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Is a Shar-Pei a Good Guard Dog? Breed Temperament & Facts

Kerry-Ann Kerr Profile Picture

By Kerry-Ann Kerr

Chinese Shar pei puppy portrait at garden

Some of the Shar-Pei’s history has been lost through the years, and the ancient Chinese breed has mysterious origins that we can’t quite pinpoint. However, we know a little about them; they were originally bred to hunt, herd, and guard livestock. So, it shouldn’t be too surprising that these remarkable canines make excellent guard dogs.

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A Brief History of the Shar-Pei

It’s believed the Chinese Shar-Pei came from the village of Tai Li in southeast Kwangtung (which is spelled Guangdong now) Province. To put it in perspective, they can roughly be traced back to 200 B.C., when statues were made that look remarkably like the Shar-Pei we are familiar with now.

It’s widely believed Shar-Pei could have been owned by farmers and peasants, where they were used to herd, hunt, and guard their livestock against predators and poachers. However, it’s also thought they were bred to guard the palace and royal family.

Eventually, Shar-Peis were used for dogfighting. Their tenacity and attitude make them great fighting dogs, and their loose skin makes it challenging for other dogs to get a grip on them and cause any injury.

shar pei dog lying on the floor
Photo Credit: Alika Obraz, Shutterstock

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What Makes a Dog a Good Guard Dog?

What makes one breed a more successful guard dog than another? Well, some have an instinct to protect their family and home. Guard dogs like the Shar-Pei are intelligent, fearless, and loyal. Below, we’ll look at how all of this translates into guard dog duties.


Shar-Peis are known for being independent and alert; they’re devoted to their families but are considered aloof with strangers. It’s thought they like humans more than other dogs and develop a deep understanding of their family and owner.

Their protective nature means they will respond to threats, and because of their background as a fighter, they can also be aggressive with other dogs.

They’re not excessive barkers, but Shar-Peis will take a step back to assess a situation before making a lot of noise about it.

Training and Socialization

Early socialization and training are essential for a Shar-Pei. While they are incredibly devoted to their humans, they are also strong-willed, making training tricky. Starting positive, reward-based training as early as possible will benefit your Shar-Pei. They will try and push the boundaries, which is why they’re best suited for experienced owners.

Early socialization will also ensure they are not wary of everyone they meet. Getting them used to new experiences, other dogs, and unfamiliar situations will ensure your Shar-Pei grows into a well-rounded, confident adult.

Cute Shar-Pei dog with owner at home
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot,Shutterstock

Family Life

When considering a guard dog, you want to ensure they will guard what you love most: your family. Shar-Peis make excellent family dogs, but they are better suited to families with older children. As an independent canine, a Shar-Pei prefers to be left alone, and a younger child might not understand that.

Shar-Peis also have an incredibly high prey drive, which can endanger smaller pets like cats and rodents. You will also have to grip tightly on the leash on walks if they catch sight of a small creature in the distance.

In all cases, whether an older child or another pet, introductions should be made gradually and under supervision. Just because Shar-Peis are known to get along with older kids doesn’t mean accidents can’t occur; all animals can be unpredictable. Always check in with your dog to ensure they feel comfortable and secure in an unfamiliar situation.


Final Thoughts

Shar-Peis are loyal, intelligent, protective, and calm, which are all the makings of an excellent guard dog. While we might not know everything about their origin, we know they have always made reliable guard dogs.

This independent thinker can be challenging to train, so they are best suited to a more experienced owner who can set clear boundaries that they will no doubt push against. Shar-Pies are devoted dogs who aren’t the type to snuggle with you on the sofa, but you will never doubt how much they love you.


Featured Image Credit: Waldemar Dabrowski,Shutterstock

Kerry-Ann Kerr Profile Picture

Authored by

Kerry-Ann lives in Scotland and wishes her garden was bigger so she could have her very own Highland cow but thinks her dogs probably wouldn’t like that idea very much. She has a La Chon called Harry who was poorly with a liver shunt when he was a puppy. It wasn't likely he would make it into adulthood, which was difficult to comprehend, but he beat the odds and is a healthy old man now. She also has a Pug called Maddie...Read more

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