Shar Pei

Recommended for: Families with older children
Maintenance Level: Medium
Lifespan: 9-11 years
Active, independent
Health Risk:
High probability of health issues during its lifetime, hence it is one of the more expensive breeds to insure.
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Breed Overview

The Shar Pei is a mid-sized dog that has a distinctive wrinkled skin.  It is also sometimes known as the Chinese Shar Pei.  This unusual looking dog has a broad flat head and a solid body and the Shar Pei’s tongue is similar to the Chow Chow because it’s also blue.  The word Shar Pei means ‘dog with sandy coat’ in Chinese.

The American Kennel Club recognises two type of coat textures for the Shar Pei which are horse and brush.  The horse coat is quite rough, harsh and prickly and it has been known to cause allergies in humans.  The brush coat is smooth and slightly longer.  There is a third type of coat which is softer and long but the American Kennel Club doesn’t recognise this coat in the show ring.

The Shar Pei is a good dog to have around the house because it doesn’t shed very much other than during the change in seasons.

This interesting dog comes in a variety of colours including black, red, red-fawn, fawn, black-pointed cream, sable and blue.

Male Shar Pei’s weigh around 25kg to 29 kgs and females weigh between 18 kg to 25 kgs.  Shar Pei’s stand about 45 to 51 cms.

The average lifespan of a Shar Pei is about 10 years.

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Personality and Temperament

The Shar Pei is great family dog that is devoted to and very protective of its family, but they can be a bit wary of strangers.  The Shar Pei is also a good dog for families where children are just that bit older.  This dog also needs consistent training to ensure that the dog knows its place in the family pecking order.

The Shar Pei will need to get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation and this means daily walks.  These dogs also appreciate a good run but keep in mind they also suffer from the heat.

The Shar Pei is relatively straightforward to train, but training must also be consistent.  They can also be territorial and strong willed and because of this fact it has been suggested that they are not the best choice for the first time dog owner.

Common Shar Pei Diseases & Conditions

Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Shar-Pei Fever (also known as swollen hock syndrome). This disease relates to the swelling of the hock joint or joints. This means that the Shar Pei may be reluctant to move, have a high temperature and be subject to vomiting, diarrheal and shallow breathing.
  • Cancer. These dogs can suffer from various types of cancer. Things to watch out for include sores that won’t heal and also difficulty breathing and going to the toilet.
  • Elbow dysplasia, common among large dog breeds, is a heritable condition in which different growth rates of bones in the elbow can cause joint laxity, leading to pain and lameness. Surgery may be required to fix the issue or medication may be given to control the pain.
  • Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition in which the thighbone and hip joint do not fit together properly, causing pain and lameness in one or both legs, and can lead to arthritis later in the dog’s life.
  • Demodectic Mange. This mange is caused by a demodex mite which is passed from the mother dog to her pups when they are very young. It lives in the hair follicles and it can present as patches of red, scaly skin with bald spots on the head, neck and forelegs.
  • Seborrhea Dermatitis. Seborrhea is a skin condition that presents as flaky skin accompanied by a very bad odour. It is a secondary condition to allergies or other disease and it can be treated with medicated shampoo accompanied by treatment of the underlying condition.
  • Cutaneous Mucinosis. The Shar Pei’s skin wrinkles because of Mucin. It is clear and stringy and it acts like a glue when the dog is injured. Sometimes Shar Pei’s can have too much Mucin that presents as clear bubbles on the skin that can rupture and ooze.
  • Glaucoma is a disease of the eyes where is increased pressure in the eyes can result in loss of vision and pain. It is usually treated surgically or with eye drops.
  • Entropion occurs when skin around the eyes rolls inward causing vision loss and irritation. While Entropion usually occurs before the dog is one year old it is best to wait till the dog reaches adulthood before considering corrective surgery.

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Shar Pei Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance


The Shar Pei has a long history and it is thought to have hailed from the provinces of China as far back as the Han Dynasty around 200 B.C.   It is possible that the Shar Pei and Chow Chow have a common Chinese ancestry because of their blue tongue. Shar Pei’s were originally dogs that worked for farmers guarding stock and they were also used for other duties like guarding the homes of their owners, wild boar hunting and for dog fighting.

The breed was almost wiped out when China became a communist country and only a few dogs survived.  Shar Pei’s were then bred in British Hong Kong and Taiwan and the Hong Kong Kennel club recognised the Shar Pei breed in 1968.  In 1973 the dogs made their way to the United States where it became known as a very rare and sought after dog.  It is because of its popularity in the United States that breeding increased and the dog was saved from extinction.  The Shar Pei was registered by the American Kennel Club in 1992 and it is now one of the most recognised breeds in the United States.

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Shar Pei Facts!

  • Unfortunately Shar Pei’s were once used as pit fighters.
  • Shar Pei’s don’t really like water very much so if you want to regularly bath this dog it’s recommended that you start training when the dog is a pup.
  • The Shar Pei has made an appearance in the US cartoon The Simpsons as the dog of teacher’s pet, Martin Prince.
  • About 20 years ago the Shar Pei was one of the world’s rarest dog breeds.
  • Matgo Law, of Down-Homes Kennels in Hong Kong is the man who brought the Shar Pei over to the United States and he is claimed as saving the breed from extinction.

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