Chinese Shar-Pei

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chinese shar pei portrait
Introducing the Chinese Shar-Pei, a dog breed that's wrinkled its way into the hearts of dog lovers everywhere! With their distinctive folds of skin and irresistibly squishy faces, these pups are truly one-of-a-kind.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Chinese Shar-Pei is an ideal companion for those seeking a loyal, independent, and protective furry friend. Best suited for experienced dog owners, this breed thrives in a calm and structured environment.


OTHER NAMESShar Pei, Cantonese Shar-Pei, Shā Pèih
HEIGHT17-20 inches
WEIGHT40-60 lbs
LIFESPAN8-12 years
chinese shar-pei outdoor
Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images


The Chinese Shar-Pei is a medium-sized dog with a sturdy and compact build that exudes strength and confidence. Males typically stand between 18 to 20 inches tall, while females range from 17 to 19 inches in height. As for their weight, males usually tip the scales at 45 to 60 pounds, and females weigh in between 40 to 55 pounds.

One of the most striking features of the Chinese Shar-Pei is their loose, wrinkled skin, which forms folds and creases all over their body. These wrinkles are especially prominent on their head, neck, and shoulders but may diminish as they grow older.

The breed’s unique appearance is further accentuated by their broad, flat head and a distinctive “hippopotamus” muzzle. This square-shaped muzzle is wide and padded, giving them a somewhat serious expression.

Shar-Peis have small, almond-shaped eyes that are dark and full of life, often appearing to be sunken due to the surrounding skin folds. Their ears are small, thick, and triangular, sitting high on the head and curling slightly forward. The breed’s moderately long, tapering tail is set high on their back and curls over to one side.

Another noteworthy characteristic of the Chinese Shar-Pei is their coat, which is short, harsh, and bristly to the touch. This breed has three distinct coat types: horse-coat, brush-coat, and bear-coat. The horse-coat is the shortest and roughest, while the brush-coat is slightly longer and less coarse.

The bear-coat, although not recognized by breed standards, is the longest and softest of the three. Coat colors vary and can include shades of black, red, fawn, cream, blue, and chocolate. Some Shar-Peis may also have a solid-colored coat with darker shading on their ears and back.

The Chinese Shar-Pei has a confident and dignified gait, moving with a smooth and effortless stride. Their muscular body and strong legs give them an impressive physical presence that perfectly complements their charming personality.

Overall, the Chinese Shar-Pei is a truly unique breed with a captivating appearance. From their wrinkled skin and expressive face to their distinctive coat and powerful build, these dogs are sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who encounters them.

chinese shar-pei relaxing at home
Photo: pixelshot


The Chinese Shar-Pei boasts a fascinating temperament that is a delightful blend of loyalty, intelligence, and independence. These dogs are deeply devoted to their family members and form strong bonds with those they love, often being particularly affectionate towards one person in the household.

Their unwavering loyalty means they will go to great lengths to protect their family, making them exceptional watchdogs and guardians.

Although Shar-Peis are known for their serious and somewhat aloof demeanor, they can be quite playful and affectionate with their human companions. They enjoy spending quality time with their family, whether it’s snuggling up on the couch or engaging in interactive games.

However, they are not overly demanding when it comes to attention and are often content with some alone time, showcasing their independent nature.

When it comes to children, the Chinese Shar-Pei can be a gentle and loving playmate, especially if raised together from a young age. However, due to their size and strength, it is essential to supervise interactions between the dog and younger children to ensure everyone’s safety.

Additionally, teaching children how to approach and interact with dogs appropriately is crucial for building a positive relationship.

The breed’s natural wariness of strangers makes them excellent watchdogs, as they are quick to alert their owners of any perceived threats. While they may not be overly aggressive, they can be quite reserved and cautious around unfamiliar people. Early socialization is key to helping your Shar-Pei become more accepting and confident when encountering new faces.

In terms of their relationship with other pets, Chinese Shar-Peis can coexist peacefully with other animals, provided they have been socialized and introduced properly. However, they may display dominance or territorial behavior, particularly towards dogs of the same sex. It is important to monitor their interactions with other pets and establish clear boundaries to prevent potential conflicts.

One unique personality perk of the Chinese Shar-Pei is their incredible problem-solving ability. They are highly intelligent and enjoy engaging their minds with puzzles, games, and other mental challenges. This makes them an excellent breed for various dog sports and activities that require both physical and mental prowess.

