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Chinese Shar Pei Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care, Traits & More

Written by: Ashley Bates

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Dogster Team

Chinese Shar Pei

Chinese Shar Pei Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Care, Traits & More

The Shar Pei is an ancient Chinese breed with bountiful wrinkles and a chubby mouth. However, don’t be swayed by their adorable looks; the Shar Pei is a skilled guardian who protects their family. They’re certainly not for the weak of heart and require a firm hand and consistent training.

With proper socialization, Shar Peis make excellent pets for the right owners. In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the Shar Pei so you can decide if they’re suitable for your home.

Breed Overview


17–21 inches


35–60 pounds


9–11 years


Black, fawn, lilac, cream, sand, red

Suitable for:

Experienced owners, possibly a single-pet home


Protective, assertive, loyal

The Shar Pei is strong-bodied, curly-tailed, and covered in wrinkles. They can turn heads with their charm, but keep your hands back! Some Shar Peis aren’t friendly to strangers and do not appreciate being petted by unfamiliar hands.

It is important to understand the benefits and complications of the breed.

Shar-Pei Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.

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Shar Pei Puppies

Chinese Shar pei puppy portrait at garden
Image Credit: Waldemar Dabrowski, Shutterstock

Shar Pei puppies might be the cutest things you’ve ever seen. They have incredibly soft, fluffy fur and very movable wrinkles when they are very small. You will undoubtedly get a lot of compliments on your little pup’s unique looks. When selecting a Shar Pei puppy, it is incredibly important to select a reputable breeder.

Because the Shar Pei can show aggression, you should always select a breeder with a history of successful, healthy litters with sound temperaments. The Shar Pei puppy will be active, curious, and ready to explore new things. They’re intelligent, so you shouldn’t have a lot of issues with potty training and basic commands.

dogster paw dividerTemperament & Intelligence of the Shar Pei

The Shar Pei is an immensely intelligent animal. They are hyper-aware of their surroundings and make exquisite guard dogs. They take guarding the home very seriously and require exposure to new situations and socialization to become comfortable around new faces. Because of their intelligence and loyalty, they are often easy to train. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how intensely you train the dog, they might still exhibit aggression toward strangers and other animals.

Before getting a Shar Pei, it is crucial to understand the risks so you can accommodate the dog accordingly. If you don’t have the time to train your Shar Pei and socialize them, you may need to find another breed. They’re not suitable for first-time owners and require consistent training from an owner who can handle strong, protective canines.

Young male purebred brown color Shar Pei
Image Credit: Marcelino Pozo Ruiz, Shutterstock

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Shar Pei integrates into a pack mentality very easily. If they are raised alongside children and other family members, they will always think of them as family and exhibit no aggression toward them whatsoever. A Shar Pei can be highly protective over those they love and might mistake play and other innocent behavior for a threat. They must learn the distinction early on to protect their family and remain calm around visitors.

If the Shar Pei is properly trained, you can resolve their socialization problems. If you put the right energy in, you will likely have a well-rounded dog capable of listening to commands and getting along with company.

We want to stress that this doesn’t come without work. It’s unlikely that a Shar Pei can behave around strangers without training and socialization. Some landlords don’t allow their renters to keep Shar Peis, and it’s important to check your property’s policies before adopting a dog.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?🐶 😽

Shar Peis can be aggressive or territorial with other dogs. This can typically happen with the same sex since power dynamics are involved. However, when it comes to cats and other smaller pets, Shar Peis don’t make the best roommates.

A Shar Pei will likely show affection towards a dog or cat they were raised with, but outsiders might not receive the same mercy. It is essential to take your Shar Pei on walks to expose them to various animals and situations to desensitize their desire to protect. If you adopt an adult, they may treat cats and smaller animals like rodents as prey rather than friends.


Shar Pei puppy stands on the lawn and looks out for something
Image Credit: Kozub Vasyl, Shutterstock

dogster paw dividerThings to Know When Owning a Shar-Pei

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Shar Peis can be a little sensitive when it comes to their skin. They can suffer from food-related allergies that can cause skin issues, particularly buildup in the skin folds. Because yeast and ear infections are common, it’s always best to inspect your pup’s ears regularly and buy dog food that isn’t irritating or doesn’t exacerbate allergies.

