Shar Pei Puppies
History, Characteristics, Personality and More

Also known as "wrinkly dogs", Shar Pei puppies are adorable bundles of joy with a unique hippopotamus face making them a breed like no other.

But there is more to this breed than meets the eye...

Because these fluffy puppies are pretty fast to bloom into impressive companions, and because Shar Pei dogs are really not the best choice for first-time dog owners, it is important to do advanced research on the breed before you finally decide if it's right for you and your family.

Whether you are thinking about buying a puppy or adopting an adult dog and want to know if this is the right breed for you or just want to learn more about this breed, I hope this article will help you find the answers to your questions.

Breed History

Also known as Chinese Shar-Pei and Chinese Fighting Dog, the breed probably originated in the southern Chinese province of Kwantung around 200 B.C. Its name loosely translates as "sand-skin", and rightfully so -- its short and rough coat is unique among all dog breeds.

The precise ancestry of this breed remains uncertain, but many experts believe it may be related to the Chow Chow. Though these breeds don't appear to have many things in common, both share one characteristic that no other breed has, and that is a purple or blue-black tongue.

In China, the breed was used as a general-purpose farm dog. Its duties included hunting, herding and guarding. The Shar Pei's particularly prickly and wrinkly coat was developed for the purpose of fending off wild boar, and later, turned out being useful in the fighting ring.

After the Chinese Revolution, many dog breeds, including the Chinese Shar Pei, were on the brink of extinction. Fortunately, a selected few Shar Peis were brought to Hong Kong and Taiwan, where their breeding continued. It is thanks to a Hong Kong businessman and Shar Pei dog breeder named Matgo Law that this breed still exists today.

The breed was first imported into US in 1966 but it wasn't until 1988 that it was recognized by the American Kennel Club and categorized under the miscellaneous group. It was categorized under the non-sporting group in 1992.

Shar Pei on Leash

Physical Characteristics of Chinese Shar Pei Puppies

The Shar Pei's muzzle shape, wrinkly skin and typical tail carriage gives this breed its unique look. The loose skin is particularly abundant in Shar Pei puppies and reduces as they grow.

This medium size dog boasts a compact body with a neck of medium length and a broad chest. The back is short. The tail, which tapers into a fine point and curls, is typically set high.

The shoulders in this breed are muscular and the elbows are kept close to the body. The forelegs are straight and with strong pasterns. The feet are compact.

The head is large and carried proudly. The eyes are dark and almond-shaped, giving an overall frowning expression. The ears are very small, with rounded tips and sometimes curling edges. The nose is preferably black, large and wide. The tongue, roof of the mouth and gums are bluish-black. The teeth must meet in a scissor bite.

The coat is single, straight and very harsh in texture. The length may range from extremely short to no more than one inch at the withers. When it comes to coat color, only sable and solid colors with some darker shading on the back and ears are accepted.

    Height Weight
  Male 18 to 20 inches 45 to 60 pounds
  Female 18 to 20 inches 45 to 60 pounds

There are also miniature and toy versions of this breed...

The miniature Shar Pei is a smaller version of the standard Shar Pei and must not exceed 17 inches in height. The Miniature Shar Pei Club of America is the official registry for this variety. The toy Shar Pei is an even a smaller version, with heights averaging 15 inches and under. Though these are purebread dogs and recognized as such by AKC, their small size is considered a fault in the show ring.

Shar Pei Temperament

This is a breed with a past as a guardian dog, which explains why Sharpei dogs can be very reserved and suspicious of strangers. Socializing this breed is not an option; it's a must. Fail to socialize this breed enough and you may end up with a very territorial and aggressive dog.

Funny Looking Shar Pei

Due to this breed's independent, strong-willed and confident nature, training can pose some challenges. If you decide to get a dog of this breed, you will need to be consistent and prevent him from getting bored of repetition. On a plus side, you may be happy to learn that when it comes to house training your Shar Pei puppies, these little bundles are quite easy to housebreak.

Loyalty, devotion and unconditional affection towards the family are some traits that make many owners appreciate Shar Pei puppies and adult dogs.

