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Shar Pei Temperament: A loving little trooper in a wrinkly body

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Are you ready to welcome a new furry companion into your life? If the answer is yes, get ready to embark on an exciting journey into the enchanting world of Shar Pei dogs. With their heartwarming, affectionate nature, Shar Peis have cast a spell on countless pet enthusiasts – and they might just cast one on you, too!

Join us as we delve deep into the history, temperament, health considerations, and frequently asked questions about this remarkable breed. But that's not all – we'll also reveal the perfect names for your male and female Shar Pei pals, offer fantastic gift ideas for fellow Shar Pei admirers, and ultimately help you answer the pivotal question: Is the Shar Pei the missing piece in your life's puzzle?

From their distinctive appearance to their unwavering loyalty, Shar Peis have gathered an ever-growing fan base, and in this blog post, we're about to discover why. So, if you're curious whether this unique and cherished breed aligns perfectly with your lifestyle, keep reading!

Table of Contents

Shar Pei Temperament
The Shar Pei is one of the most recognisable breeds in the world

Shar Pei History: Where does the Shar Pei originate from?

Delving into the captivating story behind the Shar Pei takes us on a journey through time and cultures, tracing the roots of this unique and cherished breed. Hailing from the southern provinces of China, the Shar Pei's history is steeped in mystery and purpose.

The Shar Pei's origins are believed to stretch back into antiquity, with references dating to 200 BC in the form of Han Dynasty figurines resembling the distinctive wrinkled dogs we adore today.

Even in the records of ancient Chinese manuscripts, mentions of a "wrinkled dog" add weight to the breed's historical significance. Delving into these historical accounts, we stumble upon the earliest written documentation of these wrinkled dogs, found in a Chinese manuscript from the 13th century.

Have you ever wondered about the backstory of the name "Shar Pei"? Well, it's not just any name – it means something interesting. It translates to "sand-skin or harsh sandy coat," a nod to their rugged, short coat that sets them apart from the doggy crowd.

But here's where things get intriguing – their skin and fur are more than looks. It's like their natural shield, making it seriously tough for anything to bite or grab onto them. Imagine having a built-in suit of armour – that's the Shar Pei's unique feature.

Have you ever had the pleasure of observing a Shar Pei's tongue? It is a remarkable sight as their tongues are available in various stunning shades such as lavender and blue-black. Interestingly, they are closely related to Chinese Chow Chows, which adds to the breed's uniqueness and appeal. The Shar Pei is undoubtedly a distinctive and captivating breed with various fascinating traits.

The Shar Pei belongs to the utility breed group, a classification that essentially means "fit for purpose." This implies that they were specifically bred for distinct roles. To illustrate, the Shar Pei was initially cultivated as a formidable and efficient hunter.

Jean Yu, an orientalist from Washington, D.C., who has studied ancient Chinese manuscripts, maintains that the Shar-Pei was initially intended as a hunting dog, and its main prey was the mongoose. Their role becomes more facetted.

Known for their tenacity and fearlessness, Shar Peis were trained to defend, protect, and assist their human counterparts. Their agility and sharp senses made them ideal for scouting, delivering messages, and even engaging in confrontations when needed. Their characteristic loose, wrinkled skin was more than just a visual signature – an asset that made it challenging for enemies to get a grip during fights. And so they were also bred to be fighting dogs.

As time progressed, the role of the Shar Pei evolved, and their battlefield duties gradually gave way to different roles, including that of a guardian and a beloved companion. However, their legacy as brave dogs in China remains engraved in history, a testament to their resilience, loyalty, and unwavering dedication to protecting their loved ones.

Fascinatingly, during the mid-20th century, the Shar Pei faced a brush with near-extinction due to political and economic shifts in China. Dog ownership was deemed a "decadent bourgeois luxury". The determination of devoted Hong Kong breeders helped rescue the breed from the brink. Exporting a handful of Shar Peis to the United States, this act became the pivotal moment that catapulted the breed into international recognition.

