Back in the day, you didn’t need a can of mace. Nope, you could hide a Pekingese in your sleeve like emperors did centuries ago, and unleash them under threat. This breed, also known as the “Lion Dog,” is one of the oldest and most regal dogs on the planet.
While times are different, and mostly anyone can own a Peke, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, only the noble class could own this Toy breed.
Interestingly, the breed has become scarce back home in China. But everywhere else, dog lovers around the world just can’t get enough.
So what is it that people love about this small breed? And will they make a great addition for your home?
Here is what you need to know about the Pekingese.
The Pekingese is one of those breeds you love to write and read about. There’s a lot of information to unpack, with some of it being unbelievable, and some, incredible. Several authorities claim this ancient Chinese breed is one of the oldest out there today.
According to Pekingese Central, the Pekingese not only is one of the oldest breeds but was bred solely for companionship. In fact, only the elites and ruling class could own the Peke. And the Peke was held to such high regard, that disrespect towards the breed or the refusal to bowl was punishable to death, according to legend. Few breed of dogs have held that level of prestige.
It is arguable as to when the Pekingese began appearing in time. Some say it is possible since the Shu Dynasty held over 2000 years ago. And others claim the lapdog companion is about 1,300 years old.
The Peke’s beginnings in the west originate after an English invasion of the Chinese Empire. It is said that soldiers brought back with them any of the remaining few. According to the breed’s history, Queen Victoria was the first to own the Peke. Allegedly, Victoria took the smallest of the five remaining.
Instantly, these small companion dogs became a hit in the West around the 1860’s. Moreover, it wouldn’t take long for the breed to make its way into the United States at around the 1890’s. Another big fan was famous banker, J.P. Morgan. Interestingly, when the formation of the Pekingese Club of America in 1909 began, Morgan became a honorary president. By then, the breed had recognition with the American Kennel Club, in 1906. In 1948, the breed would receive recognition with the United Kennel Club as well.
SInce then, the Peke has been a sensation, and has gone on to win multiple Best In Shows. True to their past, the Pekingese became one of the more popular household companions during the 20th century. Today, the breed is only the 93rd most popular breed in the United States, according to the American Kennel Club.
Unfortunately, the breed is a scarce commodity back home in China. An article in Reuters claims the breed was once so common in the streets of Beijing, that the streets would be overwrought with Pekingese strays. Today, however, it’s a whole different story, with very few local Pekes remaining. It is so bad, that most of the Pekes in this area come from abroad, where it can cost upwards of 100,000 Yuan.
According to the breed standard, the Pekingese can weight upwards of 14 pounds.
With regards to height, both male and female Pekes may stand between 6 to 9 inches.
Personality and Temperament
The first thing that may come to your mind when you see the Pekingese is its royal appearance. Indeed, the self-important and noble lapdog has the personality to match it. They are an inquisitive lot, looking to roam and explore the backyard and surrounding areas. Overall, this is a dog that enjoys a moderate amount of outdoor activity. If they are brought up with other Pekes, it isn’t an uncommon sight to see them enjoying a nice backyard romp.
Furthermore, if there is one favorite place the Pekingese likes to be, it is their owner’s lap. They are loving, affectionate and lust for attention. They’ll follow you corridor to corridor, and they’ll wait for your royal entry. This breed has a loving spirit towards family and enjoys older children over younger due to tolerance.
Adaptable and good for beginners, you’ll be wise to bring this breed up in temperate to colder conditions. Apartment dwellers may find it challenging due to their vocalization, however, they should do fine under proper training. Ultimately, this breed wants to be where their people are.
When it comes to at home etiquette, this is an alert, but somewhat calm breed. You won’t hear them obnoxiously barking or tearing up the place due to alone time. They enjoy resting as you do, but if you like to be active, they’ll go along for the ride.
The breed does have an independant side to them. This may make them a bit of a challenge to train. However, they are quite intelligent, charming, and carry a load of confidence. If you stick with them, they’ll please you with learning your commands and picking up on tricks rather easily.
All in all, the Pekingese is a loyal fit for most people’s kingdom. They just want to be a part of the family and thrive off of human contact.
The American Kennel Club considers the Pekingese one of the healthiest breeds today and of the past. Their clubs seem to agree. However, that doesn’t mean they are immune from certain health complications. In fact, the breed has quite a list of health issues you should be watching out for.
To make things easier for you and your Pekingese, you should always buy a Peking from a reputable breeder. The breeder should be able to provide you with the proper documentation and health clearances. Additionally, you’ll want to schedule regular veterinarian visits to maintain their health.
For starters, this is a Brachycephalic breed. Much like the Pug or Bulldog, the breed does have issues with breathing due to their flat face and short nose. Also, the Peking may have a hard time in hotter conditions and find it hard to breathe in humidity. You may witness your Peking gagging, fainting, or breathing loudly. Watching the Peking’s weight can help and also using common sense in certain conditions will too.
