Shar-Pei

Shar-Pei

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Choosing a dog breed shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some breeds are good fits for certain homes and family schedules, while others aren’t. Today, Spot Pet Insurance is back with another dog breed information guide to help you get ready for the journey ahead. Our spotlight in this article is on the Chinese shar pei.

Shar-Pei

Health

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Personality

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Lifetime Care

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Shar-peis are well-known for their distinct wrinkled skin, which is most prominent in shar-pei puppies but still present around the heads and faces of adult dogs. While this is their most famous feature, there is much more to know, from their blue-black tongues to their watchdog tendencies.

Learn about this big, bristly breed’s health, grooming, training, and exercise needs, and much more.

Where do Chinese shar-peis come from?

The shar-pei likely originated in China. Exact details are scarce, but some historians say the breed came about in the Han Dynasty, near 200 B.C. This is evidenced by ancient statues resembling the breed (but arguably other breeds like the Chow Chow, too).

Less in doubt is the breed’s history as working dogs. Herding, guarding, and hunting were common jobs held by shar-pei. Unfortunately, this breed was also used as a fighting dog.

The breed came near extinction when the People’s Republic of China was established. Dedicated fanciers, namely one Matgo Law of Hong Kong, preserved the breed.

In the late 20th century, shar-pei made their way to the United States. Not long after, the breed was officially recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club).

Breed Profile

Height

breed height icon
  • Males: 18-20 inches
  • Females: 18-20 inches

Weight

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  • Males: 45-60 pounds
  • Females: 45-60 pounds

Lifetime

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  • 8-10 years

Health Risk

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Elbow Dysplasia

What is it?

There is an abnormal development of the elbow joint in young, large, and rapidly growing dogs.

% Of Dogs/Cats affected

70%

Clinical Signs

  • Abnormal bone growth
  • Cartilage Development
  • Joint stresses
  • Front limb lameness

Treatment

Dysplasia in dogs can be treated in several ways, ranging from lifestyle modifications to surgery. Your veterinarian may recommend nonsurgical treatment if your dog’s dysplasia is not severe.

Average Vet Bill

$2000

Amount a Spot accident & illness plan would cover*


90% = $1800

80% = $1600

70% = $1400

*Hypothetical reimbursement examples illustrate reimbursement of an eligible vet bill at the noted reimbursement rate, assuming the annual deductible had already been met.

Pyoderma

What is it?

One of the most common health issues that can affect dogs is pyoderma. In simple terms, it’s a skin infection, and it usually occurs around an open wound.

Treating the condition is relatively easy, and risks are relatively low in general, provided it isn’t left untreated for too long.

Shar-peis are some of the most at-risk to this condition (and other skin problems) due to their skin folds, so understanding pyoderma can help you be prepared to spot it quickly and take care of it to keep your dog healthy and comfortable.

% Dogs affected:

Unknown

Clinical signs:

  • Redness of the skin
  • Crusty skin or unusual scabbing
  • Itchiness and irritation around the affected area
  • Pustules and pus discharge (liquid or dried)
  • Lesions (usually small)
  • Hair loss around the affected area

Treatment:

  • Professional cleaning of the infection
  • At-home medications applied to the skin or coat
  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungal medications

Other risks:

  • Deep pyoderma can occur within the inner folds of skin and can be harder to spot. Be diligent in cleaning and checking your shar-pei’s loose skin folds, especially when they are young.

Average Vet Bill

$$400

Amount a Spot accident & illness plan would cover*


90% = $360

80% = $320

70% = $280

*Hypothetical reimbursement examples illustrate reimbursement of an eligible vet bill at the noted reimbursement rate, assuming the annual deductible had already been met.

Personality

breed personality icon

How well do Chinese shar-peis get along with their owners?

Shar-peis are more serious than most breeds and lack the affectionate personalities you may expect from other dogs. If you’re looking for a family dog that loves to cuddle, the shar-pei might not be the best option. However, take nothing away from the dedication they will show to you.

Shar-peis are protectors and will stick at their family’s side through thick and thin.

Are Chinese shar-peis aggressive towards strangers?

Most shar-peis aren’t directly aggressive towards strangers, but they are cautious due to their guard-dog instincts. Socialization training is essential for this breed and ideally should start at a young age.

How well do Chinese shar-peis adapt to new situations?

Living space is rarely a concern for shar-pei due to their relatively low energy and moderate exercise requirements. However, they can be very vocal. With these factors in mind, they can be ideal for apartment living, but not in bustling areas with lots of barking triggers.

Shar-pei can handle long periods alone, making them perfect for working owners or those who spend long parts of their day out of the house. However, they’re not necessarily the best option for first-time pet parents since they are known to be stubborn.

Do Chinese shar-peis make good guard dogs?

