Breed standard: China Kennel Union, FCI. Size: Medium. Life expectancy : 13 years on average. Training: Medium. Coat: Short. Origin: China.

The shar-pei is a medium dog breed, popular for its body covered with folds.

The origins of the shar-pei

Chinese origins

The shar-pei (“sand skin” in Chinese) is a dog of Chinese origin, which traces go back more than 2000 years. Archaeological excavations led to the discovery of small statues showing representations of the shar-pei dating from the Han dynasty (around 200 years BC) Traditionally, the shar-pei was raised by peasants for guarding and hunting.

Trained to fight

Later, the shar-pei was trained to become a fighting dog . This is because this dog breed had the physical predisposition to do so. At the time, dog fighting was very popular. However, the shar-pei was soon overshadowed by other dog breeds that were more powerful and fierce than it. The demand for shar-peis declined drastically and the breed almost went into decline. This was until British and American dog breeders imported a few dogs to continue their reproduction. This is also what explains the popularity of the shar-pei in England and the United States.

The shar-pei’s personality

It is not a coincidence that the shar-pei is very appreciated as a pet. This breed is calm, kind, clean, affectionate, patient and soft, which makes it ideal for families with children.

An excellent guard dog

The shar-pei is loyal and very protective, making it an excellent guard dog. This breed is very wary of strangers and is quite capable of defending its master when the need arises. With that being said, generally speaking, when this breed is well-socialized from a young age, it has no trouble living with other dogs. However, in case of provocation, shar-peis may end up fighting. If you live with cats, it is very important to socialize shar-peis from a young age. This will teach your dog to be tolerant. This way, even if your pets are not friendly with each other, at least they won’t fight.

A sensitive breed

Despite its likeable personality, the shar-pei must be firmly trained from a young age. It is important to be fair in the way you treat this breed, because it is a dog that does not tolerate injustice. If you are rough or yell at it, it may show its disapproval by sulking for a while. You’ll need to be respectful with your shar-pei if you want it to do the same with you. It is also a dog that needs to be showered with affection and can easily become depressed if it feels that you are abandoning it. It is important to be both caring and present for shar-peis.

Shar-peis prefer life inside the house rather than life outside of it. However, they can live without any difficulty in a house in the countryside or in an apartment in the city. However, if you do live in an apartment, it is necessary to teach it not to be a nuisance for your neighborhood. Even if it is not a dog that needs to exercise for long hours, it still needs to go out every day.

The physical characteristics of the shar-pei


The shar-pei is popular for its wrinkled body. However, the Chinese type is much less wrinkled than its American counterpart.

The shar-pei is well-known for its wrinkles.


With a head that is larger than the rest of the body, this dog has small floppy ears and small dark eyes that you may have trouble making out under all the folds. It also has drooping lips.


The shar-pei’s loins and back are rather short. On the other hand, its chest is rather broad. This breed of dog has a small, high tail that is slightly curved over its back.

Coat, color, and grooming


This dog breed has a very short coat with no undercoat.


All colors are accepted as long as they are solid, with the exception of white.


Although shar-peis are well-known for their wrinkles, they are also at the origin of some of their health problems. When the wrinkles are numerous and badly maintained, they can cause irritations and infections. Moreover, since this breed has no undercoat, it should not be exposed to low temperatures. If necessary, this breed can wear protective clothing when you walk with it during the winter. This breed is also very sensitive to heat. When it is too hot, you must make sure to put this dog in the shade and to hydrate it well.

The shar-pei’s wrinkles make it unique and well-loved.

Moreover, shar-peis have rather fragile eyes, which exposes it to ocular diseases such as entropion. When its food is not adapted, this breed can easily gain weight. It is also not uncommon for females to have some difficulty giving birth. To keep your dog in excellent health, the best thing to do is to vaccinate and deworm it frequently.


Even though the shar-pei’s coat is very short, it still needs constant care. It is ideal to brush it once a week to get rid of its dead hairs. When it comes to annual shedding periods, all you have to do is brush your dog more frequently. Also, make sure to regularly clean the body with suitable wipes, focusing on the folds.

In addition, the hanging ears of shar-pei do not allow this dog breed to naturally evacuate the cerumen in its ears. Because of this, you will need to clean them regularly.

Your dog’s nutritional needs vary greatly depending on factors such as weight, health, and age. Make sure your shar-pei’s diet is balanced and varied. Also, due to its rather short jaw, your pet might have difficulty chewing food properly, making the digestion process much more complex. For an adult dog, it is advisable to limit it to two meals a day (puppies up to 6 months old can eat three meals). Avoid feeding your dog treats and give him enough water to help its digestion.

Did you know?

The shar-pei is a naturally lazy dog that loves the comfort of staying at home. Don’t be surprised if your shar-pei loves lying next to you while you read a book.

The shar-pei at a glance

Size: 40 to 54 cm (15 to 21 in).

Weight: 16 to 25 kg (35 to 55 lbs).

Health: The shar-pei can suffer from dermatological diseases.

Life expectancy: 13 years on average.

Are shar-peis good with children? Shar-peis are well-loved by families with children.

Is the shar-pei easy to train? Even though the shar-pei doesn’t have a temper, it is important to educate it firmly while remaining fair.