Shar-Pei – The Complete Breed Guide

Shar Pei

Welcome to our guide to the Shar-Pei.

The website aims to ask questions to breeders, vets and experienced owners to get the answers to your most frequently asked questions about the Shar-Pei breed of dog.

You can also help too!

If you can answer any of the questions below, then please add your comments to the box at the bottom of the page or you can email us at

We would love to feature your dog and publish any photos or pictures of your Shar-Pei you would like to email us.

Are you looking to buy a Shar-Pei – then see our list of Shar-Pei breeders.

Shar-Pei Owner Interview

On this page, we feature an owner interview on Thor, the Shar-Pei.

Can you tell us who you are and where you live?

Thor lives with his Grandparents, Ed and Lauren Toevs, in Concord California.

How long have you owned a Shar-Pei?

Thor was raised by his Mom, Alyxandra Gardner, and in February 2016, he went to live with his Grandparents. He has been in his current home, just over a year.

Shar Pei

Thor the Shar-Pei – Photo by Ed and Lauren


Where did you buy him from?

Thor came from a breeder in central California, he was not show quality due to a bend in his tail.

From your experience what makes this breed so special?

Thor is a very non demanding dog. He loves his humans, and always knows where they are, within the home, but is not a high energy dog, and never barks. He might woof once in a great while, but he is not a barker. His vet who specializes in Shar-Pei, says that they sleep 20 hours a day. That’s about right. For seniors, or a low key family, he is a perfect fit.

What type of personality/temperament do they have?

Shar Pei

Thor the Shar-Pei – Photo by Ed and Lauren

This question gets a little tricky, Menchie. Thor is a very loving dog, who never barks, and in the year we have had him, has not shown any aggression toward anyone. That said, I understand that is not the norm for the Shar-Pei breed. They are known to be very protective and do not necessarily warm up to strangers quickly. Thor, on the other hand, does not show these behaviors, however, he will avoid small children if possible. He never growls, or shows aggression, he just walks somewhere else. If you look at his FB pictures, you will see that he is very social, accompanying us to parties, and dinners with friends. He also allows me to dress him in silly hats and scarves for various pictures.

I believe the Shar-Pei is quite a popular dog on social media/Internet these days, can you tell us how this started?

First, most people don’t know that there are 3 different coats in Shar-Pei, and each looks quite different. First, Thor is a “Horsehair Shar-Pei.” He has very short, almost prickly coat with no undercoat. He was born with lots of Shar-Pei wrinkles, but horsehair’s grow a little taller and leaner, and as an adult, do not necessarily have as many wrinkles as most people think of, when they hear “Shar-Pei”. Second is the “Brush Coat Shar-Pei.” These are the Shar-Pei with a coat about 1 inch long, and they usually have lots of wrinkles as adults, with a curly tail as well. They are the ones that people think of when they hear “Shar-Pei.” Finally, there is the “Bear Coat Shar-Pei”, which comes from parents with recessive genes, and the puppy receives two of them (sometimes they have blue eyes), and they are currently not recognized by the AKC. Because of this, they are not coveted by breeders, and not commonly found. But they are the cutest puppy you have ever seen. (Google a Bear Coat Shar-Pei) The Bear Coat Shar-Pei has a long coat, up to 3 inches, and lots of wrinkles too.

What are your feeding routines, such as how often and what types of food do you feed the Shar-Pei?

Thor is fed twice a day, and eats a very high grade kibble that I have researched. His food is from Acana, a US company that only uses locally grown products, is produced in their own kitchens, and never outsourced. They also have never had a recall on any of their products.

Have you encountered any health issues?

Shar Pei

Thor the Shar Pei – Photo by Ed and Lauren

Oh my, Thor’s vet has a saying: Shar-Pei are not for the light of pocketbook. Unfortunately, there is more truth in that than fiction. First, there is a condition called entropion, which is when their eyelids turn in and the hairs scratch the cornea. If not treated (surgery) they can go blind. Second: Shar-Pei have extremely little ears, and ear canals. Because of this, they are very prone to ear infections, which can cause the ear canal to close, leaving them very hard of hearing. Ear infections are a constant concern. Thor does not swim, nor do we wash his head when bathing him. Water in his ears will cause infections. Third: Skin infections, are common with Shar-Pei. I don’t know if the different coat, or amount of wrinkles makes a difference. I think the ones with lots of wrinkles have a harder time due to the layers of skin. Thor had a slight skin disorder when we got him, but a good shampoo seemed to help significantly. Fourth: There is also Shar-Pei fever, which causes swelling in the hocks. The cause is unknown, but it is thought to be inherited. Fifth: Allergies, Shar-Pei are great for developing various allergies.