The Chinese Shar-Pei can also be quite stubborn and strong-willed at times. This trait may make them appear somewhat challenging to handle, especially for first-time dog owners. However, with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, they can develop into well-mannered and obedient companions.

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for the Chinese Shar-Pei is one that caters to their unique needs and temperament. These dogs thrive in calm, structured households where they can enjoy a consistent daily routine.

Ideal Owner

They prefer living with experienced dog owners who understand their independent nature and are committed to providing proper training and socialization. A household where their guardian instincts are appreciated, and their loyalty is reciprocated will help them flourish as beloved family members.

Other Pets

When considering other pets in the household, the Chinese Shar-Pei can coexist peacefully with other animals if properly socialized and introduced. It is important to monitor their interactions, especially with dogs of the same sex, to prevent any dominance or territorial issues from arising.

If you have smaller pets, such as cats or rabbits, be sure to establish clear boundaries between them and your Shar-Pei to maintain harmony within the home.

Physical Environment

In terms of the physical environment, Chinese Shar-Peis are quite adaptable and can comfortably live in various settings, including apartments, houses, and farms. However, it is essential to provide them with a secure, fenced outdoor space where they can safely roam and explore.

While they are not overly energetic, they do need regular mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. Access to a well-maintained yard or nearby parks for daily walks and playtime is highly recommended.

Climate Adaptability

The Chinese Shar-Pei’s adaptability extends to weather conditions as well. They can tolerate both cold and hot climates reasonably well, but there are certain precautions pet parents should take.

In colder temperatures, make sure to provide your Shar-Pei with a warm, draft-free shelter and consider using a coat or sweater when venturing outdoors. Keep in mind that their short coat does not offer much insulation against the cold, so limit their exposure during extreme weather conditions.

In hot climates, it is crucial to protect your Chinese Shar-Pei from overheating. Due to their wrinkles and folds, they are more prone to heatstroke than other breeds. Provide them with a cool, shady place to rest, and ensure they always have access to fresh water. Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest parts of the day, and monitor them closely for signs of overheating or distress.

chinese shar-pei standing in the snow
Photo: Alika Obrazovskaya/Getty Images


Grooming your Chinese Shar-Pei is an essential aspect of their overall care, as it helps maintain their health and keeps their unique appearance looking its best. While the breed’s short coat may seem low-maintenance, their distinct wrinkles and folds require special attention.

Coat Care

The Chinese Shar-Pei’s coat is typically short, harsh, and bristly, making it relatively easy to maintain. Regular brushing once or twice a week using a rubber curry brush or grooming mitt is sufficient to remove dirt, loose hair, and keep their coat healthy.

This routine also helps distribute natural oils evenly across their skin, promoting a glossy shine. During shedding seasons, you might need to increase the frequency of brushing to manage the increased hair loss.

Wrinkles and Folds

One of the most crucial aspects of grooming a Chinese Shar-Pei is taking care of their wrinkles and folds. These areas can trap moisture, dirt, and bacteria, leading to skin infections and irritations if not properly cleaned. It is essential to check and clean their wrinkles at least once a week using a damp cloth or hypoallergenic baby wipe. Be sure to reach all the crevices and folds, especially around their face and ears.

After cleaning, thoroughly dry the area with a soft, clean towel to prevent moisture buildup. If your Shar-Pei is prone to skin issues, consult your veterinarian for additional recommendations, such as using medicated wipes or topical treatments.


Chinese Shar-Peis do not require frequent bathing, as over-bathing can strip their skin of natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. Bathing them every two to three months or when they get particularly dirty is generally enough.

Use a mild, hypoallergenic dog shampoo and be sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid residue buildup in their wrinkles. Always dry your Shar-Pei completely after bathing, paying special attention to their skin folds.

Ear Care

The small, thick ears of a Chinese Shar-Pei can be prone to infections due to limited airflow. Check and clean their ears weekly using a gentle ear-cleaning solution and cotton balls or pads. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can damage the delicate inner structures of the ear. If you notice any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or foul odor, consult your veterinarian promptly.

Dental Care

To maintain your Shar-Pei’s oral health, regular dental care is essential. Brush their teeth at least two to three times a week using a dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush. This routine helps prevent plaque buildup, tartar, and bad breath, as well as more serious dental issues that may require professional intervention.

