The 3 Types of Shar Pei Dogs

Written by Katelynn Sobus
Updated: June 17, 2023
© Waldemar Dabrowski/
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The Shar Pei, or Chinese Shar Pei, known by the American Kennel Club (AKC), has three coat types: horse, brush, and bear. Only two are acceptable under breed standards, with bear being a disqualification in AKC show dogs.

Let’s discover the three types of Shar Pei dogs and learn more about this breed.

Shar Pei Coat Types

Chinese Shar Pei close-up
Shar Peis shed moderately, with horse coats shedding the least and bear coats the most.

©Liliya Kulianionak/

1. ‘Horse’ Shar Pei

Horse-coat Shar Peis are bristly, especially when rubbed in the wrong direction. It’s also shorter than the other coat types.

These Shar Pei dogs shed the least but also get colder in the winter. It’s extra important to keep them warm through shorter outings in cold weather, and with sweaters if they enjoy wearing clothes.

2. ‘Brush’ Shar Pei

Brush-coat Shar Peis have longer, softer fur. They also tend to have wrinklier skin as adults, leading to more grooming maintenance and potential skin problems.

These dogs are still short-haired but with more fur than dogs with horse coats.

3. ‘Bear’ Shar Pei

Bear-coat Shar Peis don’t meet breed standards and are quite rare. This is due to their inability to participate in shows and the coat produced by recessive genes, which means both parents would have to have the gene for it to be passed down.

These dogs are fluffier in appearance, have the longest fur of all the coat types, and are also the softest to the touch. Bear-coat Shar Peis may also be the healthiest as they’re less prone to skin infections.

How Much Do Shar Pei Dogs Shed?

Shar Peis shed moderately, with horse coats shedding the least and bear coats the most. These are large dogs, so you’ll likely notice a decent amount of fur around the house.

Brushing them weekly and keeping their coat healthy with regular baths and a well-balanced diet will help reduce shedding.

A good cleaning routine and a handful of vacuum attachments will do the rest of the job when keeping your home, furniture, and car clean. A reusable lint roller is also a great investment for furniture and clothing! 

How to Groom a Chinese Shar Pei

Shar Peis do have special grooming requirements, despite their short fur. Here’s how to groom your Shar Pei:

  • Brush them weekly with a rubber curry brush or bristle brush to distribute oils along the coat. This will keep the coat healthy and reduce the fur your dog sheds around the house.
  • Check and clean the skin folds regularly. You’ll likely want to do this at least once a day or every few days. Make sure the folds stay dry as well to prevent infection.
  • Bathe your Shar Pei monthly, making sure to wash away all soap suds and dry their entire body thoroughly — especially between the folds of their skin.
  • Trim their nails weekly, preferably with a Dremel to avoid cutting into the quick.
  • Clean their ears at least once a month or more often if instructed by your veterinarian. Remember never to stick anything into your dog’s ear canal. Instead, flush them with an ear wash made for dogs or flip the ear over and wipe the visible skin with a cotton pad covered in dog ear cleaning solution. You can find it at the pet store or buy it from your vet!

Why is a Shar Pei Wrinkly?

Shar Peis have such unique skin! Not many breeds have distinctive wrinkles, and you might wonder why they were bred this way.

Unfortunately, Shar Peis were originally bred for dog fighting. The folds of their skin were intended to make them able to turn around if another dog caught their skin, thus upping their odds of winning the fight.

While dog fighting still happens today, it’s outlawed in the U.S. This leaves us with pet Shar Peis who luckily don’t have to worry about fighting one another but still have rolls in their skin.

Do Puppies Lose Their Wrinkles?

Yes, puppies will lose some wrinkles as they age (the opposite of humans!). However, all Shar Peis will keep some wrinkles from puppyhood into adulthood.

Some adult dogs have more wrinkles than others, depending on their genetics.

Are Shar Peis Ethically Bred?

Unfortunately, there are no ethical Shar Pei breeders. These poor pups suffer from various health problems due to poor breeding.

Their wrinkles are caused by a hereditary disease that causes them to produce more hyaluronic acid than normal. They’re also more prone to skin infections than other dogs.

Shar Peis are also brachycephalic or short-snouted. This can lead to various health concerns including difficulty breathing, increased risk of heat stroke and dental problems, eye problems, and more.

Summary Of The 3 Types Of Shar Pei Dogs

RankType Of Shar PeiCoat
1‘Horse’ Shar Peishortest hair
2‘Brush’ Shar Peilonger, softer fur
3‘Bear’ Shar Peirare, with fluffy, long hair
Summary Table Of The 3 Types Of Shar Pei Dogs

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The Featured Image

Chinese Shar-Pei puppy playing outside in the garden.
Chinese Shar-Pei puppy playing outside in the garden.
© Waldemar Dabrowski/

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About the Author

I'm an animal writer of four years with a primary focus on educational pet content. I want our furry, feathery, and scaley friends to receive the best care possible! In my free time, I'm usually outdoors gardening or spending time with my nine rescue pets.

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