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Shar-Poo (Shar-Pei & Poodle Mix): Pictures, Guide, Info, Care & More!

Shar-pei Poodle Mix breed

Height: 14 – 18 inches
Weight: 35 – 70 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Colors: Brown, chocolate, gold, yellow, black, cream, white, gray
Suitable for: Active families, those looking for a low-shedding dog
Temperament: Playful, affectionate, introverted with guests, stubborn, clingy

It wasn’t long before the designer dog fad came for the Shar-Peis. The Shar Poo, which is a combination of a Shar-Pei and a Poodle, is one of the latest in a long line of hybrid dog breeds.

The idea behind this particular mix is that by adding Poodle DNA to Shar-Pei DNA, you could cut down on dander and other allergens, making the resulting dog more palatable to owners with sensitive respiratory systems. The fact that the dogs are criminally adorable is simply a bonus.

If you’d like to learn more about these precious new dogs — including whether they’re really as allergen-free as people claim — read on.

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Shar Poo Puppies —Before You Get One

Energy:
Trainability:
Health:
Lifespan:
Sociability:

Some designer breeds are a bit difficult to see in your mind’s eye, and the Shar Poo may be one of them. The breed is still young enough that it’s nearly impossible to predict with any certainty what an individual dog will look like, as it depends largely on which breed’s DNA has a more powerful pull on them as they develop.

Even being able to see the dog as a puppy won’t necessarily help. Many Shar Poos come out of the womb favoring one parent, but as they grow older, the other side’s genes become more dominant. As a result, a dog that may have looked like a fuzzy Shar-Pei as a puppy may end up looking more like a wrinkly Poodle and vice versa.

The same goes for their temperament. Shar-Peis and Poodles are fairly similar, temperament-wise, but there are a few key differences to how each breed behaves. If you have your heart set on a dog that acts like one of the parent breeds, a Shar Poo might not be right for you.

As the breed becomes more established, you can expect both their looks and personalities to become more standardized. It won’t be long until you can reliably predict how a Shar Poo will look and behave, simply by knowing that they’re a Shar Poo.

For now, though, this is a mystery box of a dog. Regardless of what you get, though, we can almost guarantee that you’re going to love them.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Shar Poos

1. Shar Poos Come From Standard Poodles.

There are actually three sizes of Poodle: standard, miniature, and toy. Standard Poodles are medium-sized dogs, while miniatures and toys are, as indicated, miniature and toy-sized.

Given that the Shar-Pei is a medium-sized dog (potentially topping the scales at 70 pounds), it makes sense that Shar Poos would only come with standard Poodle DNA. Breeding a Shar-Pei with a toy Poodle would pose obvious challenges, and it’s possible that a female toy Poodle wouldn’t be able to give birth to Shar Poo-sized puppies.

That said, never underestimate the ingenuity of a dog breeder. You may come across toy- or miniature-sized Shar Poos, but we’d think twice before supporting any breeder who would create them.

2. This Dog Is Known by Many Other Names.

This mix is new enough that even the name hasn’t been completely standardized. While Shar Poo is the most common moniker given these pups, you may also hear them described as “Shardoodles” or simply, “Shar-Pei/Poodle mixes.”

It’s all the same dog. Regardless, if you adopt one, you probably won’t hear anyone ask if you have a Shar Poo, a Shardoodle, or a Shar-Pei/Poodle mix. They’ll simply say, “What kind of dog is that?”

3. They’re Not Good Watchdogs.

Shar Poos may bark occasionally, but for the most part, this is a quiet dog. While that can come in handy if you’re trying to avoid annoying your neighbors in your apartment building, it’s less useful if someone breaks into your house and starts to haul off your TV.

Their poor watchdog skills are somewhat surprising, as they’re generally cautious around strangers. However, rather than turning to suspicion or even aggression, Shar Poos will usually deal with their fear by finding a good place to hide.

Poodle and Chinese Shar-Pei
Image Credit: Left – Poodle (everydoghasastory, Shutterstock); Right – Shar-pei (Waldemer Dabrowski, Shutterstock)

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Shar Poo

Shar Poos are much like little children. With their families or people they trust, they can be absolutely wild, bouncing off the walls and tearing around the house like furry little cyclones. However, as soon as an unfamiliar face drops by, they turn into wallflowers.

