If you’ve ever seen a Bear Coat Shar Pei, you’ve surely been awestruck. These gorgeous dogs look just as their name might suggest – like small bears!
The Shar Pei on his own is a one-of-a-kind canine, but combine a rare and plush coat to this breed and you certainly have a head turning dog.
Of course, like all dogs, the Bear Coat Shar Pei does have his pros and cons. And before you invest, it’s important you consider if this intelligent yet challenging dog is the right dog for you.
What Is A Bear Coat Shar Pei And How Is It Different From A Typical Shar Pei Dog?
Bear Coat Shar Pei dogs have coats that are noticeably longer than their shorter coated counterparts.
The Bear Coat Shar Pei is a one of three coat types available in the purebred Shar Pei, though he is considered different from the two other coat types as he is not officially recognized by a majority of major breed clubs.
With that being said, the Bear Coat Shar Pei is still a Shar Pei.
So, what does this mean for you? Let’s take a quick look at a brief breed overview of the Shar Pei dog.
Height: 18 to 20 Inches
Weight: 45 to 60 Pounds
Temperament: Intelligent, Work-Oriented, Aloof, Devoted
Best Suited For: Experienced dog owners
Coat Types: Horse Coat, Brush Coat, Bear Coat
Health Issues: Entropion, Retinal Dysplasia, Glaucoma, Patellar Luxation Elbow Dysplasia, Hip Dysplasia, Glaucoma, Cataracts, Allergies, Demodectic Mange, Hypothyroidism, Pododermatitis, Ear Infections, Familial Shar Pei Fever (AKA Swollen Hock Syndrome) and Skin Fold Infections
Lifespan: 9 to 11 Years
As we mentioned above, the Shar Pei comes in two standard coat types, including horse-coat and brush-coat. The third coat type, the Bear Coat Shar Pei, is not a coat type recognized by the American Kennel Club nor is it recognized as a breed standard for the dog.
But that doesn’t mean this coat shouldn’t be admired. The Bear Coat Shar Pei is a Shar Pei dog that has a long, luxurious coat quite different from his other Shar Pei counterparts.
This makes him look just like a bear (hence, the name!). Bear Coat Shar Pei dogs are exceedingly rare, and most breeders do not purposefully breed them to have these coats.
For that reason, a Bear Coat Shar Pei may cost you less than the average Shar Pei dog, though not by much.
In fact, according to experts, Bear Coat Shar Pei puppies can cost you anywhere from $750 all the way up to $1,800!
Does this seem like a lot?
Consider this – the typical Shar Pei dog costs owners up to $3,000, especially if they are show quality. Whew!
Luckily, the Bear Coat Shar Pei is a bit less costly, but he’s also super rare. To understand how the Bear Coat Shar Pei came to be, we must take a look at the genetics behind this stunning coat.
The Genetics Behind The Bear Coat Shar Pei
Two Shar Pei parents who have standard coats still have a 1 in 4 chance of producing at least a few Bear Coat Shar Pei puppies.
The Shar Pei is a Chinese dog with a very unique ancestry. He is at least 2,000 years old with origins tying him back to the Han Dynasty.
For a long time, the Shar Pei was considered an extremely rare breed. In fact, he even made a name for himself in the Guiness Book of World Records as the rarest breed in the world.
All that has changed these days. According to the American Kennel Club, the Shar Pei is now the 64th most popular dog in the United States.
Still, this is not a breed you’ll see much of. And this is especially true for the illusive third coat type of the Shar Pei – the Bear Coat Shar Pei.
But how did the Bear Coat Shar Pei come to be?
The Bear Coat Shar Pei’s famous bear-like coat is likely caused by a recessive gene passed down from the Shar Pei’s Chow Chow ancestors.
Bear Coat Shar Pei dogs are incredibly rare. They are recognized by their loose skin and puffy fur, which stands about an inch in length from their nose to tail.
Because Bear Coat Shar Pei dogs are not recognized by most major breed cubs and are not eligible for show, many breeders go out of their way to avoid producing Bear Coat Shar Pei puppies in litters.
Still, two standard coated Shar Pei dogs can have a 1 in 4 chance of producing puppies with a Bear Coat. However, if you really want to get your hands on a Bear Coat Shar Pei puppy, it’s best to go through a breeder who specializes in this type of coated dog.
That’s because it takes two parents with Bear Coats to create an entire litter of Bear Coat Shar Pei puppies!
So, now that you know how to obtain a Bear Coat Shar Pei, does that mean you should jump at the chance to do so?
