One of the distinguishing features of the breed is an extremely harsh coat, absolutely straight, short, off standing and prickly. Known as the “horse coat,” some sources refer to it as the “traditional” Shar Pei coat since the breed name, Shar-Pei, means “sand skin,” and is thought to refer to the texture of the horse-coat when rubbed the “wrong way” (or opposite direction). The short coat has barbs at the end of the guard hairs that attackers avoided, and some people, i.e., groomers, find their hands become irritated by such a coat, even thinking that perhaps they have an allergic reaction to the dog’s coat ( the sensation of little “pricks” usually disappears within minutes). Of the three coat types, puppies with a horse coat are said to change the most as they grow into maturity. Bundles of wrinkles as pups, these dogs grow into lean, athletic looking dogs.
The second type is the “brush coat” which is slightly longer, but not longer than an inch. This coat is a bit softer than horse coated counterparts, and these dogs tend tend to stay somewhat more wrinkled as adults.
When a male and female both carry the recessive gene, there is also a “bear coat” which is any coat longer than an inch at the withers. Some describe this coat as resembling a Chow Chow’s coat, and others hint that it’s a throw-back to a time when other breeds were introduced. Because the AKC breed standard indicates that acceptable coat lengths may range from extremely short “horse coat” up to the “brush coat,” and not to exceed one inch in length at the withers, a bear coat is considered to be a major fault in AKC show rings.
We invite Shar-Pei owners to post pictures of their dogs along with whether the coat on their dog is horse hair, brush coat or bear coat.