Breed Type: Spitz / Molosser
Country of Origin: China
Size: Medium-Large
Weight: Males:25-30kg Females: 18 to 25kg.
Height (Both): 46 to 56cm
Care Requirements: Medium High – Care with ears and diet often required.
Exercise Requirements: Low-Medium

The Chinese Shar Pei is an extremely distinctive looking dog known for its deep wrinkles and large heads. The Cantonese translations the Shar Pei is sand skin(editor’s note – I wonder what the Cantonese translation for lots of extra skin is) which describes the rough texture of their short coat.

The skin of Shar Pei puppies appears to be many sizes too large to their body and in fact it actually is. As they mature their wrinkles fill out somewhat leading only their head displaying the famous wrinkled appearance.

By any definitions are a curious looking dog. They have a large head and small triangular ears and a muzzle is somewhat piglike. The face of an adult is covered in wrinkles. The tail curls is high set giving them a Spitz like appearance at the rear which contrasts starkly with their large and rather block shaped head when compared with the typical pointed, a long snouted faces of most Spitz type dogs.

Their wrinkles were in fact introduced into the breed intentionally to a system when fighting. Another dog may bite on the face grabbing these wrinkles, the losers of the skin would allow the Shar Pei to twist it head and bite the other dog back. Regardless that the breed has not been involved in such organised cruelty for many hundreds of years the wrinkles have been kept as they are part of the defining signature look of the breed.

There are many different Shar Pei coat colours though all of them are solid with spotted or mixed colours being a disqualifying fault. They may be sand, fawn, cream, while act, black, red or blue. The tongue is a striking black blue in colour much like the tone of the Chow Chow.

Most often the nose is black or brick however dogs with the nose  and nails the same colour as the coat are accepted.

The code itself comes in three recognisable variations; horse, brush and bear. As the name suggests the horse coat is extremely rough like the fur of a horse that whilst the brush coat is longer and smoother.  The bear coat whilst quite common is not considered the coat suitable for showing the dogs and thus bear coated individuals are generally only sold as pets. This is somewhat at odds with their history where the dedicated versions were preferred by Chinese royalty and the other coats were considered peasant dogs which just goes to show how much taste in dog fashion can change.

All coat versions shared extremely little amounts most of the time though the long-haired bear coat will shed its winter coat in spring.

Shar Pei s are intelligent and easy-going dogs. Perhaps the best way of describing their demeanour is Royal or Regal as they lack the silliness of the hounds or the overeagerness of many herding breeds. They are wonderful companion dogs are extremely loyal and calm. They are exceptionally trainable and do well in obedience work.

They will adapt the activity level to your lifestyle they are equally at home enjoying the extra space available if you live on a country property as they are is a semi-or complete indoor dog in suburbia. They are quick and eager learners eager to please so training them to do what you wish is a breeze.

Far back in their history they were bred as fighting dogs however this trait unlike other medium large breeds is now totally completely gone from their character. They lack any trace of high levels of aggression and will not go out of their way to seek a confrontation though as powerful dogs is expected they won’t back down if challenged.

Care and Grooming
the Shar Pei requires a medium matters care but not in areas where you would think. The wrinkles on its skin rarely lead to skin rashes or problems, is their short ears that need the most attention. Their ears are particularly susceptible to yeast infections as a result of wax buildup but they need to be wiped out regularly to prevent this. It is a cotton pad non-acute it which can just jam the wax down the canal.

The coats require brushing with a quality bristle brush every couple of days but not more regularly than this. It should be bathed around every 10 days to prevent them getting smelly but ensure you use a net approved dog shampoo that will clean their fur without stripping it unduly of the natural oils which protects the fur and skin. Shampooing with detergents or human shampoos will strip the soil leaking their skin irritated and susceptible to irritation and infection.
The Shar Pei has fast-growing nails which need regular clipping to check these weekly. They have a tendency to problems with their eyes to ensure you inspect these regularly as well

Popular at one time, numbers of quality breeding dogs plummeted as a result of government policy in China last century and as a result though the breed has been revitalised is now lastly more popular it is still suffering from the effects of this reduction in genetic diversity. In the US especially the breed is extremely popular and there has been a focus by some unscrupulous breeders on quantity of puppies rather than quality. In Australia, though the registered Shar Pei breeding community are committed to breeding dogs of quality it remains important for the purchaser to make extensive enquiries with their breeder regarding the genetic history of their breed stock.

Shar Pei is one of several breeds that is particularly prone to a condition called Entropion where malformation of the eyelid causes it to roll inwards onto the eye. The result of this is the eyelashes or scratch across the top of the cornea causing irritation, watery eyes, infection and even ulcers and blindness. No dogs suffering from this condition should ever be included in a breeding program and dogs suffering from it generally need eyelid surgery, sometimes twice in their lives.

It is crucial when buying a puppy to see the parents and if possible the grandparents. This is not a breed that you should buy sight unseen – you must go and inspect your puppy and its parent’s first.

Being large, deep chest a dogs they are particularly susceptible to bloat. Ensure they are not fed merely before or after exercising, don’t place them in a situation where there is any incentive for them to bolt their food such as in a competitive feeding environment and keep their water bowl as high as possible to restrict the amount of air they swallow when drinking.

Worldwide the breed has proven particularly susceptible to different types of food allergies, these allergies are wide ranging and can include anything from soy products and cereals to something as odd for a carnivore to be allergic to – beef!

Again it’s very important to speak your breeder about any allergies their breeding dogs may have suffered from and wise to ask that your potential puppy is given a skin scraped allergy test. There is no real issue in buying a puppy that has food allergies has all it will require this to you to remove the allergen  foods from its diet but it is necessary for you to know this from the start to ensure you bring the dog up happy and healthy.

Suitability as  Pet
Enthusiast says there really is no other dog for them as easy to see why. Though very proud, intelligent and loyal lot retaining a sense of fun. Their flexibility regarding activity levels makes them extremely versatile as well.  They are however more susceptible to certain health issues that other breeds so for someone looking for a no fuss, indestructible breed the Shar Pei might not be the best choice.

It’s incredibly important that this breed to seek out a reputable breeder and to research the health history of the breeding dogs.

The Chinese Shar Pei is not a dog to everyone but in many cases they make wonderful pets or show dogs.