Looking into the adorable, wrinkly face of your shar-pei pup, ending up with an aggressive shar-pei adult is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Yet your pup comes from a long line of fierce warriors and hunting dogs who had to be aggressive to do their jobs.
The Chinese shar-pei breed has ancient origins dating back over 2,000 years. Employed for hunting, fighting and even accompanying their humans into battle, shar-peis were bred to be independent, fierce and tenacious. Shar-peis are midsize dogs, but they're solidly built and strong canines who still carry the instincts to protect their people and their property.
Your shar-pei is smart and devoted and will most likely grow into a one-person dog if he hasn't already singled out one member of the family to be his own. Shar-peis can be opinionated—maybe that's why it's called being "dogmatic"—and that is where aggression issues can start. He's stubborn and standoffish, and a shar-pei's independent personality or his suspicion of strangers can be interpreted as aggression.
Socialize, Socialize, Socialize
Modern day shar-peis don't require such intense and severe characteristics as their working ancestors, so growing up shar-pei doesn't have to result in an aggressive pooch. Properly socializing your shar-pei will make all the difference and the earlier you start the better. Carefully introduce him to new people, places and animals of different species. Showing him that people and animals he doesn't know aren't a threat will put him at ease in unfamiliar situations and make him a friendlier dog in general.
Rehabbing an Aggressive Shar-Pei
If your shar-pei is already showing aggressive tendencies, you don't have to simply accept his behavior and try to live with it. Since they're working dogs, shar-peis get fulfillment from doing a job. Sometimes simple obedience training will provide them with something useful to do. You can take it a step further, though, and give your wrinkled buddy an actual job like bringing in the mail or the newspaper or helping you carry laundry items to the laundry room. Reduce the chances of getting into a war of wills with him by making small changes around the house like putting the garbage can behind a closed door or stowing his toys away when it isn't playtime. Consistently reward him when he remains calm, especially in a situation that would typically stimulate aggressive behavior, such as going to the vet or meeting a stranger. Ensuring he has plenty of exercise will help too. Just 20 or 30 minutes of running each day will burn off the energy that might otherwise be expressed as aggressive behavior.
- DogChannel.com: Chinese Shar-Pei
- DogChannel.com: How to Help an Aggressive Dog
- Shar-Pei: Everything about Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Behavior, and Training; Tanya B. Ditto
- Good Dog, Bad Dog, New and Revised: Dog Training Made Easy; Mordecai Siegal and Matthew Margolis
- Aggressive Behavior in Dogs; James O'Heare
- American Kennel Club: Chinese Shar-Pei
- George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images