Shar Peis are medium in size but have a sturdy build, reaching up to 30 kg in weight. They equally have quite a serious demeanor. It comes as no surprise that some individuals might find this dog intimidating. But is this a fair reflection of this breed? Are they instinctively aggressive or do they more prone to responding in this way? I spent some time researching this wrinkly breed and would like to share what I found for you here today.
So, are Shar Pei aggressive? Shar Peis are generally not aggressive to their family or people with whom they are familiar. In fact, they make affectionate, devoted, and loving companions to their owners if raised properly and appropriately. However, Shar Pei dogs do naturally possess protective instincts and they can therefore act aggressively towards strangers and other dogs.
Socialization from a young age, sufficient exposure to life outside of their familiar surroundings, and obedience training are all required when owning this breed.
Owners of the Shar Pei understand that beneath this dog’s intimidating exterior, is a calm and loyal companion, and a great dog all around.
However, this experience can be very different for strangers or those who encounter a Shar Pei in unfamiliar settings.
Shar Pei often displays dominance towards and aggression towards other dogs, especially if they are of the same sex.
Along the same lines, these dogs often want to chase and attack cats and other smaller animals.
It is generally acknowledged that Shar Pei are not a suitable breed to keep around livestock or any other animals.
They can be dangerous; and they do have the potential to seriously injure them.
With all this in mind, let us now take a closer look at the average temperament of the Shar Pei breed.
We will also cover whether they are dangerous to own, some potential causes and triggers of aggression, and how to manage and prevent aggressive displays if you do decide to keep one.
Typical Shar Pei Temperament
Shar Peis have an interesting temperament; they act very differently around people with whom they know and those unfamiliar to them.
They are typically quiet, confident, affectionate, and calm dogs when they are with their owners. They are not known to bark much; unless of course, they feel the need to.
Along similar lines, these dogs are fiercely loyal and naturally possessive of everyone in the home, including any children in their household.
With that said, Shar Pei’s are not the best breed to keep around very small children. They are not very open to playing, and young children can easily become too intrusive for the preferences of this breed.
As such, Shar Peis are better suited to a home with older children (generally over the age of ten) who have been taught how to behave around animals and know how to treat them with respect and consideration.
But these dogs are not the easiest to raise.
Shar Peis are famous for their stubborn, strong-willed nature, and they need a confident owner to take charge of them.
In the right hands, this ancient breed can be quiet and polite in the home. While they are not pushovers, a firm owner can enforce rules and command respect from this breed.
Shar Peis will generally mind their own business, but they can lash out if provoked or anticipate a potential threat.
These dogs can be either wary of strangers or aggressive towards strangers, especially if they lack socialization from a young age.
Moreover, Shar Pei are known to be aggressive towards dogs of the same sex.
This is likely the result of their history and lineage; initially being bred to guard, hunt, herd, and later on to fight.
Interestingly, this breed only has a moderate to low prey drive – they will not act to chase in an attempt to catch small animals, such as a cat.
Are Shar Pei Dogs Dangerous?
Shar Pei, like many dog breeds, are often unfairly labeled as dangerous. While they can be dangerous in certain contexts and in certain situations, this is true of any dog breed.
For the Shar Pei, they are most likely to act aggressively if they are provoked, threatened, or feel the need to protect their owners.
Intruders and strangers are therefore most susceptible to bringing out this kind of behavior and experiencing it.
While in some parts of the world the ownership of this breed is banned; we have to consider that this is not always a reflection on the dog – but the owner and what they are being kept for.
Unfortunately and either way, some insurance companies do discriminate against Shar Peis and their owners – and you are likely going to face premiums to keep this dog.
It all originates from the appearance and intimidating stature of the Shar Pei breed and their history of being a fighting dog. Not something we can do much about.
But, when owning a breed like this, it will come with some potential issues and liabilities.
To be frank and on the safe side, the Shar Pei is not the best breed nor most suitable for the average household. This is especially true of homes with very young children.
These dogs can be intense and need the right owners or families to be able to discipline them and control them.
Shar Peis have a strong nature and know their own mind. They can be very dominant, stubborn, and willful. They will put you to the test and you need to be not only aware of this but proactive in your training.
Consistency is essential when training these dogs to obey. You must always mean what you say and reinforce positive behaviors.
Obedience training is simply a must, and while it may take some time, effort and persistence are very much worth it.
We will look at this method of training shortly.
With all being said, when these dogs is raised properly and cared for, they do not typically pose a risk or a danger to their owners.
Will A Shar Pei Protect Me?
A Shar Pei will undoubtedly protect their owner if the owner has earned the love, respect, and trust of this dog.
This breed is independent and alert, and they often make excellent guard dogs. Many are kept for this very reason and purpose.
Shar Peis become very loyal to their immediate families and soon develop an intuitive understanding of them, their needs, and their safety.
These dogs were once pit-fighters, and it’s in their nature to respond to threats.
While it’s good to have a dog willing to protect and defend you, aggression must not be tolerated. It can lead to distasteful behavior and can even put you and your dog at risk.
Early socialization and frequent exposure to different sights, sounds, experiences, and people are therefore essential for this dog; they must learn to compose themselves in normal day-to-day situations.
Many Shar Pei owners swear by puppy kindergarten classes as a means of getting them used to other dogs from a young age. Enrolling your dog in such a class does come recommended.
