To me Shar-Peis have always been one of those dog breeds that was so strange looking it actually made them cuter.
From their bodies full of draping wrinkles, to their sweet little Hippo-like faces, these pups just scream cuddle buddy! Shar-Peis are also a surprisingly well rounded breed that is both intelligent and loyal, but fairly low-maintenance.
Check out this list of Shar-Pei facts and prepare to fall in love.
A Chinese Curiosity
1. Unfortunately, most of what is known about the Shar-Pei’s history is largely speculative due to the lack of documentation of dogs developed in China.
2. However, it is believed that the Shar-Pei is an ancient breed dating back to the Han Dynasty (200 B.C.) in the southern provinces of China due to statues found in tombs resembling the wrinkled pups.
3. There is another theory that claims Shar-Pei’s are not ancient at all, but were developed in Hong Kong in the 1960’s by crossing the Chinese Fighting Dog with the Boxer, Bulldog and Bloodhound.
4. The Shar-Pei was presumably bred to hunt, herd, guard livestock, and for dog fighting.
5. The Hong Kong Kennel Club stopped registering the breed in 1978 because their wrinkles were considered “ugly and undesirable,” explains Dr. Jeff Vidt. (pfft..shows how much they knew)
6. They came to their senses 20 years later in 1988 when a new dog registry was formed with Kowloon Kennel Association.
7. According to the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, during the Communist Revolution the dog population of China was more or less eliminated and the Shar-Pei faced extinction. Thanks to a Chinese businessman named Matgo Law, a few hundred of them were exported to the United States where the breed was saved and revived.
8. A year after their popular arrival in the U.S., the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America was formed in 1974 and has worked diligently throughout the years to maintain and promote the breed standard.
9. In 1978, The Guinness Book of World Records deemed the Shar-Pei the rarest dog in the world with only 60 known to be alive according to Pet Wave.
10. The Shar-Pei was the 134th breed recognized by the AKC in 1988.
Something Old, Something New, Something….Wrinkled?
11. The Shar-Pei is a medium sized dog that reaches up to 1 foot 6 inches in height and between 40-50 pounds in weight.
12. Their coat is short, bristly and stands straight up in the air.
13. There are three distinct coat lengths including the horse coat (shortest), bear coat (medium) and the brush coat (longest).
14. Coat color ranges from red, fawn, black, cream, sable, and even blue or lilac.
15. They can also exhibit something called “dilute coloring” in which their nose, leather and nails are all the same color as their coat.
16. Their most prominent characteristic is their extremely loose and wrinkly skin.
17. Another unique trait is their dark tongue, similar to that of the Chow.
18. They are described as having a “hippopotamus head” due to their square features and small triangular shaped ears.
19. All those wrinkles lead to the Shar-Pei having a permanent scowl despite his friendliness (even dogs can get resting jerk face).
20. If you plan on showing your Shar-Pei, the AKC requires his hind dew claws (the nail that sits a little higher up on the leg) to be removed.
Looks AND Personality!
21. Vetstreet describes the Shar-Pei temperament as a little snobbish due to their extreme aloofness around strangers.
22. Shar-Peis are also calm and mostly quiet. They will typically only bark when playing or threatened.
23. They are independent and stubborn.
24. However, they are also extremely loyal and protective of their families and make great guard dogs.
25. Early socialization is key to keeping them from becoming aggressive towards other dogs.
26. This is important for all breeds, but especially dogs who have a lineage of fighting dogs like the Shar-Pei.
27. Their strong-willed nature makes them best suited for an owner who will be able to stand their ground and provide consistency in training.
28. Shar-Peis are one of many breeds of dog that prefers human companionship to that of another pooch. Check out this article to find out what some of the others are!
29. The lifespan of the Shar-Pei is 8-12 years.
30. Their shorter snout makes them prone to overheating, so avoid extreme heat.
31. Shar-Peis can develop fungal infections between their skin folds if they aren’t dried well enough after baths.
32. Despite their size, they do not require much exercise and can maintain good health with at least a daily 20 minute walk.
33. Dogtime lists the recommended daily amount of food for your Shar-Pei as 1.5-2.5 cups of high quality food twice a day.
34. Some of the health conditions associated with this breed are hypothyroidism, elbow dysplasia, glaucoma, patellar luxation and bloat.
35. They are also prone to a breed specific condition known as Shar-Pei Fever or Swollen Hock Syndrome. This leads to a temporary swelling of the hock joints (equivalent to ankle joints in humans), lethargy, vomiting, and fevers as high as 107 degrees.
36. The condition is typically recurring and the bouts of fever last a little over 24 hours. Treatment depends on the underlying cause, but unfortunately there is no long-term cure and frequent episodes can lead to kidney and liver failure.
37. If you get your Shar-Pei through a breeder it is extremely important to make sure they are reputable and that they provide you with the appropriate health clearances.
Ironing Out Those Wrinkles
38. Grooming the Shar-Pei is a cinch because of their short coats. They only shed minimally.
39. A thorough brushing with a grooming mit once a week is sufficient enough to keep them looking their best.
40. They are naturally clean animals with little odor and only need a bath once every 12 weeks or so.
41. Frequent bathing isn’t recommended because it can cause skin irritation.
42. When you do bathe your Shar-Pei make sure to dry his wrinkles and folds completely or he is almost guaranteed to get a skin infection.
43. Their small ears make them susceptible to ear infections due to a limited amount of air passing through the canal.
44. Dogtime recommends only cleaning the outside of the ear and making sure to inspect them for odors or redness regularly.
Mr. Sand-Skin, Bring Me A Dream
45. The Shar-Pei’s name translates to “sand skin” because of his bristly coat.
46. It is fairly common for new Shar-Pei owners to develop a mild skin sensitivity to the harshness of their coat—especially in the shorter horse coat variation. It will typically cause a rash on the forearms that disappears in a week according to Care Shar-Pei.
47. Shar-Peis have an intense dislike of water.
48. They also do not like having their feet touched, so trimming the nails can be a little difficult.
49. The Shar-Pei’s wrinkles are thought to be developed in the breed to aid in fighting, protecting them from damage and deterring attackers who get a mouthful of their rough fur.
50. The Shar-Pei can sometimes housebreak himself.
Bonus Fact: Ex Spice Girl, fashion designer, and wife of a devastatingly handsome soccer star, Victoria Beckham, welcomed a Shar-Pei to their pack in 2013 named Barnaby.