5 Best Dog Foods for Shar Pei
Considered one of the 14 oldest dog breeds in the world, the Shar Pei originated in China several thousand years ago.
The breed looks today much as it did over two thousand years ago, based on ancient statues.
Once used as a war dog and a favorite with Chinese emperors, today the Shar Pei makes an intelligent companion.
Shar Pei (the plural is the same as the singular) can be prone to bloat and skin allergies so finding the best dog foods for Shar Pei can be a challenge at times.
Shar Pei are recognizable for their wrinkles. The breed has two coat types: a prickly horse hair kind of coat; and a brush coat that is longer and smoother.
Shar Pei are very intelligent but they can be stubborn. They make good watchdogs and will bark if strangers approach.
They tend to be reserved with strangers. They do require good socialization or they can become territorial. At home these dogs are loyal, devoted, and affectionate to family members. They dislike being left alone.
An ordinary Shar Pei is 18-20 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 45-60 pounds. This is a squarely-built, compact, medium-sized breed.
A quick look at our top pick
Our top pick for Shar Pei is Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula. Real salmon is the #1 ingredient in this food. It contains antioxidants to support your dog’s immune system health along with omega-6 fatty acids and zinc to nourish the skin and promote a healthy coat.
It also has omega-3 fatty acids to support your dog’s joints. This Focus formula has no corn, wheat, or soy; no artificial colors or flavors; and no poultry by-product meal. Plus, prebiotic fiber in the food promotes digestive health which is so important for Shar Pei.
- Does not contain corn, wheat, or soy
- Contains prebiotic fiber to promote healthy digestion
- Made in the USA
- Above Avg. in cost
In choosing the best dog foods for Shar Pei, we are looking for foods the following:
- Foods that are AAFCO-approved, preferably with food trials.
- We prefer companies that invest in nutritional research and testing.
- We like companies that employ staffs of veterinary nutritionists to develop their formulas.
- We like companies that have good quality control.
- Nutrition is more important than ingredients that sound appealing to humans.
We are also aware of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning from the summer of 2018 about a possible link between grain free dog foods and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. This investigation is continuing and the research has been expanded to include dog foods that contain exotic meat proteins. We don’t recommend grain free dog foods at this time unless your dog has a grain allergy or another health problem that has been diagnosed by your veterinarian.
As a result, some of the foods we recommend are not the most popular dog foods. However, they are healthy foods for your dog, backed by research and science.
What kind of diet should you feed your Shar Pei?
Most Shar Pei should be able to eat a normal diet for dogs. According to the Chinese Shar Pei Club of America, Shar Pei puppies can eat a regular brand name puppy food or a food for adults (an all life stage dog food).
Also Read: 20 Best Dog Food Brands For 2019
All dogs need the following nutrients in their diet, including Shar Pei:
Protein is essential to your dog. It’s the source of his hair, skin, tissue repair, muscle development, and other functions.
Adult dogs need a minimum of 18 percent protein in their diet; 22 percent for growth and reproduction. Most good dog foods exceed these levels.
However, this doesn’t mean that your dog needs enormous protein percentages.
It’s more important that your dog gets protein that he can easily digest and use – called bioavailability. If the protein in a dog food is in a form that your dog can’t properly digest, it’s not useful to him.
Many grain free dog foods have very high protein percentages but much of their protein comes from suspect ingredients such as peas, lentils, and legumes which have been linked to dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.
We recommend feeding your Shar Pei a grain-inclusive dog food with moderate protein levels between 22 and 26 percent.
Dogs need a minimum of 5 percent fat in their diet; 8 percent for growth and reproduction.
Nearly every dog food has more fat in it than these levels. Fat is one of the ingredients that makes dog food taste good to your dog.
But, too much fat in a dog food and you will find that your dog gains weight. Shar Pei can become overweight rather easily if you don’t watch their calories and exercise.