Not so fast. There is still quite a bit you should know about this unique dog.
The Bear Coat Shar Pei Is Gorgeous, But Is This A Good Family Dog?
Bear Coat Shar Pei dogs are still Shar Peis, and they do best with an experienced dog owner.
We love the Bear Coat Shar Pei. We agree that his loose skin and fluffy coat is simply irresistible.
However, the Bear Coat Shar Pei is not the dog for everyone. In fact, do just a small bit of research on this dog and you’ll immediately note that many experts coin this dog as “difficult”.
Now, difficult can mean something different to everyone, so in the case of the Bear Coat Shar Pei, we’ll break it down.
This is a dog that is not the ideal family dog for first time dog owners. Though affectionate and devoted to his family, the Bear Coat Shar Pei can be quite possessive of his territory, people and home.
He is often aloof and even stand-offish with strangers, and he may not get along well with other dogs.
If you plan on raising your Bear Coat Shar Pei with children, you’ll want to take care to ensure your dog is properly trained and socialized.
You should also note that, while intelligent, the Bear Coat Shar Pei can be stubborn and hard headed. He requires an owner who is consistent, patient and committed.
Perhaps the biggest issue with Bear Coat Shar Pei, when it comes to novice dog owners, is that this is a dog that looks inherently friendly, sweet, and perhaps even a little goofy.
Underneath all those folds is a complicated, intelligent creature with a lot going on in his head. He can be a disaster in the wrong hands, but with the right owner the Bear Coat Shar Pei can be an absolute treasure.
Let’s learn more.
How Can I Train A Bear Coat Shar Pei?
Training your Bear Coat Shar Pei should be done using positive reinforcement, including the use of high quality treats.
If you are considering investing in a Bear Coat Shar Pei, prepare to commit to consistent training throughout his lifetime.
The Bear Coat Shar Pei is a very clever and work-oriented dog who requires plenty to do in order to keep him busy. Without proper training, the Bear Coat Shar Pei can develop a number of behavioral issues including fear, anxiety, depression, and even aggressive tendencies.
Training and socialization should begin at an early age, and be consistent throughout your dog’s lifetime.
But how do you specifically train and socialize a Bear Coat Shar Pei dog? Great question! Let’s find out.
As we briefly touched on, socializing a Bear Coat Shar Pei should begin early in your dog’s life. This would ideally start in puppy hood and then continue on throughout your Bear Coat Shar Pei lifetime.
Socializing a Bear Coat Shar Pei requires gentle encouragement and ensuring you are raising your Bear Coat Shar Pei around different people, sights, sounds and experiences. Get him used to seeing other dogs and being handled by children as a puppy.
The more you expose your Bear Coat Shar Pei dog to, the better equipped he’ll be to manage the world around him.
Properly socializing a dog reduces a number of behavioral issues and helps your dog grow up happier, healthier, and more well-rounded.
Just as with socialization, training a Bear Coat Shar Pei should begin early on. You can begin training a dog at any age, but when you begin during puppyhood you establish what is expected of your dog and he is much more adept at learning.
Training is a great opportunity for you to build a strong bond with your Bear Coat Shar Pei, and while training should be firm, it should also be done with patience and love. Refrain from using negative reinforcement like punishments, scolding or fear to correct your Bear Coat Shar Pei.
Instead, keep training sessions short, game-like and fun. Use training treats to help keep your Bear Coat Shar Pei dog’s attention and allow him breaks when he needs to take them.
Remember, it’s very important to use training treats that are high-value for your dog, which means they should be small, chewy and smelly.
Zuke’s Training Treats
Zuke’s training treats are some of our favorites because they are small enough to continuously feed your dog during training sessions while also being smelly, chewy and low in calories. They are also made of quality ingredients that are healthy for your dog, so you don’t have to feel guilty about dishing out the goodies every time your dog is a good boy or girl.
We also like that Zuke’s Training Treats come in a variety of recipes so you can better find the recipe that your specific dog enjoys.
Does The Bear Coat Shar Pei Need Lots Of Exercise?
The Bear Coat Shar Pei requires moderate daily exercise.
Like his standard coated counterparts, the Bear Coat Shar Pei dog is going to require a certain amount of routine exercise each and every day to stay happy and healthy.
This exercise includes both physical exercise and mental exercise, especially considering this is a dog that is so clever.
In ancient China, the Shar Pei was a versatile working dog spending the majority of his early history on farms. There, he was employed as a herding dog and guard dog.
