Chinese Shar Pei

Type: Northern Breed

Height: 18 - 20 inches.

Weight: 35 - 60 lbs.

Life Span: 7 -12 years.

Litter Size: 4 - 6 puppies.

Country of Origin: China

Activity: Varies. Some are athletes, some prefer to be sedentary. All need exercise, though.

Watch-dog: High. Shar Peis are aloof and watchful, their sober expression tends to make strangers wary. They are reserved, but sometimes become suspicious of strangers.

Guard-dog: High. The Shar Pei has a guard-dog temperament, but will become friendly with regular visitors.


Description: The Chinese Shar Pei name roughly translates to "draping sand paper like skin" in Chinese where they were once known as the "Chinese Fighting Dog". In 1978 the Guinness Book of Records listed them as the world's rarest dog. Today there is a renewed interest in the breed as a unique family pet. A one family dog, they are suited for both urban and city living, but they do not kennel well. They like to be around people, and are serious about protecting their owners. The Shar Pei loose wrinkled skin gives them an appealing frowning, sad look, which is a false appearance. Chinese Shar Peis were once used for fighting but they are now a well-mannered, friendly dog with an easy going nature, but may show aggression towards other dogs. They can be reserved, often suspicious, towards strangers. They are also affectionate with family, calm and independent. Occasionally they are stubborn. Chinese Shar Peis are a devoted breed to their families, where protection is always number one on their list.

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Other Names: Chinese Fighting Dog

Colors: Solid colors only, black, red, light fawn, dark fawn or cream.

Coat: Short, straight, bristly, no undercoat on loose skin.

Temperament: Chinese Shar Peis are independent, alert and courageous. They are completely protective and devoted to their master or family. They may pick fights with housemates. They have strong personalities, can be stubborn and require a firm hand in training. They like to be around people, and do not do well in kennels. They remain self-assured, eloquent and affectionate.

With Children: Most are good if they are family oriented and socialized early on.

With Pets: Early socialization minimizes natural dog and interspecies aggression.

Care and Training: Attention must be paid to the skin of the Chinese Shar Pei to ensure that no irritations exist within the folds. Regular massaging and brushing with a bristle brush will keep the coat in top condition. Teeth need regular cleaning and toenails need to be clipped every ten days. Regular exercise on a leash is necessary for Chinese Shar Peis. Firm training and socialization are required at a young age to prevent aggression as an adult.

Learning Rate: High. They are clever and intuitive but may be manipulative. Training should be with a firm hand and determined handler, as they can be stubborn.

Living Environment: Best as a member of the family, they do not kennel well. They tend to be aggressive with other dogs, and should be socialized early on. Shar Peis need regular exercise, and should not be kept in the heat. The best owner for this breed would be an active person or family in a suburban or rural home.

Health Issues: The Chinese Shar Pei is a high maintenance dog. Chronic skin problems, in-turned eyelids (entropion) and allergies are common health problems. Other health concerns include amyloidosis, cancer, immune system problems, Shar Pei fever, hip displaysia, patellar luxation and ear problems.

History: A close relative to the Chow Chow, the Chinese Shar Pei is an ancient breed that has existed for centuries in the southern provinces of China, dating back to the Han Dynasty of 202 B.C - 220 B.C. They were originally recognized as a fighting breed but was also were used to hunt, herd and offer protection. Partly due to fighting, the Chinese Shar Pei almost became an extinct breed in its mainland. But thanks to Matgo Law, the breed has been sustained. When the breed was endangered, Matgo Law wrote to a dog magazine encouraging Americans to take interest in the breed. Soon after, Westerners were striving for the few specimens left. Their humorous appearance and unique characteristics made a comeback in the world and spread to the United States. When they were imported into America in the mid-twentieth century, the breed gained itself the title of "Most Rare Breed" in the Guinness Book of World Records, 1978. Recognized by the Hong Kong Kennel Club in 1968, the Shar Pei is now a popular pet. The Shar Pei has a blue black tongue a characteristics only found in the Chow Chow and the Thai Ridgeback, which certainly suggest a common ancestry. Other features unique to the Shar Pei include the excessively loose, wrinkled skin and the comparatively small drop ears.

First Registered by the AKC: 1991

AKC Group: Non-Sporting

Class: Non-Sporting

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 2), KC (GB), UKC