Today, the Chinese Shar Pei is recognised by the British and the American Kennel Club.

Although puppies are wrinkled throughout, in adults, the wrinkles reduce a bit as they grow into their skin, and there are usually extensive loose skin folds around the head, neck and shoulders. Their lips and muzzles are well-padded. The Shar Pei sheds twice a year but is easy to groom with a weekly brushing.

Shar Pei registrations in the UK 2023

In the dynamic world of doggy registrations, 2021 brought in a bunch of 1,055 adorable Shar Pei puppies officially joining the UK Kennel Club's crew. While this number took a slight dip from the previous year, no worries – Shar Pei enthusiasts are keeping the breed spirit alive and well.

With the shift away from the work-from-home, 2022 saw 679 Shar Peis getting their names on the list. And remember, spotting a Shar Pei in the UK is like finding a rare gem. As we enter the early days of 2023, a count of 163 Shar Pei pups getting their official stamp tells a story of the breed's ongoing journey.

2021 Total

2022 Total

Q1 2023




Source: updated August 2023

Now that we have learnt about their history, let's look at the temperament of the Shar Pei.

What is the Temperament of the Shar Pei?

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the breed's temperament and personality so you know if this dog is right for you.

The Shar Pei needs an experienced and understanding owner who can treat them with love and trust and has the time and patience to dedicate to them. The breed is naturally independent, and you must start training and socialising your dog as soon as possible. Strolls into busy areas like shopping centres and parks will also help socialise your dog.

Shar Pei Temperament
The Shar Pei comes in many different colours

Shar Peis are naturally protective and incredibly loyal dogs, but their independent temperament means they are better suited to experienced owners and people who are more familiar with the breed.

If socialised well, they can make excellent pets and are the dog that will protect your family at the cost of their lives.

The Shar Pei will either sleep at your feet while you watch TV or lie in one place to watch all the entrances to the house and keep an eye on their parent.

They rarely make a fuss and are also not known to be overly destructive. You are choosing your best friend and protector when choosing a Shar Pei. A Shar Pei also loves a cuddle and being near you if they are socialised.

Shar Peis are strong-willed dogs whose personalities can overwhelm unprepared parents. As their owner, you must ensure that you're the pack's alpha and establish leadership early.

They are not the most sociable breed and can sometimes react to unfamiliar dogs; hence early puppy classes are highly recommended to socialise. The good news is that Shar Pei is intelligent and eager to please its parents, making them easy to train. Socialising shouldn't ever be skipped. Shar Peis can be territorial. If you want a well-balanced dog, expose your Shar Pei to many different situations so they learn to adapt and keep their protective temperament in check.

This breed can be prone to some bad temperament due to over-breeding. Contact a canine behaviourist familiar with the breed early if problems arise.

They're also very devoted dogs but can be reserved with strangers. Shar Pei will make excellent watch and guard dogs. It's often said that they're people dogs and prefer the company of their hooman to other dogs.

If the breed enjoys a good daily walk and gets proper nutrition indoors, they are generally considered apartment-friendly dogs. The daily exercise per day should be around 1 hour. However, if you're looking for a dog that can jog with you, the Shar Pei might not suit you due to its short nose. Like many breeds with short noses, they tend to snore and overheat easier.

Maintaining the Shar Pei wrinkles demands diligent care to avert potential skin problems. Consistent cleaning, particularly within the folds, stands as a crucial task. Prospective owners should be prepared to embrace this grooming responsibility.

Let's now have a look at some common Shar Pei questions.

Do Shar Peis like to cuddle?

Shar Peis have a reputation for being more independent and less cuddly compared to some other breeds. While they may not be as naturally inclined to cuddle as certain breeds known for their affectionate nature, it's essential to remember that individual personalities can vary within any breed.

Some Shar Peis can be affectionate and enjoy cuddling with their owners, mainly if they have formed strong bonds. However, others might be more reserved and prefer their personal space. Socialisation and early exposure to different experiences can affect how comfortable a Shar Pei becomes with physical closeness.

