Chinese Shar-Pei Dog Breed — the Original ‘Wrinkle Pup’

chinese shar pei dog breed information

Informally known as the “wrinkle puppy,” the Chinese shar-pei dog breed was once among the rarest in the world, almost near extinction. That is until they gained popularity in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. 

two shar pei wrinkle puppies
“Wrinkle” puppies grew in popularity in the 1980s.

Characterized by its deep folds of skin, this breed has a colorful history, dating back at least 2,000 years. Their wrinkled skin isn’t just for cuteness, though. This dog was bred to fight and guard livestock — the layers of skin actually protect the dog from foes and predators. 

Chinese shar-pei’s wrinkles tend to be more pronounced as puppies, less so as adults. They have purplish-black tongues, like another Chinese heritage — the chow chow.

In 1992, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the shar-pei as a pure breed and added it to its non-sporting group.

Do Chinese Shar-Pei Dogs Bark a Lot?

The Chinese shar-pei dog breed does have a high tendency to bark. After all, they are innate guard dogs who can be protective of their small packs and territories. To curb a shar-pei’s tendency to bark, try to remove or cloak triggers. 

If you live in a high-traffic area, for example, try closing window coverings and playing a smart speaker, TV, radio or music when you aren’t home (to quell complaints from neighbors). When you’re home, use the ultrasonic training device to interrupt your shar-pei’s barking so you can issue the “quiet” command and remind your dog that you’re in charge. 

shar pei dog in the sand

Facts About Shar-Pei

Shar-pei dogs tend to be calm yet highly alert. They don’t require a high amount of exercise, so they can thrive in apartments and small spaces. Take them for daily walks, though, to stimulate their sense and stretch their legs. 

  • Size: Shar-pei dog breed stands 18 to 20 inches and weighs 45 to 60 pounds.
  • Life expectancy: The Chinese shar-pei lives 8 to 12 years. 
  • Coat: Horse-like, coarse
  • AKC group: Non-sporting group

Is the Shar-Pei Easy to Train? Are Shar-Peis Good Dogs?

Because shar-pei dogs were bred to guard livestock, they come by their temperament honestly. This dog breed has a reputation for being distrustful of strangers and very loyal to their owners. Shar-pei dogs tend to be protective of their families, so they can be standoffish with visitors and strangers, which might be a good thing if you’re looking for a guard dog. 

chinese shar pei dog relaxing outslide

If you’re looking for a social butterfly, forgive the Chinese shar-pei if she’s a little slow to socialize. That said, if you live in a community with lots of people and have lots of visitors, you should socialize your shar-pei early, often, and regularly. The shar-pei dog breed can be aggressive toward perceived threats. 

The Chinese shar-pei does best with early socialization and consistent training. These dogs are trainable, but they can also take over (they like to be top dog) if you let them. They’re smart, and they’ll figure out who in your household is a soft touch, so make sure everyone is on the same page with your approach to training. Learn more about the train, treat, repeat approach to training dogs. 

Are shar-pei dogs good with families?

The Chinese shar-pei’s history as a fighting dog suggests that this dog might do better in households with older children and adults. Of course, each dog has its own temperament and personality, so you might try fostering your shar-pei before full adoption, if that is an option. Never leave any dog alone with babies or small children. 

Do shar-peis do well in apartments?

Yes. The Chinese shar-pei dog breed doesn’t need a lot of exercise. A good walk once a day and a play session should suffice. This breed does not have a reputation for being excessively high energy, but we always recommend that you make sure your pets get regular exercise daily, both mental stimulation and physical movement.

Are Chinese shar-peis hypoallergenic?

No, the shar-pei is not considered a hypoallergenic dog. Although they don’t require a lot of grooming, they do shed and produce dander. To reduce allergic reactions from any dog, try regular, daily brushing, and consult with your veterinarian for shampoo recommendations. 

 

Do Shar-Pei Need Grooming?

The coat of a shar pei ranges from light beige-apricot to a reddish-brown and its hair is straight and coarse. The Chinese shar-pei dog breed needs to be groomed only occasionally. They can get by with an occasional brushing and baths as needed. 

Nail trims, however, should be weekly, especially for shari-pei dogs that spend most of their time indoors. Look into a rotary-style nail grinder specially designed for dogs (and cats).  

Do Shar-Peis Shed?

Although the Chinese shar-pei dog breed doesn’t require frequent brushing you might want to consider a quick brushing every few days, because these dogs are moderate shedders. They tend to be seasonal shedders, so expect to do some increased brushing in the spring and fall. 

What If My Breed Is a Shar-Pei Mix?

When breeders mix dog breeds, they try to capture the best of both worlds. Imagine getting the cuteness of a wrinkle puppy (Chinese shar-pei) mixed with the social temperament of the Labrador retriever! Of course, there are no sure-fire recipes for the perfect dog, as so many factors contribute to a dog’s personality — its parentage, environment, overall health and training. 

Here are some popular Chinese shar-pei mixes:

Resource Links for More Shar-Pei Info

Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America

List of Chinese shar-pei rescue groups