Aside from its cute wrinkly skin, the Shar-Pei also has a variety of coat colors to boast. From red or black to the rarest shade coats, there is no excuse for leaving your favorite hue off of your list.
As a matter of fact, it is fair to say that Shar-Peis come in just about every pigmentation under the sun. They even exhibit some striking patterns and markings that might make you do a double-take!
If you are overwhelmed by the dizzying number of Shar-Pei color options, this guide should help you understand the difference between each one. Just keep on reading to find out more!
How Many Shar-Pei Colors Are There?
Generally, the American Kennel Club (AKC) only identifies 18 shades for the Shar-Pei breed, but there are actually more than that. However, because of their rarity, the AKC does not recognize the other seven Shar-Pei colors.
However, despite this fact, there’s no denying that these other seven tints are just as stunning as those that have been acknowledged by well-known kennel registries. They’re just a little bit harder to find.
Below is a list of 18 AKC-accepted Shar-Pei colors for you to browse through:
- Lilac Dilute
- Cream Sable
- Isabella Dilute
- Cream Dilute
- Red Sable
- Apricot Dilute
- Black Sable
- Blue Dilute
- Five Point Red Dilute
- Fawn Sable
- Red Fawn
Meanwhile, here are the seven non-standard pigments of the Chinese Shar-Pei breed:
- Brown Sable
- Blue Sable
- Merle or Flower
As you can see, Chinese Shar-Peis don’t just boast wrinkles and broad hippopotamus muzzles; they also come in all sorts of coat colors. There are 25 varieties in total!
25 Shar-Pei Colors
The following is a list of 25 Shar-Pei colors, including pictures to help you identify each variation:
1. Black Shar-Pei
On the top of this list is the daunting yet majestic-looking black Shar-Pei. This color variation is characterized by an overall pitch-dark coat, black nose, eyes, ears, paws, and tail.
In fact, the only thing that is not black on this pooch is its tongue, which should be bluish or purple-black in coloration.
Thus, if you are looking for a pet that will give you the impression of being formidable, a black Shar-Pei puppy may be right for you.
Further, black Shar-Peis are easy to groom as they have a single-colored coat that requires little upkeep. Nonetheless, they are still shedding dogs; hence, daily brushing is basically a part of their routine.
2. Cream Shar-Pei
If you prefer your pooches light-pigmented, you should definitely meet the cream Shar-Pei. It’s a pale yellowish fur color that can range from a light tan to a soft cream.
The cream tint of this Shar-Pei comes in many variations, sometimes appearing white even though it’s technically not. Nonetheless, it is still one of the most popular colorings among Shar-Pei owners.
In addition, cream Shar-Peis also often sport a faded black mask that runs down the nose and around the eyes. Their ears seem to be covered with this muted marking as well.
3. Blue Shar-Pei
Now, for those seeking a blue dog that can be registered with the American Kennel Club, here comes the blue Shar-Pei. This Shar-Pei color variety may look like a grayish-blue or grayish-black tint.
Ideally, blue Shar-Peis should have black noses, eyes, and nails. Moreover, they can have pinkish-white markings on their chests, stomachs, and paws.
However, the fact that they carry the dilution gene means that they are more likely to suffer certain health issues related to dilution. That said, this Chinese Shar-Pei color variation is still popular among many dog lovers!
4. Chocolate Shar-Pei
Another muted Shar-Pei coat color that you should know about is the chocolate Shar-Pei. Commonly, a canine with chocolate fluff has a dark brown coat, which will sometimes maintain a reddish tone.
But note that the chocolate color itself is not just limited to the hair, as it can also affect the coloring of the eyes, ears, and nose of Shar-Peis.
If you want a pup that will look as sweet on the outside as it is on the inside, the chocolate Shar-Pei is probably one of your best bets.
5. Red Shar-Pei
Looking like a hippo but with more wrinkles and less imposing size, the red Shar-Pei variety might make you stop in your tracks. Its striking coat color is certainly the first thing that will catch your attention.
However, don’t let their looks fool you: red Shar-Peis are just as charming and loving as any other Shar-Peis.
So while their fiery coats may be the first to capture your eyes, their personality will make you like them more. They love nothing more than playing with their owners and being around people.
6. Brown Shar-Pei
While brown Shar-Peis are not as dark as their red or chocolate counterparts, they still possess a deep, rich coloration that makes them stand out from the crowd.
But keep in mind that these canines will generally have a black mask over their faces, so you’ll want to search for this feature if you are looking for a brown Shar-Pei.
