Chinese Shar-Pei Dog Breed Information

Quick Shar-pei Facts 

  • Weight:       45 to 60 pounds 
  • Height:         18-20 inches 
  • Life Span:    8-12 years 
  • Nature:        Calm, Loyal, Independent 


Known for their unique wrinkles, the Chinese Shar-Pei is one of the most recognizable dogs in the world. They are fiercely loyal guardians and excellent companions to their owners. If you think a Shar-Pei might be right for you, here’s what you need to know.

A Little History 

As with many breeds, the Chinese Shar-Pei’s origins are not known for certain. During the cultural revolution of the mid 1900s, many records pertaining to this breed’s history were lost. Nevertheless, it is believed that their earliest ancestors date back to around 200 B.C., during the Han Dynasty in China. This is in part because of the discovery of several ancient statues bearing a likeness to the modern Shar-Pei. We know that throughout their history they were housed by farmers as workers, protecting their property and hunting for food. Their popularity waned over time, but in 1968, the Kennel Club in Hong Kong formally recognized the Shar-Pei as a pedigreed breed, leading to their resurgence. Despite that, in 1973 the breed was cited to be the rarest in the world. Since that time, Shar-Pei fanciers have worked diligently to restore the breed, gaining acceptance into the American Kennel Club’s Non-Sporting Group in 1992. 

What are Shar-Peis Like? 

The Shar-Pei is perhaps the most devoted dog you may ever meet. They are loyal to their families, warding their homes and protecting their humans from any threat of danger. They are steadfast and a bit stubborn, with a serious demeanor and intimidating expression. It comes as no surprise that they are not trusting of strangers, whether they are human or canine. However, while they are not the most affectionate breed, they are known to be gentle and kind with members of their family (including family pets). “Shar-Pei” translates to “sand-skin,” which is fitting because their coats are short and coarse. Puppies are draped in loose, wrinkly skin, that reduces its presence to their head, neck, and shoulders as they age. Their large heads are exaggerated by a hippo-like muzzle and disproportionately small eyes and ears. Their coats can be any solid color, and their gait is free and relaxed. 

Caring for Shar-Peis 

The Shar-Pei’s grooming requirements are moderate. While they only require a weekly brushing, you’ll need to clean its wrinkles and skin folds daily to prevent skin irritation. You will also need to provide ample physical and mental stimulation, easily achieved with a long walk or activity session. They should be allowed to spend time outdoors, however, they prefer to be indoor dogs where they can keep watch over their family. Be prepared to find hair about your home, because they do shed regularly. An occasional bath will do (about one per month), but you should trim their nails and clean their ears weekly. It’s a good idea to get your Shar-Pei accustomed to these routines early. Last but certainly not least, remember that your pup’s teeth need attention just like yours, so clean their teeth routinely to avoid dental disease. 

Shar-Peis are prone to conditions such as patellar luxationcanine hip dysplasia (CHD), and otitis externa (ear infections)1. You should see your vet should you have any concerns about their health, but also visit them routinely to maintain their overall health.  

The Cost 

Most Shar-Peis cost between $600 to $1,500. After that, you will also need to purchase supplies and pay for initial veterinary expenses, which can cost up to $500. Maintenance care with your veterinarian can cost another $500 each year.  

The imaging necessary to properly treat and diagnosis CHD can cost as much as $3,000, and surgery can cost another $4,000. With a dog insurance policy from 4Paws Insurance, pet parents can focus more on what’s important for their companions and worry less about the cost. 

Sandy Says: Comments from the Chief Pet Officer
An interesting fact about Shar-Peis, that non-owners might not be aware of, is that they have a blue-black tongue.  This breed does have a propensity to be a little stubborn, so I do recommend obedience training early on.  But overall, these quirky adorable dogs will make a great addition to any home.