The Protective Chinese Shar Pei

descriptive textDog breed info
Chinese Shar Pei
aka Chinese Fighting Dog
Weight: 45 — 60 lbs
Height: 18” — 20”
AKC Rank 2008 #45
Lifespan: 8—10 yrs
Group Non Sporting
Origin China

Dog Breed Info - Chinese Shar Pei

descriptive text

Breed Overview

Origin: Ancient times. Original function: Dog fighting, hunting, herding, guarding. Today, companion dog. Colors can be any color including sable. The name “Shar Pei” means “sandy coat which refers to the sandpaper feel of the surface of the dog's skin.

The origin of the Chinese Shar Pei is hard to trace because records were lost during the communist revolution. The Shar Pei had been mostly owned by peasant farmers. They were guard dogs and bore hunters. They were used extensively for dog fighting. Also, during that time many dogs were destroyed which made the Shar Pei almost extinct. A few were rescued and taken to Hong Kong and some to Taiwan where they were bred. The Hong Kong recognized the breed in 1968. There was an appeal in an article in 1973 made to the USA to assist in saving the Shar Pei and some sample dogs were sent over. Work to save the breed was started and the Shar Pei was resurrected. It became quite popular. It is most recognized by it’s sour looking face, intense wrinkles and rough sandpaper-like skin. The Shar Pei drools a lot and shares the same bluish tongue that the Chow Chow has.


No, stubborn and not easy to train. Pick up a CLICKER at a pet shop and try clicker training with the Shar Pei. Positive reinforcement and clickers have worked on every difficult dog I've run into so far. Try it.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Chinese Shar Pei puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Some Chinese Shar Pei puppies can be fairly easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

descriptive text


The Chinese Shar Pei needs to be heavily socialized as a puppy and raised with children, other dogs, cats and people.He can be independent, and stubborn The Shar Pei is reserved and suspicious toward strangers and can be aggressive toward other dogs depending on how he was raised. He can be good with family pets and kids if raised with them. He will be loyal and protective of his family. Essentially, the Chinese Shar Pei is fairly easy-going and not that excitable as long as he is kept at the bottom of the family hierarchy. Never let this dog think he’s pack leader.

If you happen to get a Shar Pei with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

No, can become aggressive with other dogs.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Chinese Shar Pei’s can get along with other dogs and cats especially if it grows up with them.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Moderate—The master needs to introduce the master. This IS a guard dog.


Somewhat playful.


No. The Chinese Shar Pei will protect you and sleep at your feet, but he’s no lap dog!

Good with children?

Yes and no. Depends on how the Chinese Shar Pei was raised as a puppy. Young children, no. Older, well mannered kids, yes, but no boisterous nonsense.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes, as long as the senior can walk twice a day. The Shar Pei is not the most affectionate dog but it might work out. Look for a Shar Pei Rescue group for a dog that is a bit older, house trained and settled so the senior doesn't have to raise a puppy.

Living environment

House with a small fenced yard or farm. Ideal is a house with a doggie door. Divide his time—indoor/outdoor.

Energy level


Exercise needs, daily

Moderate. Two walks daily and some outdoor play time works.


Excellent. It’s in the Chinese Shar Pei's blood.

Guard dog

Excellent. It’s in his blood.


No, the Shar Pei sheds very little.


Brush weekly.

Clean wrinkles and folds on face often, even daily, as moisture and dirt causes skin infections on the Chinese Shar Pei.


Suggested Reading For The Chinese Shar Pei
Click on the cover photo for more book information and reviews.

Note - At this time, has only 1 book available for the Shar Pei which we have listed. The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners and should be kept handy for quick use.


Shar Pei Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Chinese Shar Pei puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be VERY sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Chinese Shar Pei Breeders with puppies for sale.

Shar Pei Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an adult dog and are looking for a Shar Pei Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Shar Pei Rescue - (Nationwide) If you don't find what you want, search online for Shar Pei Rescue groups, foster homes and kennels. If you do adopt one, try to locate dog health records and save for possible future reference.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but try searching for local kennels and see if you have a Shar Pei Rescue place in your area.

Dog Health Issues For The Chinese Shar Pei

Below are the dog Illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Chinese Shar Pei by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Entropion—Eye Problem - Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness and difficulty walking for the Chinese Shar Pei. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg, walking three-legged. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position in the Chinese Shar Pei. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Otitis externa—Ear infections—Inflammation and infection of the outer ear, especially dogs with long, floppy ear flaps. Dirt and moisture collect and breed yeast and bacteria. Ear hair and wax contribute to the infection environment. If left untreated it can become a serious infection. If at home treatments with cleaning and meds don't work and the problem worsens, surgery might be the last resort.

