Shar Pei

Breed History

Shar Pei laying on the ground

Shar-Pei is a medium sized dog that has wrinkles, curly tail, and lose skin. Independent with a strong sense of leadership this dog will need socializing early in life.

Their name means sand skin in their native land. People of the region call dogs names that fit their description. So, sand or sand skin because the roughness of the coat was like sand at the beach.

They come from Tai Li in Kwangtung Province. 99% Han population at this time and were in pictures drawn by the Han Dynasty in 200 B.C. Members of their artwork, but also in their statues if this breed.

References are made to a dog with a lot of wrinkles and a dark tongue. Black tongue just like the Chow Chow, but there hasn’t been any connection with breeding one another in history.

Many traits and activities can describe this dog, but one of the originals are fighting other dogs. Dog fighting in the Chinese culture was popular once before like the Bulldog in England. Times were changing and they were using Shar Pei’s for different activities.

Hunting dog was one activity the Shar Pei was excellent. Showing agility, speed, and stamina they were able to chase down prey for their owners.

Middle of the 20th century shows dog registration in most of the major Kennel Clubs. After the second World War many dogs were facing extinction. Around this time their numbers became small and breeders made the decision to save the dogs from extinction.


Very recent dog in registration years showing there were 134th to get official recognition in the United States. The year was 1992 over 100 years after the first dog shows registration.

Popular all over the year world and they are in the Non-Sporting group at every Kennel Club except for one. Federal International Kennel Club, FCI, has them as a Mastiff type.

Most popular Kennel Clubs all show them at some point gaining recognition.

Here are the Clubs that acknowledge and track the bloodline of the Shar Pei


Male Weight: 45-60 pounds

Female Weight: 45-60 pounds

Male Height: 18-20 inches

Female Height: 18-20 inches

Both males and females are the same size it is hard to tell the gender at first glance. One of many breeds where the males aren’t any bigger than the females.

Litter Size

The average litter size is 4-6 puppies. Medium size dogs will generally have a medium sized litter. The same rule of thumb is true for toy breeds and large size breeds.


  • Only solid colors
  • Sable
  • Dark shading on ears and back
  • Disqualification is all white dogs, patterns, and any brindle.

Different Types

Shar Pei comes with three different type of coats.

Horse – rougher in nature and shorter than any other coat type. Less shedding by nature because there is less to shed.

Brush – longer smoother and sheds moderately. This coat is still an official coat type by the AKC.

Bear – not an official coat and the dog looks more like a Chow Chow than Shar Pei regarding the coat.

Shar Pei Price

Shar Pei puppies cost $1,500-$3,000. The quality of puppy will be better when you pay for a dog with papers that will show you the bloodline and documentation over a very long-time span.

Dogs without papers are never going to have any documentation of the Kennel Clubs they come from. Quality of puppy will differ depending on what handshake agreement you will have. The dog can easily be of mixed breed.


One of the most important things to remember when grooming a Shar Pei is to make sure you dry out the wrinkles after you give them a bath. Wrinkles can gain infections and other health problems when there is a consistent lack of effort.

  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

Brushing the coat is the most you have to do with this breed due to its short to one-inch smooth coat. Multiple brushes per week should take place to keep the coat healthy.

Combing is not something you need to do because the coat isn’t long enough.

Bathing the coat when the dog is dirty is the best thing to do or to put them on a schedule. One isn’t better than the other and the decision is up to you.

Clean the ears of all dirt. Dirty ears can make the ears become infected and will cost you money when it comes to vet bills.

Nails are something that can happen when the dog gets exercise. Exercise will be the natural and normal way to trim nails. Trimming with clippers will be the second option.

Professional help isn’t a recommendation for this breed. Grooming can happen at home without any professional guidance but if you feel any step can’t be done at home get some help.

Life Span

Lifespan is 9-12 years of age.

That’s a long time to have any dog ending around a decade or longer. Proper preparation is important when you look at different health problems and aging of the dog until death.

Health Issues

They’re a healthy breed but the Kennel Club recommends that you do the following evaluations

  • Hips
  • Elbows
  • Eyes
  • Patella Luxation
  • Thyroid

Hip issues can be painful and cause the dog to not be able to participate in rigorous exercise. X-rays will help determine the type of issues, if any, and how to help the condition. When the sockets and legs don’t fit together there will be pain to the dog.

