AKC Dog Breeds: Shar-Pei

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Non Sporting Group
Height: 18-20 inches   Weight: 40-55 pounds  Color: cream, fawn, red, and black

Immediately recognizable due to their unique "hippopotamus" head shape, profile and wrinkles, the Shar-Pei is an ancient breed that is usually aloof and standoffish with strangers, but devoted to his family. Their name "Shar-Pei" means sandy coat and their coat should be off standing and harsh. The Chinese Shar-Pei originates from China, and is known to be an ancient breed that was used for fighting as well as for herd, protect, and hunt. At one point the breed almost faced extinction, but has now emerged as a popular pet. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1991.

General Appearance
The Chinese Shar-Pei is a medium sized dog with a very sturdy build. His distinctive wrinkly skin on his body and face make him stand out from the crowd, and his expression is often one of sulkiness and crossness. In fact, he sometimes looks positively mournful - simply because of the way the skin on the face wrinkles. The coat of the Chinese Shar-Pei is short, straight, and close fitting, and the coloring includes chocolate, black, red, sable, silver, fawn, and cream. The tail is one of the most characteristic features of the Shar-Pei. It should be thick and round at the base and then taper to a fine point. It should curl over to either side of the back. This breed is of medium length with muscular and well set sloping shoulders. They display a broad and deep chest with the brisket extending to the elbow and then rising slightly under the loin. The hindquarters are very muscular and the hocks should be short and perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other when viewed from the rear. It is important that the hind dewclaws are removed.


The Chinese Shar-Pei is an intelligent, dignified, and calm dog but can also be very alert making him ideal for a guard or watchdog. He has a strong protective instinct so this breed should be well socialized at an early age to avoid shyness or from being overprotective. The Chinese Shar-Pei can be described as highly intelligent, independent, dignified, and snobbish. They can be standoffish with strangers but will remain devoted and dedicated to their family. Due to their history as herders and guard dogs, they are very alert and have a calm and confident stature. Despite its scowling and frowning expression, the dog is very easy going and calm. The Shar-Pei is considered to be an excellent family dog. It is devoted to its family and owners and makes an excellent watch dog. Their standoffishness will minimize with regular visitors. They generally do well with children and other pets when they are socialized around them as a very young puppy. Although they are standoffish around strangers they are not considered to be unfriendly. The Shar-Pei has an extremely dominant and independent nature and therefore it is pertinent that they have a handler who can show the dog who is boss. The Shar-Pei has a high dislike of water. They will avoid water for baths, but have been known to enter ponds, oceans, lakes, rivers, etc. of their own accord.


The grooming level of the Chinese Shar-Pei is considered to be low or minimal. They do need to be brushed regularly to remove dead hair and then brushed daily during shedding season to reduce the amount of shedding. It is essential that you never wash the Shar-Pei's head. Getting water in the ears of the Shar-Pei can cause serious problems for them that do not appear in other breeds. They have very tiny ear canals and water in the ears can cause serious ear infections

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Chinese Shar-Pei is around 7-12 years, and there are a number of health issues and disorders that are linked to this breed. Some of these include entropion, HD, thyroid problems, bloat, autoimmune problems, allergies and skin conditions, sensitivity to chemicals and medications, and malabsorption.

Activity Level
The Shar-Pei does have a considerable need for exercise. It is necessary for this breed to get outside and have activity because they will be more peaceful and content indoors when they have had enough outdoor activity. However, the Shar-Pei because of its origin as a fighting dog, does need to always be kept on a leash to avoid confrontation and fighting with other dogs. Because of their padded head they are very sensitive to heat. It is important for Shar-Pei to have access to water and shade when it is outdoors. Over exercise should be avoided when it is really hot outside.


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Chinese Shar-Pei  dog an dog encyclopedia
Chinese Shar-Pei dog on dog encyclopedia