To add to that, brown Shar-Peis, as with other Shar-Pei color varieties, also come in three different coat types: bear, horse, and brush furs, with each kind offering unique textures!
7. Lilac Dilute Shar-Pei
The lilac dilute Shar-Pei carries two dilution genes — one chocolate and one blue. It is a stunning example of how genetics can create a unique look for each individual dog.
This Shar-Pei pup flaunts a soft, silvery shade that’s almost white with a purplish tint. Their eyes are deep-set and light-colored, adding to their otherworldly appearance. Moreover, lilac dilute Shar-Peis often have pink noses, lips, and ears.
Still, there’s a reason why other kennel clubs don’t recognize this variation: its lack of pigment makes it more prone to sunburns than other Shar-Peis, which is something you’ll want to note if you’re considering owning one.
8. Fawn Shar-Pei
The fawn Shar-Pei is probably the most common color you’ll see in this breed. It is typically the shade of a Golden Retriever but with a slightly lighter tint and sometimes just a little bit more rusty than yellowish.
Additionally, you will notice that like brown Shar-Peis, fawn Shar-Peis are not always solid-colored. They usually have black markings on their faces and tails, giving them a more classic appearance.
Remember, though, that the fawn color of this breed can vary from one Shar-Pei to another. Some may appear more orange, while others might be sandier or brownish-red.
9. Cream Sable Shar-Pei
The cream sable is among the few sable varieties that earned the recognition of the AKC and other famous canine organizations. It shares many of the characteristics of its peers, with a few exceptions.
For one, cream sable Shar-Peis, as with brown, black, and blue sables, are known for their black-tipped guard hairs, which give them a silky appearance.
However, unlike those other variations, cream sable pooches tend to have more contrast between their base coat color and guard hairs.
As a matter of fact, they almost appear to be two different shades of brown at first glance!
10. Isabella Dilute Shar-Pei
Also called fawn dilute Shar-Pei, the isabella dilute is a muted variation of the classic hues of the breed. The areas around its nose, eye rims, mouth, and ears are often self-colored, meaning they have no other tints.
But bear in mind that some isabella dilute Shar-Peis can have a few spots or patches of another pigment on their coats. Still, they will be lighter than what you see with other Chinese Shar-Pei colors.
11. Cream Dilute Shar-Pei
Almost looking like a white or isabella dilute, the cream dilute Shar-Pei has a slight yellow stain. This shade is also referred to as “blonde,” but it’s not quite as dark in color as you might think.
In addition, while those two previously mentioned colorings aren’t allowed to participate in the show ring, the cream dilute variation is permitted.
Thus, if you’re looking for a rarer version of this breed but still want it to be eligible for competition, the cream dilute Shar-Pei might be just what you need.
As shown in the photo above, cream dilute Shar-Peis boast pinkish snouts and masks, as well as rosy paw pads, ears, and eye areas, like their white-colored brethren.
12. Red Sable Shar-Pei
Another sable-type fur color that’s recognized by many well-known dog clubs is the red sable Shar-Pei. It’s a combination of raven and red fur.
Compared to the traditional sable coat, red is much more prominent in red sable Shar-Pei.
In short, their usual sable fur is flecked with scarlet hairs that give them an almost blushing tint. It’s like rustic gold or copper — a beautiful, warm shade that will make anyone stop and take notice!
13. Apricot Dilute Shar-Pei
Although apricot dilute Shar-Peis seem to be the same as their brown and fawn counterparts, they are actually pretty different. Apricot dilutes have lighter skin, snouts, and masks than other Shar-Peis.
Apart from that, these pooches also have a slightly pinkish hue to them. They are like the peaches of the dog world.
Still, one should note that the apricot dilute Shar-Pei isn’t that rare. It is one of the standard colors for this breed and can easily be found in most kennels.
14. Black Sable Shar-Pei
Unlike other sable coat shades in this list, the black sable Shar-Pei is one of the oldest and most common color variations. It is characterized by a fawn coat but with much more black tippings.
Moreover, you will find that black sable Shar-Peis have a darker undercoat than usual. They even possess jet-black masks extending from their withers to their limbs.
Nonetheless, their high amount of black coloring does not mean they won’t be able to compete in dog shows. Fortunately, almost all breed standards in the United States recognize them as standard Shar-Peis.
15. Blue Dilute Shar-Pei
For aspiring fur parents who are looking to own a silver-colored pet, the blue dilute Shar-Pei is an amazing option.
