Typically, a healthy adult CAN “hold it” for several hours and if kept to a smaller, confined space will do so. Shar Pei who haven't been fully housebroken will usually only "go" in an area that is away from the areas they are primarily trafficking (i.e a distant corner of a room or another room). They don't like to go where they have to "hang out" regularly, unless it is a "marking" type behaviour. Yes, some females will mark too, especially when they are close to or in an oestrus cycle and other dogs are around.
In general, we advise the following; Keep the puppy contained to a smaller area when you have gone out or sleeping...a crate, a kitchen area, guest room or such. Puppies need to go about every 2-3 hours and following any meals, heavy play, naps. "Be Quick" time is first or last....first after eating, playing, upon waking, first when you come home...and last before you leave or go to bed as well as every 2-3 hours when at home and awake. Use the same door each time and take them to the same area to go.....give them a command phrase too. We use the "Be Quick" command. When you take or let the puppy out, stay with with it and keep repeating this till he or she "goes", then praise using the key words..."Good boy/girl"! Or such. Don't bring or let the puppy back in until he or she goes pee, at the very least.
Constant observation and learning body language and signals is essential while training. A sudden shift of attention from what he or she is doing followed by any floor sniffing or wandering off will often be followed by a "Squat". Try to catch the puppy before the squat and ask if he or she has to "be quick" then take the puppy out immediately to go as I outlined above. Also watch for the puppy starting to go back and forth to the door you use to take him or her out....it may be a subtle way of the puppy saying that they "have to go". Some whine, some scratch at the door but some just walk back and forth between what they were doing (or you) and the door a couple times to indicate their need.
If you don't catch the puppy going...just clean it up and move on...he or she has already moved "beyond it" once the bladder is empty, so punishment is useless. If you catch the puppy at it just "pre-squat" or "mid-squat" make a loud noise to distract (hand clap, etc.) then lead him or her quickly & directly to the door and out, using the command phrase (in an upbeat voice) and give praise for going outside and completing the task. Keep this up consistently and the puppy will catch on and you will start to understand its signals when he or she needs to go.
Shar Pei are generally the easiest breed to housebreak except for the rain factor. In wet weather many will do anything to avoid it. One can either just refuse to let them in till they go or take them out on a leash with an umbrella and stand in the rain begging them to please be quick. This works eventually but can be frustrating and uncomfortable for all....a necessary evil, but stand firm and don't forget the coat and umbrella for a less uncomfortable wait.
Nutrition & Grooming
Shar Pei need appropriate nutrition to suit this breed's specific needs. There are many different opinions on this topic, however, what has worked for us is a premium quality formula (complete food) kibble.
We have tried different food types over the years with mixed results as what may have worked for some dogs in our pack hasent worked for the others. The kibble we have settled on (as it works for the whole pack) is Eukanuba Daily Care for Sensitive Skin. This is a low protein (Fish) dry food diet that has been specially developed to limit ingredients that may cause itching and scratching. This kibble is packed with vitamin-rich fish as well as Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids to help the dog’s skin and coat look healthy and radiant.
For puppies we recommend Eukanuba Puppy Lamb & Rice kibble until they are 4-6 months old and then an adult version thereafter (Lamb or Fish as the primary protein).
There's not one diet that fits all dogs unfortunately and even in the same breed. Some prefer Raw, some prefer kibble, some prefer a mixed diet, so sometimes you just have to do your research and try alternatives to find the ideal diet (primarily) for your dog and secondly what fits in with your family lifestyle. Feed your dog what it does well on. If new diets are tried you need to give them at least 3 months to know if there has been any benefit and ensure you transition from one food to the other over a week to 10 days.
Brands we have tried in the past with decent results are;
Points to Note:
A good quality puppy food contains the necessary nutrients for eye, brain and bone development.
The Shar Pei has a higher incidence of food allergies than other breeds. It is generally protein in the food and beef is possibly the most common protein that Shar Pei are allergic to. Food allergies can take up to 3 months to solve with a new diet. As mentioned previously, If new diets are tried you need to give them at least 3 months to know if there has been any benefit.