    Elbow Dysplasia—Dislocated elbow joint. This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your Chinese Shar Pei down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Demodicosis—Demodectic mange—A skin disease known as “Red Mange.” Loss of hair, itching, reddening of skin and areas can become crusty. Sometimes cured with topical creams. May spread. Treatment is in the form of medications.

  • Otitis externa—Inflammation and infection of the outer ear, especially dogs with long, floppy ear flaps. Dirt and moisture collect and breed yeast and bacteria. Ear hair and wax contribute to the infection environment. If left untreated it can become a serious infection. If at home treatments with cleaning and meds don't work and the problem worsens, surgery might be the last resort.

  • Demodicosis—Demodectic mange—A skin disease known as “Red Mange.” Loss of hair, itching, reddening of skin and areas can become crusty. Sometimes cured with topical creams. May spread. Treatment is in the form of medications.

  • Mast Cell Tumors—Mast cells are found throughout the body and help maintain the dog’s normal immune response, health and body functions. The tumors in question are CANCEROUS and spread through the body. There is no known cause for mast cell cancer and no cure, other than surgery for early-detected, low degree tumors that haven't spread too far. The best formula is to keep the dog as healthy as possible and be aware of any signs of tumors or poor health. Whether the dog survives or not depends on how advanced and fast moving the malignant tumor is.

  • Seborrhea—Hereditary. Skin disease. Usually dry, flaky coat with the familiar “dog” odor. Sebaceous glands will produce a waxy, oily substance in the armpits, in the ears, under the dog and around the elbow joints. Secondary ear and skin infections are common too. There are many, many causes and IF the vet can identify one and treat it, you’re lucky. It’s a tough disorder to pinpoint. Springer and Cocker Spaniels, Westies and Retrievers are among the most susceptible.

  • Brachycephalic syndrome—Difficulty breathing in dogs with a short face and head such as the English Bulldog, Pug, Chinese Shar Pei, etc. They have a soft, fleshy palate, narrowed nostrils and larynx. Dogs with this will snort, cough, have a low tolerance for exercise, possibly faint easily, especially in hot weather, and breath noisily. This puts a strain on the heart. There can exist a lack of coordination between trying to breathe and swallow. Gastrointestinal problems can follow. Heat stroke is highly possible so keep your dog COOL.

  • Skin fold dermatitis—Infection normally affects the folds and lips on the face where moisture and dirt are trapped in the skin folds causing inflammation. The vet will give you a cleansing shampoo to fight the infection and an antibiotic cream of some kind. In severe cases where the problem won’t subside, surgery might be the last resort to remove a few folds. Commonly found in Bulldogs, mastiff’s, Chinese Shar Pei's, Pekingese and Pugs.

  • Atopic dermatitis's—Atopy. Hereditary. Shows at 1 to 3 years age. Skin allergy triggered by dust mites, pollen, poor quality foods and other garbage we put into the dog’s environment. Many breeds are prone to this. The dog will lick, rub, chew and scratch the infected areas. Allergens can also come from fleas, bacteria and yeast infections. See your vet. There are many treatments ranging from medicines, antihistamines, diets, bathing, cleansing the house of dust mites and so on.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Renal cortical hypoplasia—Kidney failure coming from a number of causes ranging from hereditary to ingesting automotive antifreeze and also bacterial infections. Once the kidneys become affected, there is no cure. There remains a shortage of functioning tissue in the kidneys to cleanse the body. Waste builds in the blood of the Chinese Shar Pei and the toxins cause vomiting, depression, lack of appetite and death. Same happens if the dog eats a little rat poison, as one of mine did.

  • Renal amyloidosis — Amyloid protein accumulations in the liver causes organ dysfunction and death within a few months of the diagnosis.

  • Megaesophagus—Incomplete nerve development of the esophagus in dogs 5 to 12 years old causing regurgitation of food. Since food is collecting in the esophagus and not the stomach, the dog feels hungry and keeps eating. Food collects for up to a day or two and finally vomits back out, having never reached the stomach. A dangerous aide effect of the disease is pneumonia. The only solution is getting the dog to drink and eat in a position where he has to reach his mouth way up high, like on a step ladder with his paws elevated where he can barely reach the food with his whole body elevated nearly vertical. There is no other cure.

  • Glaucoma - Painful pressure builds in the eyes and eventually causes total blindness if not treated early.

Other health problems could occur with your Chinese Shar Pei. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


Return From Chinese Shar Pei To Dog Breeds

Return To Non Sporting Breeds