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Characteristics, History, and Health


The Shar-Pei is a breed of dog known for its deep wrinkles and blue-black tongue. The breed originates from southern China, and the name Shar-Pei means sand skin, a reference to the texture of their short, rough coat. The Shar-Pei breed has a rich history, dating back over 2,000 years to the Han Dynasty in China. Initially bred for hunting and herding, they were also used for protection. In the mid-20th century, the breed was close to extinction due to factors such as famine and government regulation, but a Hong Kong businessman named Matgo Law worked to revive the breed. With the help of breed enthusiasts in the United States, the Shar-Pei was introduced to the American Kennel Club (AKC) and officially recognized in 1991.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Chinese Shar-Pei
Life Expectancy
8-12 years
Average Male Height
18-20 inches
Average Female Height
18-20 inches
Average Male Weight
45-60 pounds
Average Female Weight
45-60 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Black, Blue, Brown, Cream, Fawn, Red, Red Fawn, Red Sable, White, Fawn Sable, Cream Sable, Apricot Dilute, Blue Dilute, Lilac Dilute, Cream Dilute, Chocolate Dilute, Five Point Red Dilute, Isabella Dilute, Black Sable, Blue Sable, Brown Sable
Coat Pattern
White Markings, Brindle, Sable, Mask, Spotted on White, Pointed, Saddle Pattern

Genetic Predispositions and Health

The Shar-Pei is susceptible to lip and skin fold pyodermas, otitis externa, hypothyroidism, patellar luxation, allergies, amyloidosis, entropion, and canine hip dysplasia. They can also be affected by Shar-Pei fever (also known as Familial Shar-Pei Fever or FSF), a periodic fever disorder.

Personality and Behavior

Shar-Pei are known to be intelligent, loyal, and independent. They can be wary of strangers but are generally devoted and protective of their families. They require early socialization and consistent, firm training to prevent them from becoming overly suspicious or aggressive. They are typically calm and quiet dogs, but they can be stubborn, so patient and persistent training techniques work best.

Fun Facts

The Shar-Pei is one of the few breeds with a blue-black tongue, a characteristic it shares with the Chow Chow, another breed from China.

Shar-Pei puppies are born with their characteristic wrinkles, but they often grow into their skin as they mature, and adults may only have wrinkles on their face and shoulders.

In 1978, the Guinness Book of World Records listed the Shar-Pei as the world's rarest dog breed.