Country of Origin: China
Height: 6–9 inches
Weight: Limit of 14 pounds
Coat: Double coat with long, straight, coarse, stand-off outercoat and thick, soft undercoat; mane; some feathering
Colors: All colors and markings; may have black mask
Registries (With Group): AKC (Toy); UKC (Companion)
Origin and History
Miniature dogs have been known in China since the T’ang Dynasty of the 8th century. In ancient superstitious times, the “terrifying” lion-like appearance of these dogs, as well as the “Fo Dog” idols that represented them, were supposed to frighten away evil spirits. The Pekingese was known by a variety of names: Lion Dog (like his close relatives the Lhasa and Shih Tzu), Sun Dog (for the prized golden color), and Sleeve Dog (for those small enough to be carried around in a large Chinese sleeve). Their popularity hit a high in China between 1821 and 1851, during the Tao Kuang period, at which time the most highly prized dogs were drawn into the Imperial Dog Books to reference their finer points. There were thousands of them around the various imperial palaces, and 4,000 eunuchs were housed and employed in Peking solely for the purpose of breeding, raising, and caring for the Pekingese dogs. No one outside of the nobility was allowed to own one —stealing one was punishable by death—and the dogs knew nothing but pampering and gentle care.
Peking was invaded and taken by the British in 1860, and fearing that their dogs would fall into enemy hands, the Imperial family gave instructions for all of them to be destroyed. Four were found guarding the Emperor’s aunt, who had taken her own life, and they were brought back to England. Queen Victoria received one as a gift. As other Pekingese were found in China and brought back to England, their bloodlines were continued and they became popular there, too.
Exhibiting confidence, charm, and a bit of stubborn independence, Pekingese are fearless but never aggressive. Their sole purpose in life is to give comfort and companionship to their owners. They tend to bond strongly to one person. Pekingese are charmers but should be socialized from puppyhood so that they gain the confidence that is so suiting to them.
With his shortened muzzle, which causes him to snore and wheeze, strenuous exercise many not be healthy for the Pekingese—but that shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to take him out for daily short strolls and playtime, which he needs.
The Peke’s long double coat requires daily attention. It should be brushed and combed, with extra care taken to keep the hindquarters clean. The feet should be brushed as well.
The average life span of the Pekingese is 10 to 12 years.
As a dog used to the lap of luxury, there isn’t much more the Peke wants than to be a loyal companion. However, this doesn’t mean that basic training should be ignored. A Peke still needs to have basic manners and be taught household rules. He can be quite opinionated when it comes to what he will and will not do, but patience and reward-based training will benefit the entire family.
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