Obviously grooming is another major aspect of owning a Shar-Pei, can you offer any tips, advice and popular accessories for your Shar Pei?

Again, it will depend on which coat Shar-Pei you have. Thor, being a Horsehair, requires very little grooming, other than a regular bath, and a good scratch now and then. I would think a Brush, or Bear Coat would require regular brushing and cleansing to keep the skin within the wrinkles healthy and free from infection.

Any other useful tips and advice that you can offer to potential new owners?

Be sure you look into the whole package before you purchase the cute little wrinkly puppy. Be sure you have the finances to properly care for your dog, from eye surgery, to the various ear, skin and immune issues. If you decide to purchase a Shar-Pei, be sure to buy “pet insurance” BEFORE you take your new addition to the vet. You definitely do not want any “pre-existing” conditions. Also look for an insurance that does not have “breed specific” exclusions, i.e. eyes, ears, skin, etc. Lastly, look for a veterinarian who has experience with Shar-Pei’s. My granddaughter was told that Thor had “mange”, when he was, in fact, going through a “pitting shed”.

Thanks Ed and Lauren for this wonderful interview. If you want to find out more, you can visit this page:

Shar Pei

Thor the Shar-Pei – Photo by Ed and Lauren

Darlene Smith wrote to us to ask: My Shar-Pei itches a lot and has anxiety separation! What can I do?

AKC Breeder Of Merit, Bobbie Libman of HOUSE OF MIKOBI kindly answers:

“Itching can be an allergy, especially if the area is red and there is hair loss. There are sprays (BitterApple) that can deter licking or biting the area. Also, to relieve itching, there is an anti-itch steroidal cream. (Hydrocortisone cream) Allergy testing can be done via a blood test, or saliva test.

If it’s food allergies, that can be addressed by a change in diet.

Environmental sensitivities can be more challenging.

There are many reasons for separation anxiety. I have a large crate to put the dog in when I’m going to be gone for several hours. It can be a dog’s “safe place”. I would offer treats and toys as well as water to make them feel secure in their den. There is also a product called “Thunder Shirt” which is supposed to calm the dog.

Depending on the dogs past experiences, these ideas could be helpful without resorting to drugs.

Also, there is a homeopathic product called Rescue Remedy which can be purchased at a health food store. It is supposed to help with anxiety.”

Why Choose a Shar-Pei?

What type of owners buy a Shar-Pei?

What in your opinion are the best things about the Shar-Pei breed?

Why do you think the Shar-Pei is special?

What are your favourite things about the Shar-Pei?

Are you glad you choose to buy a Shar-Pei and not another breed?

How would you describe the Shar-Pei temperament?

What advice might you give to people thinking about whether they should buy a Shar-Pei over other breeds?

History & Origins

What are the history and origins of the Shar-Pei?

About The Breed

What colors of Shar-Pei are most popular?

What does the Shar-Pei look like?

What are the pros/cons of the Shar-Pei breed?

What can a new owner expect in terms of differences between the Shar-Pei and other breeds?

Do they attract a lot of interest and curiosity from the public?

What type of typical personality does the Shar-Pei have?

Is it possible to describe a fairly typical Shar-Pei?

What is the breed standard/description for the Shar-Pei?

Were there particular colors people preferred and that maybe you focused on?

Are there any downsides to owning a Shar-Pei that prospective owners should be aware of?

Is the Shar-Pei breed of dog suitable for first-time dog owners?

Some breeds can be described as greedy and prone to weight issues, would this apply to the Shar-Pei?

What are the key differences when compared to other breeds?

Is the Shar-Pei breed suitable for a person or family that are out at work all day?