Shar Pei Do Not do well on too much protein, they over heat & are very lethargic & scratch a lot. Often this is mistaken for Shar Pei Fever.
Feed your dog what it does well on.
Clean water should be available at all times.
If necessary, please see the 'supplements' section below for useful information (on supplements).
For other view's and advice on the Shar Pei diet please refer to Dr Vidt’s website. Other excellent websites are;
Avocado - leaves, fruit, seeds and bark contain a toxic principle known as Persin.
Garlic - Even at low levels of exposure to garlic, some changes in red blood cells is likely
Onions destroy red blood cells and can cause anaemia, weakness, and breathing difficulty. Even small amounts can cause cumulative damage over time. This includes onions or chives - raw, powdered, dehydrated, or cooked.
Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. As little as a single serving of raisins can kill him. Even if the dog doesn't eat enough at one time to be fatal, he can be severely damaged by eating just a few grapes or raisins regularly.
Tomatoes in high quantity can be fatal to dogs. Tomatoes (plant and fruit) contain tomatine, an alkaloid related to solanine. As the fruit ripens, the tomatine is metabolized. Therefore, ripe tomatoes are less likely to be problematic for animals. Clinical signs of poisoning include lethargy, drooling, difficulty breathing, colic, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation, widely-dilated pupils, paralysis, cardiac effects, central nervous system signs (e.g., ataxia, muscle weakness, tremors, seizures), resulting from cholinesterase inhibition, coma and death.
Nutmeg can cause tremors, seizures and death.
Macadamia nuts can harm dogs. Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, muscle tremor and paralysis. These symptoms are usually temporary.
Walnuts - When dogs eat the seed hulls, they can get an upset stomach and diarrhoea. The real problem is the fungus or mould that attacks after they get wet (from rain or sprinklers), which produces toxins. If the fungus or mould is ingested by your dogs, they can become very ill and possibly die. Signs that should alert you to walnut poisoning are vomiting, trembling, drooling, lack of coordination, lethargy, loss of appetite, and jaundice indications such as yellowing eyes and gums. Severely affected dogs can produce blood-tinged vomit or stools. Dogs can take several days to exhibit serious signs of illness.
Chocolate can cause seizures, coma and death. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Any chocolate, in large enough amounts, has th epotential to kill a dog.
Seeds & Pits: Apple seeds, cherry pits, peach pits, pear pits, plums pits, as well as apricot pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous. While a few apple seeds may not cause a problem, the effects can accumulate over time if they are given to dogs regularly.
Xylitol, a sweetener used in some sugar free gums & candies (as well as other "sugar free" products) and some toothpaste brands is highly toxic to animals. This is especially dangerous as gum or candy that contains this can easily fall out of one's pocket or handbag and, being sweet, is very tempting for dogs to eat. If tooth paste containing this gets in reach it can also be consumed. Very dangerous.
TREATS to AVOID:
Rawhide, Greenies, Crab Sticks, cooked bones, chicken bones etc. Avoid treats with wheat gluten, soy, sugars, onion/garlic added or lots of preservatives.....read the labels before you buy. Be cautious with the following: Pig's ears, cow hooves and any treat when it is chewed down to size they can choke on it should be thrown away. Avoid too much protein.
HEALTHY TREATS (In small amounts):
Raw Marrow bones, Home baked livers (Lamb, chicken or beef), Dehydrated meats (jerkies) the less additives the better.
Dehydrated fruits or veggies (no sugar added), Steamed veggies, Strawberries, blueberries, apple slices (no seeds), watermelon (fruits in small amounts only).
Also, good quality tinned Salmon or sardines thrown in now & then is good as they are an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids, rich in vitamins & ensure your dog's coat is healthy & shiny amongst many other benefits.
