The large head and wrinkled face of the Chinese Shar-Pei has oven been compared to the head of a hippopotamus. They are independent and willful dogs, but when exposed to confident, consistent leadership are respectful companions and clean housemates. Their ever-present scowl coupled with their alert nature, makes them an imposing looking guard dog. The Shar-Pei's tenency toward independence them good companions for single people or working families with older children. They don't require much attention or exercise to keep them happy, and can entertain themselves with lots of chew toys or sun to bathe in.
Despite their large size, the Chinese Shar-Pei does not need a lot of vigorous exercise to maintain good health. Several walks a day will suffice, making them good city dogs. It is recommended Shar-Peis, despite their watchdog capabilities, not be raised on a farm. Their natural instinct to hunt means they can take off into the wild blue yonder after deer or other wild animals.
The main ingredient needed when training a Shar-Pei is patience. They are willful creatures who don't like to be told what to do, and they naturally assume they are in charge. Consistency, positive reinforcement and lots of treats will garner response from a Shar-Pei, but only when he's ready to respond. They will take a mile if given an inch, so rules and boundaries need to be reinforced at all times. This breed is not for the first-time owner, and even experienced owners have confessed to finding working with a Shar-Pei a challenge.
House training a Shar-Pei is a completely different story, however. Despite their aversion to obedience training, Shar-Peis have been known to house train themselves. They are naturally a very clean dog and instinctively they will not relieve themselves in their home area.
This breed is a natural guard dog and aggression toward other animals and people can be a common problem with Shar-Peis. Early socialization is imperative in the development of a healthy dog. They are naturally wary of strangers, so they must learn early on the difference between a welcome visitor and an unwelcome stranger, otherwise the Shar-Pei will naturally assume all strangers are bad. Dog aggression can be severe, so males should always be neutered, and as puppies they should be exposed to other friendly dogs as often as possible.
Homes with small children are not the best environment for a Shar-Pei. He won't be patient enough to tolerate a child playing roughly and will define his boundaries by snapping or biting.
Shar-Peis are noisy – they snort, snore, grunt and gurgle all day and all night. They also have a tendency to slobber and drool when they are excited.