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Chinese Shar-peis: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Chinese Shar-pei temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Chinese Shar-Pei dog breed

This sober and dignified dog with the wrinkled skin, "hippopotamus" head, and scowling expression stands firmly on the ground with a calm, confident stature.

The Chinese Shar-pei is quiet and mannerly in the home, naturally clean and easy to housebreak. He makes an impressive companion if you're the kind of owner who can admire his independent character while still enforcing household rules so that he respects you. This can be a challenge, as this breed is dominant and obstinate – definitely not the choice for a first-time dog owner.

Chinese Shar-Pei need only moderate exercise (several brisk daily walks), so they do quite well in the city or suburbs. In fact, unless they are securely fenced, they are not the best choice for a farm or rural setting, for they have strong hunting instincts and may run deer or molest livestock if they get loose.

Aloof with strangers, Chinese Shar-Pei must be accustomed to people at an early age so that their natural territorial instincts are properly discriminatory.

Though he usually minds his own business unless provoked, some Chinese Shar-Pei are aggressive with other dogs, and some individuals are predatory with cats.

See below for warnings about health problems. Unfortunately, health is a major concern when considering this breed.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is medium-sized and sturdily-built
  • Has a calm, confident nature
  • Is naturally clean and easy to housebreak
  • Doesn't bark much
  • Needs only moderate exercise
  • Is very loyal to his family

A Chinese Shar-Pei may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
  • Potential aggression toward people when not socialized properly
  • Potential aggression toward other animals
  • Loud snoring and snorting sounds
  • A high price tag
  • Serious (often chronic) health problems and expensive vet bills

A Chinese Shar-Pei may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Chinese Shar-Pei

If I was considering a Chinese Shar-pei, I would be most concerned about...

  1. The strong temperament. Chinese Shar Pei have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. Many Chinese Sharpeis are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    To teach your Shar-pei to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Chinese Shar Pei Training page discusses the program you need.

  2. Potential animal aggression. Many Chinese Shar Peis are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs, especially of the same sex. Many have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. This is not a good breed to keep with livestock. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
  3. Chronic health problems. The structure of this breed is quite deformed. Wrinkled folds of skin trap moisture, which leads to itchy skin problems and bacterial infections. Add a bunch of eye diseases and a serious kidney disease and I would recommend that you have ample money set aside for veterinary care. See Chinese Shar Pei Health.
  4. Shedding and harsh coat. Chinese Shar-pei come in three coat varieties. The horse coat is very short and prickly, and can irritate the skin of sensitive people. The brush coat is thicker, about an inch long. The bear coat is very heavy, like that of a Chow Chow dog. All three coats shed, with the brush and bear coats shedding the most.
  5. Shar-Pei sounds. Many Chinese Sharpeis snort, grunt, and snore loudly. The sounds are endearing to some people; nerve-wracking to others.
  6. Potential aggression toward strangers. Some Chinese Shar-Pei are friendly, while others are very reserved. Some have protective instincts toward strangers. But all Shar-Peis need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone.
  7. Legal liabilities. Chinese Shar Pei may be targeted for "banning" in certain areas, or refusal of homeowner insurance policies. In this day and age, the legal liabilities of owning any breed that looks intimidating and has a history as a fighting dog should be seriously considered. People are quicker to sue if such a dog does anything even remotely questionable.

    Frankly, most Chinese Shar Peis are "too much dog" for the average household. And if you have young children, I definitely don't recommend a Shar Pei. There are just too many individuals who won't tolerate any nonsense.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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