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Chinese Shar-Pei

The Shar-Pei is one of America's most popular and beloved Chinese imports.

Chinese Shar-Pei Breed Photo

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Working Dogs
Height
Weight
Life Span
8 to 12 years

Breed Characteristics

  • Details

    Adaptability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Trainability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Health & Grooming

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    All-around friendliness

    based on 4 ratings
  • Details

    Exercise needs

    based on 4 ratings
  • See All Characteristic Ratings


Summary

Though the Chinese Shar-Pei is the 134th breed recognized by the American Kennel Club, the dog breed has been around for hundreds of years. He was developed to guard, hunt, herd, and later, fight, and is known for his characteristic short, bristly coat, loose, wrinkled skin, and devotion to his family. Today, the Shar-Pei mostly enjoys life as a beloved companion.

Additional articles you will be interested in:

Adoption
Dog Names
Bringing Home Your Dog
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Housetraining Puppies
Feeding a Puppy
Dog games
Teaching your dog tricks
How to take pictures of your dog

  • Overview

    His name means "sand skin," referring to his distinct, bristle-like coat. But that's not the only thing unusual about the Chinese Shar-Pei. He's a solid mass of loose wrinkles — folds of skin that make him look like he's wearing a bulky, oversized suit. His tiny ears sit atop a large, powerful head with a short muzzle and purple tongue. The finishing touch is a thick, round tail that curls over his back.

    To be sure, the Shar-Pei is an interesting-looking dog, and his looks alone are enough to prompt many would-be owners to choose this breed. But there's more to the Shar-Pei than his unique appearance.

    This breed is calm enough that he can live in an apartment. He's also an independent-thinking, sometimes aloof dog. His heritage as a guardian and fighting dog make him an excellent watchdog and guard dog — so much so that he must be taught not to overreact to people and animals he doesn't know.

    Early training
    is essential for the strong-willed Shar-Pei. He needs an owner who is able to establish leadership firmly and kindly, and he tends not to respect the owner who doesn't do so. He's a quick study, so training is generally easy as long as he's not showing his stubborn streak.

    Grooming is a cinch with the Shar-Pei. He's a naturally clean dog and frequent bathing isn't necessary or recommended. With all those wrinkles, however, he can be prone to skin problems so extra attention and care may be needed in that area.

    The Shar-Pei isn't as popular as he used to be, which is actually good for the breed. Increased popularity leads to increased breeding, especially by unscrupulous breeders who breed with no regard for health, temperament, and conformation. Unfortunately, that's what happened to the Shar-Pei in the 1980s. Responsible breeders have been working to regain the breeds' loyal, loving temperament, and to diminish or eliminate health problems.

  • Highlights

    • The Shar-Pei was once a guard dog and pit fighter. Today he is primarily a companion, though he retains fighting toughness. He can be aggressive toward other dogs or people, so it's imperative that he be socialized and trained from an early age.
    • Due to his short nose, the Shar-Pei is prone to overheating. Keep him inside with fans or air conditioning during hot summer months. Like other short-nosed breeds, he tends to snore and wheeze, and makes a terrible jogger.
    • Like the Chow, the Shar-Pei has a dark tongue. This is considered normal, even desirable, by dog show enthusiasts.
    • Frequent bathing isn't necessary for the Shar-Pei, but when you do bathe him, dry him thoroughly. The wrinkles and skin folds are an ideal breeding ground for fungal infections.
    • Though devoted to his family, the Shar-Pei can be willful and stubborn. He must learn right away who the pack leader is or he's likely to compete for the job.
    • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
  • History

    The Chinese Shar-Pei originated in the southern provinces of China where he was valued as a hunter, herder, guardian, and fighter. Some historians believe the Shar-Pei is an ancient breed, though there is no definitive evidence to prove this. Statues that look a lot like the Shar-Pei have been dated to the Han Dynasty (200 B.C.), though these statues also resemble the Chow and Pug.

    Following the creation of the People's Republic of China, the dog population in the country was practically wiped out. A few Shar-Peis, however, were bred in Hong Kong and Taiwan. If not for the efforts of one man, Matgo Law, of Down-Homes Kennels in Hong Kong, the Shar-Pei might be extinct.

    Thanks to him, a small number of Shar-Peis were brought to the United States in 1973 and breed fanciers formed the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, Inc., in 1974. The first National Specialty show was held in 1978. The Shar-Pei was accepted in the American Kennel Club Miscellaneous Class in 1988, and recognized by the AKC in 1991 as a member of the Non-Sporting Group.

  • Size

    Males and females stand 18 to 20 inches tall and weigh 40 to 55 pounds.

