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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 Shar-Pei can be a number of colors. The coat must be solid in color and any Shar-Pei with a "flowered coat" (spotted) or black and tan in coloration (i.e. German Shepherd) is a disqualification. Colors include black, cream, fawn, red-fawn, red, sable, apricot, chocolate, isabella, and blue. The nose may be black or brick (pink with black), with or without a black mask. A Shar-Pei can also have what is called a "dilute" coloration. Meaning the nose, nails and anus of the dog is the same color as the coat, (i.e. chocolate coat with chocolate nose, nails and anus). All of these color variations are acceptable and beautiful, but the coat color must be solid and well blended throughout the whole body of the dog.

Are the Shar-Pei a rare breed?

In the early 70's, there were just a few dogs, and they were the worlds rarest breed. The government of mainland Communist China had an active program of destroying all dogs. As fanciers from the US became involved with saving the Shar-Pei, its quick intelligence and engaging personality made it an extremely popular companion. So much so, that when the Shar-Pei entered the AKC Non-Sporting Group in August, 1992, over 70,000 dogs were registered as foundation stock - the largest breed ever to join AKC.  Not hardly a rare breed anymore.

Are the Shar-Pei expensive to buy?

When the Chinese Shar-Pei first came to this country, they were very expensive. Today however, Shar-Pei are a very popular breed of dog. Prices for pet quality and show quality dogs are comparable to what you would expect to pay for any other pure-bred dog. I would suggest you check out a few reputable breeders to insure you are not paying more than what they are worth.  But remember the bottom line - they are worth what you are willing to pay for them.

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.
Although some Shar-Pei may be aloof toward strangers, they bond very readily to their new families.

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.

Do Shar-Pei have lots of medical problems?

When the Shar-Pei first came to this country, there were only a few dozen dogs from which to start a breeding program. Unfortunately, some early dogs had health problems. Over the past 25 years, dedicated breeders have carefully worked to eliminate health problems by breeding only sound, healthy dogs. Most Shar-Pei do not require eye entropion surgery and do not have skin problems. Shar-Pei do not have an under coat of hair, so when they lose their coat in the Spring, they can look pretty untidy - this is normal. The holes and pits in their coat is not a skin disease, it is a natural process. After a few weeks of brushing out the old hair a new coat can grow in. Because of the small ear canals and tight ear flaps, the Shar-Pei can develop ear infections. It is necessary to do regular inspection and cleaning of their ears to prevent costly vet bills.


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.

Must you dry and powder Shar-Pei wrinkles after a bath?

Personally, I find this a hilarious question. Shar-Pei do not require any special treatment when bathing. You don't have to powder or dry their wrinkles with a Q-tip. Like any other breed, you must thoroughly rinse the shampoo from the coat and wrinkles. Although Shar-Pei hate water, they are easily trained to stand for a bath. Because they are fastidiously clean, they greatly appreciate how they feel after a bath. A good dog shampoo and a simple toweling down to keep them from dripping on the carpet is all that's required. The short coat naturally air-drys in a few moments.


Does it require a lot of work to house break a Shar-Pei?

Shar-Pei may be the easiest breed in the world to house break. It's not unusual for 6 to 8 week puppies to ask to go outside. When there is a pet door near the whelping box, Shar-Pei instinctively copy mama's behavior and bounce out the pet door to relieve themselves. New owners should take their puppies outside immediately after feeding and about once every 2 hours. Shar-Pei are fastidiously clean and are famous for holding it in until they can go outside.

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".

Do Shar-Pei have a bad temperament?

Temperament problems are not a Shar-Pei affliction. Any dog, any breed - when bred improperly can have temperament problems. Shar-Pei are intensely loyal to their family and make excellent watch dogs. Like all dogs, however, they should be socialized. Some Shar-Pei are aloof toward strangers. Because Shar-Pei have a quick intelligence and are eager to please their family, they are very easily trained.


Royal Shar-Pei is Created and maintained by  Sue Anderson
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