Nail Trimming

Chinese Shar-Peis have strong nails that need regular trimming to prevent overgrowth, cracking, or splitting. Trim their nails every three to four weeks using a dog nail clipper or grinder. Be cautious not to cut the quick, the sensitive blood vessel within the nail, as it can cause pain and bleeding.

chinese shar-pei's face
Photo: Zulfiska/Getty Images


The Chinese Shar-Pei is a moderately active breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. While they may not demand as much activity as some high-energy breeds, they still need consistent daily exercise to keep them fit, healthy, and content.

Exercise Amount & Types

On average, a Chinese Shar-Pei should receive at least 30 to 45 minutes of exercise per day. This can be broken up into multiple shorter sessions or combined into one longer outing. The type of exercise you engage in with your Shar-Pei can vary depending on their age, fitness level, and individual preferences.

Daily walks are a great way to provide your Shar-Pei with both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Use a sturdy leash and harness to ensure a comfortable and controlled walking experience. Vary your routes and explore new areas to keep your dog engaged and excited.

Many Chinese Shar-Peis enjoy playing fetch with toys or balls, which allows them to expend energy while also engaging their natural retrieving instincts. Be sure to use soft, durable toys that are appropriately sized for your dog’s mouth.

Engaging your Shar-Pei in interactive games, such as hide-and-seek, puzzle toys, or treat-dispensing toys, can offer both mental and physical stimulation. These activities can be especially beneficial during inclement weather when outdoor exercise may be limited.

Dog Sports

Shar-Peis are intelligent dogs that thrive when their minds are challenged. Incorporating obedience training, trick training, or even scent work into their daily routine can help keep them mentally stimulated and satisfied.

For those interested in competitive activities, Chinese Shar-Peis can excel in various dog sports, such as agility, rally, or nose work. These sports not only provide physical exercise but also strengthen the bond between you and your dog while offering an enjoyable challenge.

Exercise Precautions

It is essential to monitor your Chinese Shar-Pei during exercise, as their wrinkled skin and short snout can make them more susceptible to overheating, especially in hot or humid conditions. Always ensure they have access to fresh water and provide ample opportunities for rest and shade.


Training a Chinese Shar-Pei can be a rewarding experience, as they are intelligent and eager to please their owners. However, their independent nature and occasional stubbornness may pose some challenges during the training process. Understanding their unique temperament and employing the right techniques will help you establish a strong bond and create a well-mannered companion.

Shar-Peis are highly trainable dogs, but it is crucial to start their education early. Begin with socialization and basic obedience training as soon as you bring your puppy home. Expose them to a variety of people, animals, and environments to help them grow into confident and well-adjusted adults.

Positive reinforcement methods, such as praise, treats, and play, are highly effective in motivating your Shar-Pei to learn new commands and behaviors.

Consistency is key when training a Chinese Shar-Pei. Due to their strong-willed nature, they may try to test boundaries or push limits. It is essential to maintain clear and consistent expectations throughout the training process to help your dog understand what is expected of them. Patience and persistence will go a long way in overcoming any stubborn tendencies your Shar-Pei may display.

Given their intelligence, Shar-Peis can become bored with repetitive tasks or exercises. To keep them engaged and interested, incorporate variety and challenges into their training sessions. Short, focused lessons that include mental stimulation, such as scent work or trick training, can help maintain their enthusiasm and prevent boredom.

When working with a Chinese Shar-Pei, it is important to establish yourself as a confident and assertive leader. They respect and respond best to owners who can provide gentle guidance without resorting to harsh or forceful methods. Building trust and mutual respect between you and your Shar-Pei will foster a positive training environment and strengthen your bond.

chinese shar-pei outside in a park
Photo: sanjagrujic/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

A balanced and nutritious diet is essential for the overall health and well-being of your Chinese Shar-Pei. Providing the right food and portion sizes will help maintain their ideal weight, support their immune system, and promote a healthy coat and skin.

To ensure your Shar-Pei receives the proper nutrients, look for high-quality commercial dog foods that follow the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guidelines.

What to Feed & How Much

There are various types of dog food available, including dry food (kibble), wet food (canned), and raw diets. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to choose one that suits your Shar-Pei’s specific needs and preferences.

Dry food is often the most cost-effective and convenient option, while wet food can provide additional moisture and be more palatable for picky eaters. Raw diets can offer a more natural feeding experience but require careful planning and preparation to ensure nutritional balance.

