The Shar-Pei is regal, aloof, dignified and essentially a very independent dog that is stand-offish to strangers. With that said, some Shar-Pei love everyone. Generalization as to temperament is difficult as each is an individual, molded by it's own heritage and environment. Socialization, training, and heritage make up the individual dog.
In general the breed has proved itself to be a loving, devoted family dog. Shar-Pei are often described as "people dogs", preferring human companionship to that of other dogs. Their quick intelligence may play a part in this. Perhaps they sense our own intelligence and prefer the inventiveness and creativity we bring to situations. Or maybe they just prefer their master's love and attention.
The Shar-Pei owner will often find his dog by his side everywhere he goes. Shar-Pei seem to sense our innermost thoughts. The breed is quite capable of using this gift to the point of manipulation. With this in mind Shar-Pei owners must be more intelligent than their dogs.
Once the proper hierarchy is established, there is no better canine companion. A mutual understanding matures into a loving relationship in which verbal communication seems unnecessary.
Those who have lived with and loved a Shar-Pei know that they are indeed very special dogs. They are super-intelligent, intuitive and deserving of the opportunity to take their rightful place in the canine society.
Shar-Pei are very easy to housetrain. By nature they are very clean and will prefer to eliminate outside in a private area.
Shar-Pei are very dominant and protective and may get along only with other dogs who will not challenge their dominance. Females seem to be even more dominant than males and the ideal is to have one male and one female. Three or more dogs tend to gang up in fights. Like many fighting breeds Shar-Pei lock their jaws making it very difficult to separate them if they fight.
Mixing Shar-Pei with other breeds can be difficult and should only be done by owners that have a good knowledge of dominance, pack order and general canine behavior. It is of the utmost importance to socialize Shar-Pei with people and other dog breeds. If socialization and training is neglected a Shar-Pei may become over-protective of their owners and property.
Our dogs will love and admire the meanest of us, and feed our colossal vanity with their uncritical homage.
Paper and canvas prints of "Growing Up Chinese Shar-Pei" by Barbara Keith are available online.