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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.

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Health Risk

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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).

Average Sizes and Life Expentancy of The Breed


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  • Males: 18-20 inches
  • Females: 18-20 inches


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

Life Expectancy

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  • 8-10 years

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What are the potential health conditions for Weimaraners?

There are several health risks for the Weimaraner breed, ranging from minor issues and genetic predispositions to life-threatening conditions such as GDV.

The Weimaraner Club of America lists certain required and recommended health screening tests for a reputable breeder. This list includes tests for hip and elbow dysplasia, a cardiac evaluation, autoimmune thyroiditis evaluation, eye certification, and DNA and genetics tests.

Request test results if you’re buying a Weimaraner puppy from a breeder. If you’re adopting from a shelter, the shelter also might have access to this info.

What are the potential health conditions for Chinese shar-pei?

Shar-peis are more at-risk than most medium dogs for several conditions.

Minor health issues are common for shar-pei regarding their skin, which likely comes as no surprise. Swollen Hock Syndrome (aka shar-pei fever), glaucoma, hip dysplasia, and entropion are also risks.

The Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America formally recommends a list of health tests for responsible breeding, including hip and elbow dysplasia, autoimmune thyroiditis, patellar luxation, and an eye exam.

If you buy your dog from a reputable breeder, ask for proof of health screening to show they were responsibly bred without known inherited health issues. You can also ask a shelter for this information if you adopt, though the info may not be available.

Health Risk

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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:


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


  • 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


Spot Pays

90% = $360

80% = $320

70% = $280


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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.

Lifetime Care

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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





Daily brushing, occasional bath, regular nail trims


Easy to train.

Life Time Care Cost:


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 Blogbowl!

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:

  • Bones from meat
  • Grapes & Raisins
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine & Alcohol
  • Sweets
  • Chewing Gum
  • Dairy Products
  • Apricots
  • Peaches
  • Avocado

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


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!

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