By Janice Jones |Last updated 07-22-2021
Just a quick peek at the Pekingese and you will see why the
ancients thought of them as royalty almost sacred. They are independent, dignified and stubborn
and they know it.
Being a bit standoffish
or aloof when encountering strangers, these dogs are fiercely loyal, friendly
and good nature around their favorite people.
With a broad head, wrinkled muzzle, and a mane of hair
around their neck, they resemble a lion in appearance.
They are a small dog, short and low to the
ground, but stockier than you might think.
Their eyes are round, large, and dark and their drop ears are actually
Their size, coupled with
their minimal exercise requirements makes them an ideal apartment dog.
Fearless and smart, they make a great companion, but they
are known to be difficult to train. They
are also known to be barkers and picky eaters if not trained early.
Other Names Used: Lion Dog, Sleeve Dog
Toy, UK: Companion
Height: 6 to 9 Inches
Weight: Up to 12 pounds
Coat Type: Long, coarse, straight, double coated
Colors: All Colors are acceptable: Red, red
brindle, fawn, black, white, and multicolored;
Country of Origin: China
Activity Level: Low
Life Expectancy: 12
to 15 years
Good with Children: Older Children
Good with other pets: Best with other Pekingese
Dog Breed Ratings Got You a Little Confused?
Here’s a little help in understanding them
- Playfulness: Most Playful = 5 Least Playful = 1
- Affection: Most Affectionate = 5 Least Affectionate = 1
- Friendliness Towards Strangers: Most Friendly = 5 Least = 1
- Good With Children: Great= 5 Not Good with Children = 1
- Good With Dogs: Great = 5 Not Good Around Dogs = 1
- Good With First Time Owners: Fine=5 Not Appropriate = 1
- Exercise Required: Extensive Daily Exercise = 1 Minimal = 1
- Ease of Training: Very Easy = 5 Difficult = 1
- Watch Dog: Excellent Watch Dog = 5 Minimal = 1
- Grooming: Time Consuming = 5 Minimal = 1
- Shedding: Heavy Shedder = 5 Minimal = 1
- Cold Tolerance: Well Tolerated = 5 Poor Tolerance = 1
- Heat Tolerance: Well Tolerated = 5 Poor Tolerance = 1
History of the Pekingese
The Pekingese which is also known as the Lion Dog, The Foo
Dog, FuFu Dog and Sleeve Dog is an ancient breed from China dating back nearly
Legend has it that the breed
was created from the combination of a lion and a marmoset.
As the story goes, a lion fell in love with a
marmoset and wanted to wed his tiny love.
The lion begged the Buddha to make him small, but allow him to keep his
lion character. Buddha agreed and from
their union, the dogs of Fu Lin, the lion dogs of China arose.
Probably not exactly historically accurate,
you have to admit it does make a great story.
Named after the Capitol of China, Peking, known now as
Beijing, it was originally bred by Buddhist monks.
These dogs remained the companions of royalty
and lived only in the Imperial Palace. The
early admirers of the breed were so enamored with their lion dogs that they
raise their status to royalty and gave the dogs their own personal servants.
They were smaller than modern day Pekingese
and often rode around in the sleeves of the robes worn by the nobility, thus
the name “sleeve dog.”
Commoners were required to bow down to these little dogs
and their whereabouts were highly guarded.
The west knew nothing of their existence until the time of
the Opium War in 1860 when British forces raided the Forbidden City.
British forces found and took 5 dogs belonging
to the Emperor’s Aunt and presented them to nobility in England.
Queen Victoria, the Duchess of Wellington and the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon received these prizes of war. The breed remained rare, but by the 1890s, more Pekingese dogs were being smuggled out of China.
The first dog to be exhibited in a British Dog Show was Pekin Peter in 1894.
It was not long before they became popular in the United States. In the early part of the 20th century, Empress Dowager Cixi presented a small black Pekingese named ‘Manchu’ to President Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter Alice.
The first Pekingese to be registered with the AKC occurred in 1906 and then the Pekingese Club of America was formed in 1909.
In 2014, the breed ranks number 80 among the breeds listed by the AKC, a rather sharp drop from the ranking of 33rd in 2002.
Even modern day Pekingese seem to know
that they have been bred for and by royalty because they exude an aura self-importance
that goes deeper than their imperial appearance.
