The 'floofy' Pekingese is a toy dog with royal and spiritual roots. They were originally bred as companions and lap dogs for Chinese nobility and monks, and their dignified, slightly haughty demeanor makes it seem as though they're well aware of their long history. The Pekingese is an attention grabber both in looks and personality. Pekes have a large mane of fur around their heads and copious amounts of fur from top to tail. They bark if they sense trouble and they snore loudly because of their flat snouts. Pekingese are loving pets and highly protective of the members of their pack. They are not usually welcoming of strangers. This breed requires consistent socialization to ensure they are well mannered on walks and when meeting new people and other dogs.
The Pekingese is also known as Peking Lion Dog, Lion Dog, the Chinese Spaniel, and Peke.
The long, abundant coat of the Pekingese is straight and rough to the touch. The outer coat stands off the body over a soft, thick undercoat. The coat is extra thick around the neck, forming the breed's distinctive mane, and there is long feathering on the back of the legs, and on the ears and tail. The Peke's coat is kept long to meet breed standards, though many owners who don't show opt to trim the coat to a more manageable length. The coat can be any color and may have any marking. Many Pekingese have a black mask.
Average Height: 6-9 inches
Average Weight: up to 14 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The Pekingese is a sturdy little dog with a muscular physique under its poof of fur. The breed is slightly longer than it is tall, giving these dogs a somewhat squat appearance resembling a footstool. Their fluffy tail curls over their back. The breed's head is large relative to the body and they have a short, flat snout. Their prominent, wide-set eyes have an intelligent and alert expression. The Pekingese is bold, dignified and self-assured, with an affectionate side that they reserve for their favorite people.
The Pekingese is an ancient breed that originated in China where its creation is sometimes credited to the Buddha himself. The breed is named after Peking city, which is more commonly referred to as Beijing today. The lapdogs were beloved by Chinese emperors and nobility, and were even considered nobility themselves. Stealing a Pekingese was punishable by death. The smallest Pekingese were known as 'sleeve dogs' because they were carried in their master's sleeves as companions and protectors if anyone got too close. The breed lived a pampered life within palace walls for centuries until 1860, when the British captured the Imperial Palace during the Opium War. Pekingese were among the spoils of war and taken back to England where they were presented to the royal family.
As contact increased between the East and the West, more Pekingese were brought to Europe and, eventually, the United States. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1906.
AKC Breed Category
The Pekingese is confident and has the smarts to back it up. Bold and independent, they will appoint themselves boss of the household if allowed. They are loving and loyal with their family members and often pick one person as their favorite. With strangers, Pekes tend to be standoffish and watchful. Pekingese are courageous and aren't intimidated by dogs much larger than themselves.
Are Pekingese Good with Kids? Pekingese don't suffer rambunctious kids gladly. They may be loving with children with whom they are raised, as long as the kids know how to treat them. Any insensitive treatment or fur pulling will result in a growl or a nip. Because they are so small, rough play is not an option, so they do better in households with older children.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Pekingese Good with Other Pets? The Pekingese is not a laid-back dog who welcomes animals into its domain. They may put up with dogs and cats with whom they're socialized from an early age, but should always be supervised around other animals. The breed has a strong prey drive and shouldn't live with small animals.
Pekingese are protective of their pack and their territory, and aren't afraid to get into a tussle.
Are Pekingese Good Guard Dogs? The watchful Pekingese will loudly warn the house when friend or foe approaches. Though they don't seem to know it, they aren't big enough to intimidate anyone and don't make exceptional guard dogs.
Pekes are not especially energetic. They have occasional bursts of energy, but leisurely walks are their usual speed.
- Their coat requires a lot of care when kept long.
- They're prone to snoring because of their short snouts.
- They are stubborn and will resist following orders, so training from an early age is recommended.
- The Peke's facial folds need daily cleaning with dog-friendly hygiene products to prevent skin issues.
- They're prone to barking.
- The Pekingese is not suited to households with young children.
- They can become sedentary and obese if activity isn't encouraged.
- They overheat easily because of their long, thick coats.
- They can be aloof with strangers.
Pekingese are a breed that expects pampering and attention; they consider time left alone outdoors a personal affront. Though Pekes have a lot of fur relative to their size, shedding doesn't create a big mess because they are so little. Pekes adjust well to apartment living, but make sure you make daily walks a part of their schedule so they don't get out of shape.
Pekes benefit from having a small yard in which to romp around so they can get in their workouts. Be mindful that their coats and brachycephalic muzzles make them prone to overheating in warm weather. Always watch them for signs of heat-related illness and offer them plenty of cool water when they are active.
A healthy Pekingese requires about 30 minutes to an hour of physical activity each day to remain fit. Make their workouts non-negotiable. When given the choice, Pekes will choose to lay on their dog bed looking regal every time. Play with them indoors in the air conditioning to give them exercise on days when it's hot and humid outside.
Pekingese aren't particularly athletic. They have the stamina for short play sessions in the yard and a few brisk walks.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: If you want a four-legged running partner, you'll have to choose another breed. Pekes may trot down the block with you, but that's as far as they'll go. Never ask your Pekingese to run even short distances when it's hot and humid.
- Hiking Miles: While rugged for their size, this is not a trail-ready breed. Stick to short, paved routes with your Peke.
Generally, this breed requires about ½ to 1 cup of good quality dry dog food each day given in two feedings. This will vary, however, based upon your Peke's activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Pekingese.
Pekes are independent dogs who don't mind spending time alone. With a palace (i.e. dog crate) of their own and their favorite toys, they can spend a half day by themselves.
Health and Grooming
Brush your Peke's double coat daily to prevent matting and to control shedding. A bath once a month will keep them clean and smelling pleasant. Wash your Peke's ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Pekingese need their teeth brushed several times a week, and their nails trimmed every month or so to prevent cracking.
Common Health Issues
Pekingese may be prone to some breed-specific health conditions, including:
- Patellar luxation, a misalignment in the leg that can cause lameness
- Brachycephalic syndrome
- Corneal abrasions
- Cleft palate
- Distichiasis, a condition in which extra lashes grow on the eye's oil gland
- Facial skin fold dermatitis
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Pekingese by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Pekes are smart, but they have their own ideas about what they want to do and following your commands isn't at the top of the list. Patience, consistency, and dog treats are the keys to teaching your Pekingese basic commands and making sure she doesn't run the household.
Your Peke won't be gung-ho about continuing obedience training and agility classes, but enroll her anyway. Advanced training will give her the activity and mental stimulation she needs to stay healthy and well mannered.
Sporting Dog Training
Pekingese are not natural hunting dogs. They'd prefer a nap to spending any time in the field.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about the Pekingese.
No. The Pekingese has a thick double coat that she sheds year round, and she sheds her undercoat twice a year. Shedding leaves pet dander in your home which is the primary cause of pet-related allergies.
Pugs and Pekingese are distinct breeds, but they share similar histories and physical traits. Both toy breeds originated in ancient China and were prized companions of nobility. Pugs and Pekingese are also each known for their flat faces, protruding eyes, and facial skin folds.
Pekingese are not suited to the water for a number of reasons. When their abundant coat gets wet it can weigh them down and make it difficult to swim. They also have trouble breathing in water because of their brachycephalic muzzles. Finally, their stout bodies and short legs make swimming a challenge. Always watch your Peke closely when she is near water.