Shar Pei Coat Colors: A Rainbow of Wrinkles
One of the world’s most unique-looking dog breeds is the Chinese Shar Pei. A purebred dog breed with more than 2,000 years of history, these visually stunning dogs were once versatile companions of the people, used as livestock guardians, hunters, and herders. Today, the Shar Pei is prized for its fascinating features like its small ears, deep skin folds, blue-black tongues, and large, almost hippo or manatee-like snouts.
Most well-established purebred dog breeds are so standardized that they come in only one, two, or possibly three accepted colors. Not so for the Shar Pei. The American Kennel Club alone accepts nearly twenty standard Shar Pei coat colors, plus a variety of patterns and markings. Here, we’re going to meet an array of Shar Peis in different colors and get to know what it takes to have a Shar Pei of your own.
19 Shar Pei Colors & Patterns Explored on Instagram
Shar Peis come in solid colors and multi-colored varieties, so if you’re planning to buy a Shar Pei black and white, brindle Shar Peis, and sable Shar Peis are available. However, you won’t merle Shar Peis, as the merle gene is not standard within this breed. Some solid color Shar Peis also have slight shade or hue variations in their coats.
With more than a dozen standard coat colors accepted by the AKC and other kennel clubs, we’ll be focusing only on Sharpei colors you’re likely to come across from reputable breeders. Rare Shar Pei colors don’t really exist, since this beautiful and distinctive breed naturally comes in a rainbow variety of hues.
Types Of Coats
Before we take a look at the many gorgeous shades of Shar Pei, let’s quickly go over the three coat types of Shar Pei:
Shar Peis are the most common, and have a short coat with hairs that stick up vertically from the body, making their fur almost prickly while also giving the illusion of velvetiness.
Shar Peis have a slightly longer coat than horse coat varieties and are softer to the touch.
Shar Peis have long fur relative to the other varieties and are sometimes mistaken for Chow Chows thanks to the furry mane they grow around their head and neck. The bear coat is not considered AKC standard.
1. Thor the Apricot Dilute Shar Pei
Apricot dilute is possibly the color most associated with Shar Peis, other than red, which we will show in a moment so you can compare. Thor here is a gorgeous apricot dilute Shar Pei from the UK who loves to be outside, even in the snow!
2. Prada & Love the Red Shar Peis
The red Shar Pei coat is very similar to apricot dilute but deeper and richer in tone. Prada (far left) and Love (middle) are red Shar Peis with the most common “horse coat” type fur. Their little sister Tesla has the more unusual “bear coat” and is a lovely shade of chocolate dilute, which we’ll feature again a little later.
Red Shar Peis also come in “five-point red dilute,” where five specific points on their body have darker, richer red than the rest of their coat.
3. Pilsen the Red Fawn Shar Pei
Pilson—named for the neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois—is a red fawn Shar Pei enjoying Colorado mountain living! His beautiful red fawn coat combines creamy, blonde fawn and true red, and can look a little different depending on the light.
4. LeRoy the Red Sable Shar Pei
This beautiful red sable bear coat Shar Pei is LeRoy! LeRoy has the great pleasure of having a photographer as his human, who loves to take photos of LeRoy’s stunning coat. Red sable Peis like LeRoy have a red base coat with brown or black tips. Bear coat Shar Peis are sometimes mistaken for Chow Chows, but they are distinctly different dog breeds.
5. Ralphie the Fawn Shar Pei
Fawn Shar Peis look very much like apricot and red fawn Shar Peis, but their coat color is lighter and more golden than red. Ralphie is a two-year-old fawn Shar Pei from California, and can you believe how cute his wrinkles are?
There are also fawn sable Shar Peis, which have this lovely strawberry blonde base coat with brown or black tips.
6. Ocean the Blue Shar Pei
Among the common and recognized colors of Shar Pei dog blue is one of the most popular. A blue Shar Pei puppy can fetch its breeder as much as $3,000, and it’s easy to see why people are obsessed with the blue. Full-grown blue Shar Peis are sometimes lovingly called “velvet hippos” thanks to their beautiful soft appearance and grey-toned fur.