This means that the Bear Coat Shar Pei is quite intelligent and likes to keep busy. If he does not have the proper amount of exercise and mental stimulation, he can be prone to developing serious behavioral issues and even becoming destructive.
How To Exercise A Bear Coat Shar Pei:
Although the Bear Coat Shar Pei does need routine exercise, his needs are not as demanding as those of some other working breeds of his stature. He can do well in urban areas so long as he is taken for a few walks a day, with a minimum of about an hour of exercise dedicated to him.
A few brisk walks will help him meet his exercise needs, as will some free roaming time in a yard or securely fenced in area.
Unless your Bear Coat Shar Pei has been very well socialized, he may not be the greatest candidate for dog parks.
Although the Bear Coat Shar Pei is a highly devoted and trainable dog, he could have a tendency to pull on leash, especially if his territorial instinct hasn’t been worked with.
Be sure to walk your Bear Coat Shar Pei on a proper leash and harness that not only makes walking more comfortable for him, but allows you to maintain control should he try to pull ahead.
PetSafe Dog Walking Harness
For a medium sized dog like the Bear Coat Shar Pei, we recommend using a front clip PetSafe dog harness like the one listed above. This is a harness that fits over your dog’s chest, so it does not put pressure on his throat or trachea during walks.
It can clip both on the back and in the front, which is great if your Bear Coat Shar Pei is a pulling dog. Front clip harnesses are ideal over choke chinese and prong collars as they are much safer for dogs and help teach them good walking manners without causing them pain or discomfort.
For example, this front clip harness above will gently guide your Bear Coat Shar Pei back to you should he get ahead of himself. Paired with some training treats, this is an excellent tool to help teach your Bear Coat Shar Pei good walking manners.
How To Keep A Bear Coat Shar Pei Mentally Stimulated:
Along with routine exercise, your Bear Coat Shar Pei is also going to need to be kept mentally stimulated. A lot of his mental stimulation can come from routine training sessions that you keep fun and game-like.
The Bear Coat Shar Pei will enjoy solving problems and having tasks to do, and he’ll especially enjoy pleasing you as his owner. Training with you can also provide a very wonderful bonding experience for you and your dog, as we discussed above.
Of course, you can’t be with your Bear Coat Shar Pei constantly. For times when you need to keep your dog busy, it’s a good idea to invest in a puzzle toy or a KONG that challenges your Bear Coat Shar Pei and gives him something to do and focus on.
Providing him with the right tools and toys to keep him occupied while you are away or busy will not only help reduce destructive behaviors, but also help ensure your Bear Coat Shar Pei is happy both mentally and physically.
How Do I Groom A Bear Coat Shar Pei Dog?
Bear Coat Shar Pei dogs can be more prone to mats and tangles than standard Shar Peis.
The grooming needs of a Bear Coat Shar Pei can vary from the grooming needs of the shorter coated Shar Bei dogs. While his counterparts are generally easy to care for when it comes to their grooming maintenance, the Bear Coat Shar Pei can require a bit more extensive upkeep.
Brushing your Bear Coat Shar Pei should be done at least once or twice a week. His fur is longer than typical Shar Pei dogs, and as such he can be prone to matting and tangles. The Bear Coat Shar Pei can also develop a buildup of debris and shed hair in his skin folds, which can be more difficult to detect due to his longer coat.
It will be very important to brush out this shed hair, especially during the shedding season in spring and fall.
Furminator Deshedding Brush
A deshedding tool is going to be an essential piece of equipment in your Bear Coat Shar Pei dog’s grooming kit.
We like the Furminator brush because it is a self cleaning grooming tool that allows you to brush and then release loose hair, and repeat.
Along with investing in a good deshedding brush, we also suggest that you invest in a quality slicker brush and dematting comb.
During shedding season the Bear Coat Shar Pei may need more routine bathing. However, in general he should do well with a bath once every month or so. When you bathe your Bear Coat Shar Pei, be sure to use a dog-safe shampoo specified for canine use that will not strip your dog’s skin and coat of the natural oils he produces.
Your Bear Coat Shar Pei should also have special care taken to ensure his skin folds are cleaned. This should be something you get your Bear Coat Shar Pei used to as early as possible, and you might consider investing in wrinkle wipes or even wrinkle paste.
Unfortunately, the Bear Coat Shar Pei can be prone to skin issues like mange and skin fold infections, so it is important to make sure your dog is thoroughly dried after bathing and that you routinely check and clean his skin folds.
