The Shar pei, often called the Chinese Shar-Pei, distinguishes itself from other dog breeds with its unique “hippopotamus-shaped” head and numerous body wrinkles. This ancient breed requires a confident, firm yet loving owner. Although an intelligent dog, the Shar-Pei is noted for its stubbornness, therefore, early socialization and training are highly recommended. This dominant breed doesn’t always do well with other dogs unless raised with them.
The Shar pei originated in China where it served primarily as a farm dog, performing several jobs such as guarding property and family and hunting vermin. Today’s Shar-Pei is seen in the show ring, from conformation and obedience to agility and tracking events.
The breed’s name means “sandy coat”. Shar-Pei can possess any solid coat color. The harsh, brisk coat is often quite short, called a “horse coat”; a “brush coat” of no more than one inch in length can also be featured. The more rare “bear coat” is a variety not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC); in this variety, the dog possesses an undercoat and a topcoat that exceeds one inch.
Shar-Pei requires minimal grooming. These are clean dogs and require only the occasional bath. Their high-set, triangular ears, however, need regular cleaning. Another unique trait for this breed is the fact that the ears have the ability to move. The dog’s tail is thick at the base and tapers to a fine point and sets high.
The Shar pei is devoted to its owner and is considered intelligent and quick learning as long as training and socialization are implemented early. It is very aloof with strangers
The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1992 as part of the Non-Sporting Group.
These compact, somewhat square dogs range from 18 to 20 inches (46 to 51 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh from 45 to 60 pounds (18 to 25 kg). Although covered with wrinkles, Shar pei in general do not have skin problems. Those do often result from a hereditary condition due to bad breeding practices. A Shar pei lives to be about 10 years of age.
Considered regal and alert with a scowling, sober expression, the Shar pei is known for its calm, confident appearance and brave demeanor.
Due to its working heritage, this dog requires regular exercise. It can live in an apartment if sufficiently exercised. This dog is sensitive to warm weather so being careful to not overexert and to not have the dog out in the sun too long. Always provide a Shar pei plenty of shade and water when outdoors.
Many believe this breed has existed since about 200 BC. Some also believe the Shar pei and Chow Chow are related; both dogs possess a blue/purple tongue.
The Shar pei is working dog of China that served in many capacities, particularly as a guarding and herding dog on the farm. Some were also used in dog fighting. During the Communist Revolution, the numbers of dogs dwindled significantly, but the breed was brought back from the brink by a Hong Kong businessman. Today’s Shar Pei functions as a companion animal and often participates in canine events that coincide with its working dog heritage.