All About Pekingese

About This Breed

Surprisingly stocky and muscular for its size, the Pekingese is a toy dog breed which originated in China over 1000 years ago. The breed has hardly changed over that time and still remains a happy, lovable, and cute lapdog -- perfect for apartment tenants or people in search of a small dog.

Physical Characteristics

The Pekingese has a small yet sturdy body with round black eyes, small dropped ears and a tail that curls over the back. A brachycephalic dog breed, its short muzzle and smashed in nose makes the breed more prone to breathing problems. The dog is also more likely to snort and sneeze frequently.

COLOR(S) 

The breed is most commonly seen in red, black, fawn, black and tan, sable, or a combination of these colors.

COAT

The undercoat of the Pekingese is thick; the overcoat, meanwhile, is long, straight and dense, yet soft to the touch. Normally the coat is parted down the middle from the head to the tail. Often the hair on the face is kept long and brushed and made to look like a lion mane.

Personality and Temperament

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Low

POSITIVES

The Pekingese is loving and loyal to its human family. In fact, it makes for a great lap dog for adults.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

The breed requires constant grooming. Additionally, it is not always well-behaved with children and is wary of strangers.

Care

IDEAL LIVING SITUATION

The Pekingese fares well in the country or city.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

The breed requires extensive and constant grooming.

Health

The following conditions are commonly seen in the Pekingese:

  • Breathing problems
  • Umbilical hernias
  • Patellar luxation

History and Background

To learn of the Pekingese, you must first know of the legend of the lion and the marmoset. According to folklore, in order for the lion to wed his lady-love, he begged the patron saint of the animals, Ah Chu, to reduce him to the size of a pigmy, while still retaining his great lion heart and character. It is then said that the offspring of this union was the dog of Fu Lin, or the Lion Dog of China.

Traceable back to the Tang Dynasty of the 8th century, the Lion Dog, now referred to as the Pekingese, were bred by palace eunuchs and treated like royal members of the family -- even having palace servants tend to their every need -- until 1000 A.D. (The smaller Pekingese were known as sleeve dogs, as they could be taken around in the large sleeves of their Chinese owners.)

Pekingese breeding continued during the Tao Kuang period (1821-1851), after which British looters plundered the imperial summer palace in 1860, bringing with them five royal Lion Dogs to England.

One of these dogs was gifted to Queen Victoria, thereby increasing the demand for the breed and insuring its place in British society. For several decades, ownership of the breed was a sign of privilege and wealth. The American Kennel Club registered the Pekingese in 1906. Today, its popularity has neither waned nor faltered, remaining an excellent choice for show dog fancier and purebred connoisseurs alike.