Some owners seek a breed suitable for barking and offering a guard dog role – how does the Shar-Pei match up to that role?

Are there myths about the Shar-Pei – in other words do new potential owners come to you with misconceptions about this breed?

We asked a number of breeders in the UK and America what essential advice they would give to new owners of Shar-Pei puppies and this is what they said:

What types of questions do you get once owners get their Shar-Pei home?

Can you tell us something most owners would not know – tips, secrets etc from your years of experience?

What is the typical temperament of a Shar-Pei, so people know what to expect from their new pet?

When fully grown how much on average does a Shar-Pei weigh?

When the Shar-Pei is full grown in size what is the maximum height and length expected to be?

Is the Shar-Pei ever crossed or mixed with other breeds of dog?

Does the Shar-Pei smell or drool a lot?

Do you have a Shar-Pei growth chart?

What breed group does the Shar-Pei come under?

What type of coat do they have?

Can they swim?

What does the movement of the tail show, does it mean they are trying to ‘talk to us’ or give us some message?


Are there some types of people that you can suggest the Shar-Pei is not suitable for, perhaps families?

How is the Shar-Pei with children?

Do you think the Shar-Pei is suitable for families with young children?

How does the Shar-Pei get along with other (existing) pets and do you have any tips or advice for new Shar-Pei owners in terms of successful integration?

Is it better to buy one Shar-Pei or two?

Should prospective new owners be aware of any differences between males and females?

Would the Shar-Pei be suitable as a guard dog?

Can I leave my Shar-Pei during the day while I go to work?


What is the expected average lifespan of the Shar-Pei?

In terms of life expectancy, how long on average would the Shar-Pei breed live to?

Food & Diet

Do you have any special feeding routines or diet?

Do you have any feeding advice or brands that you prefer?

How to handle the Shar-Pei puppy to start off – how much food, what type, how often?

What feeding routines and types of food/supplements do you recommend?

What to buy in terms of equipment? Bowls etc

Do owners need to consider supplements for their Shar-Pei?

How about for older dogs?

Buying – How Much Do They Cost?

How much did your Shar-Pei cost to buy?

Can you offer advice to people looking to buy a Shar-Pei and how much should they spend?

What advice would you offer new Shar-Pei owners?

What types of people are buying the Shar-Pei and why?

Where can I buy Shar-Pei rescue dogs or find a Shar-Pei for adoption? Please note that buying or searching for a ‘cheap’ Shar-Pei can be false economy as they may have health issues that cost you far more in the long-term – always buy from a good and responsible breeder!

Do I need public liability insurance or a license?


How would you describe the Shar-Pei puppy to potential new owners?

What types of owners are best suited to owning a Shar-Pei?

What colors and sizes are most popular?

Are there things new owners do that perhaps frustrate you?

What can people expect when they become a new owner?

What inspired you to become a breeder and did you start with the Shar-Pei?

As a Shar-Pei breed expert, are there any ‘essential’ tips you would like to share with new owners?

Are there specific times of the year that you breed?

Choosing a puppy from a litter, what advice could you offer potential new owners in terms of selecting ‘the one’?

How long does it take to housetrain/potty train a Shar-Pei?

When can you take them out in public and how do you handle them around other dogs?

Will they run off – when is it safe to let them off the lead?

We invite you to email us your Shar-Pei’s pictures, in particular we are looking for photos showing Shar-Pei puppies at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 weeks old as well as early pictures such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 months old to a year old.

Do they have any nicknames or does the Shar-Pei have popular names?

If my Shar-Pei is pregnant what might the litter size be?

Could the Shar-Pei be dangerous around young children?

Problem Behaviors

How do you deal with a problem barker – any tips and advice to new owners?

How do you prevent a Shar-Pei biting?

How do you prevent a Shar-Pei chewing?

How do you stop a Shar-Pei jumping up?

Does the Shar-Pei have an issue with excessive digging?

Why does my Shar-Pei keep growling and barking?

Is there a reason my Shar-Pei dog is often scratching excessively?

Do they suffer from separation anxiety and how can I prevent this?