There are a few conditions affecting this breed’s eyes. Keratitis is when the Peking suffers from corneal abrasions from constant rubbing against the surface of the eye due to the eyelid. Cataracts is when your Peking has a cloudiness affecting the crystalline lens, which will look white and cloudy. Each condition can have implications on the dog’s vision.
Staying with the eyes, Distichiasis, which is a protrusion of the eyelid due to an abnormal growth of the eyelash, subsequently, causing irritation. Rubbing and squinting are a few signs of this complication and surgery may be necessary to correct it.
Keratoconjuctivitis Sicca is another concern the Pekingese may suffer from. This is a lack of tear duct production which will cause their eyes to dry up and result in irritation. Entropion is when the eyelid rolls inward, which also causes irritation to the eyeball with surgery being necessary sometimes.
Hydrocephalus is a serious issue if you ignore the problem. This is due to cerebrospinal fluid collecting in the brain’s ventricle. This can result in death if you don’t treat it appropriately.
Patella Luxation is when the kneecap slips out of place. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, a lead authority on these types of conditions. The breed ranks 42nd from over 100 plus different breeds. With a 3.8 dysplastic rating, this puts them in the company of the Dachshund, Affenpinscher and Bichon Frise.
Additionally, other issues like Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Intervertebral Disc Disease and Mitral Valve Disease may show up on this breed’s radar.
The Pekingese isn’t a dog that needs to be overtly active. However, they do require a moderate amount of exercise. Two short walks of 30 minutes or so should suffice their needs. Outside play or indoor romps with fellow Pekes should do the trick.
Early socialization and training is a necessity if you want your Peking to be friendly with other dogs. Again, your Peking may exude a stubborn side. Patience and positive reinforcement will go a long way, while rewarding them with snacks or treats.
Older children will do better with this breed. Not to say your Peking won’t get along with a smaller child. This all depends on how well your child treats dogs. The Pekingese doesn’t tolerate cruelty and may retaliate if they feel under threat. Additionally, the Peking won’t tolerate another dog’s aggression and may show signs of protective instincts.
You’ll want to be wary of your Peking’s activity outdoors. Avoid putting them for long periods of time in the heat. Brachycephalic dogs have a tough time maintaining the heat and suffer more than other breeds when it comes to breathing. Clean their folds or creases regularly to avoid bacterial buildup from the debris. Check their ears for bacteria as well routinely. Finally, you should trim their nails monthly to prevent overgrowth and splitting.
How much your Pekingese will depend on their age, metabolism and activity rate. Every dog is different and ultimately you’ll get a feel for what your Peking can and cannot handle. Meat first as the ingredient and a high quality formula is the recommendation of owners, kennel clubs and professionals. Good protein sources such as fish, chicken, turkey, bison, lamb and meat organs. You’ll want to balance in a good percentage of crude fat and fatty acids for the complete effect.
Your Pekingese should get 1/2 cup to 1 cup of top quality dry food per day. Of course, you should break that up into smaller meals to help prevent obesity and Gastric Torsion.
As always, you should provide your Pekingese with fresh drinking water.
Regular grooming of the Pekingese coat is an absolute if you want to avoid matting or tangles. They are a seasonal shedder, which will find you brushing their coat two to three times per week. Their double coat is long on the outside, coarse and straight. The undercoat is soft and thick.
According to the American Kennel Club, the breed has ten coat color options: Biscuit, black, black and tan, cream. fawn, fawn sable, gray, red, red sable, white.
There are three markings acceptable for the breed standard: Black mask, parti-color, and white markings.
Fun Pekingese Facts
- The story on how the breed became the “Lion-Dog” is a bit bizarre. It stems from centuries ago, when a tiny dog and Lion fell in love. According to the legend, the Lion beg the Deity to grant the two’s love possible. Eventually, the Deity would give into the wish, thus shrinking the lion to make their quest for love possible.
- In 1913, Choo Tai of Esham won Best in Show honors at the Crufts Dog Show. Moreover, the breed has won four times at the Westminster Dog Show in 1960, 1982, 1992, and in 2012.
- The first Peking to be shown at a Dog Show was in 1874.
- According to the L.A. Times, the breed likely descends from wolves.
- The smallest version of the Pekingese is called, “Sleeves.” They get the name due to their master’s stuffing them under their sleeves. If the master felt under threat, they would unleash the Sleeve to attack.
- Pekingese Info also confirms the breed being one of the oldest attributing a DNA analysis.
As you can tell, the Pekingese has quite the fascinating back story. From their role as tiny attack dogs to their position of nobility.
Furthermore, the breed has done very well at dog shows like the Crufts and Westminster. People, including J.P. Morgan, Queen Victoria to the nobles in China fell head over heels for their Pekings.
For good reason, they are loyal, loving and complete as a companion. The Pekingese is one of the oldest breeds, and will remain a favorite as people find out more and more about them.