That may not be something that you can totally socialize out of them, but it’s still important to introduce them to new people and places as often as possible, especially when they’re puppies. This dog may never run up to strangers and start licking their face, but you want to make sure their timidity never turns into aggression.

At home, though, don’t be surprised if your Shar Poo turns into a fuzzy new appendage. These dogs can be quite clingy, preferring never to leave their human’s side, and they’d usually prefer to play with their favorite person than do anything else.

As for intelligence, Poodles are often considered one of the smartest (if not the smartest) dog breeds in the world. Shar-Peis aren’t dumb by any stretch of the imagination, but whether your dog ends up a little doggy genius (a canine-stein?) or simply valedictorian of their obedience class will largely depend on which breed’s genes are more dominant.

Be aware, though, that while Shar-Peis are fairly intelligent, they’re also known for being independent and stubborn. Your Shar Poo may end up being a dog that can figure out whatever you want them to do in seconds but will refuse to do it unless properly motivated.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

Shar Poos are great dogs for families — provided that it’s your family. They’ll likely take to your kids like a fish to water, and they’ll love nothing more than scurrying around the backyard with their humans all day long.

If you’re the type of family that likes to have people over, though, the Shar Poo might not fit in with your lifestyle. They don’t like strangers, and while they may never lash out or react aggressively, it’s likely that they’ll be in a constant state of “stranger danger,” which puts a great deal of stress on their poor little psyches.

When they’re at home, expect them to be fairly active and need plenty of attention. You can curl up with them on the couch and watch a movie or two, but you’ll probably need to tucker them out in the backyard first.

The good news is that since they’re not that loud, they’re equally suited for life in an apartment or a home with a large backyard. If you keep them in an apartment, expect to need to take them for a long walk or two or down to the park for a game of fetch.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

While Shar Poos aren’t a big fan of strange people, they’re even less happy to be around strange dogs. They may not react aggressively at first, but if the other dog keeps invading their space, it’s unlikely to end pretty.

They also tend to be quite protective of their humans and don’t like other animals sniffing around and stealing all their pettings. They like to have all the human attention to themselves and may react poorly if forced to share.

As you can expect, this means that your Shar Poo should likely be the only pet in the house and certainly the only dog.

Their reactivity toward cats and other pets is less well-known. It likely varies from individual to individual. One Shar Poo may be aggressive toward them, while another doesn’t care about their presence at all.

We’d still err on the side of caution, which means not having any other animals in the house.

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Things to Know When Owning a Shar Poo

It’s hard to accurately predict what owning a Shar Poo will be like. There are a few things that you can likely expect, however.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

As medium-sized dogs, Shar Poos can pack away their fair share of kibble. Expect to spend a good amount on kibble, as food will likely be your biggest ongoing expense when owning one of these dogs.

While you might be tempted to shave off some of that expense by purchasing cheaper food, we wouldn’t recommend it. Feeding your dog a high-quality diet will go a long way toward keeping them happy and healthy and could even help extend their lifespan.

Look for a food that’s high in protein, fat, and fiber, and avoid anything that’s loaded with wheat, corn, soy, animal by-products, and other low-quality ingredients. That’s going to drive up the price of the food considerably (and likely prevent you from being able to find it at your local big-box store), but you will probably save that money and more later on in your pup’s existence.

Just as important as feeding them healthy food is feeding them an appropriate amount of it. Exercise strict portion control, as allowing them to free-feed can lead to obesity, which is terrible for their health. Shar-Peis are notorious for being overweight, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a fat, wrinkly dog is cuter than a wrinkly dog of a more reasonable weight.

Be careful about going overboard with treats and scraps too. Shar Poos might be stubborn, especially if they take after Shar-Peis, but don’t try to bribe them into obedience with snacks.

Exercise 🐕

Shar Poos need a fair amount of exercise, and frankly, it will be hard to stop them from running around when they’re home and feeling comfortable.

