Chinese Shar-Pei

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45-60 lbs
Chinese fighting dog
Many believe that the origin of the Chinese Shar-Pei began in the southern provinces of China during the Han Dynasty (around 200 B.C.), because of pictures found on pottery made at that time. Writings from the 13th century provide evidence of the breed's existence during that period.
dog fighting, herding, hunting, guardian
Date of Origin
livestock dog, mountain dog, Northern (companion)

Chinese Shar-Pei Health

Average Size
Height: 18-20 inches Weight: 45-60 lbs
Height: 18-20 inches Weight: 45-60 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Entropion
  • CHD
Minor Concerns
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Demodectic Mange
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Hip
  • Elbow
  • Knee

Chinese Shar-Pei Breed History

Many feel that the Shar-Pei shares its ancestry with the chow-chow because of the common trait of the black tongue and because it is believed that both breeds hailed from China. Others claim that the Shar-Pei is somehow related to the Thai Ridgeback. But the true history of the dog is difficult to investigate due to the loss of the breeding records when China became communist. The Shar-Pei worked for peasants and farmers as guard dogs, boar hunters, and fighters, but many were eliminated during the Communist Revolution. Those few remaining were bred in British Hong Kong and Taiwan and a few came to the United States. It was in 1973 that Matgo Law, a business man from Hong Kong, wrote an article outlining the plight of the breed. He appealed to Americans to rescue the Shar-Pei from extinction. It is now one of the most recognizable breeds in the United States.

Chinese Shar-Pei Breed Appearance

Compact and square in its build, the Shar-Pei has straight front legs that offer substantial bone and strong, muscular hindquarters. The compact feet are moderately sized and firmly set. The large head is coverage with wrinkles. The almond-shaped eyes are small and dark with a scowling expression. The thick ears are rather small, triangular in shape, and rounded slightly at the tips. They lie flat against the head and are set high and wide apart. The broad, full muzzle features a large and wide nose, strong teeth that meet in a scissors bite, and a black tongue. The medium-length neck sits well into the shoulders with heavy folds of skin that hang loosely around the throat. The back of the Shar-Pei is short. The high set tail is round and thick at the base, and it tapers to a point. The gait of this breed is described as free and balanced. The healthy-looking coat is very straight. The hair stands off from the body and lies somewhat flatter on the limbs. Coat lengths range from very short, called a "horse coat," to a little longer, called a "brush coat." The breed comes in a variety of solid colors and in sable.

Chinese Shar-Pei Breed Maintenance

It is said that the name Shar-Pei comes from a word meaning sandy coat, which aptly describes the gritty, sandpaper texture of this dog. If the coat is rubbed backward, it is prickly and uncomfortable to touch. Grooming, however, is fairly minimal. The coat should be brushed on a regular basis, but it does not need to be trimmed. The "bush" length sheds a little throughout the year, but the "horse" coat usually only sheds during molting periods, which at times can leave the dog shabby. This can be avoided by bathing the dog weekly and brushing it daily during these periods. This removes the old dead hair and allows the new coat to grow in. Pay extra attention to the folds of the skin to make sure the dog is free from irritations. Regular massaging and brushing with a bristle brush is recommended to keep the coat looking healthy. The teeth need to be cleaned on a regular basis, and the toenails of this breed should be clipped every ten days or so. The Shar-Pei should be provided with frequent exercise, preferably walks on a leash or play within a fenced-in yard. This breed will do fine in an apartment dwelling as long as sufficient exercise is provided. Shade and water must always be at hand as this breed is sensitive to heat.

Chinese Shar-Pei Breed Activity Requirements

While it is not very demonstrative, the Shar-Pei is a devoted and protective dog. It is considered to be serious and independent, and it is known to have a stubborn streak. It is generally reserved with strangers, and it can be aggressive toward other dogs. It has been known to chase livestock and other animals, but it is usually good with other family pets if raised with them. Despite its frowning expression, the Shar-Pei is surprisingly easy-going and calm. Firm, gentle, and consistent training is needed to handle this independent breed. The Shar-Pei is usually good with children despite its tendency to be aloof and independent.