If you hope to have a cuddly relationship with your Shar Pei, focusing on building a strong bond through positive interactions, training, and spending quality time together is best. Just like with any dog, understanding and respecting their preferences for affection will help you create a harmonious and loving relationship.

Are Shar Pei aggressive?

Shar Peis is known for being protective and aloof, especially around strangers. While not inherently aggressive, their temperament can vary based on genetics, socialisation, and training. Proper socialisation and positive reinforcement training from an early age are crucial for any breed, including Shar Peis, to ensure they develop into well-mannered dogs.

Shar Peis are known for their loyalty to their families and can be pretty affectionate with those they trust. However, their protective nature might make them wary of unfamiliar people and animals. With proper training and early exposure to various situations, they can learn to interact positively and confidently with new experiences.

It's important to note that individual personalities within the breed can differ, and not all Shar Peis will exhibit the same behaviour. Responsible ownership, early socialisation, consistent training, and providing a loving and structured environment are critical factors in determining Shar Pei's behaviour. Suppose you're considering bringing a Shar Pei into your family. In that case, working with a responsible breeder and dedicating time to their socialisation and training for a well-adjusted and balanced companion is crucial.

Why are Shar Peis so wrinkly?

Shar Peis are famously wrinkly due to a genetic trait that leads to excess loose skin. This unique characteristic can be attributed to their history as working dogs and fighting dogs in ancient China.

Wrinkles and loose skin were intentional features, making it more difficult for opponents, like other animals or potential adversaries, to grab onto the dog during fights or confrontations. The Shar Pei was able to slip away and attack more easily.

While this wrinkled appearance has evolved from a practical purpose, it's now one of the defining and endearing traits of the breed, setting them apart in the canine world.

Gift ideas for Shar Pei lover

Get ready to delight the Shar Pei lover with a handpicked selection of presents tailored perfectly to their adoration for this remarkable breed. From charming keepsakes to practical essentials, these thoughtful gifts are bound to bring a wagging tail and a heart full of appreciation.

Gift idea for Shar Pei enthusiasts #1: Shar Pei Guidebook

Consider gifting a comprehensive owner's guidebook that delves deep into the world of Shar Peis. Packed with valuable insights into their history, care, training, and unique characteristics, this book will educate and inspire the recipient to become an even more knowledgeable and devoted Shar Pei enthusiast.

Gift idea for Shar Pei enthusiasts #2: Shar Pei Calendar

Elevate their love for Shar Peis with a Shar Pei calendar for 2024. Each month will unveil a stunning new image capturing the beauty and charm of this breed, serving as a daily reminder of their furry companion's captivating presence.

Gift idea for Shar Pei enthusiasts #3: Shar Pei Chopping board

Add a touch of Shar Pei charm to their kitchen with a wooden chopping board featuring an adorable illustration. As they slice and dice, the heartfelt quote reminds them that cooking is just as much about love as it is about flavour.

Etsy also has some beautiful Shar Pei lovers gifts:

Gift idea for Shar Pei enthusiasts #4: Shar Pei Welcome sign - Exclusive Home Garden

Elevate any Shar Pei lover's garden with charm and character through this exquisite Shar Pei Garden ornament. Crafted with attention to detail, it's the perfect present to celebrate their affection for this unique breed. Transform their outdoor space into a haven of Shar Pei admiration.

Gift idea for Shar Pei enthusiasts #5: Shar Pei Pendant Necklace - AnimalJewelleryGifts

Embrace Shar Pei elegance with the exquisite Shar Pei Pendant Necklace – an ideal gift for devoted Shar Pei enthusiasts. This finely crafted necklace captures the breed's distinctive charm, making it a heartfelt present that truly resonates. Elevate their style and honour their love for Shar Peis with this stunning accessory.