They are likely to take charge of any
situation and can be defensive if they feel threatened.
They are a very intelligent breed but together
with an independent streak and a stubborn attitude make them difficult to
They respond well to positive
gentle training methods and any type of harsh discipline will likely be
Use of food as
rewards works well with this breed, but you will need to persuade them that
what they are doing is somehow their own idea and not yours.
Early socialization is a must for these
dogs and ensures that they will grow up to be a well-rounded, balanced
The more you can expose him to
different people, sights, sounds, and smells, the more likely you will not
encounter some of the behavioral problems that have stereotyped the breed.
Those closest to the breed will
describe them as very loving, affectionate, and sweet.
They have a big heart in a small body and
will treat you with respect as long as you are willing to do likewise.
one-person dog, they will chose one human in the family as their favorite and
bestow more love and affection and protection on that one special person. This
affectionate nature does not extended to anyone outside the family and they are
likely to look at anyone unfamiliar to them with a certain amount of disdain.
They like to bark and will bark when strangers are nearby making them a good watch dog.
Some members of the breed do not know when to stop barking and an early training program is necessary to teach them how to do this.
Pekes are better suited to live with older children because they are not patient when it comes to being poked, grabbed or handled roughly.
They usually get along fine with other Pekingese, but do not take kindly to other household pets. If raised with other dogs or cats, they will accept them and learn to get along fine.
The Pekingese’s thick coat requires grooming on a regular
basis. Some who love the breed, but hate
to groom will opt for keeping the coat clipped down.
If you love the appearance, be prepared to
brush. The coat should be brushed at
least twice a week with a bristle brush and combed as needed.
They do shed, seasonally, usually twice a
year, so extra brushing is necessary during this time. To keep shedding to a minimum, brush from the
skin outwards to remove any dead hairs.
Brushing only the top layer will not help with mats and tangles. The coat should be sprayed with water or a
conditioning spray prior to brushing to keep hair from breaking.
Pekes can be bathed at least monthly or more frequently as
needed. Their nails will need to be
trimmed about every 3 weeks and their teeth should be brushed ideally once per
One very important task of grooming the Pekingese is to keep
the skin folds on the face clean and dry.
Wash the face daily with warm water and dry completely. A mild dilution of baby shampoo can be used
if necessary and will not cause problems for the eyes.
Dry the folds out with a cotton ball.
Other areas to address include the foot pads and the
Clip the excessive hairs
from the foot pads and do a sanitary clip to keep your Peke fresh and clean.
Being a brachycephalic dog, they are sensitive to anesthesisa
and heat, lower tolerance for exercise, and snorting/snoring, breathing
problems that often accompanies dogs with short noses.
Their prominent eyes make them susceptible to ulceration and
other trauma. They are a relatively
healthy breed, but like any other breed, certain genetic problems have been
It is unlikely that you
would encounter them but it is important to be aware of them if you are
considering the breed.
Purchasing from a
professional breeder who takes the time to do health screenings on the parents
will help assure that you will be getting a healthy puppy.
A very common problem in small dogs, this condition occurs when the knee is not
properly lined up and causes lameness and eventually arthritis.
Cataracts: A cataract occurs when the lens of the eye
becomes opaque eventually leading to loss of sight.
Present at birth, there is a separation in the roof of the mouth making nursing
impossible. Most puppies do not survive
and are euthanized.
This condition occurs when an additional row of eyelashes grow on the oil gland
in the dog’s eye and irritates the eye.
This defect causes the eyelid, usually the lower one to roll inward, irritating
or injuring the eyeball.
A skin infection that occurs within the folds or wrinkles of the skin where
moisture accumulates and rubbing occurs.
Occurs when the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain accumulates abnormally
in the ventricles of the brain.
Also called dry eye, this is caused when the eyes do not produce enough
Mitral Valve Dysplasia:
This defect occurs when the valve of the heart does not seal completely and
blood backs up causing the heart to work harder.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA):
This is a degenerative eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the
loss of retinal cells.
Disc Disease: Rare, but has been identified in the
- Very affection and loyal to owner
- Small, make great apartment pets
- Requires little exercise
- Relatively healthy breed
- Make Good Watch Dogs
- Training can be difficult
- Can be stubborn, “what’s in it for me”
- Tendency to bark if not trained
- Requires much grooming
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