  • Personality

    The Shar-Pei is an alert and independent dog. He is extremely devoted to his family, but aloof with people he doesn't know. He is said to enjoy the companionship of people more than dogs, and he likes to be with his owner all the time. A calm and confident dog, he seems to develop an intuitive understanding of his owner or family.

    As devoted as he is, the Shar-Pei is also independent and strong willed. He is protective of his family — making for an excellent guard dog — and will respond to threats. Because he once was used as a pit-fighting dog, he can be aggressive toward other canines.

    Like every dog, the Shar-Pei needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences. Socialization helps ensure that your Shar-Pei puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

    Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

  • Health

    Shar-Peis are prone to certain health conditions, especially skin conditions. Not all Shar-Peis will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    • Shar-Pei Fever: Also known as swollen hock syndrome, this condition manifests in the swelling of the hock joint (sometimes both joints), and results in reluctance to move, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and shallow breathing. Dogs have one or more bouts of unexplained fever with temperatures as high as 103 to 107 degrees. The condition usually starts at 18 months, but can appear when the dog is an adult. The fever lasts 24 to 36 hours, and treatment includes reducing fever and pain.
    • Hypothyroidism: This is a disorder of the thyroid gland. It's thought to be responsible for conditions such as epilepsy, alopecia (hair loss), obesity, lethargy, hyperpigmentation, pyoderma ,and other skin conditions. It is treated with medication and diet.
    • Cancer: Symptoms include abnormal swelling of a sore or bump, sores that do not heal, bleeding from any body opening, and difficulty with breathing or elimination. Treatments for cancer include chemotherapy, surgery, and medications.
    • Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, is also a degenerative disease. It's believed to be caused by abnormal growth and development, which results in a malformed and weakned joint. The disease varies in severity: the dog could simpy develop arthritis, or he could become lame. Treatment includes surgery, weight management, medical management, and anti-inflammatory medication.
    • Demodectic Mange: Also known as demodicosis, this is caused by the demodex mite, which a mother dog passes to her pups in their first few days of life. (The mite can't be passed to humans or to other dogs; only by mother to pups.) Demodex mites live in hair follicles and usually don't cause problems, but if your Shar-Pei has a weakened or compromised immune system, he can develop demodectic mange. In its localized form, patches of red, scaly, balding skin appear on the head, neck and forelegs. It often clears up on its own, but even so, you should take your dog to the vet to prevent it from turning into the generalized form of demodectic mange, which covers the entire body and causes infection.
    • Seborrhea: This is a condition characterized by flaky skin and a rancid odor. It is usually a secondary condition to allergy, infection, or other disease. Treatment includes bathing in medicated shampoo and treating the underlying disease.
    • Pyoderma: Another skin condition, this is a bacterial infection of the skin, and is fairly common in the Shar-Pei. It can be a primary or secondary infection; the latter results from an underlying condition such as allergy or hypothyroidism. Pyoderma is treated with antibiotics.
    • Patellar Luxation: Also known as slipped stifles, this is a common problem in small dogs. The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, although many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
    • Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don't display outward signs of discomfort. (X-ray screening is the most certain way to diagnose the problem.) Either way, arthritis can develop as the dog ages. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
    • Gastric Torsion: Also called bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that can affect large, deep-chested dogs. This is especially true if they are fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, drink large volumes of water after eating, and exercise vigorously after eating. Bloat is more common among older dogs. GDV occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists (torsion). The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid himself of the excess air in the stomach, and the normal return of blood to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die. Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen and is salivating excessively and retching without throwing up. He also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak, with a rapid heart rate. It's important to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible if you see these signs.
    • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD): This orthopedic condition, caused by improper growth of cartilage in the joints, usually occurs in the elbows, but it has been seen in the shoulders as well. It causes a painful stiffening of the joint, to the point that the dog is unable to bend his elbow. It can be detected in dogs as early as four to nine months of age. Overfeeding of "growth formula" puppy foods or high-protein foods may contribute to its development.
    • Cutaneous Mucinosis: Mucin is the substance in the skin that causes wrinkling. Clear and stringy, it acts like glue when a dog is wounded. Some Shar-Peis have an excess of mucin, however, which causes it to form clear bubbles on the skin that may rupture and ooze. It may be associated with allergies and is treated with steroid therapy.
    • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is defined by an increased pressure in the eye, and can be found in two forms: primary, which is hereditary, and secondary, which is caused by decreased fluid in the eye due to other eye diseases. Symptoms include vision loss and pain, and treatment and prognosis vary depending on the type. Glaucoma is treated surgically or with eye drops.
    • Entropion: This is the inward rolling of the eyelid, usually the lower one, and found in both eyes. It causes vision loss and irritation, and generally occurs before a dog turns a year old. Corrective surgery when the dog reaches adulthood is an effective treatment.

