinal dysplasia, cataracts, and glaucoma. They can also encounter skin fold infections on their bodies.

Is the Chinese Shar-Pei a dangerous dog?

No, the Chinese Shar-Pei is not usually an aggressive dog.

How tall is a Chinese Shar-Pei?

A Chinese Shar-Pei can be as tall as 20 inches.

How much does a Chinese Shar-Pei cost to own?

These dogs are not mixed dogs, which is why they usually have a price around $750 to $1,800. For their care, budget an additional $1,500 each year for the price of their veterinary visits, grooming, and other maintenance.

Is the Chinese Shar-Pei good with kids?

Yes, Chinese Shar-Pei dogs are rather good with children. However, they should not be left unsupervised around toddlers.

How long does a Chinese Shar-Pei live?

They are not mixed dogs and the lifespan of a Chinese Shar-Pei is around 9 to 11 years.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources

  1. American Kennel Club / Accessed June 24, 2021
  2. The Nest / Accessed June 24, 2021
  3. iPupster / Accessed June 24, 2021
  4. Embrace Pet Insurance / Accessed June 24, 2021