With other dogs, this breed can be bit of a party pooper. You probably want to skip the dog park with this fellow, especially once a puppy reaches adulthood. Cats may need to be watchful too; some Shar Pei specimens may find them to be a great dessert.

When it comes to children, the Shar Pei does best with older kids that have learned how to treat a dog respectfully. No Shar Pei, and any dog in general, should be ever left with a child unsupervised.

Best Owner and Living Conditions

The best owner of this breed is an experienced dog owner eager to establish a relationship of mutual respect while consistently enforcing the rules of the house.

Due to their cleanliness and silent nature, Shar Pei puppies can make good city dwellers. A backyard is not required with this dog, and a condo or an apartment may be just fine.

Being left out alone in the yard is not an option; this is a dog that craves companionship and loves to hang out with his owner.

Activity and Exercise

Chinese Shar Pei puppies and dogs may be happy with just a brisk daily walk around the neighborhood or along a country road. This makes this breed a good choice for couch potatoes who are not too eager about tossing a ball all day long or generally dealing with canine hyperactivity.

This breed, therefore, makes a poor choice for the avid jogger or biker looking for an active partner on their outings.

Shar Pei Dog Resting


Grooming this breed is as easy as pie; indeed, a weekly brushing may suffix. This breed is naturally fastidious when it comes to staying clean.

While frequent bathing and brushing is not necessary, those wrinkles may require some attention to prevent annoying skin problems. Shar Pei ears tend to collect a lot of dirt and wax. It's a good idea to check them on a regular basis and clean when necessary. Shar Pei nails grow fast, so check regularly and clip when necessary.

Shar Pei Health Concerns

Equipped with short noses, Shar Pei puppies and dogs are prone to overheating and don't not do well in hot climates and in the summer months. Snoring, snorting and wheezing are common noises you will have to live with if you want this breed.

The Shar Pei breed is also prone to many hereditary and non-hereditary disorders. Shar Pei fever causes the hock joint to become swollen and painful. Elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis dissecans and patellar luxation are a few other common orthopedic problems with this breed. The eyes may be affected by entropion and glaucoma, while the skin may be prone to seborrhea and pyoderma.

Visit dog health problems to learn more about dog diseases and health care.

As much as these health issues sound like bad news, the good news is that many congenital disorders can be reduced by purchasing puppies from ethical Shar Pei breeders who health test their breeding specimens and offer health guarantees on their puppies.

Even healthy dogs get sick. While many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, there are many others that you may handle on your own. Learn how to save time and money (and how to prevent small problems from becoming big problems) by diagnosing and treating dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.

Shar Pei Face

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for healthy Shar Pei puppies is around 10 years.

Shar-Pei Mixes

The Shar Pei is often crossed with other breeds to create some interesting designer dogs. Because these dogs are the product of two different breeds, they are not purebred.

A common Shar Pei mix is the Shar Pei Poodle mix known as "Shar Poo", not be confused with the sneezing noise "ethcuu"! If you are allergic though, consider that many breeds are purposely bred with Poodles because of their non-shedding coat.

The Shar Pei Pug mix is also known as Ori Pei or Pug-a-Pei. While this is not a purebred dog, it is recognized by several registries, including the American Canine Hybrid Club, the Designer Breed Registry and the Designer Dogs Kennel Club. Last but not least, if you ever get to meet a "Box-a-Shar", you are ultimately looking at a Shar Pei Boxer Mix.

Finally, you may find some breeders breeding for specific coat colors. Chocolate Shar Pei, Lilac Shar Pei and black Shar Pei are a few solid colors in high demand.

Final Thoughts...

Falling in love with Shar Pei puppies is pretty easy as those baby wrinkles are quite irresistible and just seem to call for a cuddle. Yet, an adult Shar Pei dog is a whole different story. Acknowledging this breed's temperament is important so you can decide if this is the right breed for you.

Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?

If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Shar Pei rescue. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? Then check this Shar Pei Behavior and Obedience Training Guide.


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