Miniature Shar Pei: Playfulness & Fun in a Small Package

Miniature Shar Pei
Anna Smith
Written by Anna Smith

Many hopeful dog owners are looking for small dogs that are more adaptable to life in a small apartment or flat. Luckily, there are many toy versions of dog breeds today. The Miniature Shar Pei, for example, is the smaller version of the famous breed which originated from China. The mini variety has everything you like in a Shar Pei minus the size.

The Mini Pei is the same breed as the full sized Shar Pei. However, they have been selectively bred down in size by focusing on a recessive gene in their DNA.

Also called the Mini Shar Pei, Mini Pei, and Miniature Chinese Shar-Pei, this is one of the most easily recognized breeds thanks to its wrinkled skin and blue-black tongue. They are affectionate, playful, calm, independent, and alert. They bond very well with their families and are devoted to them.

If you live in an apartment or small house and think that the Miniature Shar-Pei is a good choice for you, read this article first before adopting one. This article will talk about the dog’s temperament, history, care features, and more. All this information might make it easier for you to decide if this breed is a good match for your lifestyle.

Breed Characteristics

Miniature Shar Pei standing

  • Adaptability: Good; will do well in an apartment provided that they are exercised

  • Trainability: Moderate; likes to dominate due to independent nature; needs to be taught who’s boss.

  • Health and Grooming: Moderate; prone to skin problems, entropion

  • All Around Friendliness: Moderate; needs early socialization

  • Exercise Needs: High Maintenance; requires long daily walks

Dog Breed GroupNon-Sporting Group
Height19-23 inches
Weight25-40 lbs.
Lifespan9 -11 years

The Mini Shar Pei is just a small version of the original dog breed. Just like their bigger counterparts, they are an affectionate, playful, and devoted breed.

Since they were originally bred to defend against bears and boars, they are quite confident. They know what they have to do and won’t hesitate to do it. However, this trait can be a problem when it comes to training them because Mini Peis are also known to be stubborn.

They like to dominate, and unless they know who’s boss, they won’t hesitate to take charge. Early training and socialization are necessary for this breed because they can become set in their ways and they are naturally shy towards strangers.

They need a good owner or trainer who can teach them their place or else you will find yourself being pulled around during exercise. They also need variety during training because they get bored easily. They can be trained for obedience but are not very agile.

Mini Peis in isolation also do not do well with young children. However, if they are raised together, Mini Peis can become your children’s best friend. To prevent accidents, make sure to raise your Mini Peis and kids together and provide them with lots of pleasant memories. This breed is friendly towards other pets and dogs.

They like to play, run, and explore. They look lazy but actually have a lot of energy. They need long daily walks to prevent destructive behavior.

They can do well inside apartments provided they are exercised. They are not really big barkers and are minimal shedders, which is why they are good apartment dwellers for those who don’t like hair inside their car or furniture.

This breed is a minimal shedder. Once weekly brushing of the coat is recommended to prevent infection in the wrinkles and to check for possible skin conditions. Be sure to keep them hydrated because this breed overheats easily.

Main Highlights

Miniature Shar Pei lying

  • Shares the same ancestors with the original Shar Pei.

  • The ancestors were originally bred to hunt and fend off bears and boars.

  • This smaller version came about due to a recessive gene in their DNA.

  • Not very good with kids. Needs early socialization. Shy towards strangers.

  • Highly trainable and smart but needs an early start due to stubbornness.

  • Training should be diverse because Mini Peis can get bored with repetition.

  • They are firm and confident leaders. Need to be taught that humans are in charge.

  • Can be trained for obedience but not very much for agility or canine sport.

  • They have lots of energy and require a long walk daily.

  • Does well in apartments or homes with small yards. Does not bark often.

  • Coats are low maintenance but need regular monitoring to prevent infection especially in the wrinkles.

  • Once weekly brushing and bathing are recommended to keep coats and skin healthy.

  • Sensitive to heat and prone to overheating. Exercise them only when the sun is low.

  • They have blue-black tongue.

  • They come in a variety of colors like fawn, black sable, cream, and white.

  • Some Mini Peis also have markings like brindle, pointed with cream, or tan and spotted on white saddle.

  • Their coat feels rough to the touch. The name Shar Pei literally means “sand skin.”

  • The mini version is not officially recognized by the AKC.

  • High-quality puppies from reputable breeders can cost around $1,500.

Breed History

white Miniature Shar Pei

The exact origins of the Mini Shar Pei’s ancestors, the Shar-Pei, have been lost to antiquity. However, their history can be traced as far back as the Han Dynasty (200 CE) with potteries depicting the dog dating back as far as 2000 years.

The ancestors of the modern day Mini Shar Pei were used for hunting, herding, and sentry work. The Shar-Pei originated from China and is actually considered as an ancient breed that predates the development of modern dog breeds we see today. The original Shar-Pei was developed by Chinese hunters in Guangdong Province to fend off bears and wild boars.

Like another ancient dog breed—the Chow Chow—the Shar-Pei has blue-black tongue; the ancients believed that when the Shar-Pei barked they were able to ward off evil spirits.

Since they were bred as hunting companions, they are smart and noble dogs; but they don’t like to perform for our amusement. Some people will find it easy to train them but don’t expect them to do tricks or go into canine sport. These dogs prefer to run, explore, or be your cuddly companion.

The original Shar-Pei made its debut in the United States around 1966 and quickly gained popularity due to its folded and wrinkly skin. Demand has gone down since the 1980s and breeders began selective breeding to make a smaller version of the breed.

They are not recognized as a separate breed by the AKC. The breed is still undergoing standardization, so Mini Peis are still registered as Shar Peis.