Some people may refer to the blue Shar Pei as a grey Shar Pei, but “grey” in the dog breeding world is most commonly called blue. Even so, grey Chinese Shar Peis are still a common search, just don’t be surprised when you see breeders and enthusiasts calling them blue.
7. Dora the Blue Dilute Shar Pei
Like the standard blue Shar Pei, people also call the blue dilute Shar Pei grey. A lighter, literally diluted version of blue, blue dilute Peis like Dora are such a mesmerizing color.
8. Blue the Blue Sable Shar Pei
This adorable puppy is Blue, a blue sable Shar Pei from California! Blue sable is a lot like red sable or fawn sable, but rather than having black or brown-tipped fur, this pup’s fur tips are blue. Blue sables may also accidentally be referred to as gray Shar Peis.
9. Drago the Lilac Shar Pei
This sleeping angel is Drago, a gorgeous lilac blue Shar-Pei from Alberta, Canada whose sister is Dora, the blue dilute Shar Pei from #7. Lilac is another of the diluted Shar Pei colors, meaning a lighter version of a deeper standard color.
10. Harley Quinn the Isabella Shar Pei
Isabella dilute Shar Peis look very similar to lilac Shar Peis. Rather than being a dilute blue, Isabella is a dilute brown with hints of silver/blue that make this coat color appear more cool-toned. Little Harley Quinn here is a great example of Isabella—take a look at that cool-toned silver around her little snout!
11. Zeus the Black Shar Pei
Have you ever seen a more handsome boy basking in the sunshine? Zeus is a gorgeous black Shar Pei from Spain and a connoisseur of rays of sunshine, naps, and silky skin flaps! Black is one of the most common Shar Pei colors, and a black Shar Pei puppy usually costs around $1,000—$2,000.
12. Kaito the Black Sable Shar Pei
“Sable” describes fur that starts as one color, and then transitions to another color at the tips. “Black sable” describes a dog with light fur at the root with black tips. Beautiful Kaito is a black sable Shar Pei, and his fur almost looks duo-chrome—or like it shifts based on the angle you look at him.
Brown sable—which looks similar—is also an accepted coloration for the Shar Pei.
13. Sawyer the Brindle Shar Pei
Brindle—sometimes called tiger stripes—is a common coat pattern for a wide range of dog breeds, including the Shar Pei! Handsome Sawyer here has gorgeous distinct orange stripes on a deep brown coat and his stripes look even more vibrant in the sunlight.
14. Muskat the Brown Shar Pei
Brown Shar Peis have a beautiful light chestnut-colored coat with a reddish undertone. Muskat here is a one-year-old brown Shar Pei with delightfully wrinkled skin that makes his adorable little ears camouflage into his cheek folds.
15. Daizie the Chocolate Dilute Shar Pei
Miss Daizie here is a chocolate dilute Shar Pei, which means she has brown or chocolate genes plus a dilution gene that makes her fur lighter. Brown and chocolate dilute Shar Peis are definitely giving us teddy bear vibes—beautifully wrinkly teddy bears!
16. Finn the Cream Shar Pei
Finn is an almost one-year-old bear coat cream Shar Pei from the UK with a lovely coat of long fur. Cream isn’t quite white, but is less yellow/red than apricot or fawn. Remember, for a Shar Pei dog long hair is relative—most have short (horse coat) or medium short (brush coat) fur, so a Shar Pei like Finn is considered a long-fur-type Shar Pei.
17. Ghost the White Shar Pei
Meet Ghost! Ghost is a white Shar Pei from Bristol, UK who loves to get into mischief, spend time with his humans, and go on lots of adventures. Like many light-colored and white Shar Peis, Ghost has darker shading around his ears, nose, tail, and back, while the rest of his body is a solid cool-toned white.
18. Baxter the Brown & White Spotted Shar Pei
While solid colors are more common amongst Shar Peis, spots of color on a white base coat are also accepted by the AKC along with several other marking varieties like masks, saddle patterns, and white markings. Handsome Baxter here is a stunning brush coat brown on white spotted Shar Pei, and as you can tell he really knows how to work the camera.
