The Shar-Pei originated in China and has a history dating back 2000 years. Although the exact place of origin is unclear, statues indicate they came from somewhere in southern China, Tibet or Dah-Lel. The name Shar-Pei literally translates to mean sand skin. This is from the breed's characteristic harsh coat. Shar-Pei were used as general utility dogs for herding and guarding.

They were also known as tomb dogs, relating to the discovery in ancient tombs of 2000-year-old statues bearing their likeness. When China became a communist country, a tax was brought in that made the keeping of dogs a luxury and basically out of reach of the average farmer. In 1947 the tax was increased and breeding banned. This led to the Shar-Pei becoming an endangered breed and it was listed with the Guinness Book of Records in 1978 as the world's rarest dog.


Average lifespan
The Average lifespan for a Shar-Pei is 10 to 12 years.

Average size and weight
46cm to 51cm

Care requirements

Breed personality, characteristics & temperament
Shar-Peis are intelligent dogs needing little training. Although they are somewhat aloof, snobbish and reserved in the presence of strangers, they are extremely loyal and devoted to their family. Essentially they are an independent, regal, alert and dignified animal with a calm and confident stature.

Compatibility with other pets
The Shar-Pei is primarily a working dog, although it is placed in the non-sporting classification. Socialisation with other animals is important, as they can be aggressive with other dogs of the same sex. Personality and temperament is an individual thing. Some Shar-Peis will live quite happily around smaller animals and livestock while others may exhibit the natural instinct to hunt. They are generally good with children and other pets when they are reared with them.

Care requirements
They are easy to look after and contrary to common misperceptions they do not require special maintenance of their abundant wrinkles. Normal dog management, vaccinating, worming, treating for fleas, bathing, and general welfare will ensure you a healthy dog. They are not a smelly dog and the length of the coat means no brushing is required. Attention needs to be paid to the ears as they can get dirty due to the lack of air circulation. Dietary requirements are a simple well-balanced dog diet with special attention paid to avoiding artificial colours, preservatives and red meat. Other ingredients to be avoided are corn, and soy products. These can lead to allergic reactions in this breed.

Please take note
Being an exceptionally intelligent dog makes the Shar-Pei an ideal companion. Whether your intention is to exhibit at conformation shows, participate in obedience trials, or just to own a loving, loyal pet. The Shar-Pei is sure to bring great satisfaction.

They enjoy both the open spaces of a country life and the suburban neighbourhood life, and are equally happy indoors or out. They excel at obedience work and delight in pleasing their owners, which makes them a pleasure to train. Shar-Peis have been called the Chinese Fighting dog, this is a misnomer of sorts as they are not a dog that will savagely seek out disputes with other animals, they will, however, retaliate with fervour should they be aggravated.

Decision time

Ideal owners
Shar-Peis are a one-man dog, although living in a family situation they will love everyone, they will always have their own person and it may not be the one you choose but the one they choose to bond with. The ideal owner will appreciate the loyalty this breed exhibits and also respect its need for space with new situations. They need exercise, socialisation, love and attention to be a happy, well-balanced pet.

Click here for advice on adopting a rescue dog and finding a breeder. All information has been provided by the Kennel Club.
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