• Shar Pei Dog Breed
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  • Shar Pei Dog
  • Shar Peis in UK
  • Shar Pei Breed
  • Shar Pei Breed information
  • Shar Pei Pet in the UK
  • Shar Pei
  • Shar Peis
  • Shar Peis Pets in the UK
Exercise Level:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Height: 46 - 51cm M | 46 - 51cm F
Weight: 18 - 25kg M | 18 - 25kg F
Life Expectancy: 9 - 15 Years

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The Shar Pei, also called the Chinese Shar-Pei, is a mid-sized dog categorised under the Utility breed group.

Don't be fooled by the Shar Pei dog's adorable looks thinking he is just a pet dog. The Shar Pei is a reliable guard dog and watchdog. It is an affectionate and loyal family dog that bonds strongly with its owner.

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Shar Pei Breed is believed to have originated in China, but the breed's true origins remain a mystery. Some experts believe that it is an ancient dog considered as the basal breed for modern, mostly 19th breeds.

Others believe that the Shar Pei's origins began in Southern China, somewhere around Dah-Lel or Tibet.

The Shar Pei has been around since 200 BC, during the Han Dynasty according to records and artefacts. The discovery of 2000-year-old statues resembling Shar Peis led many to believe that the Shar Pei was used as tomb dogs.

In the 13th century, documents described the existence of a dog with wrinkled skin which was thought to be the Shar Pei. The breed's name means sand skin due to its distinctive rough coat.

According to Chinese folklore, the Shar Pei possesses the ability to scare away evil spirits because of its unique blue-grey tongue and loose skin.

Shar Peis were reliable canine helpers of Chinese peasants. They were versatile dogs that can hunt game, herd flocks, and guard livestock and homes against predators or intruders.

The Shar Pei breed became popular dogfighters at one time; hence it doesn't always get on with other dogs. Like the Chow Chow, Shar Peis have prickly coats and loose skin. These made it difficult for their adversaries to hold them down.

The Shar Pei's numbers significantly dropped when high taxes on owning dogs were imposed when the People's Republic of China was established in 1949. Breeding was later banned. The breed's near-extinction was forever marked into the Guinness Book of Records in 1978 as it was listed as the world's rarest dog.

A breeder from Hong Kong named Matgo Law is credited for taking the breed to America in 1974. This significantly prevented the breed's extinction. In the 1980s, Shar Pei dogs were widely popular across the country for their unique appearance. The breed was eventually recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1992.

The Shar Pei arrived in the UK in 1981 and has become a very popular breed across the globe until this day because of its cute appearance and loyal nature. Shar Pei dogs are recognised by major registries like The Kennel Club and other breed clubs.

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Appearance and Grooming

The Shar Pei is a distinctive dog with plenty of loose folds of skin. It has a blue-black tongue, making it one of the most identifiable dog breeds in the world. Weighing 18 to 25 kilos and standing 46 to 51 centimetres at the withers, Shar Peis are compact dogs with a square shape.

The Shar Pei breed has a large head, a flat, broad skull with a moderate stop, a relatively broad muzzle, and a large and wide nose. It has almond-shaped eyes that show its frowning expression and small triangular ears that are set high.

While Shar Pei dogs' noses and eyes are typically black, lighter colours are allowed in paler shades.

Do Shar Peis shed?

Shar Peis are minimal shedders, but they shed whole-year-round. In spring, you can expect your dog's coat to become lighter, as they need less of a coat in warmer weather. Similarly, in autumn, they need to prepare their coat to grow out slightly longer for the colder months.

Although they don't shed much, Shar Pei dogs are non-hypoallergenic. If you are an allergy sufferer, you may want to look for hypoallergenic breeds.

The Chinese Shar Pei has a straight and off-standing extremely harsh coat, which is flatter on the limbs. It also has no undercoat. According to KC standards, all solid colours are accepted except for white.

The breed has low grooming needs as it is naturally clean with minimal odour. However, brushing frequency may vary as it has three coat varieties: horse, brush, and bear.

  • The horse coat has the shortest fur and sheds the least among the three. It has a prickly texture and can cause skin irritations in people with sensitive skin.
  • The brush coat has the longest fur, which is about one inch in length.
  • The bear coat is composed of thick fur similar to that of the Chow Chow's fur.

Both brush and bear coats shed heavily.

Frequent brushing is required for Shar Pei with brush and bear coats to manage their shedding. The horse coat only needs a thorough weekly brushing. No matter the coat type, brushing becomes a daily task once shedding season begins.

The Chinese Shar Pei's folds should be cleaned and dried to avoid infections. However, never place baby powder, baby oil, or corn starch on its wrinkles. Rather bathe the Shar Pei dog 3 to 4 times a year. Avoid frequent washing since it can cause skin irritations.

An important aspect of its grooming routine is dental hygiene. Make sure its teeth are brushed daily to prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and gum diseases.

Check the Shar-Pei dog's ears for wax build-up as the ears can harbour infection-causing bacteria. Lastly, make sure to trim its nails when you hear clicking sounds on the floor since overgrowth can be uncomfortable.

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Temperament and Intelligence

Are Shar Peis aggressive?

The Shar Pei is a calm, loyal, and affectionate dog. This breed can become reserved and independent, which can prove to be a challenge for first-time dog owners.