Despite its name, this fur color does not have any blue in it. Instead, it is more of a grayish color with hints of cobalt.
But what makes blue dilute Shar-Peis more special are their noses, ears, eye rims, and lips, which are also diluted blue. However, you wouldn’t find them sporting black masks with other variations of this breed.
16. Five-Point Red Dilute Shar-Pei
A five-point red dilute Shar-Pei is a pooch with a reddish nose, anus, tongue, eye area, and paws. Basically, these five points are the zones where color has been diluted to allow for a lighter shade of red.
In the past, five-point red dilute Shar-Peis were not accepted for showing purposes. As a matter of fact, they were only prized in China as luck omens due to their rarity.
But now that it has been welcomed into the show ring, you know this unique variant is here to stay!
17. Fawn Sable Shar-Pei
The fawn sable Shar-Pei is characterized by black hair tips with a yellow base coat. It’s one of the most common variations in this breed, often mistaken for the five-point red dilute Shar-Pei.
But in contrast to the five-point red dilute version, which has a dark brown or chocolate muzzle, the fawn sable Shar-Pei sports a bluish or blackish one. It also flaunts darker eye rims and an ebony-pigmented set of eyes.
18. Red Fawn Shar-Pei
Up next is the red fawn Shar-Pei. This particular Shar-Pei color variation has a light brownish coat with a reddish tint.
On top of that, you will notice that the hair roots of a dog with this shade are white or cream.
However, these canines’ coloring is a bit of an illusion. The undercoat is light cream-colored, but it looks dark because of the deep red or mahogany overcoat.
In a nutshell, red fawn Shar-Peis are a shade of brown that is neither red nor fawn. Simply put: they are a blend of both!
19. Brown Sable Shar-Pei
Being a sable version means the brown sable Shar-Pei has a lighter base coat color with black tip hairs. It can also have grayish-tan markings, which will be more prominent around the ears, backside, and face.
However, despite possessing dark-colored points, black snout, eye rims, masks, and nails, typical in the breed, no kennel club recognizes this variation as an official coat color.
Regardless, if you want a unique-looking Shar-Pei that is not too common, the brown sable Shar-Pei would probably be a good choice for you!
20. White Shar-Pei
Coming up is the white Chinese Shar-Pei.
Unlike an albino Shar-Pei that generally has no pigment, the white Shar-Pei has a fair amount of dark markings; its coat is predominantly white or very light cream.
This means the usual blackish masks on the nose, eye rims, and mouth will be present on this type of Shar-Pei. It also usually has dark eyes and brown or black nails.
If you stumble upon someone selling a white Shar-Pei with little or no coloring, it’s probably an albino Shar-Pei.
In this case, you should be wary of buying it because it may have health issues due to its lack of pigmentation. Note that no kennel club registries recognize dogs with albinism as purebreds, either.
21. Blue Sable Shar-Pei
Next on this list is the blue sable Shar-Pei. This coat color is particularly lighter than the blue Shar-Pei and darker than the blue dilute.
When closely examined, you will notice that blue sable Shar-Peis have black-tipped hairs, common in sable-type fur colors. But they often appear glossy due to their rich pigmentation.
Usually, these dogs will also sport noses, lips, and masks close to their coat color. Moreover, they tend to have pink patches on their chests, toes, and bellies.
22. Tricolor Shar-Pei
To the surprise of many, the Chinese Shar-Pei breed can also be tricolored. While no canine organization officially recognizes this variation, several dogs with this coloring have been photographed and shared online.
In most cases, a tricolor Shar-Pei will have black fur on its face, chest, ears, and backside; white hair on its belly, tail, and limbs; and brown color on its forehead and neck.
However, some pooches may have a more diluted version of these pigments or an entirely different pattern altogether.
If you wish to own a Shar-Pei just as unique as you are, consider buying or adopting one of these beautiful tricolor Shar-Pei pups!
23. Champagne Shar-Pei
Genetically speaking, the champagne Shar-Pei is the diluted version of the red variety. However, there’s more to it than just that. The champagne coloring can come in two different versions: light and dark.
Light champagne Shar-Peis tend to be very pale with a hint of pink throughout their coat, while dark versions are opaquer with a bit more brown mixed in. Either way, there’s no denying that they’re majestic.
In addition, both light and dark varieties of the champagne tint are considered to be rare in the breed.
This means that if you want one of these dogs as a pet, you must be willing to pay up a hefty price.
24. Brindle Shar-Pei
Looking like a tiger, a hippo, and a bear wrapped in one, the brindle Shar-Pei is an exotic-looking canine sure to turn heads.
