Written by Vet Tech

The Pekingese – Ancient Chinese Dog Breed

Amber LaRock
Written by: Amber LaRock, Vet Tech
Discover the different personality characteristics and physical traits of the Pekingese dog breed, including what it's like to live with one.

The Pekingese is a beloved canine that has an interesting history to go along with their adorable appearance. The Pekingese has been around for thousands of years and has not only been treasured but even considered royal at one point in their life.

In this article we’ll dive into their interesting history, and what makes the Pekingese a beloved pet to this day.

History Of The Pekingese

The Pekingese is a well-known canine in China due to their history with the imperial family of China. Just like any member of Chinese history, there is an interesting legend to go along with their existence!

Chinese legend states that thousands of years ago, a lion fell in love with a marmoset. In order to profess his love, he begged Buddha to reduce him in size while still retaining his fearless lionheart.

Buddha agreed, and thus created the lion dog of China; the Pekingese. Whether this legend is true or not, the Pekingese is documented in Chinese history for the last 2,000 years.

Named after the capital city of China, Peking (now Beijing), this breed was honored by the royal families of China. They were often seen in the homes of princes, imperial families, and other prestigious members of Chinese history.

Commoners would often bow in their presence due to the belief of their lion roots. You could even be sentenced to death if you were caught attempting to steal one of the royal Pekingese dogs.

The Pekingese breed made its way to England after becoming prizes of war during the Opium War in 1860.

Five Pekingese were found guarding their royal owner’s body (who chose to commit suicide rather than be captured) and were captured as prizes of war to bring back to the Duchess of Wellington, the Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon, and to Queen Victoria.

The Pekingese left their royal life in China to then plant their prestigious roots in another country. No matter where they went, they were considered a treasure.

It was then that the Pekingese breed began to make their presence known around the world.

Nowadays, the Pekingese probably still expects royal treatment when they enter a room. Pekingese owners are generally quite devoted to their long-haired pups, so it seems like they still receive royal treatment to this day!

Appearance Of The Pekingese

The Pekingese is well known for their unique appearance. They can weigh anywhere from 7-14 pounds and can stand up to 9 inches in height. Though their stature may be small, their outward appearance is anything but.

The Pekingese is known for having long and luxurious fur when it’s allowed to grow out to its full length. Their fur is coarse, straight, and stands slightly away from the body and frames their face.

True to their “lion dog” nickname, their fur can resemble a thick lion mane.

Unlike the Pomeranian, Pekingese’s coat doesn’t ever obscure the body. Their fur essentially frames their body and still shows off their true form and shape. Unlike other “fluffy” long-haired pups, their fur is straight and fitting on their bodies.

Peke’s coat can be a range of colors. Their coat can be black and tan, fawn, red, creme, white, and more. Even though their coat color can range, they always have a distinct black mask around their faces.

Grooming Your Pekingese

If you plan to bring a Pekingese into your home, be prepared to implement grooming into your weekly, or even daily routine.

With their luxurious long locks come the work that’s needed to keep them looking maintained. If you’d like your Pekingese to rock their signature look, you will need to be committed to the upkeep of their fur.

The more attention you pay to their fur, the easier it will be to maintain. Their long hair can become easily tangled, so a quick brush through each day can eliminate tangles and prevent mats that are difficult to brush through.

If you don’t have the time to brush your Peke daily, you can usually get away with twice a week brushing.

The Pekingese is also known for eye and nasal discharge which can lead to infection if their face is not properly cleaned.

You can easily clean the folds around their muzzle with a damp cotton ball, and making sure to dry their skin folds after they become wet to prevent any dampness.

As far as bathing your Pekingese, they usually do just fine with once a month baths. If you desire a quick refresher in between monthly baths, you can even purchase doggie dry shampoo.

This way you can touch up their fur without the moisture, and easily brush the dry shampoo through their hair.

Personality Of The Pekingese

Though their appearance suggests otherwise, the Pekingese is known for their bravery and outgoing personality. The legend of the Pekingese being “lion dogs” seems to stand true in reference to their bold personality.

