The Shar pei is a very distinctive looking dog breed that really has no parallel, and they tend to polarise opinions among dog lovers who either generally love them or hate them!
However, this medium-sized dog breed certainly has a reasonable number of fans and enthusiasts, as evinced by their position as the 34th most popular dog breed in the UK overall.
Shar peis are undeniably interesting dogs that have very unique personalities as well as distinctive looks, and every year, a whole host of newcomers to the breed consider buying a Shar pei to join their families.
However, this is not a dog breed to choose lightly, and a lot of research is necessary before you can make an informed decision about picking a dog of this type.
With this in mind, this article will tell you ten things you need to know about the Shar pei dog – before you go ahead and buy one of your own. Read on to learn more.
The Shar pei personality is full of contradictions and depth – they can fairly be described as complex dogs to understand and get to grips with.
They tend to be quite black and white in terms of their likes and dislikes with little middle ground, and a very low tolerance for things that irritate or annoy them. They are hugely loyal to their families and main handlers, but wary and standoffish with strangers, and their body language can be subtle and challenging to interpret too.
You need to meet and spend time with plenty of Shar peis and speak to many owners in order to get a good handle on the breed’s temperament before you are able to decide with any certainty if a dog of the breed might be a good pick for you.
Shar peis are classed within the Kennel Club’s utility dog group, which reflects dog breeds with a known working history that doesn’t fall within one of the other defined groups, such as the gundog group or pastoral group.
Shar peis have, at various times, been used for herding, guarding and even fighting purposes, although the breed doesn’t have any working roles reflected within their recent history.
Shar peis have very short fur that is sharp and harsh on the ends, and significant amounts of skin wrinkling too. Shar pei owners need to clean and dry the dog’s skin folds regularly to keep them clean and in good condition, and to ensure that they don’t develop sores or infections.
Shar peis also have interesting tongues – they are black or blueish black in colour! This can come as quite a shock to people who don’t know this and spot them for the first time unexpectedly.
The Shar pei is ranked in 97th place out of a total number of 138 different dog breeds in the canine intelligence stakes, which is of course towards the bottom end of the scale.
This means that Shar peis are not usually capable of learning and executing a huge number of different commands and may take some time to pick commands up; but they should still be able to learn all of the essential, core commands that all dogs need to learn.
Shar peis are naturally very protective dogs that display strong watchdog instincts, and that soon define the limits of their territories and patrol it for threats.
They are quick to bark to alert their handlers if someone approaches, and will often actively see off a perceived threat too, and so care must be taken to keep the dog enclosed and ensure that they don’t pose a risk to the postman or visitors!
Shar peis take a while to trust people but when you have earned their loyalty, they will be loyal to you to life, and they display huge amounts of trust in their handlers.
They will also often be very protective over the people that they love, as well as very demonstrative and affectionate with them.
Shar peis as mentioned don’t warm to newcomers immediately, and can take a long time to get used to having someone new around. They are usually speculative and wary with strangers, and must be properly socialised with both dogs and people from a young age to counteract this, and to ensure that they are well mannered and well behaved.
Shar peis live for an average of around 9-15 years, which is of course a large degree of variance. This reflects a number of hereditary health challenges that the breed faces, and which can affect the health and longevity of certain Shar pei breed lines.
While there is no way to ensure that any given pup will be healthy or long lived, take pains to learn in depth about Shar pei health and the breed’s health challenges, and talk in depth to any breeder you are considering buying from about these things before you commit to a purchase.
The Shar pei is not generally considered to be a good pick for someone who hasn’t owned a dog before, nor someone who is not highly familiar with the breed as a whole.
If you are thinking of picking a Shar pei as your first dog, you must do a significant amount of research and homework first, and don’t try to make the dog fit into your plans if you are uncertain of your ability to train, manage, handle and care for them appropriately.