Country of Origin: China
AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 64 of 196
AKC Classification: Non-sporting
UKC Classification: Northern breed
Exercise Requirements: Moderate
Height: Female: 17-19 in.; Male: 18-20 in.
Weight: Female: 45-55 lbs.; Male: 50-60 lbs.
Energy Level: Low
Tendency to Drool: Low
Tendency to Snore: High
Tendency to Bark: High
Tendency to Dig: Low
Social/Attention Needs: Low
Life Expectancy: 8-12 years
The Chinese Shar-Pei is a breed of dog that was developed over 2,000 years ago. The breed's name is derived from its original purpose which was to hunt, kill, and retrieve both on land and in the water. The Chinese Shar-Pei played an important role as a guardian of property as well as for hunting with their owners. They were prized by peasants as well as officials because they could be used as guard dogs due to their aggressive nature towards strangers but gentle dispositions with their families. Despite the early popularity of the Chinese Shar-Pei, they were eventually banned from import into Britain with other breeds deemed to be “non-conforming” and “undesirable” by the British Kennel Club. Since then, the breed has experienced a resurgence in popularity despite their lack of recognition by some kennel clubs.
The Chinese Shar-Pei coats are short and dense, but not coarse or woolly, making them suitable for climates with temperatures ranging from -30 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius. Their skin is wrinkled especially around their heads and necks referred to as “a lion’s face.” They have a blue-black tongue which gives them an odd appearance amongst dog breeds. The bodies are quite square that taper towards their hind legs giving the appearance of being chunky children because of their large heads, rounded eyes, broad skulls, short muzzles, prominent stop (pointy area between the eyes and the bridge of the nose), and black noses. Their breed standards state that they should weigh anywhere from 30 pounds to 50 pounds, but many individuals actually weigh more than this.
The Chinese Shar-Pei’s temperament is typically described as independent, intelligent, fearless, loyal, stubborn, and aloof towards strangers. These traits likely stem from their history as well as their unique appearance which may make them appear like a cross breed to some people (hence why many owners liken them to “ugly cute” dogs). They require early socialization with an emphasis on ensuring that they obey commands in order for them to be well-rounded pets both at home and in. The Chinese Shar-Pei’s aggression towards strangers only extends to those they are unfamiliar with; once they have been properly introduced to someone, they will warm up to them. Their aggressiveness makes them good guard dogs even though they aren't typically very loud. It's recommended that owners introduce their pets to other animals at an early age because of the Chinese Shar-Pei's strong prey drive, which could lead into confrontations between family pets if not curtailed. These traits make the Chinese Shar-Pei a great pet for people who are looking for a highly intelligent, independent dog which doesn't require excessive exercise or need much grooming.
The Chinese Shar-Pei was originally developed in China as a-purpose breed that included working, companion, and hunting dogs. The breed’s history can be traced back to the Han dynasty where they were bred by the poorer classes of people who needed dogs to help them with their work. Over time, Chinese Shar-Pei were further developed into what they are today by peasants as well as officials because of their intelligence and ability to be used for protection due to their aggressive nature towards strangers despite being gentle with their families. Unfortunately, this breed began declining in numbers when more modern breeds became popular among nobility because of their lack of appearance compared to the more refined European breeds. Thankfully, during more recent times there has been a resurgence in popularity which led to an increase in population of Chinese Shar-Pei around the world especially within the past 50 years.