A distinctive feature of the Shar Pei breed, also known as the Chinese Shar Pei, is the crinkly skin and wrinkled faces. These dogs are fierce protectors of their families and are hesitant to welcome strangers and other pets into the home. Some dog lovers prefer having only one dog for protection, and if this is you, you can’t go wrong with owning a Shar Pei. With all that wrinkly skin, you may wonder how much Shar-Peis shed. Thankfully, they shed minimally and only need baths once a month or so.
Stick around to learn more about the Shar Pei’s grooming needs and what it’s like owning one of these loyal dogs.
Are Shar-Pei High Maintenance?
You would think that with all that wrinkly skin, the coat on the Shar Pei would be high maintenance; however, looks can be deceiving. These dogs have short, dense coats with a sandy-like texture. In fact, their name means “sand skin.” The coat can have two different lengths: the “horse” coat, which is an extremely short coat, or the “brush” coat, which is a slighter longer version.
The Shar Pei does not shed as much as one would think. Sure, they do shed, but we wouldn’t say they shed excessively. They will shed more in the fall and spring to make room for a new coat and to rid it of damaged or dead hair.
The Shar Pei’s Grooming Needs
The Shar Pei is considered relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming. The coat needs a simple brush once a week to remove dead hair, and they only need baths every month or so—typically every 6 to 8 weeks. It’s best to use a grooming glove or rubber bristle brush for their short, dense coats. When bathing, opt for a hypoallergenic dog shampoo to avoid skin irritation.
The Shar Pei has small, folded-down ears that are susceptible to ear infections if not checked and cleaned regularly. Ensure you check the ears weekly and clean with a dog-safe ear solution to keep the ears clean and healthy. Brush the teeth as often as you can with toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Aim for at least three times a week, but more if your Shar Pei doesn’t put up a fight each time. The more often you brush their teeth, the better.
What About the Skin Folds on the Shar Pei?
Ah, good question. Anyone who has seen a Shar Pei in person knows that they have skin folds among all that wrinkly skin, and it’s imperative to keep the skin folds clean to keep fungal infections away. Owners must routinely clean the folds with a baby wipe or wet cloth, preferably every other day, to keep the folds clean and free from dirt and debris.
It’s also imperative to keep the folds dry in order to stifle harboring bacteria. However, don’t keep the folds too dry because that can cause cracks in the skin, which can also cause skin infections. A simple wipe of the folds every other day should keep your Shar Pei’s skin and coat healthy. If you notice an odor or any infection, take your Shar Pei to the vet for an examination, as antibiotics may be needed if infection is present.
Why Is the Shar Pei Coat So Wrinkly?
The Shar Pei breed has existed for centuries, dating back to 200 B.C. These dogs originated in China and were initially bred to be herders, hunters, protectors of livestock, and guard dogs. Given these dogs were originally bred to be guard dogs for the ancient Chinese royal family, the wrinkly skin served a purpose: the loose skin protected them in dog fights by allowing the Shar Pei to escape the jaws of another dog without damage to internal vital organs. In short, the wrinkly skin served as body armor during fights.
Is the Shar Pei Right for Me?
Shar-Peis are independent and dignified dogs who are loyal and protective of their owners. They form strong bonds with their owners and will protect them from danger at all costs. They are wary of strangers and may not do well living with other pets unless socialized early. Puppies should have constant exposure to children and strangers, and bear in mind they have a stubborn streak when it comes to training.
They make excellent family companions but need an experienced dog owner who can establish dominance in the pack. If you’re looking for an exceptional guard dog, the Shar Pei is an excellent choice.
In a nutshell, the Shar Pei doesn’t shed excessively, but they do shed. Brushing the coat once a week should suffice in keeping unwanted pet hair to a minimum, and it’s important to keep the skin folds clean and dry. Ensure you keep pet wipes or hypoallergenic, unscented wipes on hand, and don’t forget to check and clean the ears regularly to prevent ear infections.
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