Paw-fect Shar Pei Dog Facts Kids Will Love

Shar Pei facts are informative to read.

In this article, we will learn about a dog which according to its Chinese breed standard is said to have ears that are shaped like the shell of a clam, a nose like that of a butterfly, a face like that of a grandmother, and legs of a dragon. With such a description, you might imagine an absolute monstrosity of a dog, but you'll find the  Chinese Shar pei to be endearing once you get to know more about them. Shar Pei literally means 'sand skin' due to its distinct coat and wrinkled skin. Their wrinkled skin (for which they are known) was a desirable trait in dog fights. This ancient breed has allegedly been around since the age of the Han dynasty where its statues have been seen, yet it was only in 1991 that the dog breed was recognized as a non-sporting group by the American Kennel Club.  At one point, this breed was the rarest breed in the world (as declared by the Guinness Book of World Records) but due to the resolve of one man, by the name of Matgo Law, the breed is thriving. If you are a dog lover, we encourage you to learn more about yet another cute breed. To learn more about Shar Pei dog facts read till the very end.

If you think that this article is informative and fun, do check out Shar Pei Lab mix and Shiba Inu facts.

Shar Pei

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Birds, rabbits

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

Male: 54-65 lb Female: 39-54 lb

How long are they?

20-30 in

How tall are they?

18-20 in

What do they look like?

Solid black, fawn, cream, red

Skin Type

Short fur

What are their main threats?

Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, skin fold infections

What is their conservation status?

Not Listed

Where you'll find them

Apartments, houses


Southern China





Scientific Name

Canis lupus familiaris





Shar Pei Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Shar Pei?

A Shar Pei is a type of dog that originates from Southern China.

What class of animal does a Shar Pei belong to?

The Shar Pei is one of the many dog breeds in the world and thus, belongs to the class of Mammals.

How many Shar Pei are there in the world?

The exact number of Shar Pei is not known. What is known is that there are over 1000,000 Shar Pei registered with the American Kennel Club. Having reached dangerously close to extinction in the 1970s, this dog breed is not under threat of extinction any more, especially since they are found all over the world now.

Where does a Shar Pei live?

Shar Pei dog breeds were once limited to Southern China but now can be found in homes as pets all over the world. It is believed that this dog breed originated from the area near the village Tai Li.

What is a Shar Pei's habitat?

Having been domesticated as guard dogs, hunters, and even for dogfighting, there are no wild populations of the Shar Pei dog breed and thus their habitat is shared with humans in places like farms and houses. Having a mild energy level, this dog is often a perfect choice for people without backyards. Thus, apartments are one of its newer habitats.

Who do Shar Peis live with?

All dogs are originally pack animals, but now that they are domesticated completely, their most common pack companions are humans.

How long does a Shar Pei live?

The Chinese Shar Pei's life span is about 11-12 years.

How do they reproduce?

The Female Shar Pei will give birth to about four to five puppies in one pregnancy although, over years of breeding, this breed has developed many genetic problems and only good breeders have the ability to breed these dogs from healthy stock.

What is their conservation status?

In the 1970s, the breed was close to extinction with only 60 dogs remaining. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized the breed as the world's rarest dog. Thankfully, after a concentrated effort from dog breeders all over the world and their grown popularity, the Shar Pei is not close to extinction any more. But due to breeding with other dogs like Pitbulls and bull terriers, there are now two kinds of Shar Pei. The one that has been cross-bred and has more wrinkled mouths is called the meat-mouth type, while the traditional Shar Pei is referred to as the bone-mouth type. While the meat-mouth flourishes, the bone-mouth Shar Pei is endangered with less than 100 remaining as of 2012.

Shar Pei Fun Facts

What do Shar Peis look like?

There are two kinds of Shar Pei that exist. The meat-mouth Shar Pei has deep wrinkles as compared to the bone-mouth Shar Pei found in Hong Kong that has wrinkled skin on their face. This dog breed is about medium-sized dogs and resembles the Mastiff family. The Shar Pei dog breed comes in almost every solid color such as black, brown, fawn, red, and more, with the notable exception being the color white. They have a characteristic blue-black tongue much like its closest genetic relative, the Chow Chow. The head of this dog breed is relatively large for its body that is paired with sloped shoulders and muscular legs. They also have a muzzle that is darker in color. These adaptations are the result of breeding for the purposes of dogfighting, guarding, and hunting. They have triangular ears and their eyes are nestled between the thick folds of wrinkles on their faces (although it is less of a case for the traditional bone-mouth type Shar Pei that lives in Hong Kong). These dogs require extra grooming and bathing because the folds of skin of a Shar Pei can be the breeding ground for nasty fungal infections.

Shar Pei facts are fascinating to learn about.

How cute are they?

Shar Peis are adorable dogs that are not just endearing because of their physical features like their cute wrinkled faces and blue-black tongue but also gain affection for their high intelligence and loyalty towards their family. They reserve their affection for the people they care about and you'll experience that when your Shar Pei wags its tail in your presence.

How do they communicate?

Much like other dog breeds, this dog breed is also very communicative both through auditory means and scents. The Shar Pei use barks, growls, and even body language cues like eye gaze and facial expressions to communicate. With proper training, communication with your Shar Pei can be achieved through spoken commands and even hand signals. With a strong sense of smell, this dog also uses scent and pheromones to communicate with other dogs, especially for the purposes of mating and marking territory.

How big is a Shar Pei?

Shar Peis are medium-sized dogs that can grow up to 20 in tall and can weigh about 45 lb. There are even miniature versions of this breed called the Miniature Shar Pei they do not grow past 16 in and have even more wrinkles.

