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A brown Shar-Pei puppy with wrinkly skin

When we think about wrinkly breeds like the pug or the Shar-Pei, the first word that comes to mind probably isn’t “work.” However, it might interest you to know that many of these dog breeds originally served as working dogs, hunting small game, tracking smells, or guarding a specific post. Today, they take on a bit less work, mainly serving as the family-friendly, picturesque pups we all know and love. Most wrinkly dogs are affectionate, fiercely loyal breeds, making them perfect to have around your kids or take for a stroll in the park. And if you happen to need the work done, plenty of them, like our honorable mention, the Dogue de Bordeaux, are still up to the task.

Let’s explore the 7 best wrinkly dog breeds for both work and leisure.

1. Pug

The pug has mastered the art of lapdog and companion, which is no surprise, given they were bred for that exact purpose. Their unique facial features were once a symbol of prestige and distinction, and they have come to define the pug as a little friend who will make  you feel like royalty. While their innate sense of haughtiness might make training a tad difficult, their huffs and grumbling only add to their already distinctive charm. However, as cute as those wrinkles are, they do pose some health problems you’ll want to be mindful of to keep your pug feeling posh and perky. Be wary of eye health, as pugs have fairly shallow eye sockets which can lead to bulging and infection. Keep a close eye on their breathing as well, as their shorter noses can complicate proper airflow.

🚨If your pug’s eyes look like they’re bulging or out of socket, contact your veterinarian immediately. 

A pug puppy laying on ground

Facts about the pug

  • Breed groupToy breed
  • Intelligence — Average
  • Barking — Limited
  • Life span — 12-15 years

2. Bloodhounds

Despite their solemn look, bloodhounds are one of the most noble and dignified breeds around. Coined “noses with dogs attached to them,” bloodhounds are expert trackers who have historically been used to hunt animals for miles on end, adding to their mystique as invaluable working animals. However, when properly socialized at an early age, bloodhounds can make great companions for the family, especially children and other dogs. Pay close attention to a few of their health complications, though. Folds in their skin can trap moisture and lead to rashes and eye infection, and ear infection. It’s also important to keep these wrinkly friends at a healthy weight to curb the potential for hip dysplasia and chronic discomfort. See our betterpet article on bloodhound dietary needs so you can provide them with the care they need.

A Bloodhound dog resting on the ground

Facts about the Bloodhounds

  • Breed groupHound breed
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Average
  • Life span — 10-12 years

3. Neapolitan Mastiff

The Neapolitan Mastiff is one the oldest dog breeds around, originally used as guard dogs during the days of the Roman Empire. These animals are fiercely loyal, making them perfect for home protection. They are generally very friendly around their family members, but be mindful to properly introduce them to strangers. They are affectionate and loving dogs, but their history as guard animals make them a bit wary of new faces. Despite their size, Neapolitans have relatively low exercise needs as they tend to overheat easily. Focus mainly on slow walks and lots of water, or let them roam your backyard and remember their roots as Roman guardians. Diet and grooming are more important for these companions, so keep a close eye on keeping their folds clean and dry and ensuring they get the proper nutrition.

Neapolitan mastiff

Facts about the Neapolitan Mastiff

  • Breed groupWorking breed
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Rare
  • Life span — 8-10 years

4. Basset Hounds

Basset hounds are renowned for their easy-going nature and calm temperament, making them wonderful dogs to have around the home, with your children, and with any other pets you might have. These pups come in a multitude of different colors ranging from black and brown to combinations of red and mahogany. With short, smooth coats, these loyal and obedient dogs make for great companions. Be sure to take them on occasional walks to keep them fit, but be wary of bringing them into a smaller condo or apartment, as they can be quite vocal. If possible, basset hounds thrive best in homes with large yards so they can stretch their legs and bark with wild abandon. Just make sure to pay close attention to their health, as bone and joint complications, as well as ear infections, are fairly common with this breed.

Handsome, droopy-eared basset hound sitting outside.

Facts about the basset hound

  • Breed group — Hound group
  • Intelligence — Moderate
  • Barking — Frequent
  • Life span — 12-13 years

5. Shar-Pei

Originating from China, the Shar-Pei is one of the most unique dog breeds in the world, with distinctive wrinkles and a protective nature that make them a one-of-a-kind companion. Filled with tenacity, these animals are best suited for a single-pet household, as they’re often suspicious of strangers and other animals. However, with enough early socialization and training, these dogs can develop into well-mannered, calm and loving pups perfect for families with older children Despite their lovable nature, this breed has some unique needs that may not make it the most conducive for a first-time dog owner. Chinese Shar-Peis have a bit of a stubborn streak and air on the side of independence, so training can pose some difficulty for more inexperienced owners.

