Chinese Shar-Pei

Chinese Shar-Pei dog
Chinese Shar-Pei book

The Chinese Shar-Pei is a product of ancient China, dating back to the Han Dynasty over two-thousand years ago. The Shar-Pei shares its lineage with another old Chinese breed, the Chow Chow. The breed’s modern history is not that clear. However, documents show that the Hong Kong Kennel Club first recognized the dog in 1968, two years after breed enthusiasts imported them to America in 1973.

Later on, to save the dog from extinction, Hong Kong breeder Matgo Law asked American breeders for help. Thanks to an overwhelming response, the breed gained in popularity with rare-breed exhibitors. Less than twenty years later, the AKC recognized the Shar-Pei and the registration of 30,000 dogs in America.

Chinese Shar-Pei Breed Standard

Image of Chinese Shar-Pei running

The Chinese Shar-Pei distinctive wrinkles and hippopotamus head make the breed unique in the dog world. This breed is a compact, medium-sized dog covered by a short, harsh coat and loose skin over its head and body. The dog’s head is large, with an abundance of wrinkles framing the face. The Chinese Shar-Pei’s muzzle is very broad, and the nose is huge and full. The Shar-Pei’s eyes are small and almond-shaped, and the little, triangular ears lie flat against the head. Overall, the dog possesses a regal, dignified appearance.

Chinese Shar-Pei Temperament

Three Shar-Pei puppies laying on top one another for warmth

The Chinese Shar-Pei is a quiet, dignified dog that is typically reserved with strangers. Training and socialization should begin early, and puppies should have consistent exposure to strangers and children. I recommend puppy kindergarten classes. The Shar-Pei responds well to positive-reinforcement training and food rewards.

Breed Facts

Energy levelWatchdog ability
Exercise requirementsProtection ability
PlayfulnessGrooming requirements
Affection levelCold tolerance
Friendliness toward dogsHeat tolerance
Friendliness toward other petsFriendliness toward strangers
Ease of training

Activity level: These dogs demand daily mental and physical stimulation. However, some lively games throughout the day or a nice long walk will usually suffice.

  • POPULARITY: Somewhat popular
  • FAMILY: Oriental
  • DATE OF ORIGIN: Ancient times
  • ORIGINAL FUNCTION: Dogfighting, herding, hunting, guardian
  • TODAY’S FUNCTION: Companion
  • OTHER NAME: Chinese Fighting Dog
Image of  Chinese fighting dog the Shar-Pei

Grooming: Cleaning the dog’s lip folds every day is essential. Make sure to inspect the skin and coat regularly, and abstain from oiling the skin and wrinkles.

  • Coat: The breed’s coat is a very harsh, sometimes prickly texture (the name Shar-Pei loosely translates to “sandpaper-like coat.”) Its fur can be very short, known as a “horse coat,” to up to 1 inch long, known as a “brush coat.” The coat stands off from the body; on the legs, the coat is flatter.
  • Color: Solid colors, with or without darker shadings in the same color, and sable


  • MAJOR CONCERNS: entropion, CHD
  • MINOR CONCERNS: patellar luxation, allergies, otitis externa, lip, and skin folds pyodermas, hypothyroidism, amyloidosis (renal)
  • OCCASIONALLY SEEN: megaesophagus
  • SUGGESTED TESTS: hip, knee, elbow, eye, thyroid
  • LIFE SPAN: 8—10 years
  • WEIGHT: 45 – 60 pounds
  • HEIGHT: 18 – 20 inches
  • NOTE: Some dogs get Shar-Pei fever, a periodic inflammatory response caused, as a result of the mutation, causing skin wrinkling.

Chinese Shar-Pei Breeders and Buying Advice

Find a breeder that is reputable and who researches pedigrees and screens his or her dogs for inherited diseases.

  • Parent club: Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America (; founded in 1974
  • Regional club: You can find local affiliates of the CSPCA on the “Affiliated Clubs” page under “CSPCA Club info” on the club’s website.
  • Rescue: Locate the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America’s rescue information by clicking “Rescue” on the club’s home page.

How much do Shar-Pei puppies cost?

According to estimates taken from reputable breeders, Shar-Pei puppies can cost anywhere in the range of $1000 to $3000. However, championship bloodlines can exceed $5000, which is due to their show quality and value.

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