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Shar-Pei Dog Breed Information

Size 17-20 in (44-51 cm)
Weight 40-64 lb (18-29 kg)
Origin China
Color Cream, brown, red, black
Lifespan 8-10 years
Suitable as Family dogs, companion dogs
Personality Attentive, calm, confident, relaxed, independent
Exercise Dog Exercise
Drooling Dog Drooling
Shedding Dog Shedding
Fur care Dog Fur Care

Rating = very/a lot; Rating = not very/a little

Breed Characteristics

Shar-Pei can be recognized at first glance. They have numerous, loose skin folds - especially in the face. They are very calm, confident, strong-minded and loyal. They are protective and devoted to their family, but they are not overly affectionate, because they have an independent personality.

A Shar-Pei needs a confident master. If you’re unsure or too soft, they will quickly notice and take over the position of leader. Family members that don’t have this dog’s respect (yet) will soon notice their stubbornness.

Shar-Pei Shar-Pei - Photo: Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock

The Shar-Pei is rather aloof towards strangers and other animals. Early socialization helps to ensure that the puppy isn't developing aggressive behaviour.

Most Shar-Pei do not like water. Of course there are exceptions. Show your Shar-Pei that water is a great thing while it is a puppy. It might go into the water voluntarily later.

Shar-Pei seldom bark. They only do it while playing or when they are worried about something. Exercise is important to them, but they are not suitable for jogging or other (canine) sports. Or more precisely said: they are not willing. That's just "too hectic" for them ;)

Shar-Pei Shar-Pei - Photo: Istvan Csak/Shutterstock


Their skin folds make the Shar-Pei unique - no matter what coat color they have. These are very diverse, e. g. red, black, cream, blue, brown, chocolate, lilac and so on.

But why do Shar-Pei have such a wrinkled, folded skin? The dogs used as guard dogs or for dog fighting. While Shar-Pei are not as strong as other breeds, they do have key advantage: Their wrinkles protect them from too deep bites.

Shar-Pei have a blue-black tongue. The only other dog breed that also has a dark tongue is the Chow Chow. By the way: The Chinese believe that a black tongue would ward off evil spirits.


For the beginnings of the Shar-Pei we have to travel back to the year 200 BC. There are statues that look like Shar-Pei that date back to this period. Therefore it is believed that the dog breed already existed in this ancient time.

Nevertheless, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the dog breed was considered the rarest dog breed in the world in 1978! Around 1950, dog owners had to pay very high taxes and shortly afterwards dog breeding was even banned.

If it hadn't been for Matgo Law, who bred the animals in Hong Kong (still part of the UK at this time), the breed would have been extinct. In 1973 he wrote a plea in a dog magazine to save the breed. Thanks to this plea several hundred Shar-Pei had been brought to the US, just in time before Hong Kong returned to China in 1997.

Shar-Pei Shar-Pei - Photo: Zuzule/Shutterstock

Where Does the Name Come From?

Shar-Pei is Chinese and means sand skin because the dog's coat looks and feels a little bit like sandpaper.

Health and Care

Shar-Pei do shed a lot, but they are very clean and their coat is easy to care for. That's why they rarely need to be bathed. If you do, you should dry its wrinkles and skin folds thoroughly, because otherwise fungi or bacteria may settle in. Shar-Pei don't like hot weather.

Did You Know?

Shar-Pei tend to snore.

Shar-Pei Shar-Pei - Photo: Istvan Csak/Shutterstock

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