Breed Standard (c)
Every breed which is shown has a written breed standard. This is used by breeders to ensure that all Shar-Pei look like Shar-Pei and not boxers. It also ensures that all judges have the same information. The Australian standard is based on the UK and was updated in 2001.
A Summary ( without being too technical) of the Australian Standard follows. This is what you should look for in Shar-Pei.
Appearance: Alert, active, compact and "square" (ie height to shoulder = length of body).
Characteristics: Loose skin, frowning expression (the "warrior frown"), harsh bristly coat.
Temperament: Calm, independent, very affectionate and devoted to people (primarily their owners). (They can get excited when the "boss" comes home.)
Head and Skull: The Shar-Pei is classed as a "head breed", which means that the head should be prominent and rather large in proportion to the body. Put simply they should have a "hippopotamous" type look, with a broad full muzzle.
Eyes: Dark, medium size, but lighter permissible in paler coats. Free from entropeon and eye irritation.
Ears: Very small, rather thick, equilaterally triangular in shape, slightly rounded at tip and set high with tips pointing towards eyes. Pricked (erect) ears highly undesirable.
Mouth: Tongue and inside mouth preferably bluish-black. Shar-Pei with lighter pigment and eyes (eg Chocolate coat with chocolate nose) can have a lavender tounge. Solid pink tongue undesirable. Teeth strong with scissor bite. Padding of lower lip should not interfere with bite (usually called "tight lip" if it does).
Neck: Medium length, strong, full; set well on shoulders, with loose skin under neck.
Forequarters: Shoulders muscular, well laid and sloping. Elbows close to the body. Forelegs straight,moderate length, good bone; pasterns (bottom section) slightly sloping, strong and flexible.
Body: Shar-Pei should be " square" as noted above. Depth of brisket (breast bone) half of height at withers ("shoulders"). Chest broad and deep, underline rising slightly under loin. Back short, strong. Topline dips slightly behind withers then rises over short, broad loin. Adult Shar-Pei should display moderate wrinkling over shoulders and base of tail. Excessive skin on body when mature highly undesirable. (There has been a trend, especially in the USA, to very heavy wrinkling which may cause problems, and the intention is to control this.)
Hindquarters: Muscular, strong; moderately angulated; hocks well let down without excessive wrinkling or thickening.
Feet: Moderate size, compact, toes well knuckled. Fore and hind dewclaws may be removed.
Tail: Rounded, narrowing to a fine point, base set very high. May be carried high and curved; carried in tight curl; or curved over. Lack of ,or incomplete, tail highly undersirable.
Gait/Movement: Free, vigorous and balanced, rear single tracking is normal at a fast trot. Stilted ("not stretching") gait undesirable.
( The USA Shar-Pei standard asks for the feet to converge on a centre point of gravity, which is what "stilted" is trying to convey in one word. The movement looks much better when this occurs.)
Coat: Extremely harsh coat, straight and off-standing on the body but flatter on the limbs. Shar-Pei should have no undercoat. Length varies from short and bristly, under 1.25cm or longer and thicker between 1.25cm and 2.5cm, but still off-standing and harsh. N.B. No coat length within the range should be preferred. Never trimmed. (You may hear reference to "mid-coat", which is about the 1.25cm length. This is a descriptive term, and not noted in the Standard. It is acceptable and does have a slightly different look. Excessive length of coat is called a "Bear Coat" and can not be shown, being a fault.)
Colour: All solid colours except white are acceptable. Frequently shaded on tail and back of thighs with lighter colour. [In many cases the colour is darker on the centreline and lighter on the sides- this is not regarded as a fault. Often mature black Shar-Pei will look "faded" when a Horse Coat (short) but is not so common in Brush Coats (longer)]
Size: Height 46-51cm at withers. (There is no such recognized breed as a "Mini Shar-Pei" or a "Royal Mini Shar-Pei". An attempt to register a "mini" breed in the USA failed. The "royal" version apparantly originated in Hong Kong)
(based on the Australian Standard, and slightly abbreviated with explanatory notes )