How fast can a Shar Pei run?

Shar Peis are not fast runners and make for great walking partners. They need to be held firmly on their leash when taken outside to keep their guardian instincts in check.

How much does a Shar Pei weigh?

The Shar Pei's weight, much like any other breed of dog, varies depending on the sex. The male Shar Pei generally has a weight between 54-65 lb while the female Shar Pei can weigh between 39-54 lb.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male is called a Shar Pei dog while the female is called a Shar Pei bitch.

What would you call a baby Shar Pei?

A baby Shar Pei is called a Shar Pei puppy or a pup.

What do they eat?

A  Chinese Shar Pei requires a little bit of extra care when given its diet as they are more prone to have allergies. The primary sources of protein for a Shar Pei can be lamb, fish, or beef. A Chinese Shar Pei needs a balanced diet that needs to be well planned with the consultation of your vet who knows the specific medical history of your dog. Commercially available complete dog food is generally ideal for Shar Pei.

Are they slobbery?

Their wrinkled skin and mouth make it so that they have a propensity to slobber because of how they have been bred. When planning to get a Shar Pei as your dog, their slobbery nature should be kept in mind. The Shar Pei's drooling is largely unintentional and involuntary. In fact, changes in their slobber can be an indicator of underlying health conditions and should be reported to a vet.

Would they make a good pet?

The Chinese Shar Pei can make for a great pet but you have to be cognizant of its past as a guardian and fighting dog. Its past can work as a great thing as Shar Peis can be great watchdogs for your family. It is also likely that your Shar Pei will be suspicious of new people and other animals. Thus, if you do decide to have your very own Shar Pei you must make sure that they are well socialized at an early age with strangers, other dogs, and other smaller animals. These dogs are smart and can be independent, strong-willed, and love the constant company of their owners. This breed remains rather calm and can live happily in an apartment-like setting. Their history has unfortunately been tragic as they were bred with no regard to their health to meet consumer demand. Thus, it is of paramount importance to find a reputable breeder that has a stock of healthy dogs if you desire to own a Shar Pei.

Did you know...

The Chinese Shar Pei has a fascinating history that dates back to the Han dynasty where archeological discoveries were made of statues that looked a lot like the traditional Shar Pei. The Chinese Shar Pei originates from the Southern provinces of China. It was bred for the purposes of hunting, guarding, herding, and even fighting. These dogs were very popular in the region until the political situation (the communist government imposed heavy taxes on dogs) in the country in the '40s led these animals to the brink of extinction. It was in 1973 that the Shar Pei got its big break when an influential Hong Kong businessman named Matgo Law made an appeal to the world to make an effort to save this dog breed from extinction. Through such efforts in 1973, some of these dogs made their way to the United States where breeders formed the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, Inc. In 1979, Life magazine helped bring the cause of conservation of this dog when they ran its story and put it on the cover. Over the decades the breed got famous and in the year 1988, this breed was accepted as a miscellaneous class by the American Kennel Club. But by the year 1991, it was recognized as a member of the non-sporting group by the American Kennel Club. The popularity of the Shar Pei in the United States meant breeders crossbred this breed with dogs like Pitbulls and bull terriers. A consequence of that has been the development of the meat-mouth type breed over the world as compared to the traditional Shar Pei that lives in Hong Kong alone.

Characteristics and health issues

The Chinese Shar Pei has its lineage as guard and fight dogs in Southern China thus their temperament is that of an independent, strong-willed dog. They show affection and loyalty towards those that they consider family, the flipside of this is that they are suspicious of strangers. Having been bred to meet demand since the '80s without regard for their health conditions, the Shar Pei has many genetic health issues such as Shar-Pei Fever (also called swollen hock syndrome and results in swelling of the hock joint), Hypothyroidism (Disorder of the thyroid gland), cancer, elbow dysplasia (a degenerative disease caused by unnatural growth of joints). Another common cause of concern is entropion. This condition causes the eyelashes to curl towards the inside thus causing irritation. This can be solved by the means of surgery, but if left untreated can flare up to the point that it may cause blindness. In Australia specifically, this issue is serious, with eight in ten dogs of this breed requiring surgery. Their ears too can get yeast infections if not cleaned up properly. They can also suffer from Vitamin B12 deficiency.

The bottom line with dogs, Shar Peis especially, is that certain dog breeds come with genetic health issues. As a pet owner, you should take note of such issues beforehand and seek professional medical help when necessary. The Shar Pei's health issues cannot take away from the joy of having them as pets though.

Getting your own Shar Pei

Shar Peis can make for good family pets with their overall calm demeanor and moderate level of exercise requirements. Although they are known to be aggressive, their protective tendencies make them optimal pets for families with children, other dogs, and pets. Their cost can range between $1200-$2000. If you wish to adopt them, look up the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America National Rescue Trust.  They need to be sourced from a well-reputed breeder to avoid the multitude of genetic health problems they may have. Their loose skin necessitates special grooming needs; they need to be dried thoroughly after a bath so that no infection happens between the folds of their loose skin. You must also be prepared to train them well at an early age so that they behave well around other people and dogs. Additionally, you need to be stern in establishing yourself as the pack leader otherwise the Chinese Shar Pei may compete for a leadership role and exhibit its more stubborn behavior traits. Their short noses make them susceptible to overheating, so they require less strenuous exercise and a cool ventilated living space to keep them healthy. It is important to do your research and be well versed with Shar Pei information and facts so that you may provide your pet with good health and wellbeing.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including Pitbull Chihuahua mix, or corgi.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Shar Pei dog coloring pages.



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