Try to steer clear of meals that contain a lot of preservatives, artificial ingredients, and other chemical compounds. Instead, buy a high-quality, protein-rich diet that nourishes their growing body and is appropriate for their life stage.

As puppies, they will need a high-quality puppy chow with DHA and glucosamine or chondroitin to keep up with their muscle and bone growth. As they enter their adult years, you can switch to an adult formula that will help them manage their weight and energy levels.

Head of Shar Pei brown adult Chinese purebred dog standing
Image Credit: Cavan-Images, Shutterstock

Exercise 🐕

Shar Peis require moderate to high amounts of exercise. They are known to be pretty calm and loving when they have downtime. When they are feeling peppy, they can be hyper and desire to run long and far. If you have a Shar Pei, it is best to have a large, fenced-in secure area.

You can take them on brisk daily walks and spend time playing games in the yard. Most adult Shar Peis require no more than 60 minutes of solid exercise per day. You can break that up how you see fit and engage in your dog’s favorite activities.

Training 🎾

Shar Peis require intensive training early on. As adults, they can be extremely headstrong and even aggressive. Early intervention is necessary, and often, professional training is advised. These dogs can make amazing companions to their families as they are loyal and affectionate. However, they tend to dislike strangers and can bite or lash out at people they don’t know.

Shar Peis are very receptive to training. If you don’t feel up to the challenge of training them, they make excellent candidates for professional training. You can get recommendations around your area and choose a facility or private trainer to fulfill your needs.

Chinese Shar Pei dog running
Image Credit: Charlotte Lehman, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

A Shar Pei is undoubtedly not the kind of dog you can skip out on grooming. They need routine baths every 4 to 6 weeks, and you need to frequently clean their wrinkles! They have several skin flaps, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. Regularly cleaning the flaps to prevent debris from building up can help keep your Shar Pei healthy.

Thankfully, their coats don’t require much brushing, though they shed year-round. So, be prepared to clean up puppy fur on your furniture. When you bathe your pup, you can follow up with nail clipping and ear cleaning.

You can also take them to the groomer once every 4 to 6 weeks. This will give them out-of-the-house socialization and get them used to being pampered.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Vet care is a natural part of owning a dog. Dogs need to see their vet the same way you go to doctor checkups. In the first year, they will need parasite prevention, deworming, spaying or neutering surgery, and microchipping.

The Shar Pei is moderately healthy, but there are several health conditions to be aware of.

Minor Conditions
  • Skin fold disease
  • Pododermatitis
Serious Conditions
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Familial Shar Pei Fever

Male vs Female

Male Shar Peis are typically larger and blockier than their female counterparts. The female is reasonably smaller, weighing less by approximately 10 pounds. Both reach sexual maturity around the age of 6 months. Most veterinarians will recommend getting your Shar Pei fixed around this time. Once they reach sexual maturity, they can exhibit same-sex aggression or territorial behaviors.

Females might be a bit more prone to same-sex dog aggression. If it happens, it’s often an issue with no easy fix. Keep this in mind when considering a Shar Pei if you have existing dogs.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Shar-Pei

1. The Adorable Wrinkles Serve a Purpose.

Since Shar Peis were bred for fighting, their wrinkles served a very important purpose. The wrinkles prevent another dog from taking hold of their sensitive areas, which protects their vital organs.

2. In 1973, There Were Only Eight Shar Peis in the USA.

Shar Pei numbers have certainly multiplied over the years. There were only eight in 1973, but there are over 70,000 today!

3. Shar Peis have blue tongues.

The Shar Pei, like the famous Chow Chow, has blue and black markings on their tongue. It is very characteristic of the breed, and Shar Peis without the trait may be mxied breeds.

House dog Shar Pei red color
Image Credit: Alika Obraz, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

The Shar Pei is undoubtedly one of a kind. They have unmatched loyalty and unwavering affection and make excellent guard dogs. Shar Peis are more suitable for experienced owners since they are headstrong and need early socialization.

So, if you decide to adopt a Shar Pei, make sure to learn all you can beforehand. Also, if you’re not opposed, remember there are Shar Peis in shelters that would love a chance at a furever family. You can also contact the rescues in your area before contacting a breeder!

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Marcelino Pozo Ruiz, Shutterstock

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