Shar-Pei (Pet Love)


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The Shar Pei has a very odd appearance, with folds of skin round the neck and face, and very small ears. This breed is similar to the Chow in many ways, with the same blue-black tongue, and tendency to be aloof with strangers. Shar Pei have performed different roles, as fighting dogs, guard dogs, and hunting dogs. Some individuals can be aggressive with both strangers and other dogs. Much depends on the temperament of the parents, as well as on early socialization.

Some Shar Pei may also be unable to see well, due to the folds of skin, so they can be easily startled by unexpected petting. It's especially important to check the ancestry of pups of this breed, because their temperaments can vary, and because of the risk of inherited health problems. Some well-socialized individuals are calm, relaxed and stable, and very good with children, strangers, and other dogs, while others are much less trustworthy, despite socialization.

This breed is like the Chow in that owners need to establish house rules from puppyhood, and take a firm, but gentle approach to training. Shar Pei will tend to try to get their own way if owners are inconsistent, so it's important that everyone in the family agrees on the house rules for the dog, whether climbing on furniture is allowed, for example.

Shar Pei are generally clean dogs, which are easy to housetrain, and they don't need a lot of grooming. They can be droolers, however. They need a fair amount of exercise, and owners should be cautious about encounters with strange dogs, due to the breed's propensity for dog-aggression. Shar Pei don't like water, let alone swimming.

Common health problems include allergies, cancer, skin disorders, eyelid trouble, kidney failure, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, luxating patella, and breathing trouble and snoring due to breathing being impaired by the folds of skin and short muzzle. Shar Pei are also especially sensitive to anaesthetics, and they tend to suffer on hot days. They need shade and water, and should be exercised in the early morning and after dusk when it's very hot.

These are not dogs to choose simply because you like the breed's odd appearance. They need an owner with commitment, starting off with a search for a well-bred pup, which can take a lot of time, and then the extra skill and commitment needed in training a breed that can be difficult. They are dogs which can repay this commitment with loyalty and affection, and they do have some advantages, such being clean, and less likely to bowl over visitors with effusive greetings than some breeds.


Juliette Cunliffe's book is a good, up-to-date introductory guide to the breed. The history of the breed is covered, as well as general care, training, and health issues.