It is good to note that Miniature Shar Peis are not teacup varieties of the breed. The “miniature” is actually a misnomer because the Mini Pei is actually a medium-sized dog. They share the same unique look as the original size Shar-Pei with the neck, chest, and back covered with wrinkles.

Generally, male Mini Peis are larger than females and stand 19-23 inches tall at the withers and weigh 45-60 pounds.

Personality and Character

Miniature Shar Pei dogs playing

The Mini Pei is an active and alert dog breed with an air of calmness and nobility around them. They are generally playful and devoted pets, however, they also have an independent nature which makes them seem stubborn and aloof. The truth is, this is an affectionate breed that can form deep bonds with their owners.

This breed is shy around strangers and makes good watchdogs. They don’t bark often but will warn you if there are suspicious characters about. Mini Shar Peis can also be aggressive towards other dogs of the same sex. However, Mini Shar Peis that are socialized with other pets, children, and people early are friendly and playful towards them.

See Also: How to Socialize a Dog

Shar Peis were bred to hunt and fend off large game in ancient China. As such, their energy has survived throughout the ages. This breed is not athletic, but Mini Peis require a good amount of exercise.

Long daily walks are needed to keep them happy, although a good-sized fenced-in yard can also give them room to explore and stretch their legs.

They do well in apartments and small homes since they are smaller than original breed and seldom bark. Just remember to exercise them daily, and they should be fine inside your small home.

As a natural leader, this breed also has a stubborn and dominant streak. Early training with a firm and consistent trainer will let them learn their place and will prevent them from exercising these streaks. However, Mini Peis get bored easily, so a diverse and varied training method is important because they hate repetition.

They are clean and quiet. In fact, some owners compare them to cats. However, they snort, grunt, and snore loudly.

Health and Potential Problems

Miniature Shar Pei lying on the floor

Since the Miniature Shar-Pei is an ancient breed, this generally means good health. However, the popularity of the breed has resulted in rushed and inexperienced breeding. This has put the breed at risk of some inherited conditions.

Your Mini Shar-Pei should be monitored for entropion, kidney failure, and amyloidosis. The folds and wrinkles of their skin should also be kept clean and monitored for skin disease. A good rule of thumb is to groom and bathe your Mini Pei regularly so that you can check and monitor their skin.

See Also: Skin Conditions in Dogs

Regular vet checkups can help identify potential health problems of your Mini Pei. Buying from a reputable buyer can also ensure that you adopt a healthy dog.

Care Features

Miniature Shar Pei dogs lying on towels

These dogs need to be exercised routinely. However, due to their folds and wrinkles, Mini Peis are sensitive to heat.

It is important to remember not to exercise or let them out of the house when it is too hot outside. Exercise should be early morning or late in the afternoon. If your Shar-Pei is out in the yard, make sure he has access to shade.

These dogs need regular brushing preferably once a week. Due to their wrinkles and folds, the skin could be prone to infections and skin diseases. Brushing their coats and regular bathing should help prevent potential skin problems and help to keep them clean.

Feeding Schedule

As an active and high energy breed, they require dog foods specially formulated for high energy breeds. Follow instructions for the amount and frequency of feeding. The dog food should also apply to the age of your dog.

If in doubt, ask advice from your veterinarian. They will be able to recommend good dog food brands.

See Also: Foods Dogs Should Not Eat

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Miniature Shar Pei sitting

The Mini Pei has three different coat types. The “horse” coat is short and harsh while the “brush” coat is soft and velvety. The “bear” coat is one inch in length and is smooth with a waxy texture.

They come in a wide variety of colors such as:

  • Cream

  • Fawn

  • Apricot

  • Lilac

  • Blue

  • Black

  • Sable

  • Red

When it comes to their coat, this breed requires minimal maintenance. However, due to the folds or wrinkles on their skin, it is recommended that owners brush their coats at least once a week.

Bathing at least once a week is also recommended to prevent debris from accumulating in the folds or to prevent infection. Make sure to check their folds regularly for skin disease if you can’t bathe your dog.

See Also: How to Bathe a Dog Correctly

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Miniature Shar Pei puppies

Children, pets, and Mini Peis that grow up together in the same household have good relationships with each other. Mini Peis are playful by nature and are devoted pets.

However, they need to be socialized and trained not to be aggressive towards other pets and animals, particularly dogs of the same sex. While not aggressive by nature, Mini Peis are born leaders and like to dominate other animals and kids (and sometimes their masters). Proper training and early socialization should help curb these natural tendencies.

Since they are wary of strangers, this breed makes a good guard dog. They will alert you if a stranger is at your door.

Wrap Up

Miniature Shar Pei sitting on blanket

Like all dogs, the Mini Pei has the potential to be a great family member, companion, and pet. They are loyal, devoted, playful and make good guard dogs. Their smartness and independent nature might be intimidating to some people, but this also means that they are highly trainable.

The Mini Pei is a good choice for people who live in apartments or small homes because they seldom bark and don’t require a lot of space. However, they do need a lot of exercises even though they are not an athletic breed.

If you want a dog that seldom barks, is sturdily built, is medium-sized, is naturally clean and easy to housebreak, likes long walks, and is loyal to their family, the Mini Pei is a good choice for you.

What do you think of the Mini Pei’s temperament and characteristics? Do you think that the Mini Pei is a good match for your family or lifestyle? Tell us by leaving your comments below. Check out our list of exotic dog names if you will be adopting an exotic Miniature Shar-Pei.

About the author
Anna Smith
Anna Smith

Anna Smith resides in beautiful Santa Monica, CA, where she works as a Pet Nutrition Expert in a leading retail pet store. She is responsible for nutritional strategies for different breeds and development of new products on the market in compliance with Association of American Feed Control Officials. Anna's passions are education about proven methods and best practices in the industry and her dog Max, who is always well-fed.

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