The breed is suitable for experienced dog owners. However, when trained early and taught basic dog manners, it forms a strong bond with their owners and is usually obedient.

The Chinese Shar Pei breed is naturally a good watchdog and guard dog that is usually suspicious of strangers but never aggressive. Early socialisation is also important to curb overprotectiveness and to teach them that not everyone means harm.

The Shar Pei dog is an intelligent dog but has a stubborn streak which will test its owners. It needs to learn who the alpha is in the household to avoid dominant tendencies.

That being said, it is a sensitive breed that does not respond well to harsh training techniques. A firm yet gentle hand and positive reinforcements usually do the trick.

Is a Shar Pei a good family dog?

Shar Peis are devoted to their human family, including children. Although they are good with children, dog-child interactions should be supervised to prevent accidents and injuries.

Shar Pei dogs usually get on well with other pets, but other animals they do not know are a different story. Being a fighting dog, the Shar Pei is strong and has high hunting instinct.

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Nutrition and Feeding

An adult Shar Pei should eat around 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day. Several factors should be considered when deciding how much food the dog needs. These include age, size, build, daily physical activities, and metabolism.

Check with your veterinarian to know if you are providing your dog the right amount of food. Typical daily calorie needs of an adult Shar Pei are:

  • Senior and less active: up to 1,170 calories daily
  • Typical adults: up to 1,310 calories daily
  • Physically active/working dogs: up to 1,460 calories daily

Feed your dog high-quality dog food formulated for medium breeds. Always read the label and make sure to only buy reliable brands with grain-free, high protein ingredients.

The main ingredient should be animal meat. Soy, wheat, and corn may seem harmless, but they are only fillers that offer no nutritional value. More often than not, they can cause problems for your dog, including coat and skin issues.

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Health and Exercise

How long do Shar Peis live?

The average lifespan of the Shar Pei is 9 - 15 years when properly cared for.

Do Shar Peis have health problems?

It can be predisposed to certain health issues.

Familial Shar Pei Fever (FSF)

The Shar Pei breed is predisposed to hereditary disease known as swollen hock syndrome (SPAID). This illness usually afflicts young Shar Peis though older ones can catch it too. Moreover, those with more pronounced wrinkles are more vulnerable to the disease.

FSF can raise the dog's temperature to 107o F. This causes the ankles or hocks to swell and may even damage the kidney, leading to kidney failure. Medication to control the fever and prevent further destruction of the kidneys is the main treatment for SPAID.

Blood testing is an efficient method that determines which Shar Pei is at risk of having FSF. Dogs that have results with high probability should be excluded as breeding stocks. This way, they can pass on SPAID to their offspring.

Skin Fold Infection

Bacteria such as Staphylococci proliferate between the enclosed spaces of the Shar Pei dog's wrinkles. Thus, the breed is highly susceptible to skin infections, especially around the muzzle folds. These areas turn moist, inflamed, and smelly.

To prevent the Shar Pei dogs getting infections, grooming and checking the skin folds should be done regularly. Consult the vet on which breed-specific cleaning product to use on your dog's folds to avoid skin irritations.


Many Shar Pei dogs suffer from entropion because of their loose eyelids and deep-set eyes. Entropion is an ocular disease that causes the eyelids to roll inwards. Dogs afflicted with it often squint and tear excessively. Fortunately, there is a cure for this eye condition which involves surgical correction.

Demodectic Mange

This skin problem is caused by Demodex mange mites. Generally, these critters are present in all dogs, however, they quickly grow in numbers in short-coated dogs including the Shar Pei. As a result, affected dogs experience severe skin inflammation.

The vet will usually prescribe topical and oral medication as treatments. They may also recommend using special shampoos and dips to manage the mange.

The Shar Pei is not a high-energy dog, so 45 minutes to 1 hour of physically and mentally stimulating activities will suffice. This can be in the form of short walks, interactive games, and free time in a fenced area.

It is worth knowing that this breed is sensitive to the cold so make sure to keep exercise short or avoid outdoor activities when the temperature drops.

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Cost of Ownership

How much is a Shar Pei dog?

Getting a well-bred pedigree Shar Pei puppy cost around £1,200 - £2,500 depending on the breed's quality. High-quality dog food cost approximately £50-£70 a month. Initial expenses for dog accessories and equipment such as food bowls and beds can amount to £200.

Fees for veterinary consultations, initial vaccinations, boosters, and neutering or spaying can reach up to £1200 for the first year, minors the castration cost and initial boosters for the following years.

If you opt for pet insurance, a time-limited cover can cost £61 a month while a lifetime one can cost up to £137 a month.

Roughly, you will be setting aside £80-£120 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance cover you choose. This estimate is also exclusive of walking or grooming services that you might want to use at times.

Shar Pei Breed Highlights

  • The Shar Pei is a loyal and affectionate breed and a great family member.
  • First-time owners may find the Shar Pei's independent and dominant attitude challenging to deal with.
  • Because it is a naturally clean dog that has a short coat, grooming is a breeze.
  • Shar Pei is suspicious of strangers and is instinctively protective, making it a great watchdog and guard dog.
  • This breed usually develops breed-specific health problems as it grows older.

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The information, including measurements, prices and other estimates, on this page is provided for general reference purposes only.

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