You can likely work out most of their energy simply by taking them out in the backyard and running around or tossing a ball with them, but you’ll likely want to walk them frequently. This may require a bit of training, though, as they may be averse to seeing other people or reactive to dogs that they encounter. Don’t assume that you can just throw a leash on them and walk out the door.

Given how smart these dogs are, they’ll also need mental stimulation. Frequent obedience training is a must, and you will likely need to provide them with puzzle toys and similar activities in order to keep their brains sharp.

This isn’t a super-athletic breed, but their ability to quickly master new skills makes them a good fit for agility training and similar activities. That’s a great way to burn off excess energy and challenge them intellectually, but they may not enjoy being around all the other dogs at the competitions.

Shar Poos don’t have a ton of behavioral problems outside their reluctance to meet new people and animals, but any issues that they do have can largely be mitigated by tuckering them out thoroughly, so take their exercise needs seriously.

Training 🎾

Training is a non-negotiable need when you bring home a Shar Poo. They need a ton of obedience work and socialization, but you should understand that no matter how much you work with them, they’re not likely to be as gregarious as a Labrador.

The important thing is to only use positive reinforcement during your training sessions. If you punish the dogs or use similar training methods, chances are that you’ll simply alienate them rather than teach them anything.

They can be quite stubborn and independent, so training may not be a walk in the park (and you probably shouldn’t try to train them in the park, as there are too many strangers around). You’ll need to be firm, assertive, and patient.

As a result, first-time owners may want to start with a different breed. If you don’t have experience training dogs, the learning curve may be a bit steep with a Shar Poo.

The most important thing is to train them no matter what, so don’t hesitate to ask for professional help if you need it. It’s better to pay someone to do the job for you than to leave it undone.

Grooming ✂️

A big part of the Shar Poo’s (or any Poodle mix’s) appeal is the fact that they don’t shed much, but you’ll still need to brush them at least once a week to prevent matting and tangling. These animals have a short-to-medium length coat.

Since these dogs don’t shed much, they’re said to be hypoallergenic, which is the whole reason that the mix was created. However, the idea of a hypoallergenic dog is basically a myth, as the source of human allergies isn’t fur or dander, but rather a protein in a dog’s urine and saliva. That means you’re just as likely to be as allergic to a Shar Poo as to any other breed.

If your Shar Poo is wrinkly, you’ll need to clean those wrinkles at least once a week. Simply take a damp cloth, and massage it into the wrinkles to wipe away any dirt and bacteria that may have accumulated there.

Beyond that, these dogs just need the basic grooming requirements: daily teeth brushing, regular nail trimmings, and baths when visibly dirty.

If your dog gets wet, be sure to take a cloth and dry out their ears and the folds of their skin. You don’t want moisture to pool in there, as that can turn into a breeding ground for bacteria, increasing the risk of infection.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Shar Poos are such a new breed that it’s hard to say with any certainty what conditions they’re prone to.

This list represents the best guess that we have based on the information presently available, but don’t be surprised if your dog doesn’t have any of the issues on the list (or ends up suffering from something else entirely).

Minor Conditions
  • Skin issues
  • Allergies
  • Eye problems
  • Hypothyroidism
Serious Conditions
  • Bloat
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Patellar luxation
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Shar-Pei fever

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Male vs. Female

Male Shar Poos tend to be a bit larger than their female counterparts, but beyond that, the two sexes have little that separates them at this time.

You’re much more likely to see diversity in temperament and appearance based on whichever parent breed is more dominant. Also, any sex-related issues that you have with your dog can likely be calmed (if not solved entirely) by having them spayed or neutered.

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Final Thoughts

While the Shar Poo may not be as well-known as either of their parent breeds, these fun-loving dogs are likely to become more popular in the years to come. They’re affectionate, loyal, and low-shedding, which is sure to keep them in demand.

That said, they’re not for everyone. They don’t much care for strangers or strange dogs, and training them can be difficult due to their stubborn nature. They also need a moderate amount of daily exercise.

If you can live with those restrictions, then a Shar Poo could well be the perfect dog for you. The only thing left to do is to track down a breeder — good luck!


Featured Image Credit: Left – Shar-pei (Pike_89, Pixabay); Right – Poodle (gerardosan, Pixabay)

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