These dogs were bred to be guardians and use their vocalization liberally. Their size and facial expression may intimidate potential intruders or threats as well.

Will a Chinese shar-pei be a fun dog to have around?

Chinese shar-peis are unique, beautiful creatures, but they are very mellow and not particularly playful or affectionate.

Are Chinese shar-peis good with children?

As with any breed, never leave children unsupervised with a shar-pei. Their size can be dangerous to children even though your dog is unlikely to be aggressive or hostile.

How are Chinese shar-peis with other dogs?

Socialization is key to curbing the shar-pei’s inherited potential for aggression towards other dogs due to their guarding and fighting history. With the right training, your shar-pei can have positive interactions with other dogs.

Character

Intelligent. Considered as calm and dignified creatures with confident stature.

Playful

Shar Pei’s are most playful around their families.

Affectionate

Shar Pei’s are very affectionate and devoted to their families.

Lifetime Care

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Coat:

Chinese shar-peis have a short coast with a bristly texture, although it is classified as a smooth coat. The two officially recognized types of coat are the horse coat which is rougher, and the brush coat, which features slightly longer hair.

Coat colors range widely, including but not limited to:

Black
Blue
Brown
Cream
Fawn
Red
White

Markings can include:

White markings
Brindle
Sable
Mask
Spotted on white
Pointed
Saddle pattern

Hypoallergenic:

No

Grooming:

Daily brushing, occasional bath, regular nail trims

Training:

Easy to train.

Life Time Care Cost:

$15,930

Shar Pei Dog: Introduction to the Breed

The name “sand skin” refers to their distinctive coat with bristles. Chinese Shar-Peis aren’t just unusual because of their appearance. A solid mass of loose wrinkles makes them look like they’re wearing a bulky, oversized suit. On top of their large, powerful head is a pair of tiny ears and a long muzzle with a purple tongue. The tail curls over their backs, giving them a finishing touch.

Shar-Pei dogs are certainly interesting-looking, and their looks alone are enough to prompt many would-be owners to choose them. Although the Shar-Pei is known for their unique appearance, they have much more to offer. They are calm enough to live in an apartment. They are also independent thinking, sometimes aloof. Having been raised as a guardian and fighting dog, they can make an excellent watchdog and guard dog, so much so that they must be taught not to overreact to strangers and animals.

The Shar-Pei is a strong-willed breed that needs early training. When an owner does not establish leadership firmly and kindly, he tends not to respect that owner. Training him is generally easy if he doesn’t show his stubborn streak, since he is a quick learner.

The Shar-Pei is easy to groom. It is neither necessary nor recommended for him to be bathed frequently since he is naturally clean. All those wrinkles, however, can make him prone to skin problems, so extra attention may be needed there. Shar-Pei popularity is down, which is actually good for the breed. Popularity increases breeding, especially among unscrupulous breeders who don’t care about health, temperament, or conformation. Unfortunately, that is what happened to the Shar-Pei during the 1980s. It has been a priority of responsible breeders to restore the breed’s loyal, loving temperament, and to reduce or eliminate its health problems.

Pet ownership is one of the most significant decisions you can make for your family. Prior to purchasing another puppy, take the time and energy to research the available puppies and consider which will best fit your family and lifestyle. Consider carefully which characteristics you would like in a dog and which you would prefer the dog not to have. You should know a few things about the Shar Pei breed.

Shar Pei dogs are generally:

  • Good with Families
  • Playful
  • Intelligent
  • Aloof of Strangers
  • Snobbish

The Shar Pei is an excellent choice if you are looking for a loyal, loving friend. A person who understands their unique needs and is willing to accommodate their individual personalities is crucial to their happiness.

Shar-Peis are primarily working dogs, although they are classified as non-sporting dogs. They can be aggressive with other dogs of the same sex unless they are socialized with other animals. Individuals differ in their personalities and temperaments. Shar-Peis may live quite happily around smaller animals and livestock, while others may show natural hunting instincts. If they have been raised with children and other pets, they are generally good with them.

What are the Origins of the Shar Pei?

Chinese Shar-Peis were valued as hunters, herders, guardians, and fighters in the southern provinces of China. Although there is no definitive proof that the Shar-Pei breed is ancient, some historians believe it to be so. There are statues that look like the Shar-Pei dated to the Han Dynasty (200 B.C.). These statues also resemble the Chow and Pug.

China almost wiped out its dog population after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. A few Shar-Peis have, however, been bred in Hong Kong and Taiwan as well. The Shar-Pei might have gone extinct if it wasn’t for the efforts of Matgo Law at Down-Homes Kennels in Hong Kong.