Shar Pei are fairly easy to maintain in regards to grooming. The shorter coats require no trimming and just occasional brushing and bathing most of the time. If the skin is healthy, as it should be if one is following appropriate diet and suggested medical care, the bathing procedure is pretty straightforward. Wet, and shampoo with one of the products from say Dorwest such as the Oatmeal or Pennyroyal), or the Zymox shampoo. Rinse thoroughly (rinsing of all traces of soap / shampoo is essential) and then simply towel dry afterwards. Apply a good conditioner thereafter such as the Zymox version that promotes healthy skin and coat.
Generally the most challenging part of bathing a Pei is getting them to willingly tolerate being wet. Most Pei despise water in its liquid form. Be patient, firm and consistent with a regular bathing routine and they will learn to tolerate bath times and be more cooperative. Since most Pei (especially puppies) tend to be messy drinkers and eaters, keeping some wet wipes or a dampened hand towel handy to wipe muzzle & flews after meals will keep them cleaner between baths.
We tend to bath our dogs every 2-3 months (with the Zymox shampoo & conditioner combo) however possibly sooner if they have decided to roll about in the great outdoors.
Shar Pei don't generally enjoy having nails trimmed. Getting them into a weekly routine of trimming at a young age will help get them used to this and more tolerant. Be persistent, patient and firm. Be careful not to cut behind the quick. If you do; stop the bleeding, clean and apply a styptic pen or powder. If you dont have either at hand then Savlon or Sudocrem are good alternatives. Many find using a Dremel type device on the nails is much easier and there is less risk of injuring the quick. They may not like the sound of this device at first but will get used to it with repeated use.
One of the most recognisable features of the Shar Pei is their unique triangular shaped ears that lie close to the head. The small, tight ear flap causes very little air circulation, resulting in moisture and natural ear wax being caught in the ear canal. The result is the potential for foul smelling ear infections. The best way to keep this under control is through routine ear maintenance and an appropriate diet. Yeast infections are commonplace if the ears are not maintained properly.
Proper maintaining of the ears should be a weekly task. Note however, on some occasions with persistent infections they may need to have medication such as Otomax Ear Drop Suspension prescribed by a Vet. A good ear cleaner now available over the counter is CleanAural Sensitive for dogs. An Homeopathic remedy alternative is Mullein Herbal Oil Ear Drops by Phytopet. Zymox is also a product that receives excellent reviews.
The weakest area of the Shar Pei breed is the eye area. Their eyes are very deep set and there is very little support for the eyelids. As a result most Shar Pei puppies will have some degree of an inherited condition known as Entropion. See the Entropion page for further information on this condition and other eye problems.
Eye cleaning should be part of the dogs weekly grooming and maintenace tasks. Keep the eyes free of gunk and crustiness by using a damp cotton wool ball or pad soaked in lukewarm sterile water. Using the soaked cotton wool wipe outward from the corner of the eye ("out towards the snout"). Be careful not to scratch the cornea. Use dog eye wash if you see redness, which is common during dry winters.
Keep the eye moisturised by using a soothing lubricant such as Carbomer. Apply 1-2 drops in one or both eyes as often as required or as instructed by your vet. In the event of acute or chronic eye diseases your vet should be consulted.
Although we might simply dislike our Shar Pei’s foul breath, it’s important to be aware of what it may indicate. Bad breath is most commonly a symptom which means that your Shar Pei requires an oral check-up. Dental plaque caused by germs creates a terrible odour that can only be cured with professional treatment. The gums and teeth can be preserved in a healthy state by eliminating table food, feeding a special diet focused on maintaining dental health, and if necessary brushing regularly. The vet can give you more information for mitigating oral diseases as well as halitosis. Our dogs diet combined with regular cleaning (using dental products from emmi-pet) keeps their teeth clean, free from infection (and has also helped to keep that smelly breath at bay).