The amount of food your Chinese Shar-Pei requires depends on their age, weight, activity level, and metabolism. As a general guideline, adult Shar-Peis should be fed approximately 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry food per day, divided into two meals.

Puppies may require more frequent feedings, typically three to four meals per day, as they grow and develop. Be sure to consult your veterinarian for specific recommendations tailored to your dog’s individual needs.

Treats & Water

Treats can be an excellent tool for training and rewarding good behavior, but it’s important to use them in moderation. Treats should make up no more than 10% of your Shar-Pei’s daily caloric intake to prevent weight gain and imbalanced nutrition. Opt for healthy options, such as lean meats, fruits, and vegetables, and avoid table scraps or foods that can be toxic to dogs.

Fresh water should always be readily available to your Chinese Shar-Pei. Clean and refill their water bowl daily, ensuring they have access to clean water at all times.


The Chinese Shar-Pei is a generally healthy breed with a life expectancy of 8 to 12 years. However, like all breeds, they may be prone to certain health issues. Providing a healthy diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and staying up-to-date with vaccinations can help maintain their overall health and well-being.

Here are common health issues associated with the Chinese Shar-Pei:

Skin Issues: Due to their unique wrinkled skin, Shar-Peis can be prone to various skin conditions, such as pyoderma, dermatitis, or skin fold infections. Regular grooming, cleaning of wrinkles, and monitoring for signs of irritation can help prevent these issues.

Hip Dysplasia: This genetic condition occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain over time. Responsible breeding practices, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing appropriate exercise can help minimize the risk of hip dysplasia.

Entropion: Entropion is a condition where the eyelids roll inward, causing the eyelashes to rub against the eye surface, leading to irritation, pain, and potential vision loss. Surgical correction is often necessary to treat this issue.

Shar-Pei Fever (FSF): Familial Shar-Pei Fever is an inherited inflammatory disorder that causes recurrent episodes of high fever and swelling, particularly in the joints. Monitoring for symptoms and working closely with your veterinarian to manage the condition can help improve your dog’s quality of life.

Ear Infections: The small, thick ears of a Chinese Shar-Pei can be prone to infections due to limited airflow. Regular ear cleaning and monitoring for signs of infection can help prevent this issue.

To support your Chinese Shar-Pei’s health, provide a balanced and nutritious diet tailored to their specific needs and activity level. Regular veterinary check-ups, including routine blood work and dental cleanings, can help detect and address potential health concerns early.

Ensure your Shar-Pei receives appropriate vaccinations and parasite preventatives to protect them from common diseases and infections.

By being proactive about your Chinese Shar-Pei’s health and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help ensure a happy, healthy life for your loyal companion.

chinese shar-pei lying on bed at home
Photo: pixelshot


The Chinese Shar-Pei is an ancient dog breed with a rich and storied history that dates back over 2,000 years. The breed originated in the southern provinces of China, particularly in the Guangdong region. While the exact ancestry of the Shar-Pei is unknown, it is believed that they descended from ancient breeds such as the Chow Chow, Tibetan Mastiff, or even the Thai Ridgeback.

Traditionally, Shar-Peis were bred as versatile working dogs, serving as farm dogs, hunters, herders, and protectors. Their distinctive loose, wrinkled skin was not only a unique aesthetic feature but also served a functional purpose.

The wrinkles made it difficult for predators or opponents to grab hold of the dog during a confrontation, while their bristly coat was designed to deter biting. Additionally, their loyalty and intelligence made them excellent companions and guardians for Chinese farmers and nobles alike.

The breed’s name, “Shar-Pei,” translates to “sand skin” in English, which aptly describes their rough, sandpaper-like coat. Historically, the breed came in two distinct types: the bone-mouth Shar-Pei, characterized by a more prominent muzzle and heavier bone structure, and the meat-mouth Shar-Pei, recognized by their fleshier muzzles and more exaggerated wrinkles.

Sadly, the Chinese Shar-Pei faced near extinction during the mid-20th century due to several factors, including the Communist Revolution, which led to widespread food shortages and a cultural shift away from dog ownership. By the 1970s, the breed had become exceedingly rare, with only a few remaining specimens in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The tide began to turn for the Shar-Pei when a Hong Kong breeder named Matgo Law made a passionate plea for help in saving the breed in a 1973 issue of “Dogs” magazine. This appeal caught the attention of American dog enthusiasts, who began importing Shar-Peis to the United States to establish breeding programs.

