The Shar pei is one of the most unique looking, easily recognizable dogs out there. Overall, the breed is medium-sized, compact and sturdy. Shar Pei are wrinkly dogs with short , rough fur. In fact, the fur has such a rough, harsh texture that the name Shar Pei translates as "sand skin". The coat can be a variety of solid colors (except white) and there may be areas that are shaded a little darker or lighter but still fall within the same color; for example, the Shar pei may have a tan coat with a light tan shading along the back but a tan Shar pei will not have white, black or any other color markings. The fur stands straight like bristles off the main body but lays close on the legs. You may hear it referred to as "horse coat" or "brush coat" which refers to the length-- it ranges from extremely short (horse) up to 1 inch (brush).
Moving on to the characteristic head. It is large and round with a "hippopotamus like" wide nose. The small eyes are deep set and look as if they are struggling to hold up the dog's wrinkled forehead. Don't let this fool you, they are very sharp eyed dogs-- very alert and intelligent! The Shar pei tongue is also very interesting because it is unusually a bluish black as are the gums and top on the mouth. Some lighter toned Shar pei have lavender tongues. The head is not complete without the tiny, triangular ears that seem completely in contrast with the big, wrinkle covered skull.