Breed of the Week: Shar Pei 06/20/16

Shar Pei 1

Breed Stats

Country of Origin: China

Average Height: 18-29 inches (46-56 cm)

Average Weight: 40-65 lb (18-29 kg)

Average Lifespan: 9-11 years

Coat: The coat is very short and bristly.  The harshness of their coat can actually cause a mild rash in those with sensitive skin.

Colour: All solid colours are acceptable, except for white.


            The Shar Pei is another ancient dog breed; similar dogs have been depicted in Chinese art dating back as 206 B.C.  However the ancestry of the breed is open to speculation, many Chow Chow enthusiasts claim they are Chows, while Mastiff breeders claim that they are more representative on the Mastiff.  In truth, they may both be correct; however the Chow Chow seems to be a rather likely relative, because the Shar Pei and the Chow Chow both have a bluish/blackish tongue, which is not common among most dog breeds.

Hailing from the Guandong province in China, the Shar Pei was mostly used as a farm dog to protect the property, guard livestock and for companionship in general.  They were also used for hunting boar, where their loose skin and rough, wiry coat would serve as a great defensive advantage.  The Shar Pei is also, rather unfairly, famous for being a fighting dog breed.  They were used as fighting dogs, because their loose skin allowed them to turn and attack even when held by their opponent.  However they weren’t initially bred for fighting, and are not overly aggressive.

During the Communist revolution in China, the Shar Pei population was dramatically reduced, almost to the point of extinction.  Heavy fines and taxation for pet owners were implemented and ultimately, Mao Tse-tung ordered the mass extermination of all pets as they were a symbol of luxury and excess.  Many areas were devastated but some places seemed to avoid most of the carnage.  Some dogs were smuggled off of mainland China into the islands of Hong Kong and Taiwan.  By the 1960s, the Shar Pei was almost extinct, but fortunately in the early 70s’ there was a group of people interested in reviving the breed.  One of the men, Matgo Law, wrote to the editor of Dogs Magazine in 1973 with plans to revive the breed as well as a plea to the American people to help him out.  His appeal for help appeared in the April 1973 issue and he received a fairly good response.  The exact number isn’t clear but he ended up importing around 200 dogs, from which most modern Shar Pei’s have descended.


FCI: Group 2, Section 2.1 #309

AKC: Non-Sporting

UKC: Northern Breeds

CKC: Group 6 – Non-Sporting

KC (UK): Utility


The Shar Pei is generally, alert, independent, loyal, intelligent and brave.  They are usually very affectionate with family, however they are aloof around strangers.  They can be fairly dominant, and they need a firm yet fair leader.  Socialization from a young age, with other dogs, people and animals, is very important.


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