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Shar Pei

Other names: Chinese fighting dog, Sharpei

Shar Pei

The Sharpei dog is an atypical animal, thanks to the skin-folds and blue-black tongue so highly regarded by the breed’s enthusiasts. He has a balanced but independent temperament, so the education of this Chinese fighting dog can be complicated if violent methods are used. He is an intelligent dog that quickly understands what is expected of him if his human colleagues are patient and coherent with him. Protective, calm and affectionate without being clingy, this dog adapts perfectly to family life.

Key facts about the Shar Pei

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Calm Intelligent

Size :

Origins and history

He is a very old breed, but there is no precise information about his origins since they reach back to the Han dynasty - i.e. from 206 years BC to 220 AD. The Shar Pei was particularly widespread in the provinces around the China Sea where it was used as a fighting dog but also as a hunting and guard dog. Today it is a very fashionable dog, highly in demand as a pet and widespread in the United States and Britain: the latter has been awarded "co-ownership" of the paternity of the race.

Physical characteristics of the Shar Pei

    Adult size

    Female : Between 17 and 20 in

    Male : Between 17 and 20 in


    Female : Between 40 and 55 lb

    Male : Between 40 and 55 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The Shar Pei is a sturdy, solid and compact dog with very short hair. The head is large compared to his body, the skull is wide and flat, the top of his beak is a little accentuated. Abundant and fine wrinkles cover the forehead and the orbital region, which then extend downward to form folds. The eyes are small and sunken. The ears are very small, in the form of an equilateral triangle, attached very high above the eyes. The skin forms creases throughout the body, which is a peculiar characteristic of the breed. The tail is located very high, curved above the back but without touching it. Another peculiarity, like his cousin the Chow-Chow, is the Shar Pei’s blue tongue.

    Good to know

    It is advisable to always favour the adoption of a dog registered in the Kennel Club. Indeed, like all Molossians, the Sharpei is a controversial figure, especially in relation to his eventual categorization into the standards of the breed. It is always better to be able to justify his origins.


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      In his social group, the Sharpei dog is a very endearing being, who seeks attention and caresses. Some will have a more distant and reserved temperament but this will never taint the affection that he has for his master.

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      The Shar pei knows how to be jovial and enthusiastic but it is not his main trait. However, playing sessions can be proposed, in particular to strengthen the master-dog relationship and to improve his education.

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      The main characteristic of this wrinkled dog is his quietness. He is very quiet which allows him to be able to integrate perfectly with the family life.

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      This dog is a thoughtful animal that adapts perfectly to the lifestyle of the members of his social group. If his masters are active and athletic, he will be capable of following them, despite his more moderate nature. If his masters are rather calm, he can adapt with great pleasure as well.

      This ability to adapt makes him an intelligent dog whose company is very pleasant to share on a daily basis.

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      Traditionally, the Shar Pei was bred by Chinese peasants especially for his hunting skills. Today, he is preferred for his temperament and his unique physique rather than for his skill set.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      This fancy dog is especially reserved and will not go naturally to people he does not know. He will not show himself to be in any way aggressive when seeing strangers, but will instead appear suspicious. 

      Good socialisation is necessary from masters who do not want to see this trait of his personality amplify with age.

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      Depending on the personality of the Sharpei, he will be more or less independent, but in each case, he always retains a share of autonomy and freedom.

      Behaviour of the Shar Pei

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        Tolerates solitude

        With a very calm and somewhat independent temperament, the adult Sharpei can stay home alone for a few hours without causing any big problems. He must, however, be accustomed from an early age to dealing with solitude if he is to manage it.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        This wrinkled dog has the bad reputation of being stubborn, however, he is not. Of course, his upbringing demands consistency and firmness, but it won’t be hindered by a stubborn temperament.

        It is true that the Shar Pei has a strong personality, in the sense that if he is rushed or does not understand what is asked of him, he will quit easily. He can be difficult to motivate sometimes. But if he understands what is expected of him and the exercises are repeated regularly, with patience and consistency, he will study with enthusiasm.

        Education must be initiated from at the age of 2 months and it should be mixed with high quality socialization.

        Positive methods of education are preferred because this combative dog does not appreciate injustice. Although sometimes difficult to motivate, brutal methods will only stunt his progress.

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        He is a natural guardian due to his protective instincts, so the Shar Pei may be heard barking to deter any intruder from entering his home. His education will soften or strengthen this trait according to the expectations and needs of the Masters.

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