Also called chin acne, chin pyoderma, puppy dermatitis, muzzle folliculitis, furunculosis or simply “pimples,” is a fairly common inflammatory condition that affects the lips, chins and muzzles of puppies and young adult dogs. Occasionally, acne shows up in the genital region, the area beneath the tail or on the flank. What causes acne in dogs is not well-understood. However, canine acne is similar to acne in teen-aged people. It usually starts as hard, purplish-red raised areas and blackheads at the site of hair follicles. Bacteria get into the plugged follicles and multiply, creating whiteheads, which are pimples filled with pus. While mild acne outbreaks usually don’t cause dogs much discomfort, severe acne can be extremely painful. It is important for owners to recognize the signs of acne, so that they can take appropriate steps to treat the condition and relieve their dog’s discomfort.
Good treatments are Salt water or Leucillin for the areas that the dog can lick. For underneath the chin (where the dog cannot lick) diluted Hibiscrub is a good alternative.
If necessary; Herbal Products from 'Dorwest' provide excellent supplements such as Garlic & Fenugreek with Mixed Vegetable tablets. This tablet combination helps with joints & mobility, skin & coat, minor infections, urinary system and also general well-being. Cod Liver Oil, & Evening Primrose Oil supplements are also recommended and come with a number of benefits for the heart, skin and coat etc. Virgin Coconut oil has many benefits for dogs and can be used as an oral supplement or topically.
An excellent addition (i.e supplement) to your dogs diet is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) that has many benefits for dogs. It must be the organic version of ACV containing “The Mother”. A major benefit is around the digestive system as vinegar can kill 80-99% of the harmful bacteria in the dogs food. Add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of ACV for every 50 pounds of your dog’s body weight (daily) to the drinking water.
Cuts, Scrapes, Sores, Bites, Wounds, Infections
Antibacterial, Antiviral & Antifungal Liquid
Salt Water / Saline Wash
Antibacterial scrub (Diluted Hibiscrub & Cotton Wool Pads)
Creams / Ointments
Antiseptic – Savlon, Sudocrem
Antibiotic - Neosporin
Antiseptic, Antibiotic, Antifungal, Antiviral - Activon Tube Medical Grade Manuka Honey
Skin Healing - Lanolin or Vaseline
Dermatitis / Yeast on the skin
***IMPORTANT*** - Medicating animals without veterinary supervision or advice does carry many risks including, but not limited to, overdose, toxicity, drug interaction, renal and hepatic disease or death. Please consult your veterinary surgeon prior to administering any medication to your animal.
Antihistamine tablets (Piriton, Piriteze for allergies & bites)
Gastrointestinal - Pro-Kolin (Paste) for acute cases of vomiting, diarrhoea, and other digestive sensitivities.
Other Stomach meds (e.g. Pepto Bismol)
Metacam / Loxicom (Meloxicam) or Paracetamol or Aspirin for FSF
Pain Relief - Metacam / Loxicom (Perscription Only & also useful for FSF)
Hot Spots - Savlon, Sudocrem, Comfrey & Calendula Balm, Hydrocortisone Cream
Dehydration - Dioralyte Sachets prevent dehydration by replacing fluids lost due to diarrhoea or acute vomiting.
Phone number & address of vet:
Ensure to hand at all times
On animal’s collar
Call the Vet
Alert them of the situation
Get advice – pen & paper ready
Out Of Hours
Out of hours centres - number
In addition to the above information; 'The Puppy Socialisation Plan' website is an extremely useful source for raising a puppy.
For further information on feeding your puppy or adult dog you can also refer to the following websites;
Sources of Information Website(s);
Our own contribution based on personal experience.
*Please note that this page is for help and guidance only. What works for us might not work for others and therefore we cannot be held responsible for any adverse reactions to you or your animal(s). If necessary please seek further guidance, advice or help from your Vet (for animal(s) & GP / hospital (for humans).
**IMPORTANT** - Medicating animals without veterinary supervision or advice does carry many risks including, but not limited to, overdose, toxicity, drug interaction, renal and hepatic disease or death. Please consult your veterinary surgeon prior to administering any medication to your animal.