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Black Shar Pei Puppy

Adorable Facts about Shar Pei

Red Fawn Shar Pei Puppy

A list of 35 adorable facts that cover information about the history, characteristics, and often not as well-known details about the Shar Pei. Researched and written by 'Factretriever'.

  1. The Shar Pei (or Chinese Shar Pei) is an ancient breed of dog that traces its ancestry back 2,000 years to the southern provinces of China where it was used as hunters, herders, and protectors.[5]

  2. Genetic research shows that the Shar Pei is the one of the most ancient breeds that exists and is one of the very first breeds to split from dogs’ wolf ancestors. Its closest relatives are the Shiba Inu, Akita, and Chow Chow.[3]

  3. Because of its fighting ability and prickly coat, the Shar Pei is also known as the “sharkskin dog,” the "oriental fighting dog,” the "Chinese bulldog,” or the "oriental gladiator.”[3]

  4. A Shar Pei named Mui Chu was the second Shar Pei to be imported into the United States and the first to be shown in the United States, during the 1973 Golden Gate Kennel Club show.[5]

  5. A Shar Pei named Sweet Pea is one of the main ancestors of every Shar Pei that exists today. He was a primary breeder that helped the Shar Pei recover from the brink of extinction.[3]

  6. For much of its history, the Shar Pei was considered a fighting dog. For example, armoured Shar Peis went into battle with the Roman legions. In the Middle Ages, trained Shar Pei carried cauldrons of flaming resin to the front lines.[3]

  7. In the late 1960s and again in 1978, the Guinness World Records listed the Chinese Shar Pei as the rarest dog in the world. The breed has since recovered and is available in most areas. Prices range from $600 to over $1,000.[4]

  8. The term "Shar Pei" means “sand skin” or “sand-paper-like coat,” which refers the dog’s bristle-like coat. The Shar-Pei actually has the ability to use its coat as a defense mechanism. It can stiffen it when it is attacked to make it uncomfortable for another dog to hold in its mouth. Additionally, when rubbed backwards, its prickly coat can cause welts on a sensitive person’s skin.[4]

  9. The Shar Pei small ears are the ears of a fight dog and act as a type of defense mechanism. Such small ears that are set tightly against its head provide little for an attacker to grab. However, such small ears are also prone to chronic yeast infections.[3]

  10. Shar Pei housetrain earlier than most breeds because they are naturally clean and intelligent.[4]

  11. Shar Pei were bred to have so many wrinkles for protection against attacks and bites. Their wrinkles become less pronounced as they age.[4]

  12. Because the Shar Pei was once a pit fighter and guard dog, this breed can be aggressive to other dogs or people. Trainers note that they should be trained and socialised at young age. Because it can be independent and stubborn, a Shar Pei can be a poor choice for a novice dog owner.[4]

  13. Because a Shar Pei has such a short nose, it are prone to overheating. Their short noses also make them prone to snoring, wheezing, and being a rather loud running partner.[4]

  14. Overbreeding of the Shar Pei has led to several diseases, including eye diseases, allergies (especially to soybeans), skin irritations, and hypothyroidism.[2]

  15. During the Communist Revolution, the Shar Pei population was decimated, because dogs were seen as a luxury and communists slaughtered many of the traditional Chinese breeds. At the brink of extinction, the dogs were rescued by a Hong Kong businessman name Matgo Law who appealed to American readers in a 1973 edition of Life magazine. Around 200 Shar Peis were then smuggled into America.[3]

  16. Shar Pei currently rank as the 50th most popular dog in the United States.[4]

  17. The wrinkles on a Shar Pei forehead are said to resemble the Chinese characters for longevity. While these characters have been most often seen in large cats, such as lions and tigers, the pattern is seen only in mastiff breeds of canines.[3]

  18. Shar Pei should be allowed to spend time both indoors and outdoors, but should not be considered an “outside dog.”[4]

  19. The average lifespan of a Shar Pei is 8–10 years.[2]

  20. For reasons unknown, the Shar Pei is prone to fevers, which often occurs with swollen hocks (which are like human ankles). Fevers can cause kidney and liver failure.[4]

  21. If a Shar Pei has a coat longer than an inch at the withers, it is called a “bear coat” and is not considered breed standard. Acceptable coat lengths may range from extremely short (“horse coat”) to slightly longer (“brush coat”). Because brush coats stay more wrinkled as adults, they are the most popular variety.[4]

  22. Shar Peis have two different types of muzzles: if its muzzle is heavily padded, the Shar Pei is known as a “meat mouth”; if its mouth is less padded, it is known as a “bone mouth.” Generally, most people prefer the meat-mouth look; however, heavily padded muzzles can contribute to breathing difficulties, snoring, slobbering, and bad tooth alignment.[4]

  23. Most Shar Pei are homebodies and do not stray. Many owners claim that their Shar-Peis prefer the company of humans to other dogs.[4]

  24. In 1990, an elderly couple bought a Meishan pig, thinking it was a Shar Pei. The couple later sued the animal breeder after they were laughed out of a dog show.[3]

  25. Historically, farmers near the South China Sea depended on the Shar Pei famous “warrior scowl” to help repel barbarian raiders.[3]

  26. A common and painful eye condition among Shar Pei is called entropion. This is when the eyelids curl inward into the eye, which make the eyelashes painfully rub against the cornea. Untreated, it can cause blindness.[4]

  27. Shar Pei do not shed year-round. They shed only at seasonal intervals, usually twice year.[4]

  28. In November 2015, a Baltimore police officer was charged with animal cruelty after he slit a Shar Pei throat while trying to restrain it. The officer said he had thought the animal had strangled itself on a pole and was trying to spare the animal additional pain. He was acquitted of all charges.[1]

  29. Trainers note that living with a healthy Shar Pei is comparable to sharing your home with “an intelligent, robust, and inquisitive friend.”[4]

  30. In certain areas, owning a Shar Pei may be grounds for increasing the rate of a homeowner's insurance policy or even refusing to insure at all because of the dog’s history as a fighting dog.[4]

  31. Like the Chow Chow, the Shar Pei has a bluish-purple tongue, and these are the only two breeds in the world with this particular tongue colour. The colour was thought to ward off evil spirits.[3]

  32. The Shar Pei belongs to the Non-Sporting category of the AKC (American Kennel Club). Other non-sporting dogs include the Chow Chow, Dalmatian, French Bulldog, and Keeshond.[4]

  33. Shar Pei breeds should weigh between 45 and 60 pounds and stand about 18–20 inches at the shoulder.[3]

  34. Shar Pei were often used for dog fighting in southern China and were often given alcohol and other stimulants to increase their aggressiveness and performance. Later, as promoters brought larger dogs in from the West, such as Mastiffs and Bulldogs, the Shar Pei fell out of favour and its numbers began to decline.[3]

  35. When viewed from the top, a Shar Pei mouth should either be in the shape of a round roof tile, which is known as “roof tile mouth,” or it should be a wide jaw in the shape of a toad’s mouth, which is known as “toad mouth.” Both types of mouth give the Shar Pei a firm bite.[4]


  1. Baltimore Officer Acquitted of Cruelty for Slitting Shar Pei Throat.” CBS News. November 19, 2015.

  2. Chinese Shar Pei.” Pet MD. 2015. Accessed: December 15, 2015.

  3. Cunliffe, Juliette. The Chinese Shar Pei Today. New York, NY: Howell Book House, 1995.

  4. Ditto, Tanya B. Shar Pei (Complete Pet Owner’s Manual). Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., 2006.

  5. Time Line.” Chinese Shar Pei. Accessed: December 7, 2015.

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