19. Tiny the Black & White Spotted Shar Pei
Last but certainly not least, meet Tiny—another example of a Shar Pei whose markings would be accepted as standard by the AKC. Don’t Tiny’s lovely black spots make him look extra cute?
Shar Pei Basic Info
Can you believe how many standard colors there are for the Shar Pei? There’s such a huge variety, there is a color or pattern to suit everyone’s taste. Now that we’ve had a good look at the diversity of this breed, let’s learn more about what life with a Chinese Shar Pei is like.
Shar Pei Temperament
Once used as watchdogs and livestock guardians, Shar Peis are a suspicious, slow-to-trust breed that may be reserved or reactive toward new people or animals. Independent and intelligent, the Shar Pei is an alert breed that can be stubborn or domineering without clear rules and boundaries. Because of this, Shar Peis require early and regular socialization.
Owning a Pei is a lot like having a personal security guard!Reddit user
“Owning a Pei is a lot like having a personal security guard,” says a Reddit user with some Shar Pei experience. “They will want to know where you are at all times and will want to protect you.”
While Shar Peis may pick up training quickly, they may also be aloof or guarded with humans until they gain their trust, and won’t immediately show a desire to please. Due to their intelligence and tendency for reactivity, Shar Peis need plenty of mental stimulation and routine and do best in homes with plenty of dog experience.
The Shar Pei can be child-friendly, but is not naturally trusting of children, and like all breeds should be monitored with kids at all times. Shar Peis are not recommended for homes with small children for this reason, and because Shar Peis are only mildly playful, can be unpredictable, and are not the right breed to romp with your kids.
“[Shar Peis] are very devoted to their person/family and aloof with other people…some love and some hate kids. I recommend raising a puppy around small pets and considerate children. Mine was and is great with all, even little mice,” says another Reddit comment from a Shar Pei owner. “They are playful and affectionate when they want, but also can be alone and quiet when you need them to be. Some are loners, some love being part of their pack.”
Shar Pei Size
Shar Peis are medium-sized dogs standing around 18–20 inches tall and weighing in at around 45–60 pounds.
Shar Pei Health
Unfortunately, Shar Peis are not a particularly healthy dog breed and are plagued by numerous and somewhat unusual health issues. Some serious health problems to be aware of if you own a Shar Pei.
- Eye issues (e.g. glaucoma, retinal dysplasia, entropion, SARDS, etc.)
- Skin problems (e.g. skin infections, yeast infections, infected skin folds, etc.)
- Respiratory problems
- Heart problems
- Joint issues (e.g. patellar luxation, hip and elbow dysplasia)
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Thyroid problems
Around 20% of Shar Peis also have a condition called Shar Pei Fever, or Shar Pei Recurrent Fever Syndrome—a hereditary condition that causes episodes of fever, which can in turn cause organ and internal damage, shortening the dog’s life.
Where To Find a Shar Pei Puppy
The American Kennel Club marketplace is a great resource for finding dog breeders and purebred puppies, but before you commit to buying a Shar Pei, take a few moments to consider adoption and check out these resources for Shar Pei rescues.
Shar Pei FAQ
Do you still have more questions about the gorgeous and unique Chinese Shar Pei? Keep reading to see if we cover your pressing query below.
Are Shar Peis double-coated?
Horse and brush-coated Shar Peis have a single coat, while bear-coated Shar Peis have a double coat. It is because of this the bear coat is not recognized by the AKC.
What is the most common Shar Pei color?
Fawn and red are the two most common Shar Pei colors, but more than a dozen are accepted by the AKC and other kennel clubs.
What is the most rare Shar Pei color?
Colors like blue, blue sable, chocolate dilute, and Isabella are among the less common Shar Pei colors but are still considered standard.
Why do Shar Peis have a blue tongue?
Shar Peis and Chow Chows are the only two dog breeds known to have blue-black pigmentation in their mouths and on their tongues. Having a blue tongue is totally safe, it’s just extra concentrated skin pigment.
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