It’s also a good idea to have guests visit your home regularly while they are still a puppy or young, and you should also attempt to frequently take your Shar Pei to busy parks or to areas that allow dogs.
This will help them to learn how to behave in these natural situations.
If your Shar Pei did begin to act out, remove them from the situation. Come back at a quieter time and reintroduce them to the process more slowly.
Always remain vigilant and nearby your dog; never letting them off the lead.
What Can Make A Shar Pei Aggressive?
Like many dogs, Shar Pei’s need socialization from day one. They also need an owner who’s firm but fair and shows consistency.
A Shar Pei puppy that has had adequate exposure to different sights, sounds, people, and experiences is less likely to become an aggressive adult.
A Shar Pei that hasn’t received adequate socialization from puppyhood will become aggressive and can be triggered by loud noises, bright lights, or when approached by a stranger.
If there are any alterations to their environment, that can also make them act out.
Shar Peis can become aggressive when they encounter another dog of the same sex or when they see a cat or a small animal.
If your otherwise calm Shar Pei is acting out of character and has suddenly become aggressive, this may well be a clear sign that something is not right with their health or they may have even been injured and are lashing out.
As a devoted owner, it’s vital that you get your dog immediate veterinary attention in this instance, to discover what may be the cause of the behavior and to get it treated.
How To Prevent Aggression In Shar Peis
Preventing aggression in Shar Peis is a combination of sufficient training and socialization.
Socialization and social structure will prevent many of the issues related to bad temperaments, such as behavioral problems and aggression.
The last thing any dog owner would want is for their dog to become angry and lash out at you or a loved one.
Preventing aggression early on is much easier than modifying behavior in an already aggressive adult dog.
Taking the following steps will prevent aggression in your Shar Pei:
Once you take your Shar Pei puppy home, the onus is on you to train them.
You can do this in a gradual, gentle manner, but be consistent at all times.
You cannot do keep a Shar Pei without dedicated training; this breed is not one that you can leave to their own devices.
Shar Peis require exposure to various situations; they need to see different people and other animals outside of their main circle.
These dogs need to sniff and approach new individuals of their own accord and should not be forced into accepting individuals, as this will generate anxiety.
Allow them to take in the world at their own pace. Be calm when in the presence of strangers and allow them to interact inside and outside of his home.
Your Shar Pei must learn the essentials such as sit, come, stay, down, heel, and off. This is not an exhaustive list but these are considered the main and most useful ones.
Teach them to obey your commands and when they comply, reward them with praise and treats.
A great idea is to use a clicker device (like this excellent product on Amazon) when training them.
Never reward your dog for disobedience and make sure you correct them by telling them no. Be sure not to be too harsh with your dog as this can become counterproductive.
Establish A Family Hierarchy
All dogs crave a leader who is in ultimate control, and the Shar Pei is no exception.
When you are in charge, they do not have to second guess or attempt to try to understand your complex ways.
With you in charge, your dog will not attempt to struggle to control you and their surroundings; they can relax and live their best life while you manage all the decisions.
Dogs like to follow a leader, and since follower dogs are more willing to listen to you, it’s easy to teach them how to behave.
Their good behavior gets noticed by all, and they receive praise, and they like it when others smile at them.
A well-behaved Sha -Pei is easy to take along anywhere. As you will discover, you and your dog will be more welcome to stay in places for longer periods of time.
To achieve your Shar Pei’s respect, you must make it clear that you are in charge and not them. You must prove yourself to be the Alpha over them.
You must show them you and your family’s needs come first and not theirs.
Enter a room before they do, eat before them, and be consistent. Do all you can to show dominance over them in a fair and structured manner, or you’ll struggle to command their respect.
Shar Peis, like any dog breed, must be taught how to behave to prevent aggression in later life.
While they are not massive dogs, they are solid and pretty strong.
Early socialization is the key, but establishing a hierarchy within the household is vital.
If you and your household cannot show your dog that you are in charge, you will never command your dog’s respect, and your Shar Pei is less likely to listen to you and obey you.
A disobedient and rebellious Shar-Pie is an unhappy dog. They will be highly stressed, aggressive, and anxious as they attempt to control you and everyone around them.
A dog like this doesn’t know who they can trust as they haven’t been shown. They do their best and need a leader in life.
A Shar Pei dog, like any individual, needs to learn to abide by the rules and adhere to a social structure to be safe and happy in life. So you owe it to your dog, and to your family, to take this control.
Ultimately, the Shar Pei is an often misunderstood breed.
They can act out aggressively and may do so at certain times and situations, but with the right care, upbringing and training, can make a wonderful affectionate companion, that is not a danger to those whom they are around.
Are Shar Pei A Good Family Dog?
Shar Peis can make great family dogs, so long as they have been socialized and trained from a young age. They are typically very loyal and develop strong attachments to their families whom they will do their best to look out for.
However, this breed is somewhat stubborn and independent, so persistence and consistency will be required.
Moreover, they can be territorial, and may even act out aggressively toward strangers and other animals.
For these reasons, it is generally not advised to own this dog if you have young children. Elder children on the other hand, who know how to approach and behave around dogs, appear to be fine with this breed.
Are Shar Pei Easy To Train?
Shar Peis are relatively easy to train for owners with experience training dogs and who are consistent with their approach.
This is because this breed is intelligent and quick-learning. However, due to their stubborn streak, first-time dog owners can struggle training this breed, or if inappropriate or ineffective techniques are used.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.