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Shepherd Pei: The German Shepherd Shar-Pei Mix - PawSafe

Shepherd Pei: The German Shepherd Shar-Pei Mix

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Shepherd Pei

The German Shar-Pei, also called the Shepherd Pei, is a German Shepherd Dog mixed with a Chinese Shar-Pei. This Shar-Pei and German Shepherd mix is a courageous, confident, and loyal companion, but his watchful instincts mean he may need an experienced owner to shape him into the ideal pet as he grows.

If you think this rare and unique mix is the dog for you, make sure to do your research and read everything there is to know about this big bundle of love.

What Is the Origin and History of the Shar-Pei German Shepherd Mix?

The Chinese Shar-Pei German Shepherd mix is an unusual and rare designer dog. Not much is known about it since most existing examples are F1, meaning they are the first generation of designer dogs bred from Shar-Pei and German Shepherd parents.

F2 dogs — a dog born from two F1 parents — and F3 dogs — a dog born from two F2 parents — are generally more predictable as they have had several generations to build up a bit of history.

With only first-generation F1 German Shar-Peis to work with, it’s best to understand the parent breeds’ history to understand this exciting mix.

The Origins of the German Shepherd

Compared to many European breeds like the Poodle or Dalmatian, the German Shepherd is relatively new.

Descended from a widespread herding dog, one of many genetically similar dogs kept to herd and protect livestock in Germany.

As Europe became more industrialized, the need for herding dogs decreased. 

Luckily, enthusiast Max von Stephanitz recognized these canines’ intelligence and versatility and took it upon himself to use them to create the perfect working dog.

Within decades, the German Shepherd became one of the most popular and versatile breeds, a tradition that has continued till today. It serves as a guard dog, companion, service dog, and famously in both the military and the police.

The Origins of the Shar-Pei

The Chinese Shar-Pei is a much older breed than the German Shepherd, possibly dating as far back as 200 B.C during the Han dynasty.

The early Shar-Pei was a general working dog mostly kept on farms as a guard dog. Its dark purple-blue tongue, which it shares with the Chow Chow, was believed to ward off evil spirits.

Unfortunately, it was also used for dog-fighting, with its loose skin making it hard for its opponent to grab hold of its vital tissues.

During the 1950s, the breed was nearly eliminated by the Communist Party, who saw dogs as a sign of imperial decadence, and only a handful remained in rural areas.

Thankfully, a breeder from Hong Kong, Matgo Law, managed to drum up enough interest in the West to save the dog from extinction.

Today, they are mostly kept as companions and show dogs, with their guarding instinct making them ideal watchdogs around the house.

What are the Physical Features of a Shar-Pei German Shepherd Mix?
Height18 – 26 inches
Weight40 – 80 Pounds
Lifespan9-14 year
Colorred, fawn, tan, cream, black, sand, red, sable, or silver. Possibly with a black mask and saddle.
NoseBlack or brown
EyesHazel or dark brown

How big will a Shar-Pei German Shepherd Mix get?

The Shar-Pei German Shepherd mix should be a stout, powerful dog that falls into the medium to large bracket. It can stand between 18 and 26 inches high and weigh about 60 pounds on average.


A German Shepherd Shar-Pei mix is often tan, but it can be any color typically seen on either parent breed. This means it can also be black, sable, cream, red, silver, or blue.

It may also have a black mask and saddle on its back.


The Shar-Pei German Shepherd crossbreed will most likely have a short-coat unless it inherits a longer one from the long-haired German Shepherd parent.

A Shar-pei may have a horse, brush, or bear coat.  The horse coat is extremely short and coarse and is probably the origin of the name Shar-Pei, which translates into “sand skin.”  This coat type is so abrasive; it can cause a rash within minutes of touching it.

Although the brush and bear coats are a bit longer and softer, it should be noted that any offspring of a Shar-Pei, like the German Shar-Pei, will certainly not be a hypoallergenic breed.

Other Physical Features Expected in a German Shar-Pei

The German Shar-pei should have deep brown or hazel eyes and either the German Shepherd’s pointy ears or the neat, folded rectangular ears of the Shar-Pei.

They might look a lot like a GSD, but they often have thicker snouts. 

These broad, short noses can make them more prone to heatstroke, so always keep them cool and hydrated

They will probably be sturdy, square dogs and if their face is wrinkly, it’s unlikely to be as extreme as the Shar-Pei’s.

