"Ancient Chinese Secret"

Photo of Pekingese


Pekingese history is more prone to fancy than fact because the fact is, nobody actually knows how the Peke began and the legends are much more fun. One tells of a lion who fell in love with a marmoset. The offspring was the Lion Dog of China—the Pekingese. Famous members of the royal processions in China that announced the arrival of the emperor, the Pekes carried lanterns around their necks at night and were even given important titles like “Imperial Guardsman.” Bred to resemble the lion (an emblem of Buddhism), the Pekingese were bred for a profuse mane and great courage. As China endured several rebellions and occupations, dogs eventually found their way to England and America. English breeders worked hard to preserve and refine the Peke, and most Pekingese in the U.S. today are descended from English, rather than Chinese, dogs. Today, the Peke is the 49th most popular breed.


With some dogs, it's all about you. With a Pekingese, it's all about…the Pekingese. Sure, they worship you, but they won't admit it. They'd rather have you believe they run things and have their own perfectly intelligent ideas. Self-confident and even a little arrogant, the Pekingese has the stately bearing of an aristocrat, but isn't above a good long snuggle on your lap or a tour of the town while tucked in the crook of your elbow. These little furry pillow dogs have been known to answer to the nickname “sleeve dog,” and if they weren't so heavy for their size, they might fit in your sleeve quite nicely. They'd probably be perfectly happy there, right beside you, but the center of attention.


A compact, long, low little dog with surprising weight for its short height, the Pekingese should project a bold and royal presence. At 14 pounds or fewer, the Peke has a massive skull, big round dark lustrous eyes, wide-open nostrils (ideally), and a deep wrinkle in the forehead separating the upper and lower face. The Peke has the flattest of muzzles, with jet-black skin, lending it a mysterious air. The lower teeth close above the upper in a charming underbite, and the pear-shaped body is heavy in front. The Peke has a thick double coat like a lion's main in any coat color or marking. Extra-small Pekingese are sometimes called “sleeve Pekingese,” and resemble Pekingese from centuries past who were occasionally bred (according to fashion) to be sleeve-sized. These small specimens are more prone to injury and illness, cute as they may be.


Pekingese have little minds of their own and won't necessarily take to your ideas about what “sit,” “stay,” and “come” are all about. However, the Peke is a natural-born aristocrat and has a good sense of what kind of behavior works. Intuitive about humans, Pekes can also figure out what you want. It's just that they won't necessarily do it unless you show them what's in it for them. Challenging to house-train, Pekingese responds best to routine. Take them out on a regular schedule without fail, and they'll enjoy having a regular spot to use as a bathroom. (But turn away, will you? Don't embarrass the King. Or Queen.)

Grooming & Care

That profuse double coat takes a lot of work, especially if you want your Pekingese to look like the show dogs you see on TV. Daily brushing and combing, all the way down to the skin, are a necessity to keep the Pekingese coat mat-free. Many pet owners have their Pekes clipped down to more practical coats, however. A professional grooming every 6 to 8 weeks should do the trick, although Pekes still need brushing and combing at least a few times per week. Trim nails weekly; brush teeth and clean and dry facial wrinkles daily. Because of their heavy coats and short nasal passages, Pekingese are extremely intolerant to heat and must be kept cool at all times. Never leave them outside in hot weather. Their heavy bones and coats also make them poor swimmers. Pekes can quickly drown if they fall in the pool or even in a bucket of water or a toilet, so keep them away from standing water at all times. Because really, Pekes aren't meant for heavy exercise. They are meant to be worshiped.

Health Concerns

The Peke's flat face makes it prone to snoring and breathing problems, especially if the Peke has pinched nostrils (called “stenotic nares”). A long-backed breed, the Pekingese can be prone to spinal disc ruptures. Because the Peke has such big eyes, it is also prone to eye injury, particularly corneal ulceration. The Peke's deep nose wrinkle can also develop skin fold pyoderma. Ask the breeder about these issues.

Famous Pekingese

Shirley Temple had a pretty little Peke named Ching-Ching II who appeared with her in the 1938 film, "Just Around the Corner."

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 2
Schedule 6
Home 44
Children 49
Experience 11
Quick Facts
Grooming 56
Exercise 62
Challenges Can be hard to housetrain, cannot tolerate heat or lots of physical exercise.
Height 6 to 9 inches
Weight 12 to 14 pounds
Life 12 to 15 years
Home Alone 82
With Kids 86
With Strangers 92
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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