Through these dedicated efforts, the breed’s population slowly rebounded, and their unique appearance began to capture the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Chinese Shar-Pei as a breed in 1992, and they are now classified under the Non-Sporting Group. Today, the breed enjoys a stable population and is cherished by owners around the globe for their loyalty, intelligence, and distinctive appearance.

In popular culture, the Chinese Shar-Pei has been featured in various media, including movies, television shows, and advertisements, often celebrated for their distinctive appearance and calm demeanor. Their unique looks and loyal temperament have contributed to their enduring appeal as both companion animals and show dogs.

Parent Club

The official breed club for the Chinese Shar-Pei in the United States is the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, Inc. (CSPCA). Founded in 1974, the CSPCA is dedicated to promoting the health, welfare, and responsible breeding of the Chinese Shar-Pei.

The club serves as a valuable resource for breed information, education, and community for Shar-Pei enthusiasts. You can visit their webpage here.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities.

Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

You can check the Chinese Shar-Pei’s breed standard set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) here.

two chinese shar-peis in a park
Photo: Michel VIARD/Getty Images


When considering acquiring a Chinese Shar-Pei, it’s essential to prepare yourself for the responsibility and commitment involved in owning a dog. Research the breed thoroughly to ensure it suits your lifestyle and living situation. Instead of buying a puppy, consider rescuing a Shar-Pei in need of a loving home. Many wonderful dogs are waiting for adoption at rescue organizations and shelters.

To find a reputable rescue, consult the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, as they can guide you towards responsible rescue groups and provide valuable resources. Before bringing your new companion home, prepare your living space with essentials like a comfortable bed, food and water bowls, toys, grooming supplies, and a secure area for exercise.

By choosing to rescue a Chinese Shar-Pei, you not only give a deserving dog a second chance but also gain a loyal and loving companion.


Do Chinese Shar-Peis like to cuddle?

While Chinese Shar-Peis are known for their loyalty and affection towards their family members, they may not be as cuddly as some other breeds. Their independent nature means that they may enjoy being close to their owner but not necessarily engaging in constant physical contact. However, each dog is unique, and some Shar-Peis may enjoy cuddling more than others.

What is the lifespan of a Chinese Shar-Pei?

The average lifespan of a Chinese Shar-Pei is between 8 to 12 years. With proper care, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and routine veterinary check-ups, they can lead a healthy and happy life.

Can Chinese Shar-Peis live in an apartment?

Yes, Chinese Shar-Peis can adapt well to apartment living, provided their exercise and mental stimulation needs are met. Regular walks and indoor playtime can help them stay physically and mentally fit. Keep in mind that they can be protective and may bark at unfamiliar noises, so proper socialization and training are essential to minimize this behavior.

Are Chinese Shar-Peis good with children?

Chinese Shar-Peis can be good with children if raised together and properly socialized from a young age. They are generally patient and tolerant but may not appreciate rough play. It’s essential to teach children how to interact respectfully with dogs and always supervise interactions between dogs and young children.

How much exercise do Chinese Shar-Peis need?

Chinese Shar-Peis require 30-45 minutes of daily exercise to maintain their health and well-being. A couple of brisk walks or play sessions per day should suffice. Additionally, mental stimulation through puzzle toys, scent work, or trick training can help keep them engaged and content.

Are Chinese Shar-Peis easy to train?

Chinese Shar-Peis are intelligent and capable of learning quickly, but their independent nature can make them somewhat stubborn at times. Consistent, positive reinforcement training methods and early socialization will yield the best results. Patience and persistence are key when training a Shar-Pei.

Do Chinese Shar-Peis have any specific grooming needs?

Due to their wrinkled skin, Chinese Shar-Peis require regular grooming to keep their skin clean and healthy. Gently clean the folds and wrinkles with a damp cloth or baby wipes to remove dirt and debris, and dry them thoroughly to prevent infections. Regular brushing, nail trimming, and ear cleaning are also essential for maintaining their overall health and appearance.

Fun Facts

  • Like their cousins the Chow-Chows, Shar-Peis are one of the few dog breeds with a blue-black tongue. It’s one of their many unique features that sets them apart from other breeds.
  • Did you know that Shar-Peis can have three different types of coats? The “horse” coat is short and prickly, the “brush” coat is slightly longer and smoother, and the “bear” coat (which is not recognized in show rings) is even longer. Each variation adds to the uniqueness of individual Shar-Peis.

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