General Care for Shar-Pei German Shepherd Mix
SheddingMedium shedding but may “blow out” when the seasons change.
ExerciseUsually a low to medium energy level dog.  May have higher energy individual
30-120 minutes on exercise depending on individual
HousingCould adapt to an apartment with frequent walks and stimulation
TemperamentLikely to love and be devoted to owners. May be stubborn with a strong guarding instinct. Might be mistrustful of strangers
TrainabilityModerately trainable. It might need expert handling. Intelligent but possibly stubborn.


The German Shar-Pei will probably be a medium energy dog, but it may inherit a robust working drive from its GSD parent, so it’s best to be prepared for the possibility of a high-energy dog.


A Shar-Pei is one of the few dogs suitable for an apartment due to its low exercise requirements and calm nature. However, a Shar-Pei German Shepherd mix may inherit its GSD parent’s more active personality, which will mean that it will require much more space to run.

Food & Diet Requirements

Consult your vet about the best diet for your German Shar-Pei. It may need specially formulated food if it has trouble with allergies or extra joint support while it is growing.

Many owners prefer a raw food diet. If you select this option, be sure to research the diet properly to ensure your pup gets the variety of nutrients it needs.


Your German Shepherd Shar-Pei mix will likely only need a good brush once or twice a week. If it inherits a thicker undercoat or a longer coat from the German Shepherd, it may need extra grooming during its seasonal “blow out.”

If your German Shar-Pei does have a wrinkly face, make sure to clean and dry within the skin folds to prevent skin problems.

Nails should be trimmed regularly, and ears should be cleaned to prevent ear infections. Speak to your vet about the best method of doing this as well as safe dental health products.

The Health of a Shar-Pei German Shepherd Mix


Your Shar-Pei German Shepherd mix’s exercise requirements could fall anywhere between what is usual for the Shar-Pei and what is typical for the German Shepherd.

In general, the Shar-Pei does not need excessive exercise. Between thirty minutes and an hour a day of moderate exercise should be enough.

On the other hand, a German Shepherd usually needs two hours of moderate to high-intensity exercise.

Exercise can include a walk or run in a comfortable harness, a trained sport such as agility, or playtime such as fetch.

Your German Shar-Pei should also be kept stimulated with training and toys to avoid a bored and frustrated dog. Watch your puppy as he grows up and determine his exercise requirements according to how much energy he seems to have.

If he is still zooming around the house after a 30-minute walk, you may need to step it up, but if he comes home and takes a nap, then that’s your indication that’s all he needs.

Severe Health ProblemsHip and elbow dysplasia
Cancer (mainly, but not limited to; renal cystadenocarcinoma, nodular dermatofibrosis, osteosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma)
Gastric Torsion or Bloat
Familial Shar-pei Fever
Patellar Luxation
Degenerative myelopathy
Osteochondritis dissecans
Mild to Moderate Health problemsEar infections
Demodectic mange
Entropion and Ectropion
Short-coated dog pyoderma
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
Digestive issues
Occasional Health ProblemsDental problems
Skinfold infection
Heart issues (including murmurs or atrial deformities)

Arguably, a German Shar-pei should inherit fewer genetic diseases as a mixed breed. But this is not always the case.

For instance, German Shepherds are less prone to amyloidosis, a disease where abnormally folded proteins replace normal cells in the organs, than Shar-Peis are. Likewise, Shar-Peis are given to Shar-Pei fever, where the dog’s joints may swell and its temperature spike periodically.

Conversely, German Shepherds are more prone to cancer and rare cancer syndromes such as renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis, which involve kidney tumors and skin nodules. A parent German Shepherd who carries this gene can still pass it on to its progeny even if they are crossbreeds.

This means that any Shar-pei German Shepherd mix is at risk for some of these potential genetic landmines, especially if both parents happen to carry the gene for the same disease.

Other health concerns for German Shepherds include degenerative myelopathy, resulting in paralysis of the back legs, and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, where the pancreas does not produce enough enzymes to help digestion.

For this reason, it is essential to ensure your designer dog comes from a reputable breeder who screens breeding dogs for genetic disorders such as hip and elbow dysplasia as well as patellar luxation, which is a common problem in Shar-Peis. 

DNA testing can also ensure dogs with problematic genes aren’t bred and give you a head’s up if anything is lurking in your German Shar-Pei’s gene pool.