Let’s closely examine this Shar-Pei coat color and pattern to understand what makes it unique.
To begin, “brindle” refers to shades of orange or brown mixed with black stripes that run vertically, often uneven in width and spacing. The result is an overall effect that resembles tiger stripes.
But despite their wild appearance, brindle Shar-Peis are no different from other Shar-Peis. The only differences between them are that they have more visible skin pigmentations and are rarer.
Unfortunately, Shar-Peis with brindle patterns are not recognized by kennel clubs.
25. Merle or Flower Shar-Pei
Last but not least is the merle or flower Chinese Shar-Pei. It is an unusual Shar-Pei color that can be identified by its white or brown patches and spots.
Furthermore, it’s the large splash on the face that really makes this dog stand out from others. This characteristic is called pointed marking, a common attribute of merle Shar-Peis.
Meanwhile, the spots are caused by a genetic mutation that affects how pigment cells are distributed in the coat. Hence, they’re not just random — they’re actually arranged in patterns!
While the array of fur colors that Shar-Peis can exhibit is a highlight in itself, the distinctive markings that this wrinkly dog breed bears make it truly unique.
Keep reading, as this section offers a deeper understanding of the typical markings of the Shar-Pei breed.
Even though it is incredibly rare for a Shar-Pei puppy to be born with white markings, it does happen.
These white patches can be found on any part of the dog’s body, but they are most likely to appear on its legs, chest, tummy, or neck.
It should be noted, however, that this white streak will not affect your Shar-Pei puppy in any way. In fact, there are no known health issues associated with this unusual marking.
Surprisingly, Chinese Shar-Peis can also display brindle patterns. They’re just not as common.
Brindle is a type of patterning that gives the Shar-Pei’s coat a striped or streaked look. These streaks can be wide, narrow, or even zigzagged — almost looking like a hippopotamus with tiger stripes!
But despite such an incredible appearance, brindle-patterned Shar-Peis are not recognized by major dog registries in the country and around the world. Hence, they’re not allowed to be shown at conformations.
Spotted on White
In most instances, some Shar-Pei puppies will sport a predominantly white coat accompanied by spots of black or brown. These spots may be sparse or abundant and can vary in size from a dime to a large dinner plate.
However, canine clubs prefer solid-colored Shar-Peis over ones with splotches of color on their coats. That’s why reputable breeders carefully avoid breeding two dogs that might produce pups with spots on them.
Nonetheless, if registration is at the bottom of your priority list, purchasing a puppy with spotted markings is okay. The Shar-Pei is beautiful, no matter what color or pattern it has.
If you closely examine the picture above, you will notice that the Shar-Pei exhibits a dark trace on its coat. These are referred to as sable markings and are often found on blue, red, fawn, brown, and black-colored Shar-Peis.
But note that not all of them are accepted by AKC. Unfortunately, blue sable and brown sable Shar-Peis do not meet the criteria for registration.
Generally, sable marking is characterized by black-tipped hair strands. These strands can appear in different areas of the Shar-Pei’s coat, such as the forehead, ears, back, limbs, and tail.
For those unaware of what a pointed Shar-Pei looks like, here is a quick explanation. A pointed Shar-Pei typically means the puppy retains a mainly white coat, with a big black or brown marking covering its face.
Pointed Shar-Peis are commonly known as flower Chinese Shar-Peis or merle-colored Shar-Peis.
Apart from its hippo-like snout, the mask found on the muzzle area of the Shar-Pei is one of the most distinctive features of this breed. This mask refers to a pigmentation pattern that runs from its eyes to its chin.
Preferably, it should be black or dark brown, especially if your Shar-Pei puppy is covered with brown, black, or cream hair.
That said, pups with diluted coats may have the mask colored in shades of isabella or blue instead.
A saddle-patterned Shar-Pei has a saddle-shaped patch over the back, which extends from above the withers to mid-back. It covers the whole length of their back area and is darker in color than the rest of their body.
The saddle pattern is commonly seen on breeds such as the German Shepherd Dog (GSD), Beagle, Welsh Corgi, Airedale Terrier, scent hounds, and other herding dogs.
However, it is worth noting that this is not a mandatory feature of a Shar-Pei.
Check out this video of a saddle-patterned Shar-Pei in action:
Shar-Pei Breed Standards & Disqualifications
If you intend to show your Shar-Pei, you must familiarize yourself with the breed standards and disqualifications for coat colors. This will help you avoid any penalties you may incur during the competition.
