a shar pei with a blue collar on the grass

Introducing the Shar Pei

Discover all there is to know about the Shar Pei: its characteristics, behavior, training, and its cost.


The Shar Pei, a testament to ancient beauty and loyalty

a shar pei on a lead, squinting his eyes

Originating from China, the Shar Pei is a breed known for its deep wrinkles and blue-black tongue. This breed is not just a living piece of Chinese history; it's among the most distinctive and cherished breeds globally. The Shar Pei is celebrated for its courage, versatility in roles ranging from a devoted family companion to a guardian.

Beyond their striking appearance, Shar Peis are known for their loyalty and affectionate nature. They form strong bonds with their families and are known to be particularly sociable with those they trust, often showing their love in gentle, endearing ways. Despite their independent streak, Shar Peis crave companionship and interaction, making them not just unique in looks but also in their capacity for affection and loyalty.


Explore the unique characteristics of the Shar Pei breed.


The Shar Pei falls into the utility group (2), known for their deep wrinkles and as calm, independent companions and protectors.


Medium in stature, Shar Peis stand 18 to 20 inches tall and weigh 45 to 60 pounds, showcasing a compact, robust frame.

Coat length

Their coat is short and bristly, defining their look with minimal grooming needs.

Coat color

Predominantly solid colors like black, cream, and blue characterize their coat, presenting a majestic appearance.

Living environment

Adaptable to apartments or houses with yards, they thrive in secure, exploratory spaces.


Loyal to families yet reserved with strangers, their sociability varies with early socialization.


Prone to skin and joint issues, regular veterinary checks are crucial for their well-being.


With their intelligence, they benefit from patient, positive reinforcement and early socialization.

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The Shar Pei, a wrinkle in time

The Shar Pei stands out with its medium size, strong, compact build, and signature appearance. Its coat, often in shades of fawn, sand, and blue, is short but incredibly dense, crowned with a unique face characterized by deep wrinkles and a broad, hippopotamus-like muzzle.

Size and weight of the Shar Pei

a shar pei puppy sitting on the grass

Shar Peis present a sturdy stature; females typically measure between 18 and 20 inches, while males reach up to 20 inches in height. In terms of weight, females range from 40 to 55 pounds, and males from 50 to 60 pounds.

Shar Peis undergo a rapid growth phase, doubling their weight from birth within the first few months. They reach their full physical maturity and stable weight by the age of 2, showcasing their full, distinctive wrinkled appearance.

The coat of the Shar Pei

a shar pei lying on its front legs on the ground

Coat length

The Shar Pei is renowned for its distinctive short, bristly coat, which is one of its most recognizable features. Unlike many other breeds, the Shar Pei's coat is uniquely rough to the touch, designed to protect the dog in various weather conditions. This breed does not have the waves or fringes seen in longer-coated breeds, but its coat is dense and straight, contributing to its unique appearance.

Coat color

The coat color of the Shar Pei is quite versatile, featuring a range of solid colors that include black, cream, fawn, red, and blue, among others. This diversity in color adds to the breed's appeal, allowing for a beautiful spectrum within the Shar Pei population.

profile of a shar pei bathed in sunlight

Coat care

Shar Pei coat care is relatively straightforward due to its short length, but it does require attention to maintain the dog's overall health and appearance. The breed's coat sheds minimally throughout the year, reducing the need for constant grooming. However, their wrinkles need regular cleaning to prevent skin infections.

Brushing once a week is typically sufficient to remove dead hair and keep the coat healthy. Due to their sensitive skin, Shar Peis should only be bathed when necessary, using mild shampoo to avoid irritation. Regular checks and cleaning of their unique skin folds are essential to prevent issues.

Other characteristics of the Shar Pei

a shar pei asleep on the ground

Physical features

The Shar Pei is the epitome of a balanced and well-proportioned breed, instantly recognizable by its unique physical attributes. Its head is large and rounded, featuring a broad, flat skull and a wide, padded muzzle that resembles that of a hippopotamus. The breed's eyes are small, almond-shaped, and often dark in color, giving the Shar Pei a distinctive, thoughtful expression.