Like all dogs, the Bear Coat Shar Pei should have his teeth brushed daily using a dog-safe toothbrush and toothpaste. Try and get your Bear Coat Shar Pei used to having his teeth brushed at an early age to help this process go smoothly throughout his lifetime.
He will also need his ears kept clean of debris and buildup to help reduce the chances of ear infections, and his nails should be clipped to keep them from breaking or splitting during play.
Grooming is an important part of helping ensure your Bear Coat Shar Pei not only stays looking his best, but also feeling his best. And with that in mind, let’s take a moment to talk about the unique health issues of this amazing dog.
What About The Bear Coat Shar Pei Dog’s Lifespan and Health Issues?
Underneath all that fur is still a Shar Pei, like this one shown here. Remember that all those wrinkles can lead to skin problems and infections if not properly cared for.
The Bear Coat Shar Pei is unique in more ways than just his appearance and grooming needs. This is also a dog that has quite a few special medical needs that a potential owner should be aware of.
On average, the The Bear Coat Shar Pei lives to be between 9 and 11 years, and he can be prone to suffering from health issues including:
- Retinal Dysplasia
- Patellar Luxation Elbow Dysplasia
- Hip Dysplasia
- Demodectic Mange
- Ear Infections
- Familial Shar Pei Fever (AKA Swollen Hock Syndrome)
- And Skin Fold Infections
Many of the above health issues are genetic health issues. For example, Familial Shar Pei Fever is a genetic health issue that can be very serious in Shar Pei dogs. For this reason, amongst many others, it’s very important that you obtain your Bear Coat Shar Pei dog through a reputable source that understands the importance of responsible breeding practices.
You can also combat particular health issues in the Bear Coat Shar Pei by ensuring you keep up with routine vet visits. Most veterinarians recommend that your dog be seen at least once a year until he is seven years old. Then your dog should be seen bi-annually.
You can also help combat health issues by ensuring you keep up with routine grooming and exercise, and by keeping your Bear Coat Shar Pei on a quality diet.
The Bear Coat Shar Pei should do well on a quality dog food specified for medium dog breeds. Because he can be prone to skin issues, we recommend a dog food that can help combat sensitive skin.
Look for dog foods made with real meat protein like salmon or liver, and avoid dog foods with chicken. You should also try and choose dog foods that are free of additives like corn, soy, wheat, gluten or byproducts.
What Is The Ideal Home Type For A Bear Coat Shar Pei?
Shar Peis in general require hands-on owners who are able to train and socialize them properly.
The Bear Coat Shar Pei is a relatively adapatlabe dog so long as he is with the proper owner. His home type will not matter as much as the type of family he grows up in, which means he can do well in apartments or smaller spaces as long as his exercise needs are met.
With that being said, remember that the Bear Coat Shar Pei is not the best dog for new dog owners. He can get along with children when well socialized and trained at an early age, but for the most part this is a dog that is best suited for experienced dog owners who have a good understanding of working breeds.
Remember that the Bear Coat Shar Pei needs consistent yet moderate exercise, and that his grooming needs will be a bit more extensive than the grooming needs of his other, shorter-coated counterparts.
The Bear Coat Shar Pei will also have some special medical needs that should be considered, and any potential owner might want to consider investing in pet health insurance to ensure they can provide their Bear Coat Shar Pei with any of the future care he needs in order to thrive.
How Can I Find The Healthiest Bear Coat Shar Pei Puppy Or Rescue Dog?
Finding a Bear Coat Shar Pei may be difficult, and you may need to look for breeders that specifically breed these types of puppies.
Because the Bear Coat Shar Pei can be prone to a number of unique medical issues, it’s especially important to make sure you get your dog through a reputable source.
We always recommend going through sources that understand the importance of responsible breeding practices, but this is especially true with dogs that can be more prone to suffering from certain health issues than others.
If you choose to go through a breeder, be sure you choose a breeder you trust and a breeder who can provide you with paperwork proving your dog has been screened and cleared of any serious genetic health issues.
You also have the option of going through a rescue to obtain your Bear Coat Shar Pei. There are several benefits of going through a rescue, including price and the fact that you are giving a dog in need a forever home.
However, going through a rescue to obtain a Bear Coat Shar Pei could prove difficult unless you choose a breed specific facility that focuses on this type of dog.
The good news is that there are a few rescues throughout the United States that you can look into.
The bottom line is that you should do plenty of research and make sure that the Bear Coat Shar Pei is not only the best dog for you, but that you are also the right owner for him.
Luckily, you’re already on the right track by reading this article!
And now we want to hear from you. What do you think about the Bear Coat Shar Pei? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading!
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.