Shar Pei The Shar Pei or wrinkled dog is a truly unique sight: an impressive body covered in bulging folds. For a long time, the old Chinese dog breed was a true rarity on our streets, but the wrinkled Asian dog is now gaining more and more friends in the Western world. The reason for this is probably not just the Shar Pei’s exotic appearance, but also its calm nature, which makes it the absolute dream dog for many lovers. But of course the gentle folded dog also has its rough edges, which must be taken into account before purchasing.

Brief breed history of the folded dog

As the name suggests, the Shar Pei comes from China. This is one of the oldest known dog breeds, probably dating back to 200 BC. was kept as a working dog. Even back then, the folded dog was widely used as a hunting, guard or herding dog. Since the breed was mainly kept by the poor rural population, high dog taxes during communism ensured that the Shar Pei almost became extinct – for a long time it was considered the rarest dog breed in the world. Today the population is secured through a breeding program, but breeders still have to be extremely careful to prevent inbreeding.

Appearance of the Shar Pei

The most noticeable thing about these medium-sized dogs is clearly their wrinkling – even though modern breeding is now concerned with curbing excessive wrinkling for health reasons, so only moderate flaps of skin on the head and withers are desirable. Puppies still have a lot of excess fur, but this grows out by adulthood. The body of the Shar Pei is compact, the tail is carried curled over the back. The strong head has something hippo-like, but without appearing clumsy.

The coat is usually short, there are three common coat types: the horse coat, the brush coat and the bear coat. The horse coat is the most common coat type; the hair is hard, short and rough. The Brush Coat’s hair is slightly longer and softer, but there is no undercoat here either. The longest fur occurs in the Bear Coat: Here the coat is long and fluffy, which gives the dog a Chow Chow-like appearance.

Characteristics of the Shar Pei

The nature of the Shar Pei impresses with its calmness and a confident charisma, which makes it a pleasant haven of peace. He bonds closely with his main caregiver and is loyal to him for life, but he is also loyal to the rest of the family members: he guards and protects his family and his house with passion, but he is rather distant towards strangers.

A Shar Pei is not only confident and calm, but also quite intelligent. As a result, a representative of this breed needs consistent and safe upbringing, otherwise he may develop a stubborn head that is resistant to upbringing.

The Shar Pei is not an everyman dog

The character of the Shar Pei corresponds to the ideal image of many dog owners and the sight of the squishy puppy face with the “moppel wrinkles” makes many hearts beat faster. However, the Shar Pei is truly not suitable for everyone and should not only be bred by professionals, but also only kept after careful consideration.

Because the Shar Pei not only requires a safe handler, but also bonds loyally with its people for life. If, for whatever reason, they are no longer able to look after their dog, getting used to a new home is difficult for any dog – but for a Shar Pei, the world collapses. Anyone who takes a folded dog into their family should therefore be as certain as possible that they will have this home for the rest of their dog’s life.

And you should also consider the health of the folded dog before purchasing it: Due to the small number of breeding animals, puppies should come from reputable breeders who carefully select the parents, otherwise there is a risk of congenital breeding damage. Since excessive wrinkle formation in adulthood can cause skin inflammation and the like in the wrinkles, it is desirable that the dog grows as far into its coat as possible into adulthood, which can be ensured through careful breeding. But then the Shar Pei’s skin is no more sensitive than other dog breeds.

A Shar Pei’s ears also need careful attentionCare: Since they are very small and close fitting, there is an increased production of lard. The ears should therefore be checked regularly in order to be able to intervene quickly in case of doubt and to prevent ear infections through targeted cleaning.

The Shar Pei will probably always remain an exotic animal on our streets. And while it does bring unique positive characteristics, that’s probably the best thing for this breed. Because the demands that folded dogs place on their owners, their care and their breeding are high and cannot be met by everyone.

Image: © Willee Cole /

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