In 1973, he brought a small number of Shar-Peis to the United States, and breed fans formed the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, Inc., in 1974. A National Specialty show was held for the first time in 1978. It is interesting to note that the Shar-Pei was accepted into the Miscellaneous Class of the American Kennel Club in 1988 and was recognized by the AKC as a member of the Non-Sporting Group of the American Kennel Club in 1991.

What are the Risks for the Shar Pei Dog Breed?

A Shar-Pei is prone to certain types of health issues, especially skin conditions. Although not all Shar-Peis will develop any or all of these conditions, it is still important to know about them if you are thinking of adopting one.

There are some health concerns and issues specific to the Chinese Shar-Pei breed that are unusual and specific. A major problem area is the eyes; the breed is known to have eye disorders such as entropion, glaucoma, retinal dysplasia, and SARDS (severe acute retinal dystrophy). Some cancers can also be caused by respiratory, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, immune-mediated, skin, and gastrointestinal conditions.

Other Shar Pei health problems include:

Make sure your puppy’s parents are health-cleared before you buy it from a breeder. The health clearance proves that a dog has been tested and cleared for a particular condition.

Shar-Pei’s can live comfortably in either the city or the country. If they exercise daily, they can do well in limited spaces, like apartments and condominiums. It is not necessary to have a backyard for them, but they enjoy getting out and stretching their legs. Shar-Peis generally enjoy hanging out with their owners, wherever they may be. Start training and socializing your Shar Pei the day you bring them home and commit to continuing the process throughout their life. Since they’re not naturally friendly to other dogs, they’ll need constant reinforcement. The owner must establish leadership by being consistent and firm. They can also be stubborn. However, they generally respond well to training and is eager to please.

One of the best ways to socialize your Shar-Pei is to take them everywhere – to puppy classes, outdoor events, busy parks, friends’ houses. By doing this, they can avoid becoming overly timid or overprotective. It is recommended that Shar-Pei’s be leashed while out in public since this breed can be aggressive toward other dogs.

Shar-Pei dogs are classified as brachycephalic breeds, like Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs. Because of their short noses, they are highly sensitive to heat, making them poor jogging partners. During hot weather, these dogs should be kept inside with fans or air conditioning to prevent heat stroke.

Are Chinese shar-peis hypoallergenic?

No, this breed is not hypoallergenic.

How often do Chinese shar-peis have to be groomed?

Bathing is rarely needed more than once a month. Nails, teeth, and ears should be cleaned at standard intervals.

Checking the wrinkly folds of your shar-pei’s skin, especially when they are young, is a good practice to integrate during grooming time to monitor for pyoderma.

What is the lifetime care cost of Chinese shar-pei?

Care for this ancient breed comes to $15,930 over the dog’s lifetime.

How to be the best pet parent for a Chinese shar-pei?

You should understand the Chinese shar-pei before deciding to add one to your family. If the breed is the right for you, you’ll have a strong, dedicated new family member.

Pet parent education is important at all stages of the process. You can find plenty of additional resources at our Spot Pet Insurance Blog!

How much does a Chinese shar-pei dog or puppy cost?

Adoption fee (puppy): $750-1,800

Yearly care cost (first year): $2,835

Yearly care cost (following years): $1,455

Basic training and behavior etiquette for your Chinese shar-pei

Training a shar-pei is not the easiest endeavor and may present challenges for novice owners. The breed can be strong-willed but also clever and mischievous.

Here are some tips to help with training your shar-pei:

  1. Starting early is key to establishing the right behaviors throughout your dog’s lifetime. If you adopt your shar-pei beyond its puppy years, you’ll need to firmly establish yourself as the alpha.
  2. Consistency is key. Shar-peis are intelligent and catch on quickly. They catch on to what they are supposed to do and any loopholes through which they can get what they want.
  3. Your shar-pei needs firmness just as much as a loving hand. Achieving a balance is the best way to find mutual respect with your shar-pei.

What types of foods should Chinese shar-peis never eat?

Be sure to monitor your dog’s diet closely, especially when it comes to foods that are toxic to dogs.

Here are some foods to avoid:

Exercising tips to keep your Chinese shar-pei staying fit and healthy

This breed has relatively low energy and low playfulness. However, like all dogs, they still need some exercise to stay healthy and happy.

While they are usually content with moderate exercise, they can also thrive with more intense routines.

Their intelligence also makes them well suited to sports such as agility, rally, obedience, and tracking. Participating in sports together can help strengthen the bond between pet and parent, as well.

Chinese shar-pei life stages

Puppy: 0 – 1 year

Adult: 1 – 7 years

Senior: 7 years – end of life

Conclusion

We hope you find the perfect breed to fit your furry family, whether it be the Chinese shar-pei or another! In any case, consider whether Spot Pet Insurance could also be a great fit for you. Learn more by reading our FAQs and getting a quote today!