Wrinkly skin with a blue tongue, the Shar-Pei is a unique breed whose Chinese name translates to “sand skin.” Three types of coats are included in the breed standard, a horse coat, bear coat, or brush coat. All three coats are considered short and smooth, but the bear coat is the longest. Although the American Kennel Club only recognizes 18 colors for Shar Peis, 20 are possible and are frequently included by other kennel clubs such as the United Kennel Club. Here’s the full list, as well as a description of what they look like.
Overview of Shar-Pei Coat Colors
The Shar-Pei’s coats of many colors can be tedious to sort through, especially since so many are similar to each other. Here’s a chart to help you spot the differences:
|Five Point Red||No||No||Yes|
*These colors aren’t recognized by the American Kennel Club standard, but they do still exist.
The 20 Shar-Pei Coat Colors Explained
The United Kennel Club recognizes the white Shar-Pei, but the American Kennel Club does not. That doesn’t stop us from admiring their snow-white coats, however. Unfortunately, solid white dogs are often deaf or blind, so breeding them isn’t recommended. If you find a rescue, consider yourself lucky.
Similar to white but with honey hues, the adorable cream Shar-Pei is included in the AKC standard. Often their extremities such as their ears take on a hue that may be closer to blonde than a neutral color.
One of the most common coat colors, a solid black Shar-Pei looks sharp indeed. The dark hues show off their adorable wrinkled skin, and their rough fur can take on a velvety texture.
Blue is often used as another word for gray in the canine world, especially if the dog has lighter hues that give them a cool appearance. A Blue Shar-Pei’s fur has darker, charcoal colored extremities, compared to the uniform Blue Dilute who doesn’t have color variations.
5. Apricot Dilute
These dogs are cute as a peach. An apricot dilute Shar-Pei is lighter than red and darker than cream. They usually have a pink nose.
Like a cup of coffee with a generous dose of creamer, the brown Shar-Pei is lighter than chocolate but darker than cream. Markings around their face are often on the chocolate side.
Light tan with a hint of red characterizes the fawn Shar-Pei. Although they’re very similar to the red fawn coat color, a true fawn Shar-Pei will have a slightly lighter coat that takes on more of the tan than red.
Did you know that red is usually a rare color in the canine kingdom? Not so much for a Shar-Pei! In fact, red is wildly popular in this unique breed.
9. Red Fawn
Darker than fawn but lighter than red, the red fawn Shar-Pei often has darker pigmentation near their extremities and in between their standard rolls of skin.
10. Lilac Dilute
These truly beautiful dogs are the result of a mixture between the genes that give Shar-Peis either a chocolate or blue coat. This lilac variation takes on both of these colors, but with a “washed out” appearance. The resulting mix gives the Shar-Pei a hint of lavender. Lilac Shar-Peis may have a pink nose and paws, as opposed to the standard brown or black.
11. Black Sable
Similar to the standard German Shepherd, a black sable Shar-Pei has lighter fur with dark tips that may make them look black.
12. Blue Sable
These dogs may take on a charcoal color due to the black tips on their blue fur. This stunning variation isn’t included in the AKC breed standard, but it’s beautiful, nonetheless.
13. Brown Sable
Light brown fur with black ends characterizes the brown sable Shar-Pei. Unfortunately, you probably won’t see any of these dogs strutting around the show ring in the United States because the brown sable isn’t included in the AKC breed standard.
14. Fawn Sable
The fawn sable actually has three colors in its coat: red, tan, and black. They may also have darker fur around their face and paws.
15. Red Sable
Darker than a fawn sable, the red sable may also have patches of black fur on their face and paws.
16. Blue Dilute
The blue dilute Shar-Pei has consistently blue-gray fur with no darker pigmentation around their face and paws. This color makes the Shar-Pei look like a wrinkly Weimaraner and shows off their rolls in a soft shade of gray.
17. Cream Dilute
With a pale pink nose and light cream-colored fur, the cream dilute looks like a light pink rose on an early spring day.
18. Chocolate Dilute
This fun pup resembles an unwrapped milk chocolate bar with their soft brown color. Since they’re dilute, these dogs won’t have any darker pigmentation and will look fairly uniform.
19. Five-Point Red Dilute
This Shar-Pei possesses beautiful amber fur throughout their body with darker hues around their eyes, nose, paws, and tail. They’re much rarer than the popular red Shar-Pei.
20. Isabella Dilute
Another name for a dilute fawn Shar-Pai, the Isabella coat refers to a light tan color with pink or blue pigmentation around their nose and paws.
Is the Shar-Pei the Right Breed for You?
Like all dogs, the Shar-Pei breed is special beyond their appearance. The Chinese Shar-Pei usually weighs between 45 and 60 pounds and stands 18 to 20 inches high, which classifies them as a medium-sized dog. While they love their family, the Shar-Pei can be aloof or even aggressive towards strangers.
Since they were originally bred in China to be hunters, herders, and guard dogs, their cautious nature is understandable. However, it makes them unsuitable in certain environments where they may encounter many unfamiliar people and animals. Country living is best for the Shar-Pei. If you do live in the city, early socialization around humans and other dogs is a must.
The Shar-Pei has minimal grooming requirements. They need their ears cleaned once a week using a dog-friendly ear solution and require a bath only every month or so. However, they’re prone to an unusually large range of health disorders specifically affecting their eyes, skin, stomach, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems, as well as certain cancers. If you do decide a Shar-Pei is right for you, we recommend enrolling them early into a pet insurance policy that’ll cover accidents and long-term illnesses for life.
Of the 20 coat colors possible for the Shar-Pai, 18 are included in the AKC breed standard. This ancient dog’s versatile yet classic coat is one of the reasons they’re so popular. Currently, they’re ranked #68 out of the 284 currently recognized breeds, making them the direct competitors to the Great Pyrenees and Giant Schnauzer. In addition to their many coat colors, their personality also makes them a different breed than most. If you’re thinking about adopting one, make sure you research their behavior and health concerns before you commit.
Featured Image Credit: Cavan-Images, Shutterstock