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Your Pet, Our Passion.

Shar Pei

Shar Pei are easily recognisable by the loose folds of skin on their bodies and their 'frowning' expressions. They are squarely built and short-coupled and look powerful with good bone. Their coat is short and bristly and harsh to the touch. The Shar Pei dog comes in many colours.

The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Large dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming once a week
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks, alerts and may be physically protective/suspicious of visitors
  • Might not like other dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
This breed may encounter health problems

The Shar Pei breed are prone mainly to skin and ear infections due to their excessive skin folds.
The breed is also classed as brachycephalic; problems associated with the condition include;
Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome: a condition in brachycephalic breeds (those with a short nose and squashed face) where breathing is obstructed and can lead to reduced ability to exercise, or even severe respiratory distress.
Skin inflammation/infection: brachycephalic breeds have a short nose and a normal amount of facial tissue. This means there is often excess skin around their face which leads to skin folds. The skin inside these folds can become sore and infections are prone to develop. 
Eye ulcers: ulcers are painful erosions on the surface of the eye. They are more common in brachycephalic breeds due to their conformation, as their eyes tend to be more bulbous.

The breed are also prone to:
- Glaucoma which is a painful condition where the pressure in the eye builds up. 
- Primary lens luxation which is a condition where the lens moves from it's normal position in the eye which will result in vision loss and can cause pain.
- Entropion/ectropion which is a painful eye condition where the eyelids roll inwards/outwards. Again this is due to the large amount of skin that the breed has. 
- Familial Shar Pei Fever which is a disorder that causes a high temperature and joint swelling.
Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Eye screening scheme

Key Facts

Lifespan: 9–11 years
Weight: 18kg
Height: 46–51cm
Colours: Diverse colours including, black, cream, red or blue
Size: Medium
Kennel Club group: Utility


Family-friendly: 2/5
Exercise needs: 3/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 4/5
Likes other pets: 2/5
Energy level: 2/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 5/5
Shar Pei lying in the room


Well-socialised Shar Pei are devoted to their families. They are loyal and can be playful and active but more often are rather aloof and can also be stubborn and territorial if not trained properly when young. They are naturally suspicious of strangers. They will be fine with cats if they have been introduced to them when puppies, but there can be problems mixing with other dogs. They often hate the cold.

Shar Pei puppy in the hands of the owner

History and Origins

Country of Origin: China

The Shar Pei, also known as the Chinese Fighting Dog, is thought to be descended from the Han Dog, a ancient guarding breed that lived in China around 2000 years ago.

The Han Dog gave rise to two different breeds - one a heavier, more bulky dog which went on the become the Chow and a smaller wrinkled dog who became used for fighting who became the Shar Pei. Both have the same unique blue tongue showing their linked ancestry.

The wrinkled skin along with their bristly coat was an intentional characteristic to give them an advantage in fights as their opponent would find it hard to get a good grip on them or cause serious injury.

The fighting career of the Shar Pei ended when organisers were able to import larger stronger dogs, and the breed became virtually extinct when Communist leaders who felt owning dogs was a Western decadence, slaughtered any they could find.

By 1978, they found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the rarest dog in the world before a group of breed enthusiasts used the few that were left to recreate the breed. Now their numbers have risen and their future is secure - although responsible breeders are still working hard to breed for both temperament and health.

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • The Shar Pei’s wrinkles originated from his dog fighting days to prevent opponents being able to easily get hold of him and cause injury, while his prickly coat would feel unpleasant in their mouth causing them to quickly let go.
  • If you read his original breed standard, you can discover why this dog looks as unique as he does. It says the Shar Pei should have a head shaped like a melon, a mouth like a mother frog, clam-shaped ears, a face like a grandmother, a neck like a water buffalo, a body like a fish, a back like a shrimp, all coupled with horses’ buttocks on dragon’s legs with feet like garlic!