    If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In Shar-Peis, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

  • Care

    The Shar-Pei lives comfortably in the city or country. He does well in a limited space, such as an apartment or condo, as long as he gets daily exercise. A backyard is not required, but he does appreciate getting out and stretching his legs. In general, the Shar-Pei is fairly happy just hanging out with his owner, wherever he may be.

    Begin training and socializing your Sharpei the day you bring him home, and commit to continuing the process all his life. He'll need the constant reinforcement since he's not naturally friendly to other dogs. He can also be stubborn and owners must be consistent and firm in order to establish leadership. He is generally eager to please, though, and responsive to training.

    The best kind of socialization exercise is to take your Shar-Pei with you everywhere — to puppy classes, outdoor events, busy parks, friends' homes — and as often as possible. This will help prevent him from becoming overly shy or overprotective. Since this breed can be aggressive toward other dogs, the Shar-Pei should be kept leashed in public.

    The Shar-Pei is classified as a short-nosed, or brachycephalic breed, similar to the Bulldog, Boxer, Pug. Their short noses make them highly sensitive to heat, which means they make lousy jogging companions. To prevent heat stroke, these dogs should be kept inside with fans or air conditioning in hot weather.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1.5 to 2.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

    NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    For more on feeding your Shar-Pei, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    A quintessential Shar-Pei characteristic second only to his wrinkles is his bristly coat. It stands straight up, like a 1950s butch-style hairdo, and varies in length, from a really short "horse" coat to a longer "brush" coat. You can find it in many colors, including solid black, cream, fawn, red, sable, and blue. He sheds minimally.

    While the Shar-Pei is a naturally clean dog with very little odor, he needs only a little grooming to keep him looking good. A thorough brushing once a week with a rubber curry or grooming mitt is sufficient to remove dead hair and dirt. He doesn't need to be bathed a lot, about every 12 weeks if he hasn't been rolling in the mud. Frequent baths tend to irritate his skin.

    Brushing and bathing are the easy parts of grooming the Shar-Pei. The difficult, but essential, part is getting him dry after a bath. If you don't dry the folds and wrinkles completely, you can expect a yeast or fungal infection. Wipe thoroughly between the folds with a dry towel to eliminate all moisture.

    Brush your Shar-Pei's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

    Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

    His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections.

    Be especially careful with the Shar-Pei's ears: the canals are small and are prone to irritation and infection. Do not use a swab to clean the ears and take care not to get water in them when bathing. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

    Begin getting your Shar-Pei used to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children and other pets

    The Shar-Pei is a devoted family dog who is protective of his family, including children. To best teach him to get along with kids, he should be raised with them; if he doesn't live with them, he should be exposed to children as he grows up. Because he is such an independent breed, he's best suited to families with children 10 and older who know how to treat a pet respectfully.

    As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    In order to provide the best chances for getting along with other dogs and animals, the Shar-Pei should be raised with them from an early age. Since he tends to be aggressive with other canines, supervision is essential.

  • Rescue Groups

    Shar-Peis are often acquired without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Shar-Peis in need of adoption and or fostering, so consider contacting a rescue group before going to a breeder.

  • Breed Organizations

    Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the Chinese Shar-Pei.

  • All Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability

    Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments

  • Trainability

    Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed

  • Health & Grooming

    Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home

  • All-around friendliness

    Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans

  • Exercise needs

    Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity

  • Usually

    Adapt well to apartment living

    Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

  • Not particularly

    Affectionate with family

    Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

  • Minimal

    Amount of shedding

    If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

  • Rarely

    Dog friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

  • Very low

    Drooling potential

    Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.

  • Not at all

    Easy to groom

    Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

  • Somewhat

    Easy to train

    Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

  • Low

    Energy level

    High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

  • Low

    Exercise needs

    Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

  • Not usually

    Friendly toward strangers

    Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

  • Not particularly good

    General health

    Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

  • Not usually

    Good for novice owners

    Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

  • Below average

    Intelligence

    Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

  • Very low

    Intensity

    A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

  • Not usually

    Kid friendly

    Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

    **All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

  • Very low

    Potential for mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

  • Very low

    Potential for playfulness

    Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

  • High

    Potential for weight gain

    Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

  • Low

    Prey drive

    Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

  • Low

    Sensitivity level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

  • Medium

    Size

    Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.

  • Very low

    Tendency to bark or howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

  • Somewhat well

    Tolerates being alone

    Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

  • Poorly

    Tolerates cold weather

    Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

  • Very poorly

    Tolerates hot weather

    Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

  • Low

    Wanderlust potential

    Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

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