Elbows can see a growth at the elbow joint. Symptoms can cause pain for the dog and you should take your dog to the vet to get an examination. They can tell early in the dogs’ life if they will have this condition and how severe.

Eyes should always get an evaluation because of the difficult possibilities that will arise. Early detection can help with alleviating some problems. Cataracts, glaucoma, cherry eyes and many other problems can arise in the dog’s life.

Patella Luxation is a condition that bothers a lot of small dogs also called slipped kneecap. Although the dogs can go a long time with this condition it requires surgery at times. Get a look at the bone structure to see if the Shar Pei has any knee issues.

Thyroid issues are rapid in the dog world and misdiagnosis are just as rapid. Strong efforts have been made to find out if the problem is autoimmune or thyroid dysfunction.

Breed Group

Non-Sporting Group is a miscellaneous group of dogs without much in common from one to another. Very popular dog breed group that has different sizes, personalities, jobs and abilities.

Here are the dogs that make up the group

Exercise Needs

Shar Pei’s needs a lot of exercise. Articles will claim they don’t need a lot of exercise but how would they know. Exercise needs are different based on each dog. Magic numbers of little to none are not helping decide how much to exercise your dog.

Instead let’s take a different approach and look at the dog’s behavior. If you dog is jumping, biting, digging, and barking excessively while you give them 20 minutes of walking that’s an error on the owner.

You may get a high energy dog, or you may get a low energy dog. Both can be a Shar Pei, but they won’t need the same exercise amounts.

When your dog is calm, respectful, socializing properly, and listening to all commands the currently exercise regimen is proper.

Here is what we recommend as a guideline

Morning: Hour (walk, treadmill, or run)

Evening: 30 min (walk, treadmill, or run)

Two sessions per day will keep most dogs very calm even those that are hyper. Giving a dog with moderate energy that type of program will be a requirement as well. They will behave better with one session but two will help a lot.

Low energy dogs will be the easiest and you will know they don’t have the energy to go out twice due to their behavior and this is the only time you should skip the second session.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

Beginning of any program must start with the exercise portion. Only after you figure out this step and being consistent with supplying exercise should you start focusing other aspects. Homeless people have the best dogs because of the exercise they provide. I’ll leave this section with what we see when we look at a documentary on a pack or wild dogs? You see them running and walking the entire time without interruption.

Commands are a small part of the program and can be done easily with repetition. A child can train a dog to sit, stay, and lay. Doesn’t require much of your time and doesn’t make the dog behave better like exercise. I do recommend you make them sit before you do everything. Go on a walk, before they eat, before they drink water, can play at the dog park and many other times throughout each day for reinforcement.

Shar Pei’s need a lot of socialization because of their nature of being independent and standoffish. While providing exercise every morning and night the dog will get into a great space mentally and physically and socializing is best after that step. Think about it do dogs really be around each other in the wild without exercise? Of course not.

Corrections is another small part, but you want to do this part correct. After correcting make them sit or lay on the ground every time. Verbal, leash, or hand correction can happen with the lowest level of intensity to gain attention and compliance.

Is a Shar Pei a Good Family Dog?

Every dog has the potential regardless of breed to become a good family dog. Owners must take responsibility for all the issues any dog may have and work at solving them.

First step is to figure out if you have been exercising them or failing them at this level. Most of the time the issues begin and end right here.

With the right amount of exercise this dog, or any dog, will be great around kids, other dogs, and visiting family members. You can take this dog out in public with no issues.

Next are you correct with the proper timing. Proper timing is before the behavior takes place not in the middle or after.

Although blaming the dog is the easiest thing to do you need to look in the mirror and become a better owner. Some dogs force us to act more than others.

Best family dogs anybody ever has is the one they had when they were kids. Kids walk the dog everywhere when they go to the store, take them to the park, or just take them out when they’re bored.

Getting older and buying cars takes a lot of those trips away and now the dogs are crazy. Sad scenario but it is often a true indication, or something close, to what happens in those situations.