Do Shar-Peis Make Good City Dogs?
Shar-Peis — officially, Chinese Shar-Peis — are very good candidates to be your Urban Dog.
The name “Shar-Pei” means “sand-skin,” referring to their distinctive short, rough coats. They definitely have one of the most unique appearances in the world of dogs. Shar-Peis have broad muzzles, blue-black tongues, small eyes tiny triangular ears, and characteristic folds of loose skin about the head, neck, and shoulders. (If you want to know why Shar-Peis are so wrinkly, check out this study at the Science Daily website.)
They generally stand about 18 to 20 inches tall and weigh from 45 to 60 pounds, making them medium-sized dogs. Their life expectancy is from 8 to 12 years.
They are a very old breed, dating back more than 2,000 years to the Han Dynasty in China. They were bred to be serene, guard dogs.
Marge Callthorp of Mar-Bo Kennels in East Haddam, CT has been breeding Shar-Peis for more than forty years. She says their various characteristics and behavior make them great apartment dogs.
Do Shar-Peis Bark a Lot?
Shar-Peis are not excessive barkers. Callthorp says they are guard dogs they will bark when they detect something unusual, like a stranger at the door, but other than that they are largely pretty quiet. This is good news for your neighbors in your building. Click here for more on Urban Dog’s take on barking.
Are Shar-Peis Easily Trained?
It’s important that dogs living in shared spaces like apartment buildings to be well-behaved. You don’t want your dog pestering people in elevators, hallways, and lobbies. Shar-Peis are about average when it comes to training. They obey first commands about 50% of the time according to Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who studies dog behavior. That means it takes them about 25 to 40 repetitions for them to learn new commands.
As with most dogs, early training is essential. You don’t want your Shar-Pei bossing you around.
How are Shar-Peis with Strangers, Children, and other Animals?
Callthorp says Shar-Peis can be affectionate with their owners, but a little more aloof when meeting new people. She says they are good with children. They can be cautious around other dogs and animals.
Another Urban Dog essential is early socialization. Your Shar-Pei is going to encounter people and other dogs on pretty much a daily basis.Make sure you enroll your puppy in a socialization program as soon as they are eligible.
Do Shar-Peis Require a Lot of Exercise?
Shar-Peis do not require a lot of exercise. They guarding behavior is to generally sit and protect, not patrol. Taking them for periodic walks will suffice. You aren’t going to have to find wide open spaces to run your Shar-Pei.
Taking Care of Your Shar-Pei
Shar-Peis don’t require a ton of grooming. A bath once each month is plenty. You should clean the folds periodically. Make sure they are dry once you’ve cleaned them.
For a very comprehensive discussion of Shar-Pei health, check out this information from the Prestige Animal Hospital.
If you are on the fence about getting a Shar-Pei, then you should check out the Instagram of Annie and Paddington. Paddington is a particularly cute Shar-Pei who hails from Australia and has a really great Insta. I purposefully picked what I considered a relatively low-wattage cute-ness pic which you can see below. And if that’s low-wattage, wait till you see the rest. Click here for more: @anniepaddington
Shar-Peis can make great Urban Dogs, but as with most dogs, just make sure you keep them engaged, socialized, and well-trained. For more check out the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America. And for tips on how to find a pet-friendly apartment in New York and other cities read Urban Dog’s house-hunting guide. Bigger dogs pose a particular challenge, but don’t worry, you can find places that accept large breed dogs.