Sshar-Pei dog resting on the ground

Facts about the Shar-Pei

  • Breed groupNon-sporting breed
  • Intelligence — High intelligence
  • Barking — Less common
  • Life span — 8-12 years

6. English bulldog

This short, smooth, shiny-coated buddy has a very mellow temperament despite their size and shape, making them a fun cuddle companion to snore with on the couch. English bulldogs are obsessed with their people, and are quite possibly one of the most loyal and friendly breeds you’ll find in the world. They’re perfect to have around children because of their gentle nature, and can even be delicate enough to have around small toddlers and babies. However, don’t let their gentle disposition fool you; they’re quick to revert to their ancestral habits if they find the need to guard and protect their homes. Be prepared to spend a pretty penny on these friends, as they have a plethora of health problems that may require veterinary visits. Other versions of the breed include the French bulldog and the American bulldog. Regardless of which bulldog you choose, you’ll likely face similar health concerns, and so you may want to invest in pet insurance or start a pet savings account to help prepare.

English bulldog puppy face

Facts about the English bulldog

  • Breed groupNon-sporting breed
  • Intelligence — Medium
  • Barking — Rare, but do make lots of noise grunting or snoring
  • Life span — 8-10 years

7. Boxer

Boxers are a premiere choice for home protection, as they’ve been historically bred to be both alert and watchful. They’re quite the high-energy animal, so make sure you have the time to devote some attention to them so they can get the proper exercise. To avoid your boxer getting a bit too aggressive or rowdy, make sure they get about 30 minutes of exercise twice a day so they can blow off a bit of steam. Training is essential for owning a boxer to make sure they know how to control their behavior and temper their forcefulness as they transition out of puppyhood. A firm training style—mixed with a bit of silliness—is the recommended strategy to get the best out of your pup while making sure they have some fun in the process. Don’t let them fool you either, these dogs are highly intelligent. So make sure you’re consistent with your training so that your best friend can be a well-behaved one.

Boxer dog closeup

Facts about the Boxer

  • Breed groupWorking breed
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderate
  • Life span — 10-12 years

A few more things to note about breeds with wrinkles

Dogs with wrinkles generally have quite a few more health complications than your average domestic animal. As owners, it will be important for you to do some preliminary research to understand the specific dietary, fitness, and skincare needs of the dog you want most. Many of these wrinkly friends suffer from various skin, nose, and eye-related infections, so make sure to consult with betterpet on the specific ways you can keep your friend feeling the best they can. Common skincare issues might include itching, skin redness or inflammation, or odor. These difficulties are tied to the many skin folds around their face, arms, and back, and result from a build up of dirt or moisture within these fluffy crevices. Take great care to properly clean your dog’s skin, paying particular attention to these areas and working to keep them as dry as you can to avoid any unnecessary irritation.

It is important to clean the folds of dogs with excess wrinkles at least 2 -3 times weekly with antiseptic/antifungal wipes. Signs that a skin infection is developing could include an odor, discharge, and redness.

Dr. Dwight Alleyne

Frequently asked questions

What happens if you don’t clean your dog’s wrinkles?

If you neglect to clean your dog’s wrinkles, bacteria and yeast can build up, leading to, at the very least, nasty odors, and at worst, skin infections, pain, and discomfort. Make sure to regularly clean your dog’s wrinkles with antiseptic and antifungal wipes made for dogs to prevent infections and keep your dog looking – and smelling – fresh.

Can I put Neosporin on my dog’s wrinkles?

Unless your vet specifically tells you it’s okay, do not put Neosporin on your dog’s wrinkles or on their skin. Most antibiotic ointments for humans have not been tested on animals, so avoid using human remedies on pets whenever possible.

Are Shar Peis aggressive?

Shar Peis are not known for being aggressive with people, though they may be somewhat aloof around strangers. However, they can be aggressive with other dogs if they are not socialized properly. Be sure to get them out and about with other dogs at an early age to help mitigate their aggression.

Can my pugs’ eyes pop out?

Unfortunately, this has been known to happen. Because they have shallow eye sockets, pugs can suffer from proptosis, a bulging of the eyes. Sometimes, if they suffer from proptosis, they can sneeze and push the eye out of its socket. Seek veterinary assistance immediately should this happen to your pug.