Starting with the American Kennel Club, this organization’s breed standard specifies that only solid-colored Shar-Peis can be shown in AKC-sanctioned events.
However, there are some exceptions: dark shading of a similar color around the ears and down the back is acceptable. Accordingly, only 18 Chinese Shar-Pei colors are recognized for showing purposes by this canine club.
Meanwhile, brindle, merle, albino, and white Shar-Peis are not allowed under any circumstances. These unusually-pigmented dogs will result in disqualification if they are entered into a competition.
The same goes for events endorsed by the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America (CSPCA), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), United Kennel Club (UKC), and The Kennel Club (KC).
Note, though, that the CKC breed standard specifically disqualifies a Shar-Pei pup sporting tan points or a saddled pattern.
In addition, remember that even though all these kennel clubs accept diluted Chinese Shar-Peis, champagne, brown sable, and blue sable ones are not allowed to be registered with any of them.
Do Shar-Pei Colors Affect Behavior and Health?
There’s no connection between Shar-Pei coat color and behavior. Your Shar-Pei’s personality is determined by how it was raised and trained.
So for those who think that a dark or black-pigmented Shar-Pei is more likely to growl, bite, and generally be a menace to society, you should not be worried as Shar-Peis are generally well-behaved dogs regardless of color.
In terms of health, though, some color-specific disorders affect the Chinese Shar-Pei. For example, chocolate Shar-Peis are more likely to develop ear inflammations and hot spots.
Similarly, pooches displaying muted fur colors, such as blue, champagne, and isabella, are prone to color dilution alopecia (CDA).
In addition, a merle patterning can cause vision and hearing problems in your dog.
For such reasons, your final decision regarding which pup you’ll get should reflect your goals for training and maintaining the health of your Shar-Pei.
Do Shar-Pei Puppies Change Colors as They Grow?
Contrary to what you might have heard, Shar-Pei puppies normally do not change colors as they grow. Note that the pigmentation of a Shar-Pei’s coat is determined by its genes and is fixed at birth.
However, you may notice that your pups’ coats may gradually lighten as they mature. This phenomenon is uncommon and has been observed in other breeds as well.
There are several possible explanations for this color change. It could be due to a diet modification, or it could be because of extreme sunlight exposure.
Health issues like skin allergies and cancer can also cause unwanted changes to your Shar-Pei’s coat color.
But don’t be surprised when you see a senior black Shar-Pei with white hair strands, as the dog’s pigmentation generally tends to fade with age.
What Color Will My Shar-Pei Puppy Be?
Although it may seem straightforward to predict what color a Shar-Pei puppy will be, several factors will determine the outcome. The most important aspect is the coat color of the parents.
Basically, genetics will determine how much pigment is in your puppy’s fur shade. For instance, if both parents have black coats, then there’s a good chance your Shar-Pei puppy will be black-colored too.
On the other hand, if one parent sports red hair and another has blue fur, their offspring will likely be either red or blue — it is impossible to tell which pigment they’ll be!
In this case, it may be best to consult reputable Shar-Pei breeders. They can give you a plausible projection based on their experience breeding different tints.
But DNA testing is worth checking out if you are willing to spend money on a test kit instead of guessing what fur color your puppy will look like.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Rarest Shar-Pei Color?
Among the 18 official Shar-Pei colors in the market, the five-point red dilute variety is probably the rarest.
But the list of rarest Shar-Pei colors grows quite long if you consider non-standard colors — blue sable, brown sable, white, champagne, brindle, merle, and tricolor.
What Is the Most Common Shar-Pei Color?
The most common Shar-Pei color is fawn, a tan shade typically accompanied by opaque brown or black spots.
Fawn Shar-Peis can also be light or dark, meaning many shades of tan fall under this category.
Red, cream, and black are pretty close seconds. These colors are also very common in the breed and will likely be what you often see at dog shows or outside.
With their distinctive folds and wrinkles, Chinese Shar-Peis are one of the most unique-looking dog breeds in existence. However, these special traits aren’t all they have going for them — their coloring is just as striking!
From solid black and red to varying shades of fawn, there are 25 different colors that you can choose from when looking for a new puppy. Some even boast tiger striping, while others feature speckled spots or splotches.
But if you wish to enter a dog in a canine competition, select from the 18 official Shar-Pei colors. The other seven won’t be accepted in competitions as they do not match breed standards.
Do you plan to own a Shar-Pei? Tell us in the comments what Shar-Pei colors you like best!