Pekingese Dog Breed Profile

Initially bred to live in palaces among ancient Chinese royalties, the Pekingese is classified as an alert and independent toy dog that makes for an adorable lap dog companion.

These compact dogs do indeed look braver and stronger than their appearance portrays.

Among the outstanding characteristics of the Pekingese is their social, friendly, and affectionate personality—not to mention their dignified charisma and their majestic gait.

Pekingese are also called “Pekes” and are very loyal.

They are also one of the most intelligent dogs that quickly form strong bonds with their owners. While this dog is an ideal lapdog, Pekingese dogs don’t do well with small children.

They generally tolerate children but are not overly active enough to play with older kids for too long and may become aggressive when they are handled roughly but babies.

Breed overview

  • Group: Toy
  • Weight: Pekingese Can weigh up to 12 to 14 pounds
  • Height: 6 to 9 inches
  • Coat: They have a long, thick double coat
  • Colors: Generally, Pekingese come in variations of red, gold, or sable, but occasionally, their colors can include white, black tan, cream, gray, and sables
  • Life expectancy: Can live for 12 to 14 years


  • Affection Level: High
  • Friendliness: High
  • Kid-Friendly: Medium
  • Trainability: Low
  • Intelligence: High
  • Tendency to bark: Medium
  • Amount of shedding: High
  • Pet-Friendly: Medium
  • Exercise needs: Low
  • Playfulness: Medium
  • Energy level: Medium

History of the Pekingese

Pekingese is a compact toy breed that served as companions for the ruling class in ancient China. Ancient Chinese legend has it that the Pekingese was created by Buddha himself when he magically shrunk a wild lion to the size of a petite dog.

Another folklore tells us that in order for a lion in love to wed his sweetheart-who was a marmoset the beast had to plead with the patron saint of animals known as Ah Chu, to help reduce him to the size of a small pigmy while still maintaining the character and heart of a lion.

The babies gotten from that union was the dog of Fu Lin, also referred to as the Lion Dog of Great China. All through history, the Pekingese have been called “sun dogs,” “lion dogs,” and even “sleeve dogs.”

Due to the ancient folklores and history surrounding the breed, its exact origin is still unknown; however, experts believe that there is a possibility that Pekingese bred down to toy size from a bigger dog by Chinese emperors.

The oldest-known record of the breed can be traced back to the 18th century Tang Dynasty. Their owners have known these royal, sophisticated dogs to be forever loyal to their keepers and are known to walk with a magnificent, rolling gait.

The Pug, Shih Tzu, and Pekingese have been bred for centuries by Chinese nobles. They were equally treated like royalty and had palace servants that attended to their every need, which may explain why Pekes today have a stubborn and independent demeanor.

At the time, death was the ultimate punishment for stealing one of these majestic dogs, as they were considered sacred and kept pure.

Pekes weren’t introduced into the western world until the 1860s, during the Opium Wars, when the British troops invaded Peking.

The royal family decided to eliminate their Pekingese when they noticed the Brits invading the emperor’s palace.

The British army planned to loot the royal palace and set it on fire, but the royal family would rather have their pets killed than see it fall into enemy hands.

Notwithstanding, when a British captain found the emperor’s aunt had committed suicide—but survived by five of her Pekes—they were taken and returned as a gift for the Queen.

The breed immediately gained popularity among her subjects, and owning a Pekingese was a sign of wealth and privilege across England.

Pekes didn’t arrive in America until the 1900s and was registered by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 1960. A few years later, the dog made headlines when it was among the only three dogs that didn’t go down with the Titanic.

Pekingese Care

This petite, stocky toy dog can be characterized by its “lion’s mane,” and its long thick coat does need a fair amount of consistent maintenance.

Longest at the shoulders and neck, the full double coat of the Peke needs at least one weekly brushing to help in preventing matting and removing hairs. They also need to be bathed occasionally.

Some owners choose to trim their Peke’s coat short to ease the stress of grooming. Maintaining a Pekingese coat can be very demanding since they shed seasonally.

Delicate attention is required to work on matted or tangled hair. Their nails should also be trimmed regularly.

Historically kept to provide companionship and amusement to their keepers, the Pekingese only have moderate daily exercise needs and are suited for apartment living.

Although at their own pace, Pekingese enjoy participating in canine sports and games. They shouldn’t be rushed, especially when they are walking.

They should never be exposed to too much heat, as this may make breathing difficult for them due to how their face is structured.

Like their ancient owners, Pekingese can be very independent and somewhat stubborn. This could, in turn, make training challenging, as many Pekingese would rather be in charge and fail to obey harsh commands.

So it’s best to persuade your Pekingese into thinking that doing something was, in fact, their idea. Harsh commands or aggressive training could lead to defensive or aggressive behavior.

Despite their stubborn nature, they are very aware of their surroundings and could be used as a watchdog.

Early exposure to socialization is essential as it helps your Pekingese to familiarize itself with other people and pets, especially since this is a breed that prefers the company of other Pekes and humans.

Common Health Problems

Generally, the Pekes tend to be a sturdy, healthy breed. Still, there are specific health complications and issues connected with the Pekingese, one of which is Brachycephalic Syndrome that affects breathing.

Because Pekingese lack a long muzzle, their round, protruding eyes are not protected by any natural barrier. This makes it easy for them to develop eye issues, such as corneal abrasions.

The breed is also linked with some minor health complications that revolve around back issues and food allergies.

Also, the high amount of wrinkling on its face can lead to problems with skin fold dermatitis, not to mention other infections and irritations. So it is imperative that skin folds are kept clean and dry.

Pekingese prefer cooler temperatures due to its flat face and thick coat. Too much heat can become fatal for this breed, so it’s imperative that the Pekes be kept in well-ventilated, cool rooms.

Their walks and outdoor activities should also be limited, especially when they are living in hotter climates.

Diet and nutrition

Pekingese should do well with any high-quality dog food. Because Pekingese is a less active breed, they can quickly become susceptible to weight gain, so it’s essential that they are not overfed.

You may also want to tell families and friends not to offer your dog any treats. They should have access to cool, fresh water, mainly because they don’t do well with heat.

It may help to do quick research on Pekingese when determining if the breed is right for you and your family. Consult with your local breeder, veterinarian, or rescue groups to get more information on Pekes.

Check out some of the following breeds if you are interested in breeds similar to the Pekingese.

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