In comparison perhaps to other breeds what can you say about the Shar-Pei and their exercise needs and do you have any tips or advice for new Shar-Pei owners?

As a breeder of the Shar-Pei , do you prefer a collar or harness?

As an expert of the Shar-Pei breed do you prefer a standard leash or retractable?

Can you offer any dog walking tips for Shar-Pei owners?

Playtime & Tricks

What games and toys can you recommend for the Shar-Pei?

Are there toys you suggest avoiding?

How intelligent is the Shar-Pei compared to other dog breeds?

How much can they understand?


Do you have any special grooming routines or tips and advice for new Shar-Pei owners?

How much time is involved?

What accessories are required to be purchased for grooming a Shar-Pei?

Any advice/tips you can give concerning maintenance of nails?

How much do Shar-Pei shed and how do I maintain their hair and how often?

How can I prevent or cure ear infections?

Do you have any tips for eye care?

Is the Shar-Pei a hypoallergenic breed?


Any advice/tips you can give concerning cleaning and bathing your Shar-Pei?

Can you offer new Shar-Pei owners advice concerning fleas and maybe products you use in treatment and prevention?


What advice and tips could you offer to owners who might wish to follow your path in showing the Shar-Pei?

What started your interest in showing the Shar-Pei?

If a new owner perhaps wanted to meet other owners or find out more – perhaps they have an interest in joining a local club or maybe they wonder how they can start showing their Shar-Pei – where would they begin?

Can you offer any advice to others who may be wondering if they can also start showing?

How would an owner know they have a show-quality Shar-Pei and how would they start off?

Can you give away any of your secrets?!

Is showing very expensive and why do you think people like to do it?

What do judges look for in a winner?


What inspired you to become a breeder and did you start with the Shar-Pei?

What official organisations are there for the new Shar-Pei owner and what benefits or services do they provide?

In buying a Shar-Pei, can you offer advice and tips to new owners?

How did you go from being an owner to getting into breeding?

Do you think the breed’s popularity has increased, decreased or remains the same?

How did you progress to becoming a breeder and why focus on breeding the Shar-Pei out of all the breeds you could have chosen?

What do you think makes the Shar-Pei special to you?

Are there things that you see owners doing that frustrate you?

As a breed expert, are there any ‘essential’ tips you would like to share with new owners?


In comparison perhaps to other breeds what is it like to train a Shar-Pei and do you have any tips or advice for new Shar-Pei owners?

How should new owners approach bringing a new Shar-Pei home, any advice and tips you can give?

Should I allow my Shar-Pei to sleep in my bed or elsewhere in the house?

Do you recommend crate training and how long does this take?

Should my Shar-Pei sleep in a kennel or crate?


Health is always a major concern when buying a dog, do you have any advice for new Shar-Pei owners to be aware of in particular?

Are there any health-related tips you can give to owners?

What sort of health issues should owners be on the lookout for?

What is the recommended schedule for vaccinations for your Shar-Pei?

Can you offer any advice on how to treat and prevent worms?

What type of health issues can a Shar-Pei have and how do you deal with preventing these?

Why does my Shar-Pei have diarrhea?

Do they suffer from itchy and sensitive skin and if so why?

Why is my Shar-Pei vomiting and do I go to the vets?

When should I take my Shar-Pei for vaccinations and which ones do they need and how often?

How often will my Shar-Pei be in heat?

Should I consider getting my Shar-Pei spayed or neutered and when and how much does this cost and what are the benefits?

My Shar-Pei is limping, what should I do and should I go to a veterinarian surgeon?

Do they suffer from allergies?

Why is my Shar-Pei not eating?

How much does it cost to insure my Shar-Pei?

What healthcare issues or diseases might be excluded from companies that provide Shar-Pei dog health insurance?

Old Age

What age would you class as an ‘older or senior’ Shar-Pei?

Do you notice any changes in their behaviour?

What changes in food and diet would you suggest making for an older Shar-Pei?

Do you feed any supplements to an older Shar-Pei – or anything else which helps them as they age?

Are there any health issues particular to a senior Shar-Pei dog?

Do you have any advice for owners of an older/senior Shar-Pei or tips you can pass on?

Here is an interesting video on the Shar-Pei.


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