Characteristics of Shar-Peis

Shar-Peis are known for their wrinkly hides.
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Chinese Shar-Peis are probably best known for their distinctive and copious wrinkles, which were originally selected and bred to withstand attacks. Shar-Peis have become an increasingly well-known breed in the United States. Despite their popularity and cuddly appearance, Shar-Peis are not for everyone; they can be shy and not particularly friendly to strangers and other animals, and require a great deal of focused care (Reference 2).

History of the Shar-Pei

Shar-Peis are an ancient breed of dog that has existed for many centuries in China. Statues of dogs strongly resembling modern Shar-Peis have been discovered dating back to approximately 200 B.C (Reference 4). Shar-Peis were originally bred for a number of different functions, including fighting, hunting, herding and guarding (Reference 3). Despite their ancient lineage, Shar-Peis only became well-known in the United States in the early 1970's, when they were touted as a rare breed and a focused campaign to appeal to fanciers began (Reference 4).

Breed Standard Appearance

According to the American Kennel Club, Shar-Peis that adhere to breed standard are medium-sized and compact in build, with short, rough fur and loose skin on the head and body (Reference 1). Shar-Peis are 18 to 20 inches tall at the withers and should weigh between 45 and 60 pounds, with males larger than females. The coat of Shar-Peis is harsh to the touch and solid-colored. In fact, the breed's name translates into "sand skin,"and refers to the extremely rough texture of the coat (Reference 4).

Personality Traits

Individual dogs have their own personality traits, and no two dogs are exactly alike, regardless of breed. With that said, some traits are more typical of some breeds than others. According to the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, Shar-Peis are typically independent dogs, and can be shy or standoffish around strangers, and even occasionally aggressive towards unfamiliar animals (Reference 1 and 3). However, these dogs become extremely loyal and devoted to their families (Reference 1). Shar-Peis are considered to be intelligent, calm and self-possessed (Reference 3). The American Kennel Club refers to the temperament of Shar-Peis as dignified and lordly (Reference 1).

Shar-Pei Training

Due to their independent nature, Shar-Peis require intensive training and socialization as soon as possible when they are puppies (Reference 2). Adult Shar-Peis do not respond well to the use of force, and will become aggressive if pushed too far (Reference 2). They therefore respond better to positive training, wherein the trainer rewards appropriate behavior instead of punishing inappropriate behavior (Reference 5).

Care of Shar-Peis

Shar-Peis also require specific grooming activities due to their unusual coats and wrinkled skin. To avoid the skin conditions that can develop in this breed, Shar-Peis require weekly bathing, daily brushing, constant attention to flea control, balanced nutrition and clean surroundings (Reference 6). Along with weekly bathing, Shar-Peis also require inspections and cleaning of the skin folds to prevent them from becoming infected (Reference 6).