The shar pei is a very peculiar breed of dog, known worldwide for its wrinkles. Of Chinese origin, this dog is popular and appreciated in many regions and in some places it is considered a symbol of social status.

In this article we tell you all about the shar pei: its origins, physical characteristics, character, training and some of its most common diseases.

Origins of the shar pei breed

The shar pei is a dog of Asian origin. It is believed to have originated in southern China during the Hang Dynasty and its ancestral links are with the Tibetan Mastiff and the Chow Chow. It is considered to be one of the oldest Chinese dog breeds in existence and some speculate that it dates back to 200 B.C. The shar pei has been used as a guard dog, fighting dog, hunting dog and herding dog.

During the 20th century, the shar pei began to lose popularity due to wars and famine in the country. In 1940 the state decreed that dogs were considered a luxury and should be used as food to survive the starving population. And that was the beginning of the Yulin, a controversial dog meat market that became popular in the 1990s. However, this specific breed was fortunately saved by a small group of people who decided to export the shar pei to other countries during the 1960s.

Characteristics of a shar pei

It is a medium-sized, robust dog. It measures about 44 – 51 centimetres to the withers, the size may vary according to sex: males are usually larger than females. On the other hand, its weight is around 18 – 30 kilograms.

Their most recognisable physical characteristic is the texture of their skin, which is incredibly wrinkled and sometimes even oily. Other characteristics of the shar pei include small ears, dark eyes and a round tail. There are shar peis in all colours: blue, grey, white, blue and cream.

The character of the shar pei dog

The shar pei has a peculiar temperament: on the one hand, it is a calm and very loyal dog. This dog is also considered to be very affectionate with his family, whom he cares for, respects and protects. It is also known to be a relaxed and obedient dog.

On the other hand, the shar pei is a somewhat independent dog and does not need constant attention. This is an important factor to consider. However, you should know that every dog, regardless of breed, can develop its own individual personality independently of the common breed traits.

How to care for a shar pei

This dog needs to be fed high quality foods such as fish and rice. This is because it has a very sensitive stomach and is prone to allergies. In this respect, fish and rice-based foods are known to provide better digestibility.

We should also know that it is not at all good to bathe our shar pei in excess: at most you should bathe your shar pei every month and a half. The reason for this is that the water and soap remove the layer of body fat which actually insulates and protects him.

Be sure to dry your dog thoroughly after bathing to prevent fungus. Pay attention to the space between the wrinkles, where fungus tends to settle.

Although shar pei dogs appreciate the warmth of the sun, precautions should be taken to prevent the dog from getting sunburnt. In addition, they should also be adequately protected from the cold by wearing dog coats and winter clothing.

Common diseases of the shar pei

The shar pei has a very peculiar coat, as it is short and close to the body. It also has a thicker coat compared to other breeds. These details added to its grooves can cause its wrinkled folds to promote fungus and other skin-related problems. Dryness, dermatitis or itching are other diseases related to their wrinkles.

In addition, another well-known disease that this breed can suffer from is the well-known shar pei fever. Regularly checking their state of health and visiting the vet at least every 6 months is a good way to prevent this type of problem. It is also essential to keep their vaccination schedules up to date, as well as internal and external deworming.

Education of a shar pei

The shar pei is an intelligent dog, but can sometimes be a little stubborn. We have to work from an early age to educate this dog to be sociable and friendly. During puppyhood we must practice socialisation, where we introduce our shar pei to different types of people, animals and objects. The purpose of this stage is to enrich the dog’s knowledge of his environment in order to foster a sociable, loving and respectful attitude. This education will also help to prevent the build-up of fear or aggressive tendencies.

Fortunately, a shar pei’s intelligence will help us a lot in its training stage. We recommend teaching basic training commands such as: sit, down, lie down, stay still, come, etc. These are essential elements for their safety and obedience and also build a bond between owner and dog.

We should never use physical punishment with dogs, so we suggest basing all education on positive reinforcement.

Dedicating time, patience and love to the education and training of a shar pei is fundamental to its life and well-being. This education will also help to maintain regularity in their routines, ensuring that our dog always feels a sense of confidence and security.