Whether in motion or at rest, the Chinese Shar-Pei cannot be mistaken. From across the room, the distinct dip and rise are highly recognizable and the curving lines are pleasing to the eye. The silhouette formed by the topline dipping slightly behind the withers then rising over a broad, short loin with flat croup, extremely high-set tail, and up-tilted anus is unique in the dog world.
The breed’s proud carriage is reminiscent of an Arabian horse. In fact, the Arabian Horse Standard of Excellence also calls for a short back with a dip behind the withers rising to a flat croup with a high-set tail.
When a judge looks at a Shar-Pei in profile, several of the unique breed characteristics are on full display. From our AKC Breed Standard, General Appearance is described as:
“An alert, compact dog of medium size and substance; square in profile, close coupled; the well-proportioned head slightly but not overly large for the body. The short, harsh coat, the loose skin covering the head and body, the small ears, the ‘hippopotamus’ muzzle shape and the high set tail impart to the Shar-Pei a unique look peculiar to him alone. The loose skin and wrinkles covering the head, neck and body are superabundant in puppies but these features may be limited to the head, neck and withers in the adult.”
From the profile you can see the slightly large head size, true square body, with a few wrinkles on the neck and withers, displaying a short, harsh, off-standing coat with the distinctive topline. The coat should be less than an inch in length. When performing the hands-on exam, it is important to measure the length of the coat against your fingers and run your hand from the rear forward to the withers to feel the texture of the coat, prioritizing harshness. The name Shar-Pei means “sand skin” and the coat should exemplify this. You do not need to determine if the dog is a horse coat or a brush coat. They are judged to the same Standard and there is no preference for one coat over the other.
The dip behind the withers, rising over the broad, short loin, is sometimes described as a Nike swoosh. However, it is important to differentiate that Shar-Pei have a level croup rather than continuing up on a continuous swoosh, and that this is not a dog that is high in the rear.
The withers and croup should be level, with the dip only behind the withers.
The high-set tail and up-tilted anus, along with the slightly rising topline and flat croup, give a distinctive appearance. This is a strong, functional topline. There should not appear to be a sway back or roaching of the back. A level topline or sloping topline should also be faulted. The topline does not change from standing to moving. Sometimes, when a dog is stiff and uncomfortable, they can flatten or roach their topline when being stacked. In this case, it is best to ask the handler to free-stack the dog or judge the topline while moving.
The high-set tail is a characteristic feature of the Shar-Pei, with the tail curving over the back in any amount. It can be a flag or a tighter curl. The croup is flat, with the base of the tail-set extremely high, clearly exposing an up-tilted anus. A low tail set should be faulted. The old Chinese Standard calls for a “Facing Sky Anus. Tail set so high on the back that the anus faces upwards.”
It is also important to note how best to approach the Shar-Pei for exam. One of the original functions of the breed was as an in home guard dog. They are loyal and protective of their families and should be aloof and standoffish to strangers. With their deep-set eyes and wrinkles framing the face they also have limited peripheral vision, so it is best to approach from the front with a gentle, confident touch.
Some dogs may startle if you come at them from behind or above and they are not expecting it. The use of the ramp has improved this for Shar-Pei.
Chinese Shar-Pei are moderate, balanced dogs with a distinctive breed type you should recognize from across the room.
Are you looking for a Chinese Shar-Pei puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder?
Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Chinese Shar-Pei dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
Chinese Shar-Pei Breed Magazine
Showsight Magazine is the only publication to offer dedicated Digital Breed Magazines for ALL recognized AKC Breeds.
Read and learn more about the intelligent Chinese Shar-Pei dog breed with articles and information in our Chinese Shar-Pei Breed Magazine.
Chinese Shar-Pei Breed Magazine - Showsight