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Shar Pei

Ancient Chinese hunter and fighter whose name mean ‘harsh sandy coat’

This Chinese breed probably shares some of the ancestry of the Chow Chow, descending from the ancient Han Dog, a guard dog in China 2000 years ago. The Shar Pei (Shar Pei translates as ‘harsh sandy coat’ or ‘sand paper skin’) was developed as a fighting dog and as a hunter. The loose wrinkled skin was useful for a fighting dog as it prevented a rival from obtaining a strong grip and the characteristic bristly coat was uncomfortable to the mouth . The 20th Century saw the breed almost wiped out when the communist regime destroyed thousands of domestic dogs but there has been a revival and modern breeders have addressed the problem of excessive wrinkle and eye problems in the breed. The compact, medium-sized Chinese Shar Pei is an amalgam of odd physical traits: a broad “hippopotamus” muzzle; a blue-black tongue; small, sunken eyes with a scowling expression; tiny triangular ears; abundant folds of loose skin about the head, neck, and shoulders; the tapered high-set tail—all blanketed by a harsh, sandpapery coat.

Shar Pei are smart and willing, but sometimes they are stubborn and a bit too smart, thinking of new ways to do things you may not be thrilled with. If you teach them with love and consistency, however, they are a joy. Shar Pei are strong, regal, independent guardians famous for intelligence and loyalty. They are suspicious of strangers and other dogs. Shar Pei are serene dogs, but they will meet a perceived threat with tenacity and vigour. Early training and socialisation are essential – a dominant adult Shar Pei without them is a serious problem waiting to happen. The Shar Pei are devoted and loyal family pets and can get along well with older children given the right socialisation. It’s not recommended getting a Shar Pei if you have younger children as they can be such independent dogs who prefer to do their own thing at times (which young children might not understand). The Shar Pei are very clever and so if they don’t have enough to keep them occupied they might decide to test your fences. Make sure your garden is fully secure and you have lots of interesting things for your Shar Pei to do. Puzzle games are great fun for the Shar Pei. The Shar Pei can be wonderful and loving dogs in the right households but owners need to be prepared to meet all their needs. They are naturally protective and make incredibly loyal dogs but their independent attitude means they’re better suited to experienced owners and people more familiar with the breed.

Read more about the history of this breed – HERE


Most of these stats are from the The Kennel Club UK. You can view stats from kennel clubs around the world at the links below, which may have different standards and classifications.

Group – UKUtility
Bred ForFighting, Guarding, Hunting
Rare BreedYes
Country of OriginChina
TemperamentCalm, Independent, Affectionate
Exercise NeededUp to an hour a day
Size of Home NeededSmall
Height at Withers – Females46 – 51 cm / 18 – 20 in
Height at Withers – Males46 – 51 cm / 18 – 20 in
GroomingOnce a week
Life Expectancy8 – 12 years
  • Some countries call this breed ‘Chinese Shar-Pei’.
  • Like the Chow Chow, the Shar Pei has a blue-black tongue. These are the only two breeds that have this unique characteristic!
  • While they will be affectionate to everyone in their household, The Shar Pei are known for picking a favourite person.
  • A feature dating back to the breeds fighting days they have curved teeth, capable of hooking into an enemy’s skin.
  • Breathing can be a little difficult for the dogs, so they have trouble running long distances, tend to snore, and get overheated easily.


Breed standards vary throughout the world, these links will inform you of those standards and give further information about the Shar Pei.


Click on any picture below to view it larger and in a slideshow, it’s worth it! 😃


Enjoy this video about the Shar Pei, you can view the entire playlist of videos about this breed on our YouTube Channel by clicking the button below:


Here’s some websites specifically dedicated to the Shar Pei breed, click to view them. I am not affiliated with any of these sites, they’re just here for further information. Please note I will not advertise breeders on this site and as many websites dedicated to a specific breed are run by breeders, sometimes there’s fewer sites listed here.

Thanks for reading!

1 Comment »

  1. Definitely not a dog I would want to own, to many negative aspects. The loose folds of skin are not attractive.

    Liked by 1 person

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