Also Read: Best Diet Dog Food for Weight Loss
For this reason, we recommend moderate fat percentages for Shar Pei. Look for foods that have a fat percentage between 12 and 16 percent.
Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not filler ingredients or empty calories.
They provide energy, fiber, and other nutrients. Your dog cannot live only on protein and fat. Sugar and starches from carbohydrates help your dog’s brain and other tissues function.
Fibers from some carbohydrates are important to the digestive system. Complex carbohydrates help regulate your dog’s glucose levels. Without carbohydrates in your dog’s food, he would be hungry constantly.
Fiber is also important to your Shar Pei’s diet.
You will find it in dog foods in both soluble and insoluble forms Soluble fiber attracts water and slows the digestive process.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your dog’s fecal matter and can speed the digestive process. Most dry dog foods have between 3 and 5.5 percent crude fiber.
Probiotics and prebiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are also found in many dog foods today. Prebiotics are one kind of dietary fiber.
They can encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your dog’s gastrointestinal system.
Common prebiotics used in dog foods include chicory and inulin.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are added to dog foods so they can colonize your dog’s digestive tract.
Once these colonies are established, they can encourage better digestion. It’s estimated that 70 percent of your dog’s immune system is based in his gastrointestinal tract so it’s very important to keep it healthy.
Vitamins and minerals
Vitamins and minerals are also added to most dog foods today.
That’s because dog foods are cooked at high temperatures which can strip away some of the nutrients in the ingredients.
Adding vitamins and minerals back into the food after cooking ensures that your dog will get the nutrients he needs.
What to look for when choosing a food for your Shar Pei
While there are some sources online that recommend feeding Shar Pei lower protein percentages, we could not verify this information.
There is nothing on the Chinese Shar Pei Club of America web site that indicates Shar Pei need to eat a diet that is low in protein.
The breed does have a couple of health issues where a veterinarian might suggest changing the dog’s diet to feed lower protein food.
However, as long as your Shar Pei, of any age, is healthy, you should be able to feed a normal diet, including normal protein percentages.
Shar Pei can be inclined to gain weight so it’s important to pay attention to the calories per cup.
Remember that they vary depending on the formula. This information is supposed to be provided on the dog food label today but it’s not always present.
If you can’t find it on the label, check the dog food web site. It can usually be found with the feeding guidelines.
We recommend looking for the following when choosing the best dog foods for Shar Pei:
- Choose a good quality kibble that is grain-inclusive;
- Look for a food with a protein percentage between 22 and 26 percent;
- Look for a food with moderate fat and fiber;
- Avoid feeding grain free dog foods and foods that use exotic meat proteins unless your dog has been diagnosed with a specific health problem or allergy that necessitates using one of these foods.
Special considerations for feeding a Shar Pei
Shar Pei are considered to be one of the most at-risk medium-sized breeds for bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV).
When bloat occurs, it can be life-threatening if it’s not treated quickly.
There are several big risk factors for bloat, along with a dog’s body shape and temperament. (Nervous dogs appear to be more prone to bloating.) Food-related considerations include:
- Feeding one large daily meal puts dogs at greater risk;
- Feeding ONLY dry food can be a risk factor;
- If fat is among the first four ingredients in a dog food, the risk increases greatly;
- If a dog food contains citric acid AND the food is moistened, the risk increases.
On the other hand, these things appear to decrease the risk of bloat:
- Feeding a dry food that contains rendered meat-and-bone meal;
- Mixing table food or canned food into dry food.
Many people also like to encourage their dog to eat more slowly by using a slow feeder bowl.
With their wrinkles and sand-textured skin, Shar Pei can have various problems with allergies.
Not all of them are food-related. Dermatology/skin problems are the number one health issue in Shar Pei.
Inhalant dermatitis (atopy) is at the top of the list followed by flea bite dermatitis, contact allergy, and then food allergy.
Symptoms include itching, hair loss, secondary skin infection, ear infections, and other signs.
