Frequently Asked Questions
As I talk to different people around the world who are interested in the Chinese Shar-Pei, I am amused and frustrated by some of their comments and notions.
Why is its tongue black? Do any other breeds also have a black tongue?
The Shar-Pei shares this distinctive characteristic with only one other breed, the Chow-Chow, indicating that there may be a common ancestor.
What happens if a Shar-Pei has a spotted black tongue, is it mix?
If the Shar-Pei has a spotted tongue it is a major fault. The tongue should be a bluish black unless it is a dilute in which case a lavender tongue is acceptable. A solid pink tongue is a disqualification.
What colors do the Shar-Pei come in?
The puppies are SO cute and wrinkly! Do they stay this wrinkly?
No, in the adult Shar-Pei the wrinkling is confined mainly to the forehead and withers. However, some have more wrinkles than others.
Are they good with other dogs? Children? Cats and other pets?
Yes, like most breeds if raised with children and other pets the Shar-Pei can be a loving member of the family. Puppy kindergarten is a good way to socialize your puppy with other dogs, people, and unfamiliar surroundings. When considering a Shar-Pei as your family dog make sure you see the parents of your prospective pup. This will help you determine what your pup's temperament will be like. "A well-bred Shar-Pei, bred by a pedigree-knowledgeable breeder, rarely, if ever, has had a problem with this in the past 10 years. While it's true some of the original 12 dogs imported to the United States that make up the breed's genetic foundation in this country were street dogs with nasty dispositions, conscientious breeders have made tremendous strides in eliminating people-aggressiveness tendencies." This is why socialization when young is very important. The Shar-Pei thrive on lots of attention and interaction.
Why do Shar-Pei shy away when a person tries to pet them on the head or approaches to quickly?
"The breed's eyes are hooded by skin, which limits its peripheral vision. As a result, they have difficulty seeing people approach from either side until they're almost directly in front of them. The sudden appearance startles the dogs, which causes them to shy away. When approached from the front, Shar-Pei don't react this way." Always let the dog sniff your hand and allow him/her time to familiarize themselves with you. Sniffing is a dog's way of making friends just as we say "Hello" or shake hands. Young children especially should be taught how to approach a dog and a child should never approach a dog unless with their parent(s) and the dog's owner are present.
Are they suspicious of strangers? Do they make good watch dogs?
Yes, they are aloof with strangers and make excellent watch dogs. They are defensive of their home and loved ones. They are an independent breed, very owner-oriented. "A plus as well as a minus in the training situation. Independence is a plus because dogs possess the necessary confidence to work at a distance from their handlers, but it's a minus because it sometimes translates into stubbornness". Training sessions should be brief and not with force. Shar-Pei respond best to praise and or food reinforcement as a reward for good behavior.
Do Shar-Pei snore?
Yes, Shar-Pei snore, some more then others. The Shar-Pei also snort which may be mistaken for growling. As with all squashed-faced breeds, Bulldogs, Pugs, etc., snoring and snorting go hand-in-hand.
Do they shed much?
No, only once a year to lighten their dense coat for the summer. Always use a bristled brush or a hound glove.
How long do they live?
They live to be approximately 8 to 12 years of age but some have been known to live as long as 15 years or more.
Is the Shar-Pei suitable for apartment living?
Yes, but they need daily exercise otherwise they will begin to feel pent-up. This should include more then just taking them out to do their duties.
Are Shar-Pei intelligent?
Shar-Pei are very intelligent and excel in obedience training. They are quick to learn therefore training should be varied in order to maintain their interest.
Do Shar-Pei drool?
Only after they eat do they get slobbery due to water getting trapped in the folds of their muzzle. Oh, and of course if they are offered some tasty treats!
Can Shar-Pei tolerate extremes in temperature?
Shar-Pei should not be left in the sun for long periods of time as they can get over heated easily. In cold weather the Shar-Pei are fine but should not live as an outdoor dog. Remember to put vaseline on the pads of their paws to protect them from the salt some cities put down for vehicles. This salt can burn the pads of their feet and be very painful. The Shar-Pei do not do well with climate extremes, "because of the health problems living as an outdoor dog presents (i.e., flea bite dermatitis, inhalant allergies to plant material) and because of the breed's possible increased susceptibility to airborne diseases such as parvo. The social isolation associated with living as an outdoor (or kennel) dog also is not beneficial to this owner-oriented breed".
What is the general disposition of a Shar-Pei?
"The Shar-Pei is a bright, affectionate dog that makes a terrific companion animal. In addition it is an able contender in the obedience or agility ring when trained with the appropriate methods. It is easily house-trained, exceptionally clean and requires minimal grooming. And, it is stable and temperamentally dependable when bred by reputable breeders knowledgeable in genetics".