Let's talk Pekingeses

Bow down to the Pekingese. This toy-sized canine, once the favoured companion of Chinese royalty, struts around in a dignified manner with a regal air. Once you’ve earned the trust of a Pekingese, and shown respect for their independent temperament, an affectionate and loyal dog awaits you. Wary of strangers, they make excellent watchdogs by putting their bark to good use. The Pekingese likes to avoid boisterous activity, so tends to bond best with teenagers and adults. With a Pekingese, you always get back what you give.

Official name: Pekingese

Other names: Lion Dog

Origins: China

Black and white portrait of a Pekinese dog sitting
 Drooling tendencies

Very low

Warm weather? Very low
 Shedding level
Suited to apartment living?  Very high
 Energy Level (high, low, medium)* Low Family Pet?* 

 Compatibility with other pets
Can stay alone?* Medium

 * We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.
 
For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).
 
Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.
 
Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.
 
All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company.  However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age.  Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 
Inline Image 15
Illustration of a Pekinese dog
Male
15 - 23 cm Height
Up to 5 kg Weight
Female
15 - 23 cm Height
Up to 5 kg 400 g Weight

 

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 10 months
 Adult age  10 months to 8 years
 Mature age  8 to 12 years
 Senior age  12 years upwards

Pekinese dog sat in the grass

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Get to know the Pekingese

All you need to know about the breed

I am Pekingese, hear me roar. The lionlike appearance of the pocket-sized Pekingese is a good indication of their true personality: confident, stubborn and direct. They will never be the one to start a fight, but if it means protecting their owners, the Pekingese is not likely to walk away. This devotion makes them excellent watchdogs, signalling the presence of strangers with a bark.

The Pekingese has a playful side but they don’t require much exercise. As house dogs, the Pekingese is well-suited to apartments, where they enjoy running around but nothing too taxing. Air-conditioning is a plus as the breed is particularly heat sensitive, due to their short noses and dense coat. The Pekingese will enjoy walking on a harness around the neighbourhood, especially if you live in a quiet area, which will also help with their social development.

Some Pekingese dogs may develop Brachycephalic airway syndrome, also known as respiratory distress syndrome, due to their flat-faced features. This is why they condition presents itself through snuffling or snorting. However, if your Pekingese takes to fainting and/or refuses to put their paws outside, consult your vet. Treatments vary from weight control to steroids and even surgical options, depending on the Pekingese.

They love playing with other Pekingese dogs, but don’t tend to gel with other household pets without some training. The same goes for curious toddlers who may poke and prod them, causing harm without meaning to.

Once the Pekingese has your trust they will reveal their big heart and goofy side. So if you’re looking for an affectionate and loving canine companion who doesn’t require strenuous daily exercise, then the Pekingese may well be the breed for you.

Pekinese dog walking over a dried dirt mound

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2 facts about Pekingeses

1. The King & I

Named after the city of Peking, this breed was the preferred canine companion to Chinese royalty and nobility. Ordinary folk were required to bow to the Pekingese, behaviour that the breed is still comfortable with to this day. The Pekingese was such a precious commodity that punishment for attempting to steal one was the death penalty.

2. Small dog syndrome

Setting boundaries is necessary when living with a Pekingese. If they think that they rule the roost, this will bring out their less than desirable temperament. Approach training firmly but gently, using positivity and praise to show your Pekingese that you respect them while setting boundaries. In return, they will be a serene, loyal and obedient companion who will sometimes reveal their silly joker side.

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History of the breed

DNA shows that the Pekingese is one of the oldest dog breeds out there, in existence for at least 2,000 years in China. Legend claims that the Pekingese was originally a lion, shrunk down to dog size by Buddha. While lovely to think of it happening this way, it is much more likely that the Pekingese was intentionally downsized, through breeding, by Chinese royalty.

The breed was a precious secret to the rest of the world, kept carefully within the mansions of Chinese emperors, before their discovery by Westerners in 1860 during the Opium War. Five Pekingese dogs were brought over to England and remained in favour with those in power. Queen Victoria is alleged to have been the owner of a Pekingese called Looty.

The breed quickly gained popularity, despite or perhaps because of their rareness, both within England and across the pond in America. The first Pekingese to appear at a British dog show was Pekin Peter in 1894. Next up was Rascal, the first Pekingese to be registered with the American Kennel Club in 1906.

Today, they remain both rare as a breed and popular at dog shows, with a Pekingese being crowned winner of the 2019 Best in Show, at the 2019 AKC National Championship.

Black and white portrait of a standing Pekinese dog

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Pekingeses

1. Ears

Heart-shaped ears that sit at the front of the skull.

2. Face

A flat skull with wide set eyes and a broad jaw.

3. Body

Small, pear-sized body with a short neck.

4. Coat

Top-coat is long and wiry, with a soft, thick undercoat.

5. Tail

Long-feathered tail sits high with a slight curve to one side.

A black Pekinese dog looking into the distance

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Pekingese
Two Pekinese dogs sat on a tree stump

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Caring for your Pekingese

Grooming, training and exercise tips

To properly groom a Pekingese, they require two types of brushing. One weekly brushing of one hour and one daily comb through for the feathering on their legs, ears and tail. Prevent matting by thoroughly brushing both coats, not just the top one. The exercise needs of a Pekingese are low-key, which makes them great for first-time owners or older people. Regular walks (on a leash) to greet the neighbours, as well as the occasional run around the apartment, will suit them just fine. Training a Pekingese may not be a walk in the park, due to their stubborn streak, but the key lies in encouragement. Take a gentle but firm approach, and praise them when they do something you like and they’ll catch on soon enough.

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All about Pekingeses

The Pekingese is one of the more vocal breeds, with a tendency to bark. Sometimes, they bark to warn against intruders. One solution is to develop their social skills as early on as possible, as part of their training. The Pekingese may also bark because they are bored or anxious. Take them for a walk or distract them with a chew toy, to help them to relax and take their mind off the problem at hand.

The average lifespan of a Pekingese dog is 13-15 years, with some living even longer. They are a generally healthy breed, so having a healthy diet, going for their vet check-ups and meeting their activity requirements will help make sure they feel good well into their older years.

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/