Etsy present for shar pei lover

Gift idea for Shar Pei enthusiasts #6: Shar Pei Key Ring - ARTDOGshop

Delight a Shar Pei enthusiast with this meticulously handcrafted Shar Pei key ring – an ideal gift that celebrates their affection for the breed. Crafted with care and attention, this key ring beautifully captures the charm of Shar Peis in a functional and artistic accessory. Elevate their everyday essentials with Shar Pei elegance through this thoughtful present.

Gift idea for Shar Pei enthusiasts #7: Shar Pei Wall Print Art - MrsHenris

Gift a touch of artistic beauty with this captivating watercolour wall art print portraying a Shar Pei, a perfect present for passionate Shar Pei admirers. This exquisite piece captures the breed's unique essence and adds a sophisticated charm to any space. Celebrate their love for Shar Peis by gifting them this remarkable and heartfelt artwork.

Gift idea for Shar Pei enthusiasts #8: Shar Pei Wall Art - TynesideOriginalsShop

Discover exquisite wall art that captures the charm of the beloved Shar Pei breed, handcrafted by a small UK business. These stunning pieces not only showcase the unique characteristics of Shar Peis, but also offer a personalised touch, making them an ideal addition to any dog lover's home. Elevate your decor with these beautifully detailed artworks that celebrate Shar Peis's elegance and the artistry of skilled local craftsmen.

Shar Pei gift ideas

Shar Pei Temperament in a nutshell

Shar Pei Temperament
Shar Peis make for excellent watch dogs
  • Devoted and Exceptionally Loyal: Shar Peis are known for their deep devotion and unwavering loyalty to their families. Once they form a bond, they become fiercely protective and committed companions. This loyalty extends to their behaviour, making them attentive and responsive to their owner's commands and cues.

  • Excel as Watch dogs and Guard Dogs: With an inherent protective instinct, Shar Peis excel as vigilant watchdogs and reliable guard dogs. Their acute awareness of their surroundings and their intrinsic suspicion of unfamiliar faces effectively alert their owners to potential threats.

  • Prefer Human Companionship Over Other Dogs: Despite their protective nature, Shar Peis often prefer human companionship over socialising with other dogs. They form strong attachments to their human family members and might be reserved or aloof when interacting with unfamiliar dogs.

  • Moderately Active with Exercise Needs: Shar Peis are not high-energy dogs like some breeds, which makes them well-suited for various living environments. They generally require around 1 hour of daily exercise to keep them content and physically fit. This can include walks, playtime, and mental stimulation.

  • Independent Nature with a Need for Leadership: The independent streak of Shar Peis is a characteristic that requires attentive and experienced handling. While they form strong bonds with their owners, they also possess a degree of self-assuredness that might lead them to seek out their solutions.

Top 10 Female Shar-Pei Names

Top 10 Male Shar-Pei Names

Potential health issues in the Shar Pei breed

As you might have learnt by now, the Shar Pei is a devoted and loyal dog. But like most pure breeds, they are at risk of certain conditions.

Shar Pei may require unique products to clear skin folds. Care must be taken to ensure no fungal or bacterial infections are in the folds. All Shar-Pei should be checked regularly. Common skin problems can be Seborrhea or Pyoderma.

Typical are also eye problems. Entropion is a disease where the eyelids can roll inwards. Ear infections can be expected due to their small ear canals.

Shar Pei Autoinflammatory Disease (SPAID) or Shar-Pei fever is an inherited syndrome defined as recurrent fever and inflammation with no known pathogenic or autoimmune cause. Shar Pei Familial Fever is a severe and common genetic disorder that causes chronic fever and swollen hocks.

When purchasing a Shar Pei, choose one that has undergone OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals; genetic screening to minimise the many Shar Pei genetic diseases. In 1978, the Chinese Shar Pei was one of the rarest dog breeds in the world, meaning that every Shar Pei alive today is descended from a small number of breeding individuals, so inbreeding was required to increase their population. Therefore, it needs to be established if your Shar Pei is a carrier of genetic diseases.

All of the above can make the Shar Pei quite expensive regarding insurance, so ensure you have the financial freedom for the extra costs.