Multiple other problems may plague your German Shar-Pei. Its short coat and possible wrinkles may cause infections between the toes called pododermatitis, and skin infections called pyoderma or other conditions between the skin’s folds.

There are also issues such as osteochondritis dissecans, where the diseased cartilage loosens from the bone, which sometimes affects large dog breeds.

Folded ears may also make the dog prone to ear infections, while wrinkly skin can cause eye problems such as entropion. Further issues to watch out for include bloat, heart problems, glaucoma or retinal dysplasia, allergies, and demodectic mange.

How Long Do German Shar-Peis Live?

You can expect your German Shepherd Shar-Pei mix to live between 9 and 14 years.

The Trainability of a Shar-Pei German Shepherd Mix

The German Shar-Pei should be moderately to highly trainable, though it may have a stubborn and independent streak and dislike too much repetition in its training.

Therefore, it’s essential to keep training sessions short and positive by rewarding them often. Try not to discourage your dog by asking for too much too soon.

Temperament & Intelligence

The Shar-Pei German Shepherd mix is likely to be a confident, devoted, and loyal family member, possibly latching onto one person as a favorite

They may be remarkably intelligent, but they are also likely to be independent and occasionally willful and need consistent boundaries and training.

Is a Shar-Pei German Shepherd Mix Aggressive?

Both Shar-Peis and German Shepherds are known to be aloof with strangers and to possess strong guarding instincts. In a mix of these two breeds, aggression is possible, although it is unlikely to be aggressive with its own family.

Make sure your pup is adequately socialized and trained from a young age and avoid unnecessary risks.

Sociability with Other Pets

With the Shar-Pei’s sad history as a fighting dog, the possibility exists that your German Shar-Pei may be aggressive with other animals, particularly other dogs.

For this reason, the parents of your German Shar-Pei should be tested for any temperament problems they may pass on to their puppies.

This may not be the right dog for a home with many other animals, particularly other dogs of the same gender.

Again, socializing your puppy from an early age can help reduce the risk of dog aggression. If in doubt, call a behaviorist or professional trainer for help.

Suitable Home

A Shar-Pei German Shepherd mix will do best in an experienced home. They can do well with children but may need supervision due to their size and protective instincts.

What is a Good German Shepherd Mix?

Deciding on a German Shepherd cross depends entirely on your aims for the offspring and if the other breed will help deliver the desired characteristics.

Since watchfulness and guarding instinct are both traits shared by the Shar-Pei and the German Shepherd, their offspring will likely make decent guard dogs.

However, mixing a GSD with a friendlier dog, like the Golden Retriever, and creating the Golden Shepherd, will probably make a more welcoming dog that is easier to handle.

In the same vein, mixing a German Shepherd with another high-energy working dog like the Belgian Malinois creates offspring who need loads of stimulation and will do best with a job, such as protection or service work.

Are Shar-Pei Mixes Good Dogs?

Shar-Pei mixes are generally loyal and devoted dogs with the right owner, typically becoming extremely attached to a single person and sometimes willfully ignoring other family members.

However, the Shar-Pei’s stubborn streak and the tendency toward aggression and dominance might make any Shar-Pei mix puppy the wrong choice for new or inexperienced owners.

Raising Shar-Pei German Shepherd Mix Puppy

As a potentially large dog, the German Shar-Pei should be given firm boundaries and discipline from a young age. Start potty-training from the moment your pup comes home and set about positive training and socialization as soon as possible.

Despite their stubborn streaks, Shar-Pei’s can be extremely sensitive to their owners, and their offspring will need a lot of positive reinforcement rather than punishment. In essence, always be firm but kind.

As with any large puppy, special care should be taken to prevent stressing their joints as they grow, and exercise should be monitored.

What’s the Price of a Shar-Pei German Shepherd Mix?

The German Shar-Pei is a rare and unique designer dog that has not been widely established, and so exact prices are hard to pinpoint. In general, German Shepherd mixes tend to go upward of $ 450, with some of the more popular crosses, such as the German Shepherd Husky mix, reaching prices as high as $ 2000.

In short, the German Shar-Pei will make a devoted family dog or a good pet for a single person. They should be relatively low maintenance in terms of exercise and grooming requirements but should be socialized from a young age to avoid aggression issues. If you have any experience with this unique designer doggie, please leave a comment or picture below, as we would love to hear from you.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.