Their ears are tiny, triangular, and tightly curled, sitting high on the head and adding to their distinctive silhouette. The body of a Shar Pei is compact yet strong, with well-developed musculature beneath its wrinkled skin, showcasing a powerful and sturdy physique. This breed's build is complemented by a high-set, curled tail, which rounds off their unique and striking appearance.


What is the temperament of the Shar Pei?

The Shar Pei exhibits a calm demeanor, marked by loyalty, an innate protective instinct, and deep affection for its family members.

Shar Pei category

two little shar pei playing together

With over 400 recognized dog breeds categorized into 10 distinct groups, each group encapsulates breeds with similar characteristics and functionalities. The Shar Pei belongs to the utility group (2), which includes versatile breeds like the Dalmatian, Bulldog, and Akita, celebrated for their adaptability and strong work ethic. Dogs in this group are recognized for their loyalty, intelligence, and balanced temperament, fitting various roles from service to companionship.

Shar Peis distinguish themselves with their stoic independence, protective instincts, and quiet intelligence. Although reserved, they form deep, affectionate bonds with their families, transitioning from farm protectors to devoted companions, showcasing their adaptability and lasting connection with humans.

Behaviour of the Shar Pei

a shar pai being stroked by two humans

Stoic loyalty with a tender heart

The Shar Pei is known for its dignified and somewhat reserved nature, embodying a blend of calmness and independence that defines its general behavior. This breed shows deep affection and loyalty towards its family, often forming a strong, inseparable bond with its owner.

The presence of an attentive and engaged owner is crucial for the Shar Pei's emotional well-being, as they thrive on stability and routine. While they may not be as outwardly expressive as other breeds, their devotion is shown through subtle gestures of affection and a constant, comforting presence.

the shar pei's nose stuck to its mistress's in the snow

Reserved yet affectionate companion

Despite their independent streak, Shar Peis possess a generous spirit, especially towards their family members. They can be sociable with humans, albeit with a level of reservation initially. With proper socialization from a young age, Shar Peis can become more open and friendly, even with strangers. Their interaction with children is marked by a gentle patience, making them good companions for families.

However, their social skills need nurturing early on to ensure they develop a well-rounded temperament, capable of adapting to various social situations and living harmoniously with other pets. The importance of early socialization cannot be overstressed, as it lays the foundation for a confident and sociable Shar Pei.

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The Shar Pei's living environment

a shar pei walking on the grass

Adaptable companion

The Shar Pei proves to be exceptionally adaptable, thriving in various living situations, from cozy apartments to spacious houses, and adjusting well to both urban and rural settings. The key to their happiness lies in the attention and companionship they receive from their owners, rather than the size of their living space. These dogs require moderate exercise, with daily walks of around 30 to 45 minutes recommended to maintain their physical and mental well-being.

Space for exploration

Despite their adaptability, Shar Peis benefit from having access to an outdoor area where they can explore and satisfy their curiosity. While they do not demand excessive space, a secure backyard or regular visits to a park can significantly enhance their quality of life, allowing them to engage with their environment in a safe and controlled manner. This outdoor time is crucial for their overall happiness, providing them with the opportunity to expend energy and remain stimulated.

Training the Shar Pei

a shar pei at the feet of its owner

Intelligent yet stubborn

The Shar Pei is a breed that combines superior intelligence with a somewhat independent nature, making its training both rewarding and challenging. These dogs are quick learners but will often evaluate the necessity or benefit of a command before obeying. Training should focus on mutual respect and understanding, utilizing positive reinforcement techniques.

