Breeds 101

Shar Pei


Independent and stubborn. Devoted and protective. Simply Shar Pei!

No other breed in the dog world look quite like a Shar Pei. Its Chinese standards eloquently describe the breeds conformation: clam-shell ears, butterfly nose, melon-shaped head and dragons legs.

A long time resident of China’s southern province of Guangdong, The Shar Pei appears to be descendent from mastiffs and spitz-type dogs. It is a fairly close relative of the Chow Chow. The Chinese Shar-Pei were general farm dogs, used for hunting, herding and guarding.

The Chinese believed the breed’s characteristic scowl and black pigmented mouth would scare off evil spirits.

Although most dogs were eliminated after China became communist, some Shar-Peis survived in other countries. American fanciers rescued the breed from extinction, and the breed is one of the most recognizable in the U.S.

The first Shar Peis exported from Hong Kong and bred in the United States had severe eye problems, necessitating repeated surgery. Successive breeding has diminished these conditions, but it has not reduced the very high incidence of skin problems.

The Shar Pei can occasionally be aggressive. It is suited to people who are not allergic to dogs, and who are willing to shampoo their dogs frequently.

Medium size dogs: 18 to 20 inches, 45 to 60 pounds.

In any solid color.

Dignified, sober, self-assured, self-possessed temperament. Independent and stubborn. Devoted and protective; suspicious of strangers and aggressive with other dogs.

Low to moderate energy level.

Best owner: Confident owners with previous training experience.

Needs: Daily mental and physical exercise, training and socialization, weekly brushing, attention to ears and wrinkles, regular nail clipping.

Life expectancy: 8 to 12 years.