Many dog owners are unaware of the danger in some pet toys and accessories that can worsen health issues when they innocently buy cheap products from the Far East. Avoid synthetic rubber playthings like chew bones, nylon bones or tug o' war ropes from polyester; polyester collars could cause skin irritation, especially with a Shar Pei. In addition, they're not breathable and make the dog sweat, increasing the risk of bacterial infections.

Plant-based materials, like natural hemp, are also antibacterial. Swap out those harmful materials with our eco-friendly pet products from hemp.

shar Pei Temperament
Shar Pei are very loyal and devoted dogs. They will love you unconditionally

How to choose your Shar-Pei puppy

If you finally decide to take the plunge with a Shar Pei, a good breeder for this breed is crucial. A good breeder will welcome your questions about temperament and health checks and answer questions about what to look for in a dog and what kind of life you can offer.

In addition, a good breeder can tell you about the breed's history, explain why one puppy is considered a good pet while another isn't, and discuss what health problems can affect the breed and what to do to avoid them.

The most important thing to remember when choosing the perfect puppy for your family is that all dogs are different, even of the same breed. Therefore, knowing the basics of the breed is an essential first step in finding the right puppy, and you have just taken this critical first step!

Check related articles or sign up for our newsletter here to learn about other dog breeds. We are working hard to add all dog breeds as soon as possible to have a whole extensive library for everybody!

Shar Pei Fun facts

As documented by the American Kennel Club, the Shar Pei stands out as one of the most diverse and visually striking breeds, boasting a remarkable spectrum of up to 21 distinctive coat colours. This broad palette of colours adds an extra layer of uniqueness, contributing to their status as one of the most visually captivating breeds in the canine world.

Beyond their coat colour variations, another intriguing facet of the Shar Pei's identity lies in the surprising transformation of their tongue colour. Newborn Shar Pei pups enter the world with a charming pink tongue, setting them apart from many other breeds. However, as they mature over their first two years, their tongue changes dramatically, darkening to a deep hue.

Delving into their historical significance, the Shar Pei carved its place in history when it graced the cover of Life magazine in 1979. This spotlight resulted from concerted efforts by a dedicated breeder from Hong Kong, who embarked on a mission to export the breed to international shores, effectively safeguarding it from the brink of extinction. This momentous event triggered an unprecedented surge in Shar Pei's popularity, captivating the hearts of dog enthusiasts worldwide and solidifying its position as a cherished and sought-after companion.

In this journey through the Shar Pei's unique features and historical milestones, we uncover not only the kaleidoscope of their coat colours and the enigma of their evolving tongues but also the breed's enduring impact on the world stage, making it a breed that embodies both visual charm and fascinating history.

Is the Shar Pei the right dog breed for me?

If you’ve read this far and are still convinced that the Shar Pei is the pup for you, congratulations! You’re in for one of the best relationships of your life. The right owner for a Shar Pei is someone who understands and appreciates the unique characteristics of this breed.

This wrinkly dog has a loving and protective temperament. They will always keep an eye out for you and make sure you're safe. That can make them sometimes a bit possessive, but it can be all alleviated with dedicated training and socialising.

Shar Peis have an independent nature and can be strong-willed. An owner with previous dog-handling experience and confident leadership skills will be better equipped to effectively guide and train a Shar Pei.

The Shar Pei's wrinkles require careful attention to prevent skin issues. Regular cleaning, especially in the folds, is essential. Potential owners should be ready for this grooming commitment.

If you're determined to give this dog your all, this will be your life's best decision. If you have even the slightest doubts that you might not have the time to dedicate to this breed, we recommend a dog breed with less protective and territorial tendencies.

Ultimately, the best match will be the owner who genuinely loves and appreciates the Shar Pei breed, with all its quirks and charms. Their commitment and affection will create a fulfilling bond with their Shar Pei companion.

If you have a Shar Pei in your life already, why did you choose them? Comment below and tell us what drew you to this breed. And don’t forget to share photos of your new pup with us – we can’t wait to see them!

Owners voices in three words

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