The Pekingese is dignified, outgoing, stubborn, and extremely confident. It makes sense that they originate from a background that considered them royal, as they are quite impressed with themselves.

Though the Pekingese can be a bit self-entitled, they are still extremely endearing.

The Pekingese is known for their loyalty to their family, and how affectionate they are toward their favorite people. Since they do love their family so much, they can be a bit territorial.

As long as you properly socialize your Pekingese, they are kind and well-mannered canines.

Overall Health Of The Pekingese

Though the Pekingese can lead a healthy life of up to 15 years of age, they are prone to quite a few medical conditions. Some of these medical conditions include:

1. Patellar Luxation

Luxating patellas is extremely common in small breed dogs. This condition refers to the dislocation of the knee joints which can lead to pain and lameness as the condition progresses.

There are multiple stages of this condition and can be surgically repaired if it greatly hinders their life.

2. Brachycephalic Syndrome

The brachycephalic syndrome refers to dogs that were bred to have a short snout. Due to their “smooshed face” appearance, their airways are often obstructed by their elongated soft palate and narrow nostrils.

With each of these factors combined, this can result in respiratory distress.

3. Cryptorchidism

Cryptorchidism refers to the condition in which either one or both testicles fail to descend, leading them to remain in the abdominal cavity.

These retained testicles are usually non-functional and can result in cancer later in life if not removed. A more in-depth neuter procedure where the veterinarian opens the abdomen is curative for this condition.

4. Fold Dermatitis

Fold dermatitis refers to the skin infections that can be present in dogs with skin folds. Since these skin folds often become moist, this can lead to the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow between these folds.

It’s important to groom your Pekingese and clean any skin folds for this reason.

5. Entropion

Entropion is a condition that results in the eyelid rolling into the eye, causing severe eye irritation and infection.

If your dog experiences this condition, it’s best to revise this condition surgically to prevent future irritation.

6. Mitral Valve Disease

This condition refers to the defect in the mitral valve of the heart causes an overflow of blood into the left atrium, known as mitral regurgitation.

This causes the heart to be less efficient. If your vet hears a heart murmur in your Pekingese during an examination it’s best to see a cardiologist.

7. Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral disc refers to when the gelatinous inner layer of the spinal disc protrudes into the spinal canal and pushes against the spinal cord.

Spinal compression can vary in severity but can result in pain, lameness, and even paralysis if not addressed.

Training Your Pekingese

While the Pekingese is considered an intelligent breed, they are known to be quite stubborn. The Pekingese is quite impressed with themselves, so it’s important to make sure your Pekingese enjoys their training process.

This breed learns best with positive reinforcement and engaging training that makes them excited to participate.

Pekingese can also be extremely territorial when it comes to their family and other dogs, so it’s important to socialize your Peke at a young age.

The socialization process should begin the moment they enter your home and should involve introducing them to new places, people, and other animals.

Exercise And Your Pekingese

If you’re looking for a pup that loves nothing more than having a lazy day with their favorite humans, then this is the dog for you.

While the Pekingese is happy to participate in daily play, they do really enjoy their downtime with family. This breed is known for cuddling on the couch with their owner for hours on end.

Make sure your Pekingese has anywhere from 15-30 minutes of daily play or time outdoors, and they should be perfectly happy!

Important Tips For Your Pekingese

Now that we’ve covered the basics on the Pekingese breed, let’s cover the important tips to remember when bringing a Pekingese into your home.

  • If you choose to let your Pekingese’s hair grow out to its full length, make sure to implement daily or weekly grooming.
  • Make sure to clean the skin folds on your Peke’s face to prevent any infection.
  • The Pekingese can be extremely territorial, so make sure to socialize your Peke from a young age.
  • Heart disease is common in this breed, so make sure to stay on top of their yearly exams at your veterinarian.
  • Due to their short noses, they can experience respiratory distress or overheat easily.
  • They can be stubborn, so make sure they find joy in your training process.

Summary

The Pekingese is a treasured breed that has been in the hearts of dog lovers for thousands of years.

As long as you are ready to pamper your Pekingese, they will be a wonderful addition to your home!