Given their protective instincts, Shar Peis can benefit from wearing a GPS collar, ensuring their safety by preventing losses or escapes, especially when their curiosity gets the better of them or they decide to explore beyond familiar boundaries.

two shar pei on a lead together

Consistency is key

Shar Peis possess notable listening qualities, responding well to commands when engaged properly. Their training may require a bit more patience and consistency due to their independent streak. Starting training and socialization early is critical for this breed, helping them to develop a well-rounded character and good social skills.

Shar Peis are not just protective; they are also affectionate with their family, making them excellent companions. The focus on consistent, gentle, and firm training helps harness their intelligence and loyalty, making the most of their potential as both a family pet and a vigilant guardian.


How to take care of the Shar Pei  ?

The Shar Pei is known for its unique appearance and generally robust health. However, daily care is crucial to prevent common diseases and infections, particularly those related to their distinctive skin folds.

The health of the Shar Pei

a shar pei lying on the carpet at the foot of a sofa


Shar Peis are generally healthy but have a predisposition to certain conditions due to their unique physical traits. Skin infections, ear infections, and eye conditions like entropion are relatively common due to their wrinkles and folded skin.

They may also face joint issues such as hip dysplasia and are susceptible to Shar Pei fever, a breed-specific condition. Symptoms can include fever and swollen hocks. The typical lifespan for a Shar Pei ranges from 8 to 12 years, with attentive care extending their quality and length of life.

a shar pei puppy in the arms of a vet

Routine care

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for maintaining the health of a Shar Pei, including up-to-date vaccinations, deworming, and parasite control. Daily care should include thorough cleaning of their skin folds to prevent infections, regular ear checks to avoid ear infections, and dental care to maintain oral health. Nail trimming is also important to avoid overgrowth and walking difficulties.

Given their potential for allergies, consulting with a vet for dietary recommendations is crucial. While Shar Peis are not classified as hypoallergenic, their short coat and minimal shedding can be less triggering for people with mild allergies.

Feeding the Shar Pei

a shar pei who sticks out his tongue after drinking from a fountain

Daily Requirements

Each dog breed, including the Shar Pei, has unique nutritional needs that must be met to maintain optimal health and vitality. A balanced diet rich in proteins and vitamins is crucial for the Shar Pei's overall well-being. Premium kibble designed for the specific needs of the Shar Pei breed can provide a solid foundation for their daily dietary requirements.

If additional protein is needed, especially for more active dogs, supplementing their diet with lean white or red meat can be beneficial, though it's important to monitor fat intake closely. Shar Peis, with their unique physical makeup, may require tailored nutrition to prevent skin issues and support joint health, underscoring the importance of choosing high-quality food sources.


What does a Shar Pei cost?

The Shar Pei, with its distinctive appearance and loyal temperament, is highly regarded among dog enthusiasts. There are several breeders across Great Britain specializing in this breed, but it's important to consider several factors before adopting.

How to choose your Shar Pei

two shar pei, one with white fur lying on his back and another with black fur, playing together

Finding the right breeder

Adopting a Shar Pei requires careful consideration to ensure you're making an informed decision. It's crucial to select a reputable breeder. Visiting the breeder's premises allows you to observe the living conditions and behavior of the dogs, ensuring they are healthy and well-cared for. Inquire about the health of the puppy and its parents, and seek transparency regarding any illnesses in its lineage.

Lastly, you must have your dog microchipped by the age of 8 weeks old and have their details registered on a relevant database like Petlog or Animal Tracker. This is a legal requirement in Great Britain, and non-compliance could result in a

fine. For microchipping, consult your veterinarian. Alternatively, any Blue Cross center will offer this service free of charge.

four little shar pei together in a trailer

The price of a Shar Pei

The cost of acquiring a Shar Pei puppy can vary significantly based on factors such as lineage, pedigree, the reputation of the breeder, or the age of the dog. Typically, Shar Pei puppies can range from £800 to


Remember, owning a Shar Pei involves ongoing costs for their care, including food, veterinary fees, and grooming. The annual expense for maintaining a Shar Pei can average between


, depending on health needs and lifestyle.

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