The Unique Characteristics of the Shar Pei

by Lisa

The Shar Pei, with its distinctive wrinkled skin and ancient lineage, is a breed of dog known for its unique and captivating characteristics. Originating from China, the Shar Pei has a rich history and a set of traits that make it stand out in the world of canine companions. In this comprehensive article, we will delve deep into the characteristics of the Shar Pei, exploring their appearance, temperament, health, and care requirements.

The Appearance of the Shar Pei

Distinctive Wrinkled Skin: One of the most striking characteristics of the Shar Pei is its loose, wrinkled skin. These wrinkles give the breed its distinctive appearance and are particularly prominent when they are puppies. As Shar Peis grow, the wrinkles tend to diminish, but they remain a defining feature.


“Hippo” Mouth: The Shar Pei’s unique mouth structure, often referred to as a “hippo” mouth, is characterized by a slightly upward-curved upper lip. This feature contributes to their distinctive expression, which can appear serious or even comical at times.


Triangle Ears: Shar Peis have small, triangular ears that stand erect and are set high on their heads. These ears, combined with their alert eyes, give them an attentive and inquisitive look.


Short, Bristly Coat: The breed’s coat is short, straight, and bristly. Shar Peis come in various coat colors, including fawn, cream, red, chocolate, and black. Some may have a solid coat color, while others display shades and patterns.


Muscular Build: Underneath their unique skin and coat, Shar Peis have a well-muscled and sturdy body. They possess a strong and compact physique, which reflects their history as working dogs in China.

The Temperament of the Shar Pei

Loyal and Protective: Shar Peis are renowned for their loyalty and protective nature. They form strong bonds with their families and are often quite devoted to them. This loyalty makes them excellent guard dogs and protective companions.

Independent: While they are affectionate with their families, Shar Peis also have an independent streak. They may not be as eager to please as some other breeds, which can lead to a sense of self-reliance and occasional stubbornness.

Reserved Towards Strangers: Shar Peis tend to be reserved or cautious around strangers. This wariness is an inherent protective instinct and, when properly socialized, ensures that they remain vigilant and protective.

Good with Children: When raised and socialized appropriately, Shar Peis can be excellent family dogs, including around children. Their protective nature often extends to the younger members of the family, making them reliable companions.

Low Energy Levels: Shar Peis are not particularly high-energy dogs. They enjoy lounging and relaxing, although they do require regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and prevent boredom-related behaviors.

Health Considerations for the Shar Pei

Skin Health: Due to their unique skin folds, Shar Peis are susceptible to skin issues, including pyoderma (skin infections). Regular cleaning and maintenance of their skin folds are essential to prevent such problems.

Entropion: Entropion is a common eye condition in Shar Peis where the eyelids roll inward, causing irritation and discomfort. Surgery may be required to correct this condition.

Hip Dysplasia: Like many larger breeds, Shar Peis can be prone to hip dysplasia, a genetic condition that affects the hip joint. Regular check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk.

Respiratory Issues: Shar Peis have a relatively short muzzle, which can lead to brachycephalic respiratory syndrome. They may experience breathing difficulties, especially in hot weather, so it’s important to keep them cool and avoid strenuous exercise in extreme heat.

Vet Visits: Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to monitor the overall health of your Shar Pei. Discuss preventive care, vaccination schedules, and any breed-specific concerns with your veterinarian.

Training and Socialization

Early Socialization: Early socialization is vital for Shar Peis to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted and confident adults. Expose them to various people, animals, and environments to prevent excessive shyness or fearfulness.

Consistent Training: Shar Peis benefit from consistent and firm training. They may test boundaries, so it’s essential to establish yourself as the pack leader without resorting to harsh methods.

Positive Reinforcement: Positive reinforcement techniques work well with Shar Peis. Use rewards, praise, and treats to encourage good behavior, and avoid punitive methods that can damage their trust.

Basic Obedience: Teach basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come.” These commands provide structure and ensure your Shar Pei knows what is expected of them.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation: While Shar Peis are not overly active, they still need daily exercise and mental stimulation. Short walks, interactive toys, and playtime can keep them physically and mentally satisfied.

Grooming and Care

Skin Care: Due to their skin folds, Shar Peis require special attention to grooming. Regularly clean and dry their skin folds to prevent infections and irritation. Consult with your veterinarian for recommended skincare products.

Bathing: Bathe your Shar Pei as needed, usually every few weeks. Use a gentle dog shampoo to maintain their skin and coat health.

Ear Cleaning: Check and clean your Shar Pei’s ears regularly, as their small, folded ears can trap moisture and debris, leading to ear infections.

Nail Trimming: Trim your dog’s nails to prevent overgrowth, which can cause discomfort and affect their gait.

Dental Care: Dental hygiene is crucial for all dogs, including Shar Peis. Brush their teeth regularly to prevent dental issues, and provide dental chews or toys to promote oral health.


In conclusion, the Shar Pei is a unique and fascinating breed known for its distinctive appearance, loyal nature, and protective instincts. While they may present some challenges in terms of health and training, the rewards of sharing your life with a Shar Pei are immeasurable. Understanding their characteristics and providing proper care, socialization, and training will result in a happy, healthy, and well-behaved Shar Pei companion that brings joy to your life for years to come.


You may also like


IDOGWO OFWOOF is a comprehensive dog dog portal. The main columns include dog training、dog grooming、keep a dog、feed the dog、dog knowledge etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

© 2023 Copyright