Also Read: Best Dog Shampoo for Shar Pei
If your Shar Pei has a skin or stomach problem, you should not assume that it’s a food allergy.
It could be one of these other allergies – or another skin problem that affects the breed.
Shar Pei can also have irritable bowel disease, for example. We strongly urge you to see your veterinarian so you can get a diagnosis.
If your Shar Pei does have a food allergy, you and your veterinarian can work together to identify your dog’s triggers.
Once you know the allergens that cause your dog’s food allergy, you can avoid those foods. The most common food allergens for dogs are chicken, beef, dairy, and egg.
Also Read: Best Dog Food for Skin Allergies
How much should you feed your Shar Pei?
Using figures for your Shar Pei’s weight and age, we can provide an estimate for how much you should be feeding him at various times during his first year.
A three-month-old male Shar Pei may weigh about 25 pounds. At this age and size, you can feed him about 1300 calories per day.
A six-month-old male Shar Pei could weigh about 47 pounds. You can feed about 1391 calories per day. Puppies are bigger at this age but their growth has slowed.
At one-year, your male Shar Pei can weigh about 64 pounds. You can expect to feed him about 1578 calories per day.
These are only estimates. If your dog is very inactive, you can reduce the calories slightly. If you have a female, she will likely be a little smaller and you can reduce the calories a little. If your dog is spayed/neutered, expect the metabolism to be slower. These dogs often gain weight more easily so adjust the calories downward slightly.
Best foods for Shar Pei
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If your Shar Pei has any kind of mild digestive problems, we like Royal Canin Maxi Nutrition Sensitive Digestion Dry Food for Dogs. This formula contains nutrients to help your dog’s digestive health as well as addressing his skin and coat issues.
Since Shar Pei are between medium and large dogs, we like this food made for large dogs because it provides support for bones and joints. Shar Pei can have problems with hip and elbow dysplasia and eating a food that provides some support could help, along with watching your dog’s weight.
- Promotes digestive health
- Support for bones and joints health
- Optimized for large dog breeds
- Cost is above market average
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dog Food is another food that can help Shar Pei with sensitive stomach and skin problems. This formula is particularly easy to digest so your dog can get all of the nutrients he needs.
It contains omega-6 fatty acids and other nutrients to help restore his skin and coat to good health. The food also supports your dog’s immune system with a clinically-proven blend of antioxidants and Vitamins C and E.
- Promotes healthy digestion
- Contains healthy fats (Omega 6 fatty acids)
- Made in the USA
- Not palatable for some dogs
If your Shar Pei doesn’t have skin or stomach issues, we like Eukanuba Adult Dry Dog Food for Large Breeds. This is a chicken formula and chicken is the first ingredient. This formula does have a specialized fiber system made from natural beet pulp and the prebiotic FOS (Fructooligosaccharides – a carbohydrate and natural sugar).
These prebiotic fibers promote nutrient absorption and encourage healthier digestion. Eukanuba Adult Dry Dog Food for Large Breeds also contains naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints. And it has optimally balanced levels of omega-3 and omega-6.
- Free from fillers and artificial ingredients
- Contains prebiotic fibers
- Contains real chicken as the #1 ingredient
- Some dogs may be sensitive to chicken ingredients
Another food we like for Shar Pei is Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food Anchovy, Sardine & Salmon. This food provides digestive support through prebiotics, probiotics, natural fibeers, and enzymes. The protein comes from real anchovies, sardines, and salmon.
And, it contains no meat by-products, wheat, wheat gluten, or artificial colors, flavors, or fillers.
- 0% fillers and artificial ingredients
- Made in the USA
- Contains real Anchovy and Sardine as the #1 ingredient
- Not suitable for dogs with fish sensitives
The ancient Shar Pei is highly intelligent and always easy to distinguish with his wrinkles and unique coat. We hope this guide to choosing the best dog foods for Shar Pei has provided some insight into the breed’s dietary needs.