- Group – Working
- Height – 25-29 inches at the shoulder
- Weight – 45-68 KG
- Life Span – 9-10 years
The Pekingese, named for the Chinese city of Peking (now known as Beijing), requires weekly brushing of their luxurious coat. Happy little dogs, this breed can make a terrific pet for families and is well-suited for apartment life.
The earliest known record of a dog resembling the Pekingese dates to the T’ang Dynasty of the 8th century. These small dogs were treated as sacred by the Chinese and could only be owned by members of the imperial family, who pampered them beyond reason and kept their bloodlines pure. So revered were the small fluffy dogs that their likenesses were carved in ivory and bronze and studded with precious gems, and theft of a Pekingese was punishable by death. The Peke was at its height of popularity in China between 1821 and 1851, during the Tao Kuang period. There were thousands of them in the various Chinese palaces. The breed was introduced to the western world in 1860, after the British invaded the Imperial Palace at Peking (Beijing). Most members of the royal court fled, taking their dogs with them, if they could. Other Pekingese were less fortunate and were killed by their owners before the invading soldiers arrived, to keep them out of enemy hands.
Legend has it that three young British officers (Captain John Hart Dunne, Lord John Hay and Sir George Fitzroy) looted a closed apartment in a deserted pavilion and found five Pekingese “guarding” the body of the Emperor’s aunt, who had committed suicide as the British troops approached. Hay and Fitzroy supposedly each kept a pair of these dogs, and Dunne took one, which he named “Lootie.” When the troops returned to England, Dunne gave Lootie to Queen Victoria as a gift. Despite this often-told tale, Captain Dunne’s diary is probably more accurate. He wrote that he went to a French army camp to buy looted goods (called “trifles”) and there purchased “a pretty little dog, smaller than any King Charles, a real Chinese sleeve dog. It has silver bells around its neck.” This is the dog he gave to the Queen, claiming to have found it in the Palace of Yuan-Ming. The other four Pekingese were probably obtained in much the same fashion, since neither Hay nor Fitzroy participated in the attack on the Palace.
After the sacking of Peking, the royal court returned and re-established itself under the patronage of Empress Tzu His. She made a serious attempt to save China’s Pekingese. However, when she died in 1908, her kennels were disbanded, thus ending the history of the Pekingese in its homeland. In 1893, a Pekingese owned by Mrs. Loftus Allen was exhibited at the Chester dog show in England. So unusual was the dog that it aroused great interest among English dog fanciers. Additional Pekingese trickled into England, Ireland and France in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and toy dog owners became enamored with the breed. Three Pekingese – Ah Cum, Mimosa and Boxer – are credited with being the foundation of the breed in England.
The American Kennel Club first recognized the Pekingese in 1906. Today’s Pekingese is a bit shorter in leg, flatter in face and more abundant in coat than his ancestors. Otherwise than these minor exaggerations, the modern Peke remains virtually unchanged: he is unmistakably dignified, exasperatingly stubborn, independent and aloof, calm and basically good-tempered, neither aggressive nor timid and condescending but still cordial toward strangers. To his closest friends and family, he is affectionate and can even be playful. The Pekingese enjoys a good romp and a walk about town, but he prefers pillows, pampering and prolonged napping over physical exertion.
Personality and Temperament
Pekingese dogs are very affectionate, though they are not known for a fondness for strangers.
This breed gets along fine with children and other animals, as long as they are properly socialized. They do not like to be disturbed while sleeping and so may not be suited for homes with small children.
Hair, Care and Grooming
Long, coarse-textured, straight, stand-off outer coat with thick, soft undercoat. The coat forms a mane on the neck and shoulder area. Longer fringing on the ears and tail. The Pekingese requires a good deal of grooming. This includes frequent brushing and shampooing. Excessive hair around the footpads requires occasional trimming.
Like many toy dogs, heart failure is a fear with Pekingese dogs. You can watch for these kinds of symptoms by also watching for heart murmur. It will be important to take your dog to a local veterinarian on a fairly regular basis to make sure your dog is living a healthy lifestyle.
Training and Activity
This breed requires careful attention and positive reinforcement in training.
The Pekingese needs a low level of exercise, making him especially well suited for apartment living.
A small dog, the Pekingese might try to goad you into giving it particularly rich or flavorful food – eggs, for example. But you can feed your dog a normal diet and avoid spoiling them simply by refusing to capitulate to its wishes. It’s important to remember that the Pekingese is a small dog and requires a similarly small diet.