Average Height: 6 -9 in
Average Weight: 7 -14 lbs
Average Life Span: 10 -14 yrs
Coloring: Typically gold, red, and sable with black mask; cream, black, blue, white, black-and-tan also occur
Area of Origin: China
Similar Breeds: Pug, Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, English Toy Spaniel, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Japanese Chin
History and Origin:
The Pekingese has enjoyed a long history in China as a favorite dog of many Imperial families. Early records of the breed in artwork and in the Imperial Dog Books of China date the breed to at least the eighth century BC. For centuries, only royalty could own a Pekingese. The dog was held in such high regard that a Pekingese would be sacrificed upon the death of its owner to aid and guide him through the afterlife. In fact, in 1860 when the British overtook the palace in Peking (now Beijing), the Chinese Imperial Guard was instructed to kill every Pekingese dog that lived there so that none of them would fall into the hands of the invaders. A few dogs managed to be saved by British soldiers, however, and were brought back to England. They were presented to Queen Victoria, who initiated a breeding program to revive the breed. The breed made its way to North America shortly after, and the Pekingese was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1909.
Personality and Temperament:
True to its royal origins, the Pekingese is a very noble, self-assured little dog with a large personality. While affectionate and playful with its family, it is extremely wary of strangers; which makes it a good watch dog. It has a tendency to bark a bit too much, however, and can be quite bossy if given free reign. With a tendency to be a bit nippy, the Pekingese may not adjust well to children, but can be a fantastic and loving family companion if raised with love and direction from a young age. While small, the Pekingese’s robust personality may prove to be a bit too much for a nervous or first-time dog owner, and some experience with dog behavior is needed to help this breed become a cherished pet.
Exercise & Training:
While small, the Pekingese enjoys a daily walk and play time to keep it happy and healthy. Access to a yard is ideal in case it cannot be walked, however because of its size, the Pekingese can adapt well to apartment life. It is a highly intelligent breed, and can be quite stubborn if not trained properly as a puppy. Firm leadership and a structured training system will encourage the Pekingese to listen to and obey its owner.
The Pekingese’s coat is thick and full; daily brushing is needed to keep it tangle-free. The easiest way of maintaining the coat is to keep it clipped short, and a trip to a professional groomer a few times a year will help keep it manageable. The Pekingese is a moderate shedder, and as such is not suitable for allergy sufferers.
As one of the oldest breeds, the Pekingese has very deep bloodlines. It is related to the Shih Tzu, the Pug, and the Tibetan Lhasa Apso; all three breeds possess similar physical qualities and purposes in ancient Asia. The Japanese Chin is likely to have been influenced by the Pekingese, and both breeds were held in high regard among the royal courts of China and Japan. The Pekingese is also likely to have been influential in the development of the English Toy Spaniel, and, thus, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Interesting Facts about the Pekingese:
1. While it may not look it, the Pekingese is such an old breed that it (along with its cousins, the Shih Tzu and the Lhasa Apso) is one of the breeds that is genetically most closely related to the wolf.
2. The Pekingese is associated with many legends in ancient China; the most famous is the story of the “Lion and the Marmoset”. After falling in love with a marmoset, the lion asked the spirit of the animals to make him small so that he could be with his love. The spirit turned him into a pygmy lion, and the offspring of this union was the first Pekingese dog. Because of this story, the name “lion dog